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April 5, 2014
UConn – 63
Florida - 53
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes, Will Yeguete, Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin.
COACH DONOVAN: Well, congratulations Connecticut. I thought they played extremely well today.
Unfortunately for us, I didn't think it was one of our better games and I think Connecticut certainly had a lot to do with that. I thought we got off to a very, very good start in the game and I thought the reason we got off to a good start in the game was our defense was very, very good. Right after that point, we had three or four possessions right in a row where some of our pick‑and‑roll coverage broke down, which led to, I think, three straight threes and the lead went from 12 to 3 pretty quickly.
Then I think once they got their defense set, I thought we had a hard time handling their pressure up top, keeping the ball moving, getting down the lane, being aggressive. We struggled there.
Then our guys battled and fought there in the second half. We went 1‑3‑1 zone. I thought we got the ball inside a little bit more.
But certainly their back court players I thought really, really played well and made some plays. I thought Daniels from the power forward spot played really, really well tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Take questions for the student‑athletes.
Q. Scottie and Patric, all season you guys seemed to be able to kind of find the answer, the extra gear. What was kind of different and what was kind of going through your guys' minds out there when you just couldn't kind of get it going?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN: On offense, we just couldn't really get anything going. They were being really aggressive and we couldn't really get into our offense. We weren't moving the ball as well. A couple of us were having bad shooting nights. Patric and Casey played good as far as shooting the ball goes, but the shots that we did get couldn't get them to fall.
PATRIC YOUNG: I think I was just trying to get the guys just to stay in the moment and just keep pushing on from the past, because we have been a team that's come from behind a lot, especially late in the season. I thought that if we just picked it up a little bit more, just forgot about how we were shooting and just locked in and focused, we could have it come again.
We cut it down to three, and I thought we were there. We were going to be able to I think change the game, take the lead back.
But UCONN was very good with their pressure on our guards and we didn't convert points. They scored a lot on us as well. So all the credit goes to them.
Q. Scottie, we saw you limping upanddown the court a few times. Were there cramping issues, and if so, how severe were they?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN: Yeah, it was right when the second half started. I was getting a little cramp, but it wasn't too bad. I got out of the game and got some ice and then it wasn't really a problem from then on.
Q. Patric, I know this loss just happened, but can you put into words the emotions that you feel right now after what had been a magical season, winning 30 straight games and the expectations of going the distance.
PATRIC YOUNG: Well, it's really tough. Can't really explain how I feel because it just hasn't hit me, that these guys right next to me, the guys in the locker room, that we're not going to be together in the same way again. Who knows where we're going to be in a couple of months.
Just this team was so special, something I'm never going to forget for all my life. We accomplished a lot just by loving each other and being really committed and loving playing with one another.
So I'm just really going to cherish everything that we had this year and it's going to be something I'll never forget.
Q. Scottie, can you explain at all just the assist‑to‑turnover ratio for you guys, just three assists versus the 11 turnovers today?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN: That's crazy. That's not usually what we do. All credit goes to them and their guards and the way they were denying and putting pressure on us. We weren't taking care of the ball. When we would get by them, we wouldn't keep the ball tight and they would reach from behind. We were just being too loose with it.
Q. For any of the players, Michael Frazier hit a three‑pointer early and then he only had two other shot attempts for the rest of the game. Was it a case of UConn blanketing him or why wasn't he involved in the game plan more offensively?
PATRIC YOUNG: I think going into the game, everyone knew how good of a deadly shooter Michael Frazier is. The guy made 11 threes early in the season against South Carolina. I think all the credit goes to their coach for putting Shabazz on him, Boatright, guys that are really quick and are going to get him out of rhythm.
We found him early and he was aggressive, but it was really tough for us to find him an open look the rest of the game. So that's never what we want to happen for him. We want to get as many open threes as we can for him.
But they just did such a great job him. We weren't really running our offense the right way or as good as we have been all year long. So it was tough to find him, tough to find a lot of shots. We were only 1‑10 from three the whole game, so, yeah...
WILL YEGUETE: Just like Scottie said, they did a good job guarding us on defense. We couldn't get ourself going. He got an open shot early, but just couldn't find him for some reason.
Our offense wasn't here tonight and we weren't able to find Frazier. So they did a good job guarding us and pushing us on defense on the other side.
Q. How are you guys going to remember this season and how do you think this team will be remembered by its fans?
WILL YEGUETE: Obviously the four seniors, we came together and we have been through a lot. Just finishing up doing all the things we done this year, I think it's really special. Going to a Final Four is something special as well. I think we're going to continue to just cherish our friendship and we're going to stay close after this.
We're a great team, I think. We accomplished a lot of things during the year. They played better than us tonight, but I think Scottie is a great player, Patric as well, and so is Casey.
This game is not changing anything, regardless of how I feel, of my relationship with them. They're great guys. I love them, love to be around them. I just wish them the best and I know they're going to be successful in life.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN: I think that everybody will remember this season for the team that we were able to become, because at the beginning of the year, it didn't look like we would be much of a team. Then throughout the year, we just really came together and did a lot of special things. Broke a number of records at the school and won some really tough games.
Unfortunately, we didn't go out the way we would like to, but only one team is going to do that. So we just have to try and remember all the good things that we did before this point. Even though it's hard right now, I'm sure that I'll look back on this year and be really proud of the guys that were standing next to me and just us as a team.
Q. For Patric, in the second half there was a time when you were really getting in the offensive flow, getting the ball. Do you feel you should have demanded the basketball a little bit more, because it seemed like you had a mismatch inside?
PATRIC YOUNG: Well, I think up front, even when I wasn't getting the ball in the first half as much or wasn't scoring as much, I was still able to put their bigs in foul trouble. Brimah and the other starting big man, they had two fouls, three fouls in the first half. I just felt as though in the second half, coach challenged me just to be more dominant in the second half. Just when I was able to get the ball, I just was more aggressive, tried to make good reps, good shots to the basket.
My teammates were just finding me. I just tried to make the right play whenever I could, and it turned out that I was able to do that for the most part.
Q. Patric or all three of you, as seniors, obviously, it's not the way you wanted to finish, just talk about what it meant to be a part of this team and what you'll leave behind.
PATRIC YOUNG: I think for the first time in my life, I was a part of a group of guys that were really willing to bleed for one another. Guys that were really willing to just do whatever it took to go outside of themselves, to commit to the greater goal.
Looking at the year, going into it, we didn't know what was going to happen with the suspension and the injuries and all that stuff. But we stuck together through it, had a lot of great memories. One thing I can take from this team is just when you can truly love a group of guys or people like this, you bring out the best out of them and you bring out the best out of your self.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll excuse you to the locker room and take questions for coach.
Q. I'll ask you the same thing I asked the players in terms of some of the shot selections and maybe why Frazier wasn't more involved or was it something UConn did or were guys not finding him?
COACH DONOVAN: You know, I totally understand. I told Scottie this after the game, I went through the same thing in the Final Four that he just went through. When I was playing, so much of our team's offense was based on the ball in my hands and making plays. I remember in my senior year playing against Sherman Douglas, I really struggled to do that.
The difference in the game was Scottie Wilbekin couldn't live in the lane like he had all year long for us. Every time we needed a big shot or a big play, whether against Arkansas or UCLA, he was in the lane. He had a really, really hard time getting in the lane around Boatright. He had a hard time getting around Napier, which inevitably made our offense very, very difficult.
He couldn't get off screens. We ran a lot of different screening action for Frazier. Just so happened the first play of the Guam we got him a shot. But there was probably 10 or 15 other plays we ran for him that he just couldn't get off screens because their speed and quickness didn't allow him to.
I thought that what generally happened for us was we were able to in the first six or eight minutes, get defensive stops and get out on the break. But if you look at their shooting percentage for the game, that really did not enable us to get out on the break. We could not get out on the break very much and attack like we wanted to.
Then when we got caught in the half court, both of our point guards had seven turnovers. That's a hard recipe. We tried to pound the ball into Patric because I think someone asked about a mismatch and we got it to him. In the first half, he was 1‑5 and he missed free throws. In the second half he performed a little bit better.
I thought the difference in the game was our back court guys could not get into the lane at the rate that Boatright and Napier could. Even though those guys didn't go off, I thought Scottie did an unbelievable job guarding Napier. He's taken over games offensively. He did as good of a job as I've seen on Napier guarding him.
Napier plays the right way. He makes extra passes and he does those things DeAndre Daniels was the recipient a lot of times of Napier finding him.
But you look at our assist‑to‑turnover ratio, it's always really been pretty, pretty good. When you see three assists, that's a direct reflection of your guards. We would not be in this situation if it was not for Scottie Wilbekin. You just never want to see a guy in his senior year do all things that he's done, you just wish he could have played and performed a little bit better for us. But if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be sitting up here right now.
Q. What's your perspective of Kevin Ollie's coaching job tonight, both on the game plan he seemed to present as well as the poise he held when they were down early?
COACH DONOVAN: I don't think there was anything different than he has done all year long. I thought he did a great job against Michigan State, turned Michigan State over 16 times. We didn't turn the ball over as much, our back court players did, but I don't think that they really did anything different. They probably made some adjustments on personnel, but that's what they have been doing.
The biggest difference in UConn's team in my opinion from seeing them in December and then watching them on tape is they have turned into a great defensive team. I think that was probably missing for a good portion of their season. They have really been able to defend at a high level.
I think it all starts with Boatright. He does a great job really pressuring the ball. And like Scottie said, even when you go by him, they turned us, they flip balls, they slapped balls out of our hands, they got on the break, they got us to take some tough shots. I would say this, there's not many guards that we have played against that have kept Scottie Wilbekin out of the lane. These guys kept him out of the lane.
Q. What will be the biggest memories that you have from this club when you look down the road?
COACH DONOVAN: I always say this, it's never an easy exit out of this tournament because your an invested team. After every year's over with, I always take time and try to evaluate myself, our team. The number one question I ask myself every year is, did our team play as close as possible to their potential? Maybe more so than any team that I've coached based on the talent level, we played way beyond our potential as a team.
I think that we have been a team where the whole has been better than the parts. When you break us down individually, we're not the most talented group, but when you stick us together collectively, we're really good.
But these guys ran off 30 straight games. One of our coaches was joking before the game, Chris Walker's never lost a college basketball game since he's been at Florida. This was his first one. They went through the SEC unblemished. They went through the SEC tournament. They got to the Final Four. Certainly we would have loved to have played on Monday night, and I told them before the game, the team that plays the best is going to play on Monday night. I thought UConn played better than we did.
But I think every coach sits up here and is so proud of my guys, I'm so proud of my guys. Me being proud of them is from a totally different perspective, because for me personally, I saw how dysfunctional we were in September. Didn't even know what we would look like. We had Eli Carter with injuries didn't look like he was going to play and had to red shirt him. Chris Walker had academic issues. Damontre Harris was removed from our team.
Then you got Scottie Wilbekin's suspension, you got Dorian Finney‑Smith's suspension, and you're sit there starting with this supposedly supposed to be a team, and it's anything but a team.
I got a chance to experience a lot of personal victories along the way off the court. Their body of work on the court people will evaluate or judge themselves, but for me personally, where they were as individuals and where they were as a team to where they came from in terms of becoming a team, I mean, it was one of the most special experiences I've had being around a group of guys away from the court maybe since I've been in coaching.
Q. You said it again, but you're fond of saying there's no easy way to exit this tournament, short of winning it. In those last few minutes when you're on the sideline and you guys have played one of your least impressive games, what's going on in your head at that moment? What are you thinking?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I'm talking to the NCAA person at the scorer's table and the referee's asking if we could start over. No, I mean, you're obviously coaching. When it got down to a minute and a half and it was 12, and Kevin's team is a really good free‑throw shooting team. There's not a lot of fouling options out there. Napier's great, Boatright's great, Giffey is really, really good, Daniels. They're a really good free‑throw shooting team. I thought that they did a really good job against Michigan State getting fouled.
So as the clock's unwinding, you're kind of sitting there and you kind of realize that this is getting ready to come to an end. You're trying to do all you can to try to help your guys as best they can, and I was proud of the way they fought all the way to the end. But I don't know if my emotions just as soon as the game ends will be like they will be tomorrow or Monday or Tuesday when I have a chance to probably for some private time to reflect by myself.
Q. Scottie's cramping issue, he cramped last week against Dayton. Did that flare up during the week or did he try to monitor it or was this something that was out of the blue?
COACH DONOVAN: I don't know, probably talking to the trainer would be best. I don't know. I just deal with it when it happens. He didn't have any cramping issues in practice or anything else like that. So he's had a problem with that in different points in time in the season, and very, very rarely does he ask me to come out, but he asked to come out within the first minute of the second half, so I just took him out and tried to give Casey a chance.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH DONOVAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports