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March 16, 2013
FLORIDA – 61
ALABAMA - 51
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to continue on with Florida. We'll ask Coach Donovan for some opening thoughts on the game, then we'll take your questions just for the two student athletes before they return to the locker room and then we'll finish up with Coach Donovan.
Coach, would you begin?
COACH DONOVAN: I'm hoping our guys, you know, were able to learn just a valuable lesson today in life. We started the game, and I really thought we were ready to play and thought we were playing very, very well, and I think in the first half we had 9 missed layups right around the basket.
We started off with two good post feeds to Patric Young, he wasn't able to convert. Will Yeguete missed the layup. Scottie Wilbekin had one and Kenny maybe had one. You know, the ball was not going in the basket. I thought defensively we actually played very, very good defense even though the shooting percentage by them in the first half was very, very high.
I thought Lacey and Cooper and a couple other guys really made some timely shots at the end of the shot clock, and I thought as the half unfolded, I thought our energy got drained, you know, as a basketball team, and these guys came back and they fought in the second half and they battled when things maybe weren't going great. I thought they showed some resiliency and some fight in them to kind of battle through the game because we didn't shoot the ball well in the first half, but I thought we had a lot of really, really good looks and that happens.
I think this time of year, you know, lot of times it's not always a team that can play the prettiest or it comes the easiest. Sometimes it's got to be a will and a fight internally to try to make some things happen. I thought our defense continued to get better, and that was encouraging to me to see these guys battle and fight.
We've had times where the ball hasn't gone in the basket, we've gone through some struggles. These guys sometimes hold themselves to a standard of making shots or seeing the ball go in the basket. When it doesn't, it's sometimes deflating.
Today was one of those games where you look at the stat sheet and see that our assists were not high but we really tried to play the right way the entire game, and for us tonight, it was a struggle.
You know, I was really, really happy for Kenny, personally, just to see him bounce back and to continue to have confidence and belief in himself and to play with that fire that I see him play with so often.
You know, you got those two free throws and then he kind of got going, and not that he just tried to takeover. He took good shots, but he really hopped up with confidence, hit a good drive in transition. Made a tough runner in the lane, did some good things for us.
I thought Mike, although he didn't score a lot of points, I thought he really worked on the defensive end of the floor and made some good decisions when the ball was in his hands and, you know, didn't really -- didn't turn the ball over a whole lot which is decision-making -- he had a lot of hockey assists, what I would call, where the ball went out to one guy and then the next guy made the extra pass, and he probably should have been maybe contributing to the assists.
But, you know, overall I was proud of our guys because yesterday the game was easy offensively just because we were 11 for 20 from the 3-point line, we were balanced inside and out. We had the same flow and balance, the difference was the ball wasn't going in the basket and give Alabama credit. They made timely shots when the clock was running down and made some very, very good plays. I thought they played a very good game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take your questions for either of the student athletes.
Q. Question for Kenny. Billy said a team like you got going a little bit. I assume that you're going the whole game, but did something snap for you during that time as far as playing more aggressive?
KENNY BOYNTON: Honestly, not really. I think Coach did a great job at halftime of challenging us as a team to come out with energy. I got two free throws going and my teammates found me in transition. So, basically I didn't get more aggressive or anything. The floor just opened up more.
Q. Mike, can you talk about the energy that Kenny's run kind of seemed to permeate the whole team, you guys started defending better, rebounding better.
MIKE ROSARIO: I just felt that, you know, as a team we needed that spark, you know, especially from our senior Kenny, you know. Coach really gave us a good speech at halftime, you know. You got to want to be in the struggle and this is a grind-it-out game. This is a 40-minute game.
You know, guys knew Kenny needed to step up for us in the second half, and I felt that he took on that challenge and, you know, that run happened, and when that run happened, it just fed off positive energy to all our teammates and I thought everyone on the team embraced that.
Q. Kenny, was that a relief to get going like that?
KENNY BOYNTON: Yes, but I'm more happy with the win, you know. Yesterday I wouldn't say, I was even down on myself, because as long as we're winning, I'm good with the team.
Q. Did Coach fire you up at halftime? You, you specifically?
KENNY BOYNTON: Honestly he did. He challenged me to come out and play with confidence. Honestly he did challenge me. I think I tried to step up to it.
Q. Mike, you said coach gave a pretty good speech at halftime. What did Coach Donovan say?
MIKE ROSARIO: Just know, that we're playing for something and we don't want to leave today, you know, loss or win, knowing that we didn't leave everything on the floor. That was the message that he basically gave us as a team.
He knew how great we can be and especially, you know, being in situation that's we were like down at halftime, he felt that, you know, we weren't showing that perseverance and that relentless effort that we always give him. I just feel like the whole team just took on that message in a positive way.
Q. Kenny, what does it do for this team's confidence? I know y'all struggled in close games this year to win a close game going into the NCAA Tournament, what can that do for y'all's confidence?
KENNY BOYNTON: It definitely boost our confidence up, but, you know, we've been practicing on situations in practice, you know, for this moment. So I think it bled over from practice, you know, and we had some good days leading up to this tournament. So basically, you know, we know to win the tournament, the games are going to be close. We got to consistently close out games.
Q. Kenny, your teammates call you a cool customer, never get too high, too low. That temperament helped you during the past few months?
KENNY BOYNTON: Yes. You know, even when we went on the run, I just try to stay grounded and keep everyone together. I didn't want to get too excited and give up a play on the defensive end, you know. So basically I just try to stay grounded, whether it's going good or bad.
THE MODERATOR: That you. We'll excuse the student athletes. You can return to the locker room. We'll continue on for questions with Coach Donovan.
Q. Billy you seem like even during Kenny's slump you've been pleased with the effort you've gotten from him. How hard has he worked during that time?
COACH DONOVAN: I think a lot of times people can watch a basketball game, I think someone asked the question it kind of fired up our team. You know, I've been on teams when a guy gets on a run, he's not a great teammate and guys really don't care that he went on the run. He's not about the right things or he's selfish or into himself.
When you see our team get excited, our team loves Kenny Boynton, and when people watch him and the ball doesn't go in the basket, it's very, very easy to point fingers and be critical, but I would say that maybe of anybody on our team, Kenny Boynton is truly loved inside of our team because he's a great teammate.
He does want to win. He wants to make every shot he takes. He doesn't intentionally try to miss, but he's gone through a little bit of a tough shooting period. And I think as a coach, when you can see somebody's intentions every day, his intentions are always good. He's about the team. He wants to play well. He wants to compete. He's not selfish, doesn't take a ton of bad shots.
And for me, I was personally very, very happy for him, and when he's getting -- when he's making some shots, it livens up our team because our team looks to him in a lot of ways. When he's got that kind of swagger and that bounce to his step. It can't all be on him. They all got to step up and assume their own responsibilities, but I always think that that's a sign of how much a guy is excited when the guy starts to make a couple shots, everybody gets excited for him, you know.
And like I said yesterday, you can absorb a tough shooting night from him going 1 for 7, but he had 7 assists in the game, you know, and I think it's all how you look at things. I think sometimes people can look at things very negatively. I didn't look at it that he was 1 for 7. I always look at, is he taking good shots? If he's taking -- same thing with Rosario, he played the right way today, but when he's trying to be cute and make home run passes and the ball sails out of bounds, we have no use for that.
If Kenny's in a slump and he says, I'm going to try to get going right now and he starts taking crazy shots off balance, then you say to yourself, come on, slow down right now. This is bigger than you. I think he's always tried to play that way.
Q. Did Patric have the kind of fire that you talked about on Monday? Did he -- did you see that out of him today:
COACH DONOVAN: The biggest thing I saw from our team we came out with the right intentions and the right mindset and focused to play. But I think when you get into this time of year, if you want to be playing in like a championship game like we are tomorrow, you want to be in these moments.
There is nothing easy about getting here, and as a group or as individuals, you have to accept, embrace, and really be driven by that challenge, because it's the worse feeling sitting in a locker room when you lose. It's a great feeling in the locker room when you win. In between those two things there is an unbelievable grind that you have to go through and it's not always easy. The other team is good, too. They're here for a reason, too. Alabama is here because they're a good team.
You just don't go cruising through something like that. There's going to be some struggles along the way and you have to embrace those struggles. My whole thing to our guys at halftime was, they've got really good intentions, and it's such a fine line, in my opinion, because you want to hold yourself accountable to do your job, but you don't want to hold yourself so accountable that it deflates you as an individual player.
I thought our team got deflated in the first half. I thought they got frustrated. And not that they were frustrated with each other, frustrated with missing layups. Patric Young misses a couple layups. I can see it on his face. He feels like he's letting the entire world down.
But you got to stay with the struggle. You got to keep staying with the struggle. That's what this is about. I told them the same thing in life. You got to go through the struggle, and then if you go through the struggle and you don't end up on top, you don't get the results you want, at least you can say that you learned something going through it.
I thought our team today, they went through the struggle, because even though we came out at halftime, we were down 3. We ended up getting down 10. So there was more of that struggle we had to go through, and I hope it was a great learning experience for them.
Q. Billy, have you ever challenged Kenny like that before and what did you say specifically to fire him up?
COACH DONOVAN: I mean, I think I went after him pretty good at halftime. The reason I went after him, I said that I've seen him, you know, really over his career do some remarkable things and I've seen him when he's been in slumps. I've seen his fight, and I thought to start the game he had a couple really good looks. He missed a drive to the basket and he missed two open 3s, and he was one of the guys, too, that got deflated. He got deflated. What ended up happening was, Lacey's taking him off the bounce, Lacey is knocking 3s over him. It totally bled into the defensive end of the floor.
