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March 14, 2014

Billy Donovan

Casey Prather

Scottie Wilbekin


Florida – 72
Missouri – 49

THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH DONOVAN:  I was disappointed in our first half.  I thought we looked a little bit out of it.  Didn't play as well as we would have hoped to.
I thought these guys did a good job, especially the older guys, regrouping in the second half in the locker room.  Then came out, I thought, and played a much, much better second half on both ends of the floor.
I thought we moved the basketball.  We found shooters.  We were a little more patient.  I thought defensively we did a better job.
But give Missouri credit.  They battled and fought.  I thought that maybe a double overtime game, and I'm not trying to make excuses for them, and I don't know how Frank felt, but maybe fatigue possibly had something to do with them shooting the basketball.
Obviously they're a great 3‑point shooting team.  I think our defense probably contributed to it, but I'm sure for Brown, Clarkson, and Ross, playing the amount of minutes they did yesterday probably had some level of impact on their shooting.
THE MODERATOR:  Take your questions for either of the student‑athletes.

Q.  For Scottie, people talk about the dome and how tough it is to shoot and how you and Michael and even Dorian were able to knock down threes.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  It's just another gym, to be honest.  Sometimes you shoot good in them and sometimes you don't.  I don't know.  If the first one goes in, it's easier.  You have more confidence.  But we just try not to think about that and shoot with confidence every time.

Q.  Scottie, within a minute and a half, you go on a 9‑0 run.  Last time out against Missouri it was very similar where Michael Frazier hits three straight threes.  What is it about this team that you guys can create separation in so little of a time?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think it starts with getting stops, because if we score and they score, it won't be a run.  But especially when we can make threes, it gets us a little bit more separation.
But the key is getting stops.  Us scoring, and limiting them to one rebound and getting a stop and trying to push the tempo on the offensive end.

Q.  Casey, talk about the first half.  It almost seemed like their zone defense lulled you guys to sleep a little bit and you had a hard time kind of getting energy going.
CASEY PRATHER:  They played great defense in the first half.  I feel like we came out kind of slow.  Taking things for granted.  We wasn't really moving the basketball the correct way.
But the biggest thing was our defense in the first half, which kind of kept them in the game.  They're a good team, but we should have done some things a little bit better.

Q.  Scottie, do you feel like your bigs had an advantage over theirs?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Their bigs did a good job of rebounding.  Especially in the first half.  I think that Pat and Will did a better job of being more aggressive trying to get offensive and defensive rebounds.  We tried to look for Pat inside, get him a little more post touches in the second half.
I think that Pat, Will, and Dodo just did a better job of being aggressive and playing hard in the second half.

Q.  Scottie, talk about the play after Will's layup where you got the steal, got it back to him and got the three out there.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, whoever the other guard was did a good job of denying.  And the referee's count was counting down, so I knew that Brown was going to go try to make a break for the ball.  I was able to get there before him and save it to Will.

Q.  Do you think you got there before Jabari Brown on that play?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah.  I think so.

Q.  Scottie, do you think that Missouri gave you more than you expected in that first half, or was it just that you guys came out a little slow?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  No, I expected them to come out strong.  I mean I knew that they weren't going to take anything lightly.  They were going to give us their best effort.
But I don't think we did a good job of matching their effort and that was what we tried to correct in the second half.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll excuse the student‑athletes and take questions for coach.

Q.  30 victories for the third time in your program.  A lot of teams base success on 20‑victory seasons.  How hard is it for any team any year to get 30?
COACH DONOVAN:  Oh, it's hard to get 30 wins.  Actually the last couple of years, I think we were going to be right around 30.  I think we had maybe 29 the last couple years.  It's hard to win 30 games.
So I think with what these guys have done, at least up to this point in time in the regular season, was truly special.  But now we're in a different part of our season, being post‑season play.  But I think for any team to win 30 games it's very difficult.

Q.  Were you almost not surprised to see the first half the way it was?  As good as you guys have played all year, you got the trophy presentation before the game and things like that.
COACH DONOVAN:  There were a lot of things leading up to this game that set itself up for us not to play well.  We had talked about a lot of those things.  One was having a week off.  Playing a noon game on Saturday and not playing until Friday here at 1.  There was a lot of time.
I think the fact of the way the season ended, the way it kind of came to full circle for our four seniors, going to the SEC tournament, feeling maybe good about ourselves.  We tried to address those things in practice.  What we did was I wanted them to get back emotionally and physically.  So we got back to practice on Tuesday.  First thing I did was I put jerseys in their lockers in our arena and we scrimmaged.  We were awful.  Awful.
And we watched film and we talked about it.  And there's an emotional battle that goes on when you go through what these guys have gone through.  Now you take the next step.
The thing that was disappointing to me in the first half was it was our seniors.  I thought Scottie came out and really competed and played hard and played a pretty decent first half.  I thought he got frustrated and tried to do too much.
But if you look at Prather, Yeguete, and Young's line, in that first half, it's not very good.  It was not very good.  Two seniors, Will and Prather, they were responsible for four turnovers in our first seven possessions.  They had to battle through that.
But I give them credit, that at halftime they got it corrected.  They showed some resiliency and some fight and some battle there in the second half.

Q.  In terms of teams coming out strong in the second half and making adjustments during the break, is this the best team that you've coached in that aspect?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think we have got a group that is pretty cerebral.  You can talk about things that we need to change or adjust and they're pretty good at doing that.  At least from a coaching perspective, I feel like I've got a lot of leeway and I can do a lot of different things with them because they're pretty bright.  They have got a good feel.  They understand our system.
So when I talk about changing and tweaks, they're actually pretty good at doing those things.  I don't know how you rank which teams that I've coached have been the best, but this team is very good at it.

Q.  Could you talk about the success of your defense of this team.  The Missouri players said that your team played so well together in tandem.  Talk about that chemistry defensively?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, when you're playing against a team like Missouri and you have three explosive scorers, what happens is in a lot of their pick‑and‑roll stuff, you're going to have two guys committed to the ball.  What happens is you've got three players that are playing against four.  You've got to get into the right spots.  You got to be in the right spots protection‑wise.  Clarkson's got really good size.  If you don't handle the pick‑and‑roll correctly and your hands and your feet are not in a good place and your protection is not in a good place, he's really good at kind of picking you apart.
They're good at shooting out of those maybe weak pick‑and‑roll coverages and giving their big a free run to an offensive rebound.  So I think there's a lot that goes into trying to defend them because they can be very explosive on offense.
So a lot that have requires five guys really working together every possession, understanding the position and where they need to be on the court based on where the ball's at.  That's really important.

Q.  Piggybacking off that, it's so obvious the differences between a team like yours that shares the ball and a team like Missouri that has been trying to share it all season and really hasn't been able to.  How do you get guys to play that unselfishly?
COACH DONOVAN:  I don't know.  Well, first thing I would say is, we don't have players like Clarkson and Brown that can go get theirs like those guys can.  I would even throw Ross in there as well.  Our team is not like that.  Our guys have had to rely on each other.  Like Frazier, I think he shoots the ball just as well as Jabari Brown.  But I can't put the ball in Frazier's hands like Frank can with Jabari and let Frazier go make a play and get shots off.  He's really good at that.
So I think actually what Frank does is he tries to create some isolations with those guys to go one‑on‑one and utilize their skill.  We have to rely‑‑ like Patric Young needs help.  Yeguete needs help.  Dorian Finney‑Smith needs help.  They all need some help.
So we have tried to sell ball movement, player movement and being unselfish and making the extra pass.  I don't know how we necessarily do it, but I mean that's what we do.

Q.  You said that yours is not a dominant team.  If that's so, how do you explain the 30‑2 when you consider that even your national championship teams were never 30‑2?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, well, when you said dominant team, I think when a team's ranked number one in the country or goes 18‑0, and in SEC regular season and you have not laid eyes on us, you would sit there and say, Geez, they must be blowing everybody out.  No one must come close to these guys.
But if you want to go through the scores of our games in the SEC, they have all been right there.  Missouri's right there with us at our place.  We made a couple shots.  Frazier got loose on some 3's and we opened the lead up.
I mean, for all practical purposes, we were dead in the water against Auburn.  We're down by two with 30 seconds to go in the game, and Frazier makes a three from the top of the key that puts us up one.  Then Auburn had a couple plays there that went into our favor.
We're down by seven with four minutes to go against Arkansas at Arkansas and came back and won in overtime.
So when I said this dominant team, when you look at our record, and you see a team that's 30‑2, sometimes if you watched our teams play, we maybe don't play or look as dominants as our record does.

Q.  It was like a feeding frenzy there.  Casey gets the pass into Yeguete and then you get the steal and the three.  It was like almost the lights went on.  And this team has that ability to do that.  What is it about them that they sense the weakness and all of a sudden they just turn it on like that?
COACH DONOVAN:  I thought we our energy wasn't where it needed to be.  The one thing I would say about this group is they're very resilient.  They battle and fight.  I think things were not going their way in the first half, and I thought we looked a little bit pouty and cranky to me.
Then I thought in the second half, they moved past that and got more playing to the identity we play to.  They have generally battled and fought this year, and I thought we played more to that identity in the second half.

Q.  You guys were only up two when you started that 9‑0 run.  What do the players feel after that timeout?  What are they saying?  Are they celebrating prematurely or are they still locked into the game?
COACH DONOVAN:  No, I mean, they were excited, but I wouldn't say it was celebrating prematurely.  I think like anything else, I think when any team goes on a run or makes some shots or good things happen, it generally energizes any team, not just our team.  So I think that run probably energized our team.

Q.  What do you make of the SEC as a basketball conference this year?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I'm just going to go off of playing Memphis, playing Wisconsin, playing Kansas.  I'm sure I could say the same thing about those teams as the SEC, back when we played them, they're probably different teams right now and they probably have gotten a lot better than when we played them in November and December.
We also played at UCONN.  So we have kind of spread ourselves out as it relates to playing other BCS conferences into the high major conferences.
I think this conference is as good as any of those.  Kansas, obviously I said when we played them, had the greatest upside of any team we played up to that point in time.  But with Embiid being out, I don't know what that does to their team.  But they were very good.
Connecticut, I mean, looking at our teams, I don't know what's going to happen on Sunday at 6 o'clock, but I would say there's a lot of teams in this league, in my opinion, that could go into a NCAA tournament game and win games in that tournament that we have played against.  That's what I believe.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
COACH DONOVAN:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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