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March 23, 2006

Billy Donovan

Lee Humphrey

Adrian Moss

Chris Richard


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Florida coach Billy Donovan. If you could make an opening statement and we will take some questions.
COACH DONOVAN: We are very, very excited to be here in Minneapolis. I think tomorrow we have a great opportunity and a great challenge. Georgetown has been a very, very impressive team to watch on film. I think their style is very, very unique. They have outstanding personnel inside their style. They are a balanced team, a lot like us. They have four or five guys averaging double figures scoring on any given night. There are several different people that can cause you problems. I think John has done a wonderful job in his short tenure there bringing back that Georgetown tradition that I think people grew so accustomed to.
So we realize that there is a lot to get ready for and a lot to get prepared for not only with their style, but also with their personnel.
Q. Billy, a team like that that really tries to dictate the tempo with their style of play, with their offense, how difficult is it to disrupt an offense like that and get them out of what they normally do or are they so disciplined that they will stay with you no matter what you do?
COACH DONOVAN: It is very hard because of their spacing on the floor. There are things built into their system and to their style that if you do get out and really pressure them, their system and style is based on spacing. They will space the floor. If you back off and allow them to run their offense, they can take time.
I don't know if you do pressure if it's going to make them necessarily shoot any quicker. I think what really becomes very, very important in playing against them is your late shot-clock defense, your late shot-clock ability to rebound the basketball because they do have size, athleticism and quickness.
You look at their scores, at teams they have played against, people talk about how they are holding people down scoring-wise. I think it's two reasons: One, they do a very good job defensively rotating and helping one another, but it is also that there is fewer possessions sometimes in the game.
But I wouldn't classify Georgetown as a basketball team that holds the ball. They do dictate tempo. They are disciplined in what they do, and they try to get shots that they would like to take early in the clock or later in the clock.
Q. Bill, I know the focus is completely tomorrow night, but there is all kinds of speculation, buzz suddenly coming up as the team does better and better about players and NBA prospects. Did that 2000 offseason where guys left kind of drive that message home, you really have to enjoy the ride, so to speak, during this time of year because things can turn over and change?
COACH DONOVAN: I hope our basketball team enjoys the time they have in this moment. They have done some remarkable things this year with a lot of uncertainty coming into the season. But I also think that this group of kids are a lot different than the group of kids in 2000.
The kids in 2000 played for a national championship. This team has gotten to the Sweet 16 and the future tomorrow is uncertain. But I also think you are dealing with sometimes that talk gets generated by the media and by people that want to write those things.
The thing that I think sometimes is unfortunate is you don't hear the kids talking about their future or where they want to be three, four, five years or next year. I think that's the unfortunate part, is people speculate and write things or say things to create an added dimension that they have to deal with another distraction.
I have often said this about this tournament, it's different because you have got to be able to focus on the things that are important and help you win basketball games, but at the same point my personal opinion in dealing with all these kids this year and their families is that all these guys will be back here next year.
That's not Billy Donovan trying to talk for them, but I think what happens when this hype gets created, I have often said this, teams, players can get overinflated when they do well and teams and players, coaches included, can be made to be a lot worse than they are when they are losing.
There is a level of keeping things balanced and being able to handle all the "drama" that gets created. The thing that has been so beautiful in coaching them, they are focused on today. They are not really worried about Final Four, national championship, what's happening next year. They are really focused on trying to do the very best they can against Georgetown.
Q. Billy, I am assuming that this much balance that you guys have doesn't happen by accident. What's the key to creating this much balance that you guys have?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I think one of the most inexact sciences we deal with in college basketball is the inexact science of recruiting. The last couple of years, I think, our basketball teams have been very, very good teams. We weren't overly balanced teams offensively.
This year's basketball team has a level of balance that we have five or six guys that, on a given night, could have a very, very big night.
Some of our teams in the last couple of years didn't have that type of balance, and you try to get guys that will gel, that will mesh, that will play together, but there is also a mind-set that you have to have being inside of a team. There has to be a level of unselfishness, a level of playing together.
I think every basketball coach out there across the country, when they are recruiting, try to recruit and build a very, very balanced team, and it's very, very hard to do because in the recruiting process, with the limited amount of times you can talk to them, the limited amount of times you can watch them play, sometimes the player doesn't know who they are playing for, and sometimes the coach doesn't know exactly who he is coaching.
For us coaches it has worked out well with these young kids. We have good, young kids that have been able to grow and get better and have had balance on the perimeter and in the low post.
Q. Hi Billy. Congratulations. Could you just talk about Roy Hibbert, how he changes the game and what you guys need to do to make sure that he doesn't hurt you badly.
COACH DONOVAN: I really think there is a lot of similarities between Georgetown's team and our team in terms of the balance you are talking about. We have the ability to go big and take a kid like Joakim Noah and slide him to the forward spot.
Georgetown, because of Roy Hibbert, has the ability to totally change the complexion of their team. They can play him and go very, very big across the front line with Green and Bowman, and with Bowman sliding into the power forward spot and Green to the center spot, they can take Hibbert off the floor, and now become very, very quick, athletic and long.
Hibbert is a guy that you don't see a lot in college basketball because he has great size, he has very good hands.
John has done a great job over the course of the season with him when you look at his growth and development as a player. He is a problem because, again, he can rebound. He is a very good underrated passer.
He can score because the floor gets spaced. He does a lot of different things for their team. When you have a guy 7'2", John has the luxury of playing him extended minutes and going with a very, very big team. He also has the luxury of taking him off the floor and going very, very -- I wouldn't say very small, but very quick. I think that's why Georgetown has been so successful this year, is because they can go from one extreme to the next with their balance.
Q. Billy, this question may have been asked before. I just got in. Do you feel somehow you have walked into a Big East lovefest and your own background in Providence playing these guys?
COACH DONOVAN: For me it is hard, BC is the Big East. Probably it will take me a few years to get accustomed to them being in the ACC. You know, it's ironic. It reminds me a little bit back in the mid-'80s there, I think when one year -- I believe it was in Lexington, Kentucky -- when Villanova won the championship, and they were from the Big East. I think the additions the Big East have made, certainly with the talent level, with the teams in that conference, the league, without question, is getting back maybe to where they were when the league first started.
As you mentioned, BC being really a year removed, it's almost like having three Big East teams in Minneapolis right now, so to speak.
Q. Coach, I am wondering if you would just tell us a little bit about why you sent Joakim Noah out to play street ball and what you think he got out of it?
COACH DONOVAN: I really didn't do that. That was something he did on his own. I think there has been a lot made of Joakim's jump from last year to this year. I would like to see him make a bigger jump physically.
Last year he got mono. He lost about 20 pounds. Size and strength was an issue for him and it was very, very difficult to play him extended minutes.
Someone mentioned to me that last year in our first-round game against Ohio or Ohio and Villanova, he played a combined three or four minutes in both games. He still has a lot of room for improvement in terms of his game where he needs to get better and more consistent, but the reason he has been able to make a jump has been his understanding, and getting that he cannot rely on his talent, that he has to rely on being almost a student of the game.
He has done a real just terrific job of taking his experiences last year, playing against a guy like David Lee every day in practice, and the limited amount of time he played last year, and now he has become a more reliable guy on our team.
We can rely on him in scattering reports, rely on him to remember plays, to screen. He is reliable at understanding our system, what's expected, how it's run. I think coming in as a freshman, that was very difficult. It was very overwhelming for him last year mentally, besides being overwhelmed physically after going through mono.
Joe has always had a level of passion. I think for any young player, when you go through what he went through where you don't play, the thing about Joe is I think he internalized and probably saw himself maybe losing a little bit of confidence, or I have to figure this out.
I don't think you can really become great at anything in life until you hit that crossroads where your confidence gets challenged, where you question whether or not you think you are good enough to get it done.
I think by him going back to New York and playing, he was smart enough to understand in the playgrounds of New York that he was going to be tested every single day. His competitiveness, his toughness, whether or not he could do it, I think it maybe gave him a level of confidence going back and playing in New York, and plus he worked very, very hard to try to get better and improve.
When he came back on campus, there was a different confidence about him that he was ready, but I also think that confidence came from the fact that he put his work in. He really put his work in.
Q. Billy, you have been in Florida a long time, the Dean of SEC coaches, and all that. Did you think you would be here this long, or when you took over, did you think this would be a stepping-stone job, and has it turned into a big-time job, I guess?
COACH DONOVAN: I have just been a big believer in I went through this with Coach Pitino when I left Kentucky. He has always told me, and I agree with him, if you are going to take a job, you have to take a job with the understanding that's where you are going to start and finish with that job.
Because of college coaching and what has happened, it is very, very difficult, and you have so much respect when you are in it, a place for ten years, like I have been in it, what a Bobby Knight has done at Indiana or Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, or Lute Olson at Arizona.
It is very hard to stay at a place a very, very long period of time. Going into it, you really don't know what to expect because the program you are trying to build back up, I think Lon took it over and really had to deal with a lot of the perceptions about the program in changing its image.
He did a remarkable job and took a team to a Final Four. When I came in, I never, ever viewed it as, you know what, I am going to stay here a couple years and go. I always felt very, very comfortable with Jeremy Foley, President Young, and now President Mansion.
There has been a strong commitment, not only to basketball, but the athletics to provide all the sports the necessary resources to compete at a national level. I think that's the one thing I have always respected about the administration and about my opportunity at Florida, is the administration understands and they trust that when I come to them and say, listen, we need to maybe look at doing some of these things, it has been good.
The one great thing about being in Florida and being with a guy and working with Jeremy Foley is very rarely did I ever have to go to him. He is generally the one that has created ideas to build up the basketball program.
I don't think you can build a basketball program at any school unless the administration is totally entrenched in trying to make that happen. I don't think that Billy Donovan is going to change the perception that Florida "is a basketball school." I think being in Florida you have to understand the dynamics, it is not about one sport in Florida. It's about the whole University, the whole athletics program.
When the baseball team is playing in the World Series a year ago for national championship, that helps the University of Florida's exposure. When the football team is playing on national TV, that helps our exposure. When the volleyball team is playing for a national championship, that helps the University of Florida.
So, really, from an ego standpoint, it's a very, very humbling experience because everything is very good and we all pull for one another. I think that's an environment that Jeremy Foley has created inside the athletics program.
You see in so many different situations people fighting for exposure or wanting more. We want to be the number one sport on campus. I have never, ever been like that. My whole focus so far has been just trying to build our program as best we can, and Jeremy and the administration has been kind enough to provide the resources necessary.
Would you say that I think I would be here for ten years? You never know. You almost have to go one year at a time and try to do the very best job you can. I feel very comfortable that our commitment to basketball at the University of Florida is good as anywhere in the country.
Q. Billy, John mentioned before that he felt like his team was versed enough to go faster and slower. I am curious about your thoughts offensively, if you feel like you guys have the same versatility.
COACH DONOVAN: I would agree with John. His team is a basketball team that if they get out in the break and have opportunities to score in transition, they are going to go ahead and do that. If they need to work the shot-clock and run their offense so they get a good shot, they are going to do that. We have played against the Vanderbilt that plays a similar system, but inside the system the personnel is completely different.
We have also played against, you know, some teams this year that have really tried to ball-control our team, so to speak. We played in an SEC championship game 49-47. So when you get to this point in the season, there is really not too much style of play or situations you haven't seen.
If the game gets caught being a game in the 50s, I think we have shown that we can play and compete in those types of games. If the game is in the 70s and 80s, we have proven we can play in those types of games. The same thing can be said for Georgetown. Georgetown has shown an ability to play in the 50s and also the 70s. That's why they are such a good team, they do have that balance.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We are joined by student athletes Adrian Moss, Lee Humphrey and Chris Richard. We will take questions for the student athletes.
Q. Adrian, five years in the program, you are finally in the Sweet 16. Talk about that.
ADRIAN MOSS: It's a great feeling. I am glad we got here, but our job isn't over. We are trying to make it to the Final Four. I feel like we have the team to do that, but we have to continue to do what we do.
Q. This is for all three guys. How do you guys -- the balance of this team has been with scoring and everything. How did you guys achieve that?
LEE HUMPHREY: I think we have a very unselfish team. We have a lot of guys on the team that can score and are talented.
One of the strengths of our team, we know we need to pass the ball and get everybody involved, and we have done a good job this year.
ADRIAN MOSS: We have good inside-out play. Lee Humphrey is shooting great, along with Tony Green and Al and Joakim. That makes it hard for teams to try to stop one thing.
CHRIS RICHARD: Our team is unique because there isn't anybody that wants to be the superstar. Anybody is capable of going out and getting 10, 15 points every night. It makes it hard for other teams to match up against because they might focus in on trying to stop two or three people when we have other people that can come in and do the same exact thing everybody else is doing.
Q. This is for Lee and Adrian. Got two Big East teams here, another team that was in the Big East last year. Do you guys feel like outsiders?
ADRIAN MOSS: I mean, conference really don't matter this time of year. It's all about going out and playing your next opponent, trying to get the win. As far as feeling like an outsider, no, I am just glad to be one of the last 16 teams playing basketball this time of year.
LEE HUMPHREY: I don't really feel like an outsider. I hadn't thought about that too much. They come from a good conference and SEC is a good conference as well, so we know it should be a good game.
Q. Congratulations for you guys getting so far. The Georgetown players were talking about how they were perceived as a half-court team, they could only play half-court basketball, but both their coach and players were saying that they can do other things. They can go transition. They play a lot of transition against Duke.
Could one of you or any of you talk about that, please.
ADRIAN MOSS: They are a very good ball club. They are long, athletic, get up and down the court very well. When they have the chance to fast break, they take advantage of that, but they also can play half court. We don't look at them as strictly a half-court team because of their athleticism.
Q. For Adrian and Chris, can you talk about what you have seen of Hibbert on tape or film, whatever you call it, and just the match-up inside that you see.
CHRIS RICHARD: I think he is a pretty good player. He is 7'2", 7'3", however tall he is. He can affect the game with just his height alone.
That's kind of a disadvantage for us because we don't have any 7-footers on our team. We have to go in and play the best we can. All four of us have to go against all the bigs they play. We can't focus in on him too much because we will lose sight of everybody else. If we come in with the right mind-set, we will be okay.
ADRIAN MOSS: Hibbert, comes in, takes up a lot of space, rebounds and finishes well, but he runs the floor well and he defends pick and rolls fairly well so we are going to try to come by and not necessarily focus on him, just focus on the team.
Q. Lee, could you talk about going from the O'Connell Center to Nashville to Jacksonville, big spacious arena, the adjustments you have to make.
LEE HUMPHREY: Each of them is different. We have been fortunate to play a lot of different gyms this year and years past. It should help us out coming into this gym, similar to the Georgia Dome from the SEC tournament in the past few years. You try to get some shots and warm up and get acquainted with the gym. You don't think about it too much during the game.
Q. Which player are you most concerned about? Hibbert seems to be a logical choice. Is there one guy you need to take out to win this game?
LEE HUMPHREY: We haven't really discussed if we are going to focus on one player or not. We know that all their guys are talented and they have a lot of talented guys. They have several talented big guys and their guards are very dangerous as well. I am not sure if we are going to focus on one guy or not.
ADRIAN MOSS: With a team like Georgetown, you can't just focus on one guy because they have five or six guys averaging double figures or very close to double figures. You can't focus in on one guy.
Q. When Georgetown does go to its half-court game, it kind of disrupts people because most people aren't used to seeing a team that plays slower. Is it different for a team that has your athleticism and speed to slow down a game or play that speed, or do you guys think you have adapted to that?
ADRIAN MOSS: I think we will be fine adapting to it because we have played half-court games and played our conference Vanderbilt, who runs a similar style offense. We definitely have played games in the 50s and 60s so I think we have faced every challenge that Georgetown will put at us.
Q. Lee, when you get to this part of the season, what is the difference? Is it the background or the rims that you pay more attention to?
LEE HUMPHREY: I don't know, during the game I just -- I don't hardly ever think about background. You just kind of focus on the rim and you just shoot it. I don't know. When you get in the game, you don't think about background. It doesn't make that much difference.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the student athletes? Okay. Thanks very much. Good luck.

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