I just told him, you're a senior in college right now. It's time to the fight. You've always fought. I said, I got great confidence in you, but you got to fight right now. You got to fight through what you're going through and right now I don't see that fight and that look on your face.
He had that look, you know, I thought once he made -- got that look back where his motor was running, he's going. Again, his freshman year his motor would be running like that and God knows when he would shoot it or where he would shoot it from. He's learned from his freshman year, but he got back to maybe going through a long period of time of not shooting the ball particularly well. I just didn't want him to lose confidence in himself.
I think the first thing I needed to do as a coach was to express that I have confidence in you but I don't have confidence in if you're not going to fight.
Q. Seems like half of this league including Alabama is kind of on the fringe of the tournament. Do you think the league was at all hurt by the fact that a second elite team didn't emerge this year to kind of join you guys, a team that others could beat and raise their strength of schedule with and that sort of thing?
COACH DONOVAN: I think what happens, it's really -- it's a hard thing. Our league is very, very good today. Our league may have not been great in November and December. Rightfully so, the selection committee should look at the whole body of any team's work to determine whether or not they're deserving to get into the NCAA Tournament.
With that being said, you look at a team like Vanderbilt, you know, and the job that Kevin has done all the way with his team and maybe where they were in November and December.
You look at Kentucky losing maybe to arguably the best player, if with not one of the best players in the country, in Nerlens Noel and got to piece things together. You have a lot of new coaches in this team. We have two new teams in this league.
I think our league is very, very good, but when you're dealing with new coaches, new players, new players in different roles, there's going to be a lot of ups and downs during the course of a year.
But I can tell you we played Vanderbilt not too long ago and I thought that they played us as well as anybody. We played Alabama I think the second or third last game of the year, they played us that day and today as well as anybody has.
So, I think our league right now is very good, but what happens is November and December somebody labels a league it's not good and then when we all get into a 18 game league schedule, there's absolutely not maybe that national respect that there is maybe for some other league. I think that that's unfair because people -- it's hard for somebody to take into consideration of how much a team has improved, you know, because if someone is deemed as not being good and upper echelon team loses to a team that's not perceived as being good, you say that's a bad loss. There's not a team in the country that wants to go on the road and play against any of the teams in this league or anywhere, even a neutral site.
Again, there's a body of work that everybody has to go and live under and that body of work, games in November and December, you know, are going to be looked at and evaluated.
Q. Billy, ten offensive rebounds. Lot of put backs. How much was that an example of maybe your team's resiliency or fight that you were looking for?
COACH DONOVAN: I just think it was everything. I thought our guys tried to fight everywhere. I don't think it was just there. I thought we aggressively went after the ball. I thought we tried to run offense aggressively. I felt we were locked in the last 8 minutes of the game defensively. I thought we got some stops. They made some very difficult shots. It probably balanced itself out towards of the end of the game, so to speak.
The first half, you know, they were -- they ended up shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line, but they shot it really, really good in the first half. Not that they made a lot of 3s, but they made some tough ones. I felt we made them earn their points.
Q.Coach, Alabama, obviously you were talking about the teams in the SEC, do you feel like they're a NCAA Tournament team?
COACH DONOVAN: My opinion is, I only go off of when we play them and how I feel, and I would say absolutely I think that. Obviously, there's some teams that are going to wait. Tennessee, you know, Ole Miss, I don't know where they're at or Alabama for that matter. I mean, these teams are good teams. They're good teams.
I think like anything else, you know, this time of year, I think it's easy to look at the selection committee and say well, they're doing a good job or bad job. I think that's unfair, because sometimes I think you take personal accountability for the body of work that we've had the opportunity to do.
Do I think today Alabama deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament? Absolutely, just based on their play, okay? But I can't even tell you what happened to their team. I know December was a brutal month for them and, you know what, that brutal month of December probably enabled them to finish like they did here during the regular season and here in this conference tournament.
THE MODERATOR: One more question.
Q. Coach, you didn't get a whole lot from Erik Murphy today. You obviously never want to see that. Heading into the tournament, an NCAA Tournament that might be six games, are you glad your team got the opportunity to fight through a game like that where Murphy didn't give you much offensively and you still found a way to win?
COACH DONOVAN: I made a comment to our staff before the game: It is really, really hard to duplicate on back-to-back days the performance that he had yesterday. Just hard.
He had really good looks today from behind the 3-point line and he's 2 for 7, he's 0 for 3, and we got it to him in around the basket. He got some touches. He didn't get nearly as many shots as yesterday, but our shot distribution was pretty well balanced. I got confidence in Erik that when he's open, he can shoot the ball. He had a good look in the second half in front of our bench down in the corner he didn't knock down.
Scottie Wilbekin made a great play as the shot clock was running down. Those shots went down yesterday. He just needs to be able to bounce back and realize tomorrow is new today, and just like yesterday he had 27 points, he needed to put that behind and put today behind and get prepared to play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
COACH DONOVAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports