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March 11, 2006

Billy Donovan

Tauren Green

Joakim Noah


THE MODERATOR: Okay. We're ready to continue on with Florida. We'll ask Coach Donovan for some opening comments on the game, and then we'll go to questions for Tauren and Joakim. Coach?

COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think from start to finish this season, LSU is really had an unbelievable season, both individually and as a team. They've been probably the most consistent team all season long. You know, not taking away from anything that our guys did today, but I think this time of year everybody is banged up. Tauren has been battling illness the last 12 hours. We got guys that have physical issues that everybody is dealing with, and LSU is dealing with obviously some physical issues, as well.
I think you could see how hard it is to play back-to-back nights. I didn't like our defensive intensity in the first half. In the second half we did a much, much better job. We had to weather some foul difficulty. Al Horford only played 12 minutes in the game with foul trouble. I though Joakim and Chris Richard and Adrian Moss did a nice job. Really, it was a great win against a very good team.
We were able to find a way in the second half to put together some consecutive stops in the defensive end of the floor, and we're able to make some 3s. Tauren knocked down some shots to open up the game for us. Overall, I was very, very pleased with the way our kids battled from start to finish.

THE MODERATOR: Okay. We'll take questions for Tauren or Joakim. If you have one, raise your hand for either of them. Alright. Let's start right on the aisle.

Q. Joakim, can you talk about battling with Davis down low and how you guys were able to contain him? He scored -- I don't know how many he ended up, not many. 12. Oh?
JOAKIM NOAH: "Big Baby" is a monster. He's not the Player of the Year for no reason. But he's going to get his regardless, so we're just trying to contain him the best we could. I think we did a pretty good job even though he got a lot of our front court in foul trouble, and he's just a great player. I'm really happy we got the win.

THE MODERATOR: Do you have a question in the back?

Q. Tauren, would you talk about Billy said you'd been ill for the last 12 hours. Would you talk about how you felt and how you feel now?
TAUREN GREEN: You know, last night I was struggling with a bad stomachache. Duke took care of me and gave me some medicine, IV, and I felt good out there today. I wasn't even sick last night.

THE MODERATOR: Other questions, raise your hand come on back down the aisle here.

Q. Tauren, there's been talk about you and some other guards this time of year, you know, you're tired, you're worn out, but the last couple games you looked -- played great. Are you tired are you just getting a second wind, or what?
TAUREN GREEN: No. Coach has done a good job with our team of making sure we get our rest, and he always tells us we're going to be physically prepared and it's our job to be mentally prepared. So, I mean Coach does a good job in practice and giving us time off.

THE MODERATOR: Did you have a question?

Q. Tauren, talk about you hitting two 3s from long range than drove the ball to the basket that kind of broke the game. Talk about that stretch there.
TAUREN GREEN: That's the thing with our team, you know. We got our loss, we didn't close games out, and, you know, today we did a good job of closing the game out and, you know, we just took what the defense was giving us.

THE MODERATOR: Question over here.

Q. For both you guys, can you talk about facing for a third time and what you think you may have learned in the first two games that will help you out tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Tauren, go first.

TAUREN GREEN: South Carolina probably surprised a few people. They're a good team. I mean athletic, they play hard. It's going to be a tough game tomorrow.


JOAKIM NOAH: I'm very, very, very excited. It's going to be a war out there, and it's been something that for us as Gators, I think that that was definitely a game that we wanted. Whether it was in the championship or not, and to face them in the championship is definitely like a dream for us.
So we just got to take care of our business tomorrow, be ready for war physically, mentally, spiritually, any different way. We got to be ready to go.

THE MODERATOR: Question in the back.

Q. Joakim, you talked last week about people only remember the teams that win titles. Does that go through your mind as you go into a championship game tomorrow?
JOAKIM NOAH: Definitely. I think that you think about things like that when it's all said and done. But right now we've got -- we've got to play possess by possession and just worry about -- many teams that win championships are teams that really emphasize the little things.
So we just got to -- we got to be ready for war, for battle, and just play it possession by possession because that's what it comes down to is one or two possessions at the end of the game.

THE MODERATOR: Okay. Let's go to the aisle.

Q. Joakim, it seemed emotional or from a spark plug standpoint, something really snapped with you today at one point. You got the crowd into it. Do you feed off the crowd more than you would like sometimes, or is this -- just -- is this who you are.
JOAKIM NOAH: I've always been like that. Even last year when I played like five minutes a game, I think I was always like that. Coach Donovan told me when we played Kentucky at Rupp, they were making a big deal out of it, but I've always played like that. It hasn't changed, Savannah State or LSU in the semifinals. I've been always been like that.

THE MODERATOR: Back into the front here.

Q. Joakim, about Davis again, was it the same game plan as y'all used against him at Florida? He didn't look the same as he looked last night.
JOAKIM NOAH: Can you repeat the question?
Q. Was your game plan against Glen Davis the same as it was at Florida? Because it looked like it really worked because he didn't look the same as he did last night.
JOAKIM NOAH: Well, I think that we played a lot of zone today, and I'm not -- our game plan was just being aggressive. I think because we got the win, we tried to use a lot of the same tactics, but at the same time, like I said, there's so many different possessions in a game. So we just try to keep them guessing and keep them on edge and yeah, I think it was pretty similar.

THE MODERATOR: Time for a couple more. Ron, did you have one? One here and right there.

Q. Tauren, can you talk about how much your zone bothered them because they seemed to go cold. When "Batey" got the ball, it was like 10, 12 feet fading away.
TAUREN GREEN: Our zoned worked well. When the ball went in the middle to Glen Davis, the guards had to help down a lot. We didn't want to leave it to our bigs to stop him. When he caught the ball in the middle and put it on the floor, we tried to grab the ball and make steals. We also wanted to be aware of the shooters where Mitchell was.


Q. Joakim, have you talked to your grandfather since he got back to Cameroon?
JOAKIM NOAH: He's actually in France right now. But, no. I spoke to my father earlier today, and he was watching the play-by-play on Gators Line, I think.
Q. No sacrifices that you know of?
JOAKIM NOAH: No chicken sacrifices. When he gets back to Cameroon, he'll do that for us in the NCAA Tournament.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse Tauren and Joakim back to the locker room. We'll continue on with questions for Coach Donovan. If you'll raise your hand, and we'll get a microphone to you.

Q. Billy, you talk about Tauren, and everybody has been talking about him wearing down. Is he wearing down to turn in those performances the last two nights, and also how concerned were you about his health last night?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I was a little bit concerned jut because he was throwing up and it was several times throughout the course of the night and he didn't get very much sleep. And we met this morning at 10:00, and the trainer really thought that he needed to -- because he was up so much, just needed to stay in bed and sleep really until we were getting ready to leave.
And we covered some things that we needed to change and do differently, things we wanted to do against LSU. You know, I said there are really -- there's no question every basketball team, every basketball player, physically, emotionally, mentally gets worn at the end of the season. I think as a coach you always try to create new innovative, creative ways to keep guys fresh.
He's been dealing with a little bit of tendinitis. He should be as fresh as anybody because he's had some time off, and I've been, as I've said all along, even coming into the last two, three weeks of the season, I've been careful with the amount of minutes he's getting in practice. But if you look at, you know, he was very, very limited the two days before the Kentucky game, and after Kentucky, he had a couple days.
So I'm sure tomorrow he'll feel the effects of being sick and also probably playing as many minutes as he has, but I don't feel like he's just totally drained and physically and mentally out of it.
You know, it's going to be interesting, just to see how our basketball team handles after tomorrow being able to go forward.

THE MODERATOR: Raise your hand, other questions.

Q. Billy, what has it been about South Carolina that's given you guys a tough time?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I really feel like the game in Columbia, they really outperformed us from start to finish. We made a late dash and run at them to make it respectable.
I really think in Gainesville our kids played very, very hard. We played a good game, but I'm going to tell you that, be it Kinsey or whether it was Balkman or whether it was their freshmen coming off the bench, they really made some great timely three-point shots.
We got up four, five, looked like we were getting ready to pull away. Kinsey knocks down a 3. You got to give them credit whether it's been Kelley or Kinsey or Balkman or Tisby, they have really stepped up and made plays.
The one thing about our league, it's such an unforgiving league. I look at it, and sometimes people say, "Wow, South Carolina is getting hot at the right time. They've played well."
Someone made a comment to me, "Were you worried because it seemed like your team wasn't playing very well when you lost three games in row?"
I said, "We lost three games by a total of five points." If we win those games, everything is great. Sometimes when you lose, people don't think you're playing well. When you win, people think you're playing a lot better than you really are.
South Carolina has been a team to me all year long that's really been in every single game. The only game I can think of where they maybe were not in it when Balkman got hurt and they played at Arkansas. Arkansas played very, very well. But they've been right there.
They lost in Rupp Arena by one point and had an opportunity to win that game. They beat Tennessee the first game here. They've beaten us twice. They've had some really good, quality wins and quality games. I think they're a very good team that causes everybody trouble.


Q. Billy, this time of year, how much does a coach try to put a positive spin on everything no matter what happens, that you're going in with an upbeat?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think, Jerry, this time of year you have to. You really have to think, be able to make corrections, be up-front and honest where your team is the at. Everything that's happened up to this point in time is over and done with.
I think the biggest thing you try to do as a coach this time of year is get to any issues on your team, things that you don't feel like you're doing well offensively or defensively that need to be addressed, and then, you know, go with what's gotten you to that point.
If you're playing in the post-season, you're playing in the NCAA Tournament means you've been a pretty good team during the course of the year. So you've got to probably stick with what you're doing and try to get a little bit better. The biggest thing is try to get no the right frame of mind.
I think in the Tournament all of a sudden you win two games in a row, it can totally change the mindset of your team. If a team has a great conference tournament or regular season, they get knocked out, doesn't mean it's a bad year.
This really is a totally different point. After tomorrow it really gets into a totally different element, and you've got to be able to build off of what you've done up to that point in time.

THE MODERATOR: Got a couple questions in the back. Take that one there.

Q. Coach, you were talking about different ways to keep the team fresh. Is the zone one of those ways, or is it kind of a happy coincidence that that would work against the past two teams you played?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, we decided to try to play big a little bit, you know, this time of year, and we haven't done a lot of that. We've worked on it through the course of the season, and one of the things we've struggled with is trying to solve our rebounding problem. Because when I take Corey Brewer out of the game, my substitution is Walter Hodge, and we become very, very small, and playing Humphrey at the small forward spot at six-two, Walter at the two guard spot at five-foot-eleven, Tauren at the point guard, five-foot-eleven, we have a very difficult time rebounding. Corey's one of those guys for us when he come out of the game, we've got to still be able to rebound the ball.
With a big lineup with a guy like Tasmin Mitchell or Ronnie Brewer, Joakim or Al Horford would have a hard time chasing those guys off screens. So we've had to play some zone.
I think that the zone was effective against Arkansas last night, but I think it was effective against LSU for a different reason. I think it was effective against LSU because I think LSU's limited number of players, they were like us, fatigued. They were tired. They didn't shoot it well.
You know, if you look at Glen Davis's performance last night and what did he against Vanderbilt, it was truly incredible. Knocking down 3s, fade away jump percent, post moves, putting it on the floor. He was unbelievable.
He was fatigued today in the second half, and I think fatigue sometimes changes it. Lee Humphreys is a perfect example. He's knocking down every shot he threw in last night. Scores 25 points. He had the same exact looks. You think he's going to get off to a great start. He knocks down the first three and really didn't knock down a shot from that point forward. I think fatigue sometimes this year plays a factor in your ability to shoot the basketball, and also we were having a tough time guarding them and our front court was in foul trouble so decided to play a little more zone.

THE MODERATOR: Question, go ahead.

Q. Billy, there was about a five-minute pause there while the officials were looking at that Mitchell 3-pointer, and from that point on, you guys just seemed to take charge of the game. Did that happen at a time when y'all really needed a physical break in that extra five minutes helped y'all out?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think it's something I alluded to a little bit earlier. It really came to Tauren and knocked down a couple 3s, drive to the rim, and that's 8 straight points pretty quick.
All of a sudden it goes from 4 or 2 to 10, you know, then all of a sudden the game changed there a little bit. But the biggest thing we were able to get some stops and we were able to get out on the break and things kinds of opened up for us. It wasn't anything we did differently. I think we were able to get some defensive stops to make some shots, and that certainly changed the momentum of the game.

THE MODERATOR: Going to take two more. One right here and over to the back.

Q. Billy, when John was up here, he talked about winning the regular season championship how he thought that was most indicative of a team, their consistency through the year. Of course, you've beaten them twice and have the best overall record in the league. What are your thoughts on that?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I agree with John. I think that you always measure a team and their success over a longer period of time. You know, I think sometimes we want to get bottled up to judge and evaluating people in post-season, and really to me the true testament of anybody is what they do over a long period of time.
There's no question what John did with his team this year. From start to finish, they were the best team in the league, you know. We beat them this year in the regular season, but it was at our place. Every team in this league has got a home court advantage.
When you look at a ten-week stretch, when you've got to do it twice a week for nine, ten weeks, they were the best team. We happened to catch them on a night where we played back to back games both teams.
They've got a Freshman of the Year player, potentially an NBA first-round draft pick, a lottery pick, and Tyrus Thomas didn't play. Mitchell is dealing with an ankle issue. We're dealing with some issues as well. They pretty much played six guys tonight. When you play six guys in a tournament, playing back to back games, it alters how well guys play. I can understand and respect where John is coming from when he makes those comments.

THE MODERATOR: Last question in the back.

Q. Billy, were you able to generate a little more offense from your bench today compared to yesterday? How do you see that role being important kind of going forward and how do you evaluate your bench at that point?
COACH BILLY DONOVAN: I think our bench has done good. I really believe if I could have control of when they shoot the ball, our bench-making shots and giving our bench production, we would do it. But I'm not really worried about that. I'm not worried about who scores coming off our bench.
I'm a lot more concerned about the type of shots we're getting. To me, I was a lot more concerned in looking at the stat sheet from tonight's game. To me what was more impressive was what our bench did, the fact we shot 54 percent from the field. We were getting good shots, good player and ball movement. We made the extra pass.
I'm not wrapped up in necessarily what our bench does. I'm more concerned about our bench coming in and having energy and playing well.
Chris Richard -- Chris, because of Al Horford, goes from playing -- played more minutes tonight in this game maybe then in his entire career. I can't sit there and say he had a great offensive scoring night. He was solid. He was reliable. He was dependable and did a good job defensively and did a good job rebounding.



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