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March 10, 2007

Corey Brewer

Billy Donovan

Lee Humphrey


THE MODERATOR: All right, we're ready to continue with Florida. Coach?
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, we felt coming in here that Ole Miss was playing great basketball; tough, hard-nosed team. Their kids really compete and battle. I think they've got a guy at the point in Abernethy that's has good as any assist-to-turnover ratio for a point guard in the country. Two terrific scorers on the perimeter in Clarence Sanders. You know, obviously Curtis up front with Parnell and Williams, and being a senior-laden team, we knew it was going to be a battle. I thought our guys came out and got off to a good start.
Thought we played well. Together, I thought the second half, you know, our defensive intensity was very good. I thought they made tough shots to start the second half, but our guys stuck with it. We finally got some stops and were able to get out on the break and open the game up. I'm proud of these guys and certainly feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to play tomorrow against Arkansas.

Q. Corey, I wanted you to talk about your perimeter game today, and how much that makes your whole offensive game easier when you're making shots like that?
COREY BREWER: When I'm making outside shots, teams have to press up on me and I'm able to drive the basketball. And I'm able to make plays for our team, and it helps us out a whole lot.

Q. For both players, you come from Tennessee, lot of coaches are not allowed, but some thought you guys couldn't play at this level. Talk about your decision to come to Florida, and how that all came about. I know you played AAU together, I think.
COREY BREWER: You know, when I looked into the program at Florida, I just felt like it was a perfect fit, because I felt like they get up and down, and I felt like that's the way I could just drive and play my best basketball in an up-and-down system. That's how I made my decision.
LEE HUMPHREY: As well, I thought Florida was a good fit for me. Personally I grew up a big SEC fan, and had a huge respect for Florida, and what Coach Donovan had done, and the program he had built. And I thought that it would be the best chance for me to come and win games and develop as a player.

Q. For Corey and for Lee, what does it say about you guys how you're a point away from 1,000, Lee, and Corey, the other four of you guys are over 1,000, what does it say about you guys that all five of you going over 1,000 points for your career in the same season?
COREY BREWER: We just share the basketball. We feel like if we just pass the ball and get moving, we can get easy buckets, and we can win games by getting easy buckets and shooting a good percentage. And we just try to get the open player the shot.
LEE HUMPHREY: I think it shows that we're an unselfish team, and we play well off of each other. We understand each other's strengths and use those to our advantage.

Q. For both players, your opponents talked about the intensity that you all came out with, is that the main factor, you think, in today's game? Or were there other things that really made the difference?
COREY BREWER: I felt like we came out with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity. We have to do that if we want to win, because we can't come out lackadaisical or anything, because teams are going to come out playing their best basketball. So we have to come out with a lot of energy, and we did that today.
LEE HUMPHREY: We thought coming into the game, that Ole Miss, they compete hard and play about as hard as anybody in the country. So we knew today we were going to have to come in with a lot of energy and play well. For us to win, we have to do that every game.

Q. Corey, a lot of articles have been written about your decision to come back this year, and that all the other guys making that decision to support you and come back. Kind of relive that. What's that meant to you during the course of the season, everyone coming back?
COREY BREWER: It's meant a lot. It shows how close we are as a team. For us to bend together, and to try to go win another championship. We feel like it was the best decision for us. So far it's worked out. We're just trying to keep winning, keep it moving.

Q. The Arkansas game seems like a long time ago, but what did you remember about them, and how do you envision the match-up tomorrow?
COREY BREWER: You know, Arkansas is a very good team. They're long and athletic, just like us. So we've got to be prepared. And we've got to just, whatever Coach gives, we've got to execute to the best of our ability so we can hopefully get a win.
LEE HUMPHREY: I think Arkansas is probably one of the most talented teams in the league. They've got a lot of size up front and some quick guards. They've got guys that can put it in the hole, so it will be a tough game.

Q. As you guys get ready for tournament stretch here, NCAA, talk about the hunger level in repeating where you guys are with that.
LEE HUMPHREY: I think this is a new year. We've got an opportunity this year to win a championship tomorrow. When the NCAA Tournament starts, we'll have another opportunity. So I think we've just got to focus on this year, and understand that we have a chance to win another championship.
COREY BREWER: For now, if you lose, you go home, and we don't want to go home. So we have to come out, night in, and night out, and play our best basketball.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, fellas. We'll continue with Coach Donovan.

Q. Billy, how important was the last 1:30 of the first half when it was an eight-point game, and you guys scored seven in a hurry?
BILLY DONOVAN: I really thought the game was a game of runs by both teams. We got off to a really good start, and pulled up, pulled out maybe by 12 to 13, and they kind of came racing back and cut it to seven, then we went back. There were two runs for us. There was a run in the middle of the first half, and there was a run to close the half out. I think that those two runs, you know, were helpful giving us a cushion going into the half.
But I think if you look back at last time we played Ole Miss, we had them down by 25 points with 13 or 14 minutes to go in the game in Gainesville, and really made some poor decisions with the basketball and turned it over entirely too much and allowed them to get back into the game. But I think both teams with the way both teams played, it was going to be a game of runs. You know, some of the runs helped us.

Q. Billy, this is a real easy question: Who is your best player?
BILLY DONOVAN: I would say our team, and I think that's what we are. It's all inside, working parts together. They play together, they feed off each other, they all benefit off each other. You know, I can't sit there and say that one person's more valuable than the other. You know, if you took somebody off this team, the complexion of our team would change, and I think those guys would all agree with that as well. We're a team, and I think that's what they've thrived on, that's what they've bought into, that's what they think their identity is, and that's the way they enjoy playing.

Q. Billy, I wanted to touch on the significance of going to the Finals four years in a row, and what that means particularly for your older guys, and your guys for Humphrey and Richard, what it's meant for you.
BILLY DONOVAN: It's a great accomplishment for our program, for the school. It's hard to get here. It's hard to get into a championship game. There's a lot of good teams in this league. And when you play at neutral sites, there's not that homecourt advantage, though a lot of fans show up and support us. I think that for us to go to four straight, you know, it's a great accomplishment but the beauty of it is everything that's happened up to this point in time, in this tournament the last three years, really has no bearing on what happens tomorrow, and I think our guys understand that.

Q. Billy, you had a run of about three or four ballgames where the defensive intensity was just really lacking, and in the last two ballgames, you guys have come out and made a statement, particularly on defense with the intensity. Would you talk about what's changed.
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I think that a lot of people bring up the end of the season. I mean, these kids are not robots. They're not machines. They're kids. Whatever you want to say, the opponent played great, we played poorly, whatever it is. I just don't know, regardless of what people think or feel, they're kids that are not going to play up to the highest standard they can play to. I think they're excited about playing, they've been excited all year long. They've handled everything this year great. But I think they also understand and can see that the reason we lost some games was because of our defense. We were giving up such a high percentage from the field. We were giving up high percentages from the three-point line, and we've done a better job. It's been a focus for us, and they've done a good job.
They can see from past games and past experiences that that's the key for our team. Last two games here in the SEC Tournament and our last home game in the SEC, I think we've defended like we're capable of.

Q. Billy, Arkansas was 5-9 earlier, and really struggling. Just talk about how they're playing now, and how you see the match-up tomorrow.
BILLY DONOVAN: Well, I've always felt that Arkansas was one of the bigger, stronger, more athletic teams in this league, one of the more talented teams in this league. I think that Stan's done a great job mixing in Ervin, and Beverley and Weems. I think a lot of times when you start off with the experience level that they have in the front court, you know, with Thomas, and Hill, and Washington and Townes. They have maybe the biggest, most athletic, and most experienced front court in the SEC. And probably maybe some of their struggles had to do with their guard play were somewhat young. Weems is a first-year player in this league, Beverley's a first-year player in this league, and Ervin's probably got to learn a new system, though he was already seasoned somewhat in this league. And I think probably some of that had to do with some back court play.
They're playing great right now as a basketball team. They're playing, very, very well. They had a great victory yesterday over Vanderbilt, great victory today with Mississippi State. They went on the road at Vanderbilt, something that we weren't able to do. Everybody knows how tough it is to play at Vandy. They've had some great wins to close the season out. So I think you have to sit there and say Arkansas is playing as well as anybody in our league, or in the country for that matter.

Q. Billy, back on all those guys coming back, how did that make you feel that they felt enough about you, and enough about the program to come back and do that?
BILLY DONOVAN: I think like anything else, I've been through it enough. I've had guys tell me they were going to come back and they've changed their mind and that's their prerogative. But emotionally for me, it was quite an experience, because they could have set sail, and ridden off into the sunset after winning the National Championship and left the program while being on top. And I think it says a lot about their character. That's why I get puzzled sometimes when people talk about how they're supposed to play every single game. I want them to have fun, I want them to enjoy this experience, because that's why they came back.
I think in college basketball we can all be so critical of kids making quick decisions to leave and go early. We can become critical of guys making bad choices. Here's a group of kids that chose University of Florida, one another, playing with each other, and happiness over all the materialistic things that are out there that entice kids to leave.
You know, to me, it's an unbelievable story that I personally don't think it's been written enough. You know, I just think it's a great story for all those guys.
People talk about them coming back, and it gets mentioned, but go into researching how many guys in their situation have left and what these kids have done. Because it's totally abnormal what they've done. Totally, totally against the grain. Totally abnormal. I'm proud of them, and I hope this year for them so far has been a great experience and they've enjoyed it.

Q. Billy, coaches go an entire career and don't have a team that cares and shares like yours does. Talk about from a coaching standpoint how rare that is, and how special that is.
BILLY DONOVAN: I really believe that in college right now, I think because of the NBA draft and the 19-year-old age limit, it's changed the culture of recruiting. The recruiting battles over the Patrick Ewings, and the Alonzo Mournings, and some of the other great players, you know, they're only in college for a year now and they're gone. The trick is, I think, trying to get guys that mentally have the right frame of mind competitively.
You don't get a chance to coach guys like that all the time. And believe me, I've enjoyed every day being around these kids, because as a whole, their disposition, their core beliefs are so much different, because they get along, and they share the ball so well. And it is unique, and it is different. That's not to say that any of my teams, I didn't feel that way about. I've loved all of them, but there is a different make-up, not better, not worse, just a different make-up with them.
I can tell you right now it's all luck, because you have no idea what you're getting, none, until you coach a guy. And you could look at this and say -- you know what, if I would have said on paper, I would say no way Joakim Noah would get along with Al Horford. No way. And I can't believe the way Chris Richard, you see all these kids gel and mesh together, it's by luck. Not by some strategic plan that we here in Florida have figured out. It's by pure luck. And you know what, that's what it really comes down to a lot of times. It's not necessarily always about getting the best players. It's about getting guys that can be a team. These guys have been a team. Because you know what, I hear about how talented we are. If we were so talented, he would have been ranked last year in the top 25. I look at a team like Ohio State, they started immediately in the top 5 in the country, based on what they had coming in. No one thought these guys could play. No one thought they were any good, now everybody talks about how great and how talented we are. Did they just all of a sudden flip a switch and we all missed the boat last year? Because we weren't ranked in the top 25, and supposedly with Roberson, Walsh and Lee leaving we didn't have a scorer coming back averaging more than 7 points a game.
So there is a level of luck and dynamics and things that happen inside your program that makes this college coaching one so enjoyable. But also it's a roller coaster ride in a lot of ways.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you very much.

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