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March 19, 2014

Billy Donovan

Casey Prather

Scottie Wilbekin

Will Yeguete

Patric Young


Q.  The specter of being No.1 is out there for you guys, and in some quarters that means you either win it all or it's disappointment.  How do you look at the specter and do you agree with that assertion?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  The specter?  What does that mean?

Q.  The shadow of being No.1.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  We try not to think about that.  Coach D does a good job reminding us that no matter what the rankings are every year, there's upsets.  So it really doesn't matter once the ball goes up.  Anything can happen, anybody can beat anybody, so we've got to be on our toes no matter what.

Q.  Casey, what do you know about Albany, and is there any way Albany can beat you?
CASEY PRATHER:¬† I mean, they definitely can beat us.¬† They're a good team.¬† We've just got to be ready, do a good job with scouting and preparation.¬† But like Scottie said, anybody can beat us in this tournament, so we got to be ready from the get‑go.

Q.¬† With having four Gators from right here in the area and a couple more from Gainesville, did you get any home cooking at all, or do you feel like you have a home‑court advantage here in Orlando?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Well, it's always really cool when we have an opportunity to stay in Florida.  It would be kind of a neutral court, but we know we have a lot of Gators that are going to be out here.  I don't know about home cooking, but it's going to be kind of like a home game because I'm sure we're going to have a lot of orange and blue out there.  None of that staff matters.  It's what happens inside the lines.  We've got to make sure we're ready to do our job when the ball gets tipped up.
WILL YEGUETE:¬† I agree with Pat.¬† I think that's going to be really fun to play in front of our fans and especially in Orlando here.¬† But it's going on us to make sure we're ready to go tomorrow and play with our energy and just be ready to go from the get‑go.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, same thing that they said.  I'm thankful to be playing so close to Gainesville.  Unfortunately we don't get any home cooking, still have to eat the food that they give us at the hotel.  But it's great to be close to home.
CASEY PRATHER:  I mean, yeah, they said it all.  It's great to play in front of our fans, but like they said, we've got to do a great job taking care of business between the lines.

Q.¬† Patric and Scottie, you guys play more minutes on the last three teams that have gotten to the Elite 8.¬† What's going to be the difference in overcoming getting past that barrier?¬† I know it's that one‑game‑at‑a‑time stuff but what do you think has kept you from advancing beyond that the last three years?
PATRIC YOUNG:¬† Well, first, as far as this year, we have to get past Albany first before we get to the Elite 8.¬† Hopefully we can overcome that obstacle.¬† But the teams we've been on the last three years, they haven't been as connected and haven't had as much chemistry as this teams has had.¬† We really enjoy playing with one another, and I think when we get‑‑ if we get that opportunity, if we're blessed to have that chance to go to the Final Four, I think each and every guy is going to make sure we lay it out on the line and come ready to go.¬† I mean, all we can do is just make sure that we go out there and when we walk off the court make sure we have no regrets and give it our best shot.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:¬† I agree with Pat that this year's team is different than all the other teams I've been on here.¬† I think we have more leadership and more experience than any other team, and as far as what happened those last three years, I don't know, and to be honest, I don't really care because I'm not really‑‑ we're not thinking about that.¬† Nobody on our team or on the coaching staff is thinking about the last couple of years.¬† We're just focused on this game.¬† Like you said, it might be clich√©, but that's all we think about is the next game, and that's Albany, and we have to win that game to advance to the next round, so that's all we're focused on.

Q.  Did any of you guys, knowing that it was either going to be Albany or Mount St. Mary's, did you watch the game last night and what did you see out of Albany?
PATRIC YOUNG:  I didn't really watch the game.  I saw a little bit of it.  We had dinner while the game was going on and then I took a nap.  When I came back down that's when I knew Albany won, so I don't really know too much.
WILL YEGUETE:  Obviously watched the game.  We started looking at them today, and we knew they won yesterday, so we watched some film about them yesterday, as well.  Today in practice I think we're going to keep on getting better and knowing a lot about them today and getting ourselves ready for tomorrow.

Q.  Patrick, talk a little bit about your journey here, four years, you're described as a very popular man about campus.  What has college meant to you even beyond basketball?
PATRIC YOUNG:¬† Well, it's just college has helped me just to become closest to the man I'd like to be in the future, just to challenge my morals and values and the things that I believe in, why do I believe them, why do I live them out, and just help me to experience things and go through many struggles and victories just to become who I am today.¬† Definitely I am very happy‑‑ if I would go back and you would ask me coming into college if I was going to stay all four years, I don't know if I would have said yes right away, but I'm glad that I took it one year at a time and was able to make the decision to come back each year.¬† With the relationships that I've built, the memories that I have to look back upon, it's really priceless and something I'm always going to cherish.

Q.  Does this tournament feel any different to either of you guys being that it's the last one?  Are you guys any more anticipatory for this one than you were the other ones?
CASEY PRATHER:  For the most part, I feel like each and every game is a different opportunity, another challenge, so I feel like this tournament is just about executing and taking care of one game at a time and so we really don't try to look at the bigger picture as far as the end results of the tournament.  I feel as if we just focus on this game.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:¬† I feel, this being our last time, it feels a little bit different, but once we get into like all of this, like media and practice, being at the hotel, it kind of feels the same, but there is that in the back of my mind that this is the last go‑around.

Q.  Patric, let me ask you about the No.1 ranking.  Do you feel like you're a marked team?  Is it a cool thing to be the No.1 overall pick, or is it a thing that makes you hunted?
PATRIC YOUNG:¬† Well, it's really funny that you say that because our whole‑‑ our first three years here, we were never the No.1 team in the country, and when we finally achieved that this year, we were just like, okay, I mean, everything is the same, nothing has really changed.
Really we've done as a team, the environment, the atmosphere has been taking it one game at a time.¬† We have no control over what people are saying about us, what's going on outside of our program.¬† We just have to be focused on getting better every day, getting closer to one another, pushing, competing, and doing that, the results and everything else that comes with it, the history, the records we've broken, the 21‑0 in all conference games, all that has come with it.¬† We're just going to continue to do what's been working, and hopefully we can achieve the ultimate goal.

Q.  This question is actually for Patric and Scottie:  Now that you guys are seniors, what advice would you give to the next generation of players coming into the Gators, and also what advice would you give your next year's captains?
PATRIC YOUNG:¬† What advice would I give to the next generation of players and to the captains of this team next year?¬† Well, I know it's coming into good hands, and to Michael Frazier.¬† He's shown that he has a great heart and passion for this team.¬† My advice I guess I would give those guys is listen to coach and come in with a great attitude every day, stick to the process.¬† It's the process of getting better, trying to achieve greatness, it isn't always by what you see.¬† You have to have a lot of faith in the people around you as well as in yourself and the God‑given ability that you have, so just stick with that, just always be positive, and just never give up.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I would tell them to try and develop trust with your teammates because I feel like that's really important to building a successful team, and value defense because we wouldn't be where we are right now without placing a high value on defense, on the defensive side of the floor, and just come every day to practice ready to go and ready to go 100 percent.

Q.  Scottie, DJ Evans is a little guy, a 5'9" point guard.  Anything you can draw from guarding Erving Walker in practice a couple years ago, smaller point guard, a little guy?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Well, from what I've seen on the film, he's really quick and does a good job of using ball screens.  I've just got to make sure I stay alert, don't fall asleep and try to keep him in between me and the basket, or keep myself.

Q.  Will and Patric, can you talk about last year Dorian had to leave home because he was transferring and how you kept him in the loop while you were making your run to the tournament?
PATRIC YOUNG:  About Dorian?

Q.  Yeah, obviously you guys were out here doing this and he had to stay back.  He said he felt like he was the only guy in school.
WILL YEGUETE:  Yeah, I think it's different when you have to sit out, but I think he learned a lot last year just being in the program with us.  I think he's having a good year, just coming off the bench and giving us energy and scoring.  I think the year he sat out really helped him, and he's helping us this year.  I'm sure he's enjoying his time right now and being able to be in the NCAA Tournament right now.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Yeah, it was really tough for him, especially I can think about Eli and Alex, those guys right now that are sitting at home because they can't travel with us while we're doing what we're doing.  They practice with us every single day and they grind with us, they get yelled at with us, they do all the sprints and workouts but they can't travel or play in the games.
Do, he stuck it out, he stuck it through, stayed with the process and now from being on a team that never even had a postseason to a team where we are now, he's very thankful and I'm glad he's a part of this with us right now.

Q.  Patric, you saw a lot more of this than anybody else, what Will went through the last couple years.  Can you just talk about it a little bit and the respect you've had for what he's had to overcome?
PATRIC YOUNG:¬† For Will?¬† Well, Will, he always came here‑‑ when he came in, he always played really good defense and could rebound, and he's been plagued with some injuries every now and then, but one thing that's really‑‑ I've admired about him through it all is how positive he's been able to stay through the whole thing.¬† I'm sure he's been sad or depressed by why is this happening to me, this isn't fair, but through it all, he's persevered, and I really respect that, and look where he is now, he's playing some of the best ball that he ever has.¬† He's really contributing to our team.¬† He might not always be the one that everyone talks about, but everyone on this team values him more than the next guy or whoever else.¬† I'm really proud of him, and I'm just very fortunate and blessed to be able to call him my teammate.

Q.  The specter of being No.1 has loomed over you guys.  In some corners it seemed like you guys will either win it all or it will be a disappointment.  How do you look at that rating and the showed owe of the No.1 that kind of looms over you guys?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† Well, you know, I think the one thing that we've talked a lot about as a team is the total focus on what matters as it relates to our preparation, what takes place in between the lines, all those other things.¬† You know, that's stuff that I would say that's a distraction, that stuff that's out there on the peripheral, where‑‑ we have nothing to do with that.¬† We've got to play games, and whether or not we move on or whether or not we go home is going to be predicated on how well we perform and play.¬† And when you're in a tournament that's a one‑and‑done tournament like this or the SEC Tournament, if you have a game where you don't play well, chances are you're not going to advance.
So for us it's not even about that, us being No.1 is a great honor and a great compliment, but I really don't know what it means.  We're in a bracket right now and we've got to play tomorrow against Albany, and that's the only thing that really matters to our guys right now is trying to play the very, very best of our ability on Thursday.

Q.  Are you sick again?  Seems like you're always battling something.
A.It's a continual cold.  I can't get rid of it.  I wish I could get a little more help from the AD (laughing).

Q.  Now that you know who you're playing, Albany, thoughts on that team and certainly the point guard, a guy who looks a little Erving Walker out there?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† This is, I think, probably challenging for both of us, considering the quick turnaround, not finding out until last night who the winner was.¬† A lot for us, our team to get prepared for.¬† Last night I think for them was a game of two contrasting styles of play.¬† Mount St.Mary was a team that was going to try to take anywhere from 25 to 35 three‑point shots.¬† Albany is a very, very efficient team.¬† They run their offense.¬† They've got a balanced attack, both guards out there are very, very good players.¬† Hooley leads them in scoring, Rowley is a guy at the power forward spot, very, very good.¬† Puk's got size.
So they're a team that has a lot of answers and very, very balanced, and then defensively they've really done a good job all year long.
So a lot for our team to get prepared for, being not necessarily a quick turnaround but in some ways a quick turnaround where we had practice and meetings on Monday, Tuesday, and we didn't know until we got here to Orlando who we would be playing.

Q.  You're a 1 seed, they're a 16.  16 has never beaten a 1.  Will Brown said after the game last night, his son came up to him and said how much are you going to get killed by?  There's no way a lot of people think they can even be on the court with you.  What is your answer to that?
BILLY DONOVAN:  They've earned the right to play the game.  They've had a heck of a year.  They've gone into their conference tournament and they had to win a championship game on the road.  I think that says a lot about their kids' character.  It says a lot about the job that Will has done.
For our basketball team, as I said earlier, it has nothing to do for us about seeding or anything else.  The only thing that matters is how well do we prepare to get ready to play tomorrow afternoon and how well do we play in between the lines.  So I can tell you this:  Our team, our coaching staff have great respect for Albany and what they've done and how they've performed certainly coming down the stretch and really the whole year.
And I think Will has done a great job building that program and getting Albany almost on a regular basis into the NCAA Tournament.  You've got to give them a lot of credit for that.  Our guys have an enormous amount of respect and fully expect a great challenge and battle at 4:00 tomorrow.

Q.  Can you just talk about Dorian sitting out last year?  Sometimes you can lose a transfer mentally when he sits out for a full year and you leave him behind for this tournament and then the reward of being able to be here now?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think he helped us a lot.  It's kind of very, very similar to what Alex Murphy and Demontre have done in terms of our preparation.  Last year Dorian being on the scout team and helping us prepare not only in the regular season but in the postseason, that was very helpful.  I think him being able to be in our system and in our style and see what goes into it from a preparation standpoint, practice, learning a new system, I'm happy for him that he could be a part of going to the NCAA Tournament and competing in the NCAA Tournament after having to sit out a year ago.
I know he's excited about it, and he's been a real, real big piece and a positive piece to our team this season.

Q.  Billy, you talked about the quick turnaround.  How important is it to have a staff that's adept at scouting and having a certain comfort level with this time of year?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† I don't worry about the staff part of it because they obviously this time.¬† We knew we were going to be playing the winner of the Albany, mount St. Mary's game basically on Sunday when we got back into Gainesville after the SEC Tournament.¬† So those guys that worked on it‑‑ the biggest challenge is getting the information to our players in a fashion that's not overwhelming, not so consuming, but makes sense to them, is kind of precise, and areas that we need to do a good job as it relates to running offense against them, defending them, their personnel, those kind of things.¬† Our staff has had more than enough time to watch film over a period of time starting on Sunday night.¬† The biggest challenge comes, our team didn't know until yesterday around maybe 9:00 who we'd be playing, and then you kind of start the process of getting the players familiar with the next opponent.

Q.  Rick Pitino has yet another former assistant coach who's made the tournament this year in Manhattan's coach, Steve Masiello.  How is this possible that he's able to pick all these assistant coaches who are able to become head coaches and be so popular, and what in particular did you learn from him that you still used to?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think a couple things.  I think as a young assistant coach, your development as a coach has everything to do with the head coach, and if there's one thing that I've learned becoming a head coach, it is the responsibility I have to my assistants.
Now, what does that mean?  When I was 24 years old, I was forced to scout.  I was forced to coach.  I was forced to teach.  I was forced to break down film.  I was forced to make decisions.  There was not any area of coaching when I was with Coach Pitino that I was not exposed to, and it was challenging, it was demanding, and it made me better.
I really felt even though I was 28 years old and took over at Marshall, I didn't feel like I was unprepared, or geez, this is overwhelming.  Not at all, and I think that had everything to do with Coach Pitino in terms of preparing us, and I hope in some way what he did for me I can do the same thing for my guys that are assistant coaches and move on to head coaching positions, is to get them prepared as much as I can.
Our assistants are very active in practice.  They're very active with our players.  They're active in individual instruction.  Their scouting reports, presenting in front of the team, all those things.  And I think it starts with Coach Pitino.  That's something I definitely carried on that I learned from him when I was working for him.
I think style of play‑wise, the player development piece of it, because I played for him, and that was really, really, really important, was the player development piece, so I really have taken that from him because if it wasn't for him coming into Providence my junior year and the amount of time he spent with me, developed me, helping me grow as a player, I probably would not have experienced the things I experienced in college basketball my junior and senior year.¬† That's something I really have carried over because I went through it firsthand.
I think the philosophy of how the game should be played in terms of running and pressing up and down the floor, I certainly share a lot in those beliefs.  I think offensively you're always going to make some tweaks and changes based on your personnel, but I think that we probably share a common vision, so to speak, in terms of the game being played unselfishly and together through ball movement and extra passing and trying to be in great shape and those kind of things I would say that have carried over with me.

Q.¬† We're here in a town and an arena that could have been your work address.¬† Instead you're here with a top‑seeded team getting ready to start the NCAA Tournament.¬† Can you give a couple thoughts on your perspective on that now and some of the positives from the decision that you made?
BILLY DONOVAN:  I mean, for me obviously it seems like a long time ago.  I've got great respect for the Magic and for this organization, for the people running it.  I'm excited to be at Florida.  When I went back, I knew we were going to have to rebuild.  We lost a lot of personnel, and it's been challenging, it's been rewarding.  There's been peaks and valleys.  There's been ups and downs.  But I'm proud of what our team has done to get to this point.  We're happy that we can certainly stay here in the state of Florida and the city of Orlando to play in the tournament.
But for me, I think that's over and done with, and I've kind of moved on from it, and I also understand sometimes those questions are going to come up now and then.

Q.¬† Two‑part question for you:¬† Do you have any home‑court advantage here at all?¬† And the second part is you've got four guys that are basically from the metro area here, and your players earlier said they didn't get a single home‑cooked meal.¬† Can you tell us why you're not letting the moms come in and cook for them?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, we're going to focus on what we've always done.  We're not going to change routine.  It's the same thing we've done all year long.
Again, I think as it relates to crowds and all those things, we don't control that.  Again, everything that we're focusing on is what we have the responsibility to do, and that's to prepare, to practice and to get ready to play against Albany right now, and that's kind of where we've kept our focus.
All the other stuff for us, we're not really trying to focus on that.¬† It's got nothing to do‑‑ we're going to focus on anything that helps us play our best tomorrow.¬† That's all we're focused on right now.

Q.  You were talking about Coach Pitino.  You've faced him a couple times, faced him in the NCAA Tournament.  Can you imagine how daunting the task would be to face him in your first NCAA Tournament game, which is facing Steve tomorrow night?
BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, I think Louisville is playing right now.  The daunting part is playing their team.  Their team is really, really good and is playing exceptional basketball right now, and one thing I would say about Coach Pitino, I think his teams have always played very, very well in March and this time of year.
I'm happy for Steve.  I've obviously known Steve for a long, long time.  He's done a great job at Manhattan.  But certainly I think when you're playing against one of the hottest teams in the country, that's certainly a great challenge for Manhattan, the players, and how well Coach Pitino will have them prepared.

Q.  How often have you gotten a freshman on campus and maybe wanted to red shirt them just for developmental reasons, and what would make you pull the trigger on that kind of a decision?  How hard is it especially in this era to actually do that with a kid?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† My decision on that, I never try to go into a season with an idea that I'm going to red shirt somebody.¬† I may go into a season and talk to a person or a player‑‑ for example, a perfect example is DeVon Walker.¬† Devon Walker in a lot of ways, his freshman year he didn't play a lot, and I didn't want him to have another year as a sophomore under the same circumstances, and if I said to him, if you're not going to play a lot, this is something you should consider.
But I think what you want to do is be able to give a player the opportunity to compete every single day in practice and see for himself, maybe red shirting is best.  I think the player needs to own that.  You can think it's the greatest idea as a coach, but if the player has not bought into it and doesn't own it, it makes it that much more difficult and challenging.
I would want to, in a situation like that, have both myself and the player to be on the same page and in agreement of what would be best for their career.  I just don't like wasting two years with a guy averaging 4.8 minutes a game for two straight years and you sit there and say, wow, if he red shirted a year you could have him for two more years and he could be really, really good.

Q.  Do you have an example of somebody you've done that with?
BILLY DONOVAN:  As a red shirt?  Yeah, I don't know.  I'd have to go back and think about it.  I'm not 100 percent sure.

Q.  Patric Young, where do you think he ranks as far as post defenders you've had?  And where do you think he ranks as far as getting the most out of the whole college experience?
BILLY DONOVAN:¬† He's as good of a post defender, guarding pick‑and‑roll, playing low‑post defenses, as I've had.¬† I think the biggest thing with Patric where I've seen growth has been his consistency with his work habits, his attitude, and his resiliency to fight through when things don't go well for him.¬† He's done a great job this year in that area, and he's really evolved into a much, much better leader because he's done it by example rather than by talking about it.
So I think those two things go hand in hand, how well he's performed and how well he defends.
Also, his intelligence level has got a lot to do with it, too.¬† He's a really smart defensive player.¬† He can see things happening before they happen.¬† That's really impressive to me with him.¬† I think he may be the consummate guy that has really got the full capacity of a college experience.¬† He's very active on campus.¬† He's going to graduate on time.¬† People really enjoy being around him.¬† He's active in the community.¬† He represents himself, his family, our program in a first‑class manner.¬† He's on time.¬† He's reliable.¬† He's responsible.¬† He likes school.¬† He really likes school.¬† He likes going to class.¬† He gets stimulated academically in a lot of ways.
Last year when‑‑ and it's been this way the last three years ‑‑ he's had a choice to make about leaving early, and he could have left early the last three years, and after last season he said to me, Coach, I only get one chance to go to college, I get one chance to be a senior, I get one chance to have a senior night and I get one chance to play with these group of guys that I came in here with, and I'm not ready to give that up.¬† I want to really enjoy and have my senior year in college.¬† Maybe somewhat of a throwback mentality, maybe a little bit different, but I respect and appreciate how important him being on our campus and being part of our program and being at the University of Florida is to him.

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