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March 28, 2014

Billy Donovan

Michael Frazier, II

Casey Prather

Scottie Wilbekin

Will Yeguete

Patric Young


THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon.  Our first press conference today features the Florida Gators.  We've been joined by head Coach Billy Donovan, along with student‑athletes Patric Young, Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, and Michael Frazier II.
COACH DONOVAN:  We're excited for the opportunity to get another 40 minutes to play.  Obviously, getting back to our hotel at the time we did after the game, just tried to get those guys something to eat and let them get some rest.
They had an opportunity to watch just a little bit of film this morning, not much.  A lot for us to prepare for here in practice and later on this afternoon.
Just understand that we are playing a terrific team that has played exceptionally well in this tournament, and coming down the stretch, and it will be a great challenge for us tomorrow evening.

Q.  Patric and Scottie, Billy the other day was just saying how gratifying it's been to see you guys kind of come together, given all the issues the team was having back in the summer.  Can you guys just reflect on just how far you guys have come since the team was, in his words, in shambles?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, some of the issues that happened during the summer was part of what brought us together as a team.  Just throughout the year, the type of games that we've been in and the grind of practice, it's just really a combination of all those things bringing us together to the team that we are today.
It's a joy now to play with these guys and just to spend time with them.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think about early in the season Coach Donovan, he uses a million analogies, and this one was a good one: Laying the foundation down, the soil down for the season.  We tried to lay down good soil early in the season even though things were kind of tough, guys were still locked in and buying into the system, working every day, staying in the moment.
And I believe now, because of the good soil that we laid, we're starting to reap what we've sown and are allowing the whole process of sticking to it, allowing us to be successful now.

Q.  Michael Frazier, how light or how hard was practice today?
MICHAEL FRAZIER II:  We haven't practiced yet.

Q.  Patric and Scottie, since you guys have had the most NCAA Tournament experience, but the program's got a history of playing the so‑called Cinderella teams and playing well against them, you know, thinking in terms of George Mason back with that '06/'07 team, and Florida Gulf Coast last year.  Does that reflect that in the moment, that 'not overlooking anything' philosophy of not taking a team lightly even at this stage?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yes, I think it does.  We try to play every game the same way and with the same intensity regardless of who we're playing.  What we try to do is not focus on who we're playing, but focus on us and focus on how we need to play in order to advance.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Our focus going into whatever game it may be isn't just on the opponent.  Of course, we look at our scouting and make sure we're prepared, but we know that we're striving for greatness, and we have to go into each and every game just with that mindset, focused on taking whatever challenges are thrown at us.
Even if the team may be a Cinderella, I mean, that doesn't have any bearing on what happens when the ball gets tipped up.  The best team's going to win.  We know Dayton is a good team.  Those teams we played in the past were good teams as well.  What happened in the past has no bearing on what's going to happen tomorrow.

Q.  Patric, can you talk about last night Billy talked about how you had a hard time getting in a flow, a lot of fouls, trying to help out, I think, on defense some.  Can you just talk about how frustrating that was for you and how you feel about, okay, you still got through it, and you still have another game to play, obviously, that being tomorrow.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Yeah, it was frustrating because I do as much as I can to try to prepare to put myself in a position to have a good game.  I've just got to flush it, learn from it, move forward, have a good practice today, respond well, and go into the next game having amnesia.

Q.  Patric, following up on the playing the underdog type of team, a lot of times when you're the number 1 seed, the crowd will root for the underdog.  Does that have any bearing on how you play?  Do you guys rally around that at all?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Not really.  That's just how it is.  As fans, we want to see the underdog team, whatever sport, be able to knock down the David and Goliath type story.
But that has nothing to do with what happens in between the lines.  We've been in hostile environments before.  Even if all the fans there are cheering for Dayton, we're still going to stay within ourselves and stay focused on the moment one possession at a time.  We won't allow it to affect us.  We've been able to handle that all year long.

Q.  For a couple of the seniors, or all of you, if you'd like, just the excitement level of getting another shot at the Final Four and just you guys maintaining the commitment to each other and to the school and everything to kind of stick with it through everything to get to this point.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Yeah, we're really excited just to have the opportunity to be here.  Of course, at the beginning of the year, it's our goal to make it here, and the fact that we have this opportunity, we're not going to let the moment get bigger than us, staying locked in and focused on what we need to do.
We're just very blessed and fortunate to be a team that can put themselves in this opportunity to play for a Final Four again.  Going to prepare and do the best we can, especially as a senior class, because it's our last go round to make it to that next step.
So just very grateful and thankful for the opportunity.
WILL YEGUETE:  I'm really excited about being able to play tomorrow against a really good team.  We worked pretty hard the whole year to get to that point.
I think we'll just have to stick to what we've been doing all year, just focusing on getting ourselves ready and going into the next game like it's another game, and I think we'll be fine.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yes, I'm excited because not too many teams get this opportunity.  I have to put that aside and realize that it's just another game.  I have to prepare like it's any other game and just go out and play like we've been playing all year.
CASEY PRATHER:  Yeah, we're very excited, very thankful for this opportunity.  We've just got to focus in, be locked into what we have to do to win this game.
MICHAEL FRAZIER II:  We're excited for the opportunity.

Q.  This is for Michael and for Patric.  I've heard a couple of times now through the course of this tournament the phrase of chasing greatness.  Would you guys expound on that, chasing greatness?  Is it just winning the whole thing, or does it go beyond that?
MICHAEL FRAZIER II:  I think chasing greatness is just being locked in every single moment.  Not worrying about the past, not worrying about the future, just trying to dominate every possession and be our best.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I believe, when we talk about chasing greatness, we're talking about just the goal at hand, the opportunity of what we can achieve, what we set our goals for in the beginning of the year.  In the moment, we can always chase greatness, whether it's being great on a possession, striving to be great a whole game, holding a team to our standard defensively.
Just having that mindset, really just change the way that you approach everything, especially when you've got a team of guys that are all bought in and locked into that concept and that theme.

Q.  Scottie, can you reflect a little bit on your personal journey from all the time you sat in Billy's office and he talked to you about transferring, to the stage you're at now.  And, Patric, could you talk a little bit about what you've seen out of Scottie's growth.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, it's been an up‑and‑down road and journey.  It's all been worth it, though, to see the point that I'm at now with the teammates.  It's just the journey has been a struggle at times, but it's also had a lot of highs this year.  It's been of great season, fun, so much fun I just want it to keep going as long as it can because this has honestly been my most enjoyable year at Florida.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I've seen tremendous maturity and growth in Scottie through this whole process.  A guy that almost hit rock bottom and seen how fragile his basketball career is to just wanting to build that trust back and stick to the process.
Of course, it hasn't been easy, but he knows that we all loved him and supported him through it all.  We're just very fortunate and happy that he stuck with it and just showed us how much he loves the game, how invested he is to this team, how much of a competitor he is.
I think it brought him to another level of his game, as you can see.  He's just worked his butt off, really just competes every single day and leads this team.

Q.  For the seniors, talking a lot, especially you, Scottie, last night about not being haunted because it's a different opponent you're facing tomorrow night, being back in the Elite Eight.  What lessons have you learned that helps you focus on the moment and be in each possession?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Well, the lesson from the first two games was we didn't finish the game because we had leads going into the downhill part of the game, and other teams were just able to make better plays.
Then the third game, I don't know what it was.  Didn't come out playing the right way.
We're not going to let the past haunt us because they have no bearing.  Of course, we're going to learn from it, but going forward, we're going to get ready for the next team, the Dayton Flyers.  We know they're an exceptionally good team.  Very similar to us in they're a team that really utilize each other.
We're going to do the best we can and make sure we go out there leaving no regrets.  I think we're just going to give it our best shot.
WILL YEGUETE:  Obviously, you know, everybody knows about our past.  I think we played a really good team the last two years, and just we have a different team.  I think we bring the energy that we've been bringing the whole tournament and just stay connected.
I think it's going to be a really good battle against a really good team.  From the past three games, just come in ready to go from the get‑go, good energy, stay connected, and just get stops.  I think defensively it's really going to help us get to where we want to get.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I would say the biggest thing we learned, I don't know if it's only from the Elite Eight games, but from our first three years here, is how important it is to stay in the moment and stay connected as a team.
I think, since this year has started, we've done a good job of doing that, and so we're just carrying that with us.
CASEY PRATHER:  Like Scottie said, just not taking anything for granted, staying in the moment, knowing that we have another opportunity.  We're blessed with that.  So just stay in the moment, do everything that we can in order to be a connected team and to play like that.

Q.  Scottie, Coach Donovan stated how you guys watched film last night for a little bit.  What stood out from Dayton's guards?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  They're all great at shooting threes.  They have great percentages.  They do a good job of getting in the lane.  They're active on defense.
I think that they have a lot of depth, have a lot of different guys who can score and put points on the board in a number of different ways.  It's going to be a challenge to match up with them and to stick with it for the whole 40 minutes.

Q.  Patric, what are some of the reasons why this team has handled adversity maybe better in the three previous years?  You know you're bound to face adversity again in a game like tomorrow.  How do you guys handle that, and do you learn from your past experiences on that?
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think recognition goes to Coach Donovan, first and foremost.  He's just been able to challenge us and make sure that we are able to take that on.  He puts us in scenarios in practice every single day to face it.
Even if we don't handle it well, or we do handle it well, he'll let us know, and we are very appreciative of that.
I think the fact that we have four seniors that have been through it for so long helps us to just stay connected, really know that what it's about when we're in those moments.  It's about moving on to the next thing, not worrying about the scoreboard, just taking it one possession at a time, and fighting and clawing your way to the final buzzer to make sure you're on top.

Q.  Much was said in this room last night about Scottie's ability to come through in the clutch.  For Patric and for Casey, can you tell me what is it that makes him ideal for that role?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Well, we all believe in Scottie, one thing for sure, and he's just a competitor.  I've never seen a guy that's just been able to maintain that fire and love for basketball just so consistently over and over.
I mean, the guy in the summer would want to play pickup every single day, seven‑game series if we could.
I just trust the guy with the ball.  I know if no other option is working out on offense, that he's going to be able to create something, that he's going to be able to get a good shot off.
And he trusts us.  If he gets a shot up and it doesn't go in, he trusts that me, Dodo, Will, one of us guys are going to go in and grab a rebound.  It's not just him.  The whole team believes in him, he believes in us, and that's just where we are right now.
CASEY PRATHER:  I feel like that's just Scottie being Scottie.  We see it each and every day in practice.  We saw it early in the year.  It's not really too much of a surprise for us.
I know Scottie feels that everybody on the team got his back to take those shots, so he has confidence to go down there and make it.

Q.  Pat and Will, Dayton scored a lot of points in the paint last night.  How much pride do you guys take on defense and defending the paint?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Well, defense, I believe that's the reason why we are where we are right now, why we've been able to be so successful, because our coaches have done such a tremendous job getting that hammered into our brains of how important it is to disrupt teams and force them to turn the ball over, especially with our press.
It's a team effort when the ball goes into the paint, or whatever it may be, that we keep the ball out of the paint.  We make them take shots, tough twos that they don't want to take.
If we can do that, I think we're doing the best we can on defense.
WILL YEGUETE:  I mean, we're going to try to be disruptive tomorrow.  Obviously, they're a really good team inside.  But we believe in ourselves.  I think the guards are going to do a good job helping us as well.  Just going to go for it, make sure we battling, and bring our energy to compete against those guys.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Coach Donovan.

Q.  Billy, can you talk about what you've seen from Dayton's bench?  They played a lot of guys.  Obviously, your bench has been good all year, but they have a deep bench.
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, they're going to play 11 players.  I think the thing that makes them unique and special in a lot of ways is they've gotten great production from a lot of different people, a lot of different points in time in the game.  Whether it's been offensive rebounds, it's been a loose ball, hustle play, somebody knocking down a three, somebody making a steal and getting them out on the break.  They've got a lot of versatility.  They've got a lot of depth, and they use their depth to their advantage.

Q.  I know that any loss that ends a season is very difficult to deal with, but are Final Eight losses the toughest because of what lies ahead, what you could have gotten to?
COACH DONOVAN:  You know, I don't know if there's ever any easy exit out of the tournament.  I think, because of the, quote, unquote, nicknames, the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, people determine where it's successful or not successful.
I can tell you it was just as painful in 2000 walking off the court losing the National Championship Game as it was losing last year in the Elite Eight.  So I don't know if there's any easy way because I think everybody this time of year is putting their heart and soul.  Everybody this time of year has been totally committed to each other and their team.
So I think sometimes perception‑wise, you know, when you take that next step, it means, Okay, everything's great.  But also, you look back and say, Coach, you were so close, how do you feel?  I'm not sure there's ever an easy way to exit a tournament like this.

Q.  Coach, I'll ask you what I asked the players earlier.  When you're playing that so‑called Cinderella, and they captured a little bit of the public imagination and the media attention and they're on a little high themselves, what's been your pattern in coaching your teams to get prepared for a George Mason, a Florida Gulf Coast, and now a Dayton?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think that whole terminology is not given by us, it's given by a the lot of other people.  We don't look at anything like that.  I think those make great headlines and people talk about that, but if you want to sit down and really, really evaluate Dayton's team or even George Mason back then or whoever it's been, Florida Gulf Coast, I mean, they're good teams.
Dayton is a very, very good team.  You don't do what they've done the first three games‑ beating Ohio State, beating Syracuse, and then beating Stanford ‑ if you're not a good team.
So I think that people try to create that kind of perception, and it's really an untrue perception.  They are an outstanding team.  They went through a very, very difficult time early in their conference schedule, and they've become a great team.
I think it's very similar to what we went through to start our season with all our adversity to bring us closer together.  I think their adversities brought them closer together.
We never look at anything like that.  It's always about the opponent, what they do, what we have to do, getting prepared to play.  We don't really get wrapped up in how it gets labeled of who we're playing against, what the seedings are.  It has nothing to do with anything.
Once the ball gets thrown up in the air, the best team is going to win it between the lines.

Q.  As we get into the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament, it feels like the timeouts get longer and longer and longer.  How does that affect things?  If it does, does it kind of negate teams with more depth?  Does it mess up the flow for you, any of that stuff?
COACH DONOVAN:  No, it definitely changes.  You're also talking about a longer halftime.  Halftime for a normal game are 15 minutes.  Now you've gone to 20.  I think the media timeouts are maybe 2:20.
I think the one thing you've got to realize as a coach is you've got time.  You've got time at halftime.  You've got time during those timeouts.
I do think, when the game is going on and there is not a stoppage of play, like, for instance, yesterday there was a stretch there where both teams played up and down the court with not really any media timeout, and I thought both teams, for that moment playing, were a little bit gassed.  We needed to sub.  They needed to sub.
I would agree, through the length of TV timeouts, it becomes difficult maybe to per se wear down teams.  There is a lot more rest time.  It is different this time of year than maybe it is during the regular season.

Q.  Billy, yet again, you're facing an opponent that has one of your former assistants on it.  Just wondering if you could talk about that.  Is there any inherent advantage, disadvantage to that?  And also, in terms of your guys who are making their fourth straight appearance, because they've been so good about staying in the moment, do you have any concern about them, even though they've said they're not feeling like this is a hump that we've got to get over and having that psychological thing going?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, again, Tom did a great job for me.  He worked with John, obviously, at South Alabama then Arkansas and now at Dayton.  Obviously, there's going to be some familiarity.
It's been a while since he's worked for me and at Florida, but he's done a great job for me.  He did a great job for John.  I'm sure he's doing a great job for Archie.
But I think the teams are going to end up preparing, and the teams are going to have to go out and execute and play.
With regards to what you're talking about, the one thing, I think, for me in looking at the past, is you can draw maybe some kind of comparison or draw some kind of thing of what happened in the last three NCAA Tournaments, but the reality is last year's team is without three really good players‑‑ Rosario, Boynton, and Murphy.
The year before that was without two really good players, Beal and Erving Walker.
This is its own separate team.  This team has not played in the Elite Eight last year.  This is, in actuality, our first Elite Eight as a team.  Now, Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin and Prather and some of those guys were here last year, but also a lot of guys weren't in the roles they're in right now.
Rosario started.  Boynton started.  Murphy started.  So our team is really different.
I think over the last three years, each year we've played at this point in time, our team has been different.  Our team is clearly different than it was those years.  So we've got to play this game with the mentality that this is really all that matters.  This is what's in front of us right now.  We've got to be and understand that there's a process you have to go through for 40 minutes to put yourself in the position against a really good team.

Q.  Coach, after Dayton's win at Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy said he hadn't seen ball movement since your national champion teams back to back.  Do you see the similarities, in particular, the way they share the basketball?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think every coach tries to do that.  Every coach wants ball movement, player movement.  I think Dayton does it exceptionally well.  They've got a good understanding of what they're doing on offense.
I think you can tell that Archie has really emphasized that.  They're extremely unselfish.  Because of the numbers they play, anybody's capable of having a big night for them because they are so unselfish.
I think the one thing I respect about the way they play is the ball always finds the open man, and sometimes if you're open on a given night, you're going to get a lot of really good looks.  I think you always admire watching a team like that play because they play the right way, they play unselfishly, and they play together.

Q.  Billy, can you just talk about Patric was very frustrated last night, did not get into the flow of the game.  You've had guys who have been able to bounce back and have big games the next game.  Just what he's got to do, especially on the boards.
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, I think I would have liked to have seen him handle that situation, to be honest with you, a lot better than he did.  I thought he got way, way too wrapped up in trying to explain that he didn't travel, explain that he didn't foul.
In reality, those calls are not going to be changed or overturned.  They don't give him a red flag like the NFL.  They can go out there and go to the monitor.
He needs to move on and play.  That, to me, is the greatest sign of maturity, growth is when you can really still stay focused and play when maybe you're going through an internally frustrating moment.
Obviously, Patric wanted to be out there.  He picked up two fouls.  The two fouls he picked up were not his fault.  He had a good post move.  I didn't have a good angle.  I don't know if he traveled or not.  The officials thought he did.
He made a good jump hook in the lane.  I thought one he missed in the lane.  But we just need him to come and be that defender that he's been all year for us.

Q.  You stated how there's never an easy exit out of the tournament.  But do you feel like there's added pressure when you have a special unit like this group, which is senior led?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, I think every coach would say this time of year you have a special group.  It takes a special group to get to this time of year.
Dayton's a special group.  I think we're a special group.  Teams left playing are all special.  There's a reason that you're there.
So that's why I was saying earlier, for any team, it's never an easy exit out of the tournament because this is an exciting time.  It's a lot of fun.  You're playing against an uncommon opponent, first time generally you're seeing an opponent during the course of a season.
So I think everybody can kind of say the same thing this time of year.  You have a special group of guys.  And all of us are probably different in our own way and played to our own identity.  But I think this time of year every team has a specialness and a uniqueness to themselves.

Q.  Coach, some initial concerns on the film for Dayton that you look at right away.  What would beat you that this team can do well?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think to get to this point in time in their season, you have to do a lot of things well.  You can't just do one thing well.  They do a lot of things well.  They're terrific in transition because they have a lot of different guys that can handle it, put it on the floor, make plays.  Then they've got really good vision.  They're very unselfish.  They've got good spacing, and they make the extra pass.  So transition defense can beat you.
They can beat you with the three‑point line, and they've proven that against a number of teams so far during this NCAA Tournament.  They're a terrific shooting team, and they shoot it from a lot of different spots on the floor.
I think their frontcourt, I think Kavanaugh is a really, really underrated player.  I thought he played terrific last night against Stanford.  He gave them a great post presence.  He rebounds.  He comes up with a lot of loose balls and hustle plays.  That's another way.
I think defensively, they help each other.  They shut down gaps.  They scramble.  They rotate very well.  I think there's a lot of things that Dayton does very well.
I don't think you sit there and say, what is the main concern?  Their team is a major concern because of how good they are.

Q.  Billy, how do you keep an 18‑, 19‑, 20‑year‑old group of guys focused like they keep focused on what they're doing without wandering off in the peripheries and realizing exactly where they are right now?  It seems to me like they're in a trance, and now they're in the Elite Eight, but they don't really realize it.  How do you do this?
COACH DONOVAN:  I mean, it's a challenge every day.  It's not just for me, it's probably for everybody.
The only thing that I would say that we really try to do more than anything else is to focus on what has bearing in our performance.  Anything else really doesn't make a difference.  There's nothing else they should bring to the table‑ mentally, emotionally‑ because it has nothing to do with anything.
I think for our team this year what this has been about is the next game, who we're playing, what do we need to do, how we're going to play together, and how we're going to be connected.
Now, we didn't always play like that.  I think it was pretty clear after the Albany game I didn't feel that way.  It's a battle.
Now, when you have some older guys that have been through it, there's a growth and a maturity of being able to move from one thing to the next, and I think that's the challenge is being able to move to the next thing.  That's hard sometimes.
So it's been a good group for me to work with as it related to that kind of stuff.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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