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March 16, 2012

Billy Donovan

Casey Prather

Erving Walker


Florida – 71
Virginia – 45

THE MODERATOR:  Today we have Erving Walker and Casey Prather here with us, and Coach Donovan.  Statement by Coach Billy Donovan.
COACH DONOVAN:  Obviously we were happy to move on, I thought coming into the game, the key for us was what type of job we could do on Scott, because he is such a unique player, and I thought Sammy Zeglinski and Harris from behind the three and keep Mitchell off the glass and Evans out of the paint.  We didn't shoot particularly well today, 1 for 15 in the first half.  I thought we took a couple of ill‑advised ones but I thought we had good looks but I thought it was a game where we did a good job defensively and were able to get out in transition and played and they're obviously not a deep team and I thought our offense over a period of time probably the press wore them down.  Very, very happy for Casey because he's a guy I get a chance to be around every single day and he has the same attitude.
I have been around so many young players where they don't get a chance to play and they put on and sulk and they have no resiliency to come back the next day and work.  I can tell you this, whether he has played two minutes, not gotten in the game or 15, he is the same kid every single day.  I personally am happy for him because he has stayed the course as a player and tried to figure out how to get better and how to improve and he gave us a huge lift.  I thought our team mentally understood that the game could get slowed, the pace could be really at their liking.  I actually thought the pace was in favor of us, even though the score was low‑scoring in the first half, I just thought we shot the ball so poorly from behind the three that if we would have made a few more we probably could have scored closer to 70 or 80.  But overall I was pleased that our guys were able to find a way to win the game where we didn't‑‑ we didn't shoot the ball as well as we're capable of.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the athletes.

Q.  Casey, when you woke up this morning, did you see that game coming and did you know that at the end of the day you would be interviewed by CBS?
CASEY PRATHER:  No, I didn't, I just focused on the game and what I could do to help the team.

Q.  Casey, had you seen indications throughout the season or known you had this in you and it was a chance of opportunity or, I guess, not where did this come from but it's a career high for you.
CASEY PRATHER:  I felt like I kept working at it in practice and individual instruction with the coaches and they kept telling me to stay the course and my time would come and I guess tonight was a good time for me to come.

Q.  Casey, where does this moment rank for you in your basketball life?  How can you build on this going into Sunday?
CASEY PRATHER:  It was very high, I want to stay positive on it, do what I can do to help the team, do whatever I can do to help the team on defense, offense, rebounding, whatever.

Q.  Erving, you had an alley‑oop to Casey, did you throw it to him or to Bradley Beal?
COACH DONOVAN:  I was throwing it to Casey, I thought they were both going to jump but luckily Brad didn't.

Q.  Could you talk about what affect the press had when you went to that in the first half and how that turned the game in your favor?
ERVING WALKER:  I think it had a huge affect on the game because we were struggling to score a little bit in the beginning and I think that opened things up and put us into an offensive rhythm.

Q.  Can you speak to the slow start and how you managed not to get frustrated because it was to their liking at 10‑2, four turnovers early in the game.
ERVING WALKER:  I think first game jitters and you got to give them credit, they started off defense real strong but the press helped us out and loosened us up to get out and run and we were able to get easy points that way.

Q.  Casey, did you have family here and if so what was that postgame celebration like and what was the first phone call that you're going to make or did make?
CASEY PRATHER:  I didn't have family but I had the guys so it was basically like my family and the celebration was awesome with them.
I guess the first phone call I'm going to make is to my mom, I guess.

Q.  Erving, can you talk about how easy you guys were able to get in the lane and finish plays today particularly against a defense that ranks second nationally in points allowed?
ERVING WALKER:  I think the guards did a good job of waiting on the screens and the big men set good screens and the press made them tired and their edges were weakened throughout the course of the game.

Q.  Erving, did you ever wonder if, hey, this is not our day, we're not going to hit any three's?  I think you missed your first 12 and hit one and then air ball at the end of the first half, not you specifically, but can you talk about what it was like missing?
ERVING WALKER:  I didn't notice it until we got in the locker room and Coach said we were 1 for 15 and we know we're going to have shooting nights where the ball doesn't go in, we were focused on defense because we know that keeps us in a game when shots aren't falling.

Q.  Casey, did you talk about‑‑ you talked about staying the course and talk about how difficult that was and not getting playing time touring the season?
CASEY PRATHER:  It was difficult because I had high expectations but the supporting cast kept me straightforward.

Q.  Casey, some of the guys in the locker room said keeping your confidence up was difficult for you during the season, how accurate is that?
CASEY PRATHER:  Kinda accurate but as the time goes on I have been getting my confidence back.

Q.  Casey, talk about the rebounding role in this came, your ability to get the ten, second‑chance points in the first half and the offensive rebounding in the first half.
CASEY PRATHER:  It was kind of going slow and I decided to help out and box out and my teammates came in and got rebounds.

Q.  Erving, can you speak to Casey's performance today?
ERVING WALKER:  I knew he was capable of that, he does it every day in practice, gives us fits and tonight he was happy for him, I think he played a great game and I hope he can continue to keep playing like that.

Q.  Casey, how big was it to draw the two offensive fouls as well, you put up a lot of points but dense civil you came up with big calls on Scott.
CASEY PRATHER:  Yeah, Scott is a big player and getting him on the bench helped the team, switching around on that was pretty good.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, gentlemen.  Congratulations, we will see you Sunday.  Questions for Coach Billy Donovan.

Q.  Billy how much pride do you take in the performance that Casey Prather had?
COACH DONOVAN:  For me I was personally happy because it's been a struggle and any player that comes in at this level has high expectations that they're going to play and do great and certainly I think an area in the game that he has struggled with has been his turnovers, that's been a problem for him and just trying to get him to play inside the framework of the game and sometimes he's tried to make things happen that aren't there and sometimes he gets too passive.
But the thing that I really admire more than anything else is just his perseverance every day, and I think someone has to question how frustrating it is, and how hard it was.  It's hard for a young kid when it's not going well and you don't play and you're probably getting phone calls and you got to get up the next day and find that motivation to get in the gym and watch film.
He deserves this, and I said this to the kids if there is anybody that deserves to have success, it's him because he never pouts, never complains, does he get down, frustrated, sure, but it never impacts his attitude every single day, and I think for a young kid to have that mentality, it's a great lesson for the players in our locker room.  He's going to be a great example later on for other players.
With his attitude, in a big stage like this, he was probably a very, very unlikely candidate to step up for our team and do what he did tonight and I was personally happy for him because he's a great kid.

Q.  Coach, can you address your ability to create second chance points when that 3‑point shot wasn't falling for you?
COACH DONOVAN:  They're a team that plays great position defense, we knew they were going to come out and show our guards coming off screens and they were going to try to be disruptive, but what happens is when you get two on the ball and you've got a guy rolling to the basket and a ball gets passed and the shot goes up you get taken out of your responsibilities.  Even though three's were not going in we were forcing them to rotate and it probably took away their block‑out responsibilities in certain situations.
I thought the press, even‑‑ I thought the pace of the game even though the score was not high in the first half we got the pace the way we wanted to, we were able to press, create turnovers, didn't shoot it well, they didn't shoot it great either, it allowed us to get on the break, but I think because they were trying to take away the three, it allowed Bradley Beal, Casey Prather and Patric Young to block out because the guy on them had to step out and show on a guard coming off a screen.

Q.  Talk about Bradley Beal's play, a little more about him and there is a good chance you're going to play Missouri tomorrow and that's his home state.  How do you guard against a team and press against a team like Missouri.
COACH DONOVAN:  We will wait and see how the game goes, but I think Brad is more mature than his age.  He understands that at this time whether it's Missouri or Norfolk State, whoever it may be, he's going to go out there and play.  During the recruiting process for Brad, Frank was not there, maybe he knows the players, but I think for Brad he's going to do whatever he can do to try to help our team, I think that's always been his attitude.

Q.  Billy, obviously you don't want to go 1 for 15 in the three's, how would you assess that?  Was it the quality of looks or the pressure?
COACH DONOVAN:  Of the 15, there was a good five or six I would have liked to have seen us take back.  I thought we shot too quickly.  When we have faced good defensive teams, and Kentucky is one of those, and Alabama does it similar to the way Virginia does it with positioning.  I think it took our guys time to figure out what we needed to do.
I thought we shot a couple too quick, and when they were flying at our shooters, guys were open, but it was a semi‑challenged shot, and I think those are the easiest players to go by because as they're running at you and taking await three they're giving up penetration, and I thought what happened in the second half is we kept driving and kicking it and driving and kicking it and then we got the ball down the lane and got it into Patric.  We are able to break it down, and I thought we shot too quickly, but I thought Mike Rosario had a couple of good looks, Murphy had a couple that didn't go down, and Brad had some that were rushed.  And I think as the game started to unfold, they started to figure out best way to attack them.

Q.  Billy, speak to your team's defensive performance holding them scoreless touring that stretch of 5 minutes.
COACH DONOVAN:  They didn't shoot it well either and I can't sit there and say we did a fabulous job taking away all their three's, because Sammy Zeglinski and Harris both had some good looks and Harris has had some hand issues.  I know he's capable of shooting well.  We trapped them a couple of times, then in the second half we started trapping big‑on‑big and then later in the half when we had Scotty in there we started running him in there, because he's a fifth year senior.
I think if you trap the same way on him down the floor, he starts to figure it out and he figures out what's open.  So one time he's getting a trap with a big guy and he's looking at the opposite block, and the next time it's coming from a guard, so I thought we kept him off balance.  Tony has done a great job with his team.
We've gone through a similar situation with Yeguete being out, they've gone through injuries, they don't have a lot of depth, their guys got worn down and Scott's performance even though I thought he was efficient for the number of shots he had taken we never let him get in a flow and I thought that was critical.

Q.  Billy, offensively your previous NCAA Tournament victories, do you remember an instance of a player like Casey having such a break‑out performance in the tournament?
COACH DONOVAN:  The only guy I remember was in the national championship game, Adrian Moss in the first half had 8 points, it was a huge lift for us, he had a couple of charges, made some tip‑ins, made a couple around the basket, he gave us a huge boost with Noah and Chris, couple of guys in foul trouble in that game but the impact from start to finish, probably no, certainly the national championship that stage to get a boost like that, Moss was very, very helpful.

Q.  Billy, given all the missed 3‑pointers in the first half and the pace, did you feel good going into halftime the way things were?  Secondly, did you adjust to drive more and kick?  Was that a conscious thing, don't shoot the three?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think going into the half being up 8 and the fact that we were 1 for 15 I was happy but I also looked at the stat sheet and they're 0 for 7, so if they would have made just two three's and they were 2 for 7, now it's a 2 or 4‑point game.
So really the first half was off‑set by both teams shooting poorly, we had an 8‑point lead because of turnover and offensive rebounding and points in the paint.  I think we talked at halftime that when you come off a screen and‑‑ like when we're coming off a screen there is a close out, do not shoot that shot, put it back on the floor again, and I thought we did a good job in the second half managing 35 seconds where we got the floor moving and we brought both of their bigs up high that they had to guard double pick‑and‑rolls, which eliminated them to be able to "X."
The big that's low, they can see the floor, but when you bring both up at the same time, I thought we got patient and better ball movement and then we were able to drive them after we got deeper in the shot clock.  In the first half we shot too quickly in the clock.

Q.  Billy, can you talk about going into this game, I'm not saying did you forsee Casey having 14, but did you say he could be a big factor and he has to be a factor in this game?
COACH DONOVAN:  If there was ever a game that we played this year that we could have used Willie egg get, it was this game because he was a better match‑up against Scott, and I didn't feel like we had anybody that could guard him one‑on‑one.  I thought the one guy that could give him as many trouble as anybody was Casey and we talked as a staff last night about we got Murphy and Young in the game, one of those guys is going to come off the floor.
Do we come in with Larson and stay big or come in with Casey or put Brad on him.  I think we agreed that we needed to give Casey a shot because we felt he could do the best job guarding him and drawing a foul on him early in the game and an over‑the‑back foul helped us in the first half.  As long as he's not turning the ball over Casey is going to play more and it's when he gets into those situations‑‑ he knocked down a three, he was good along the baseline, couple of good drives he played within himself aggressively, instead of getting out of himself playing aggressively, that was the encouraging thing today.

Q.  Billy do you reevaluate his role going into Sunday's game as far as giving him more of an expanded role or do you have to see a little more before he's‑‑
COACH DONOVAN:  No, I mean I think obviously that was a huge boost of confidence for him, and this was a match‑up for us going in having five days to get ready for Virginia.  It was clear that Murphy and Patric were going to have a hard time with Scott, because he's going to run them off screens, he's efficient and we had to double team him and where were we going to double from, and I didn't want to leave Sammy Zeglinski and Harris open for three's.
So a lot is going to depend on who it is now, how can we utilize him, but no question he's going to get the opportunity to get right in there tomorrow and hopefully he can play within himself and give us a boost like he did today.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Billy.  Congratulations. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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