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March 17, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
THE MODERATOR: First up, the University of Florida. Student athletes, Dan Werner and Chandler Parsons.
And we're ready to take questions. Coach Donovan will be up soon.
Q. Dan, you're kind of the last link to the 2007 title team. Is there anything you take from that experience that you can kind of help these guys with, or have you talked to them about that kind of stuff or no?
DAN WERNER: Obviously, there's a couple years ago. No, for myself, I wasn't really on the tour. I was more on the bench and just seeing how those guys went about their business and just stay focused. You know, you can't worry about other games, just the team you're playing.
Q. For both you guys, just you're here now after three years, what's the experience been like just coming into town being here up on a podium?
Is it hard not get being wide open? Is it hard to remember you've got a basketball game to play?
CHANDLER PARSONS: We've worked really hard to get where we are now. We're thankful for the opportunity we have, and we plan on taking full advantage of the opportunity we have and just stay focused and we have great respect for BYU, so really we're excited to get out there tomorrow and compete.
DAN WERNER: As far as being wide open and stuff. We got in town basically and basically been in the hotel. This is the first thing we're doing that it may be a little tough to answer that question. But hopefully, like I said before, all our guys stay focused and just enjoy the experience.
Q. Dan, can you talk about how your career has kind of bookended by NCAA appearances. You've kind of seen it all through that time?
DAN WERNER: Yeah. Obviously, I wish we were here every year, but we haven't been. I was here my freshman year and won it all. Last two years, it's been a growing experience. I think it's, you know, prepared -- under the circumstances prepared us for this situation and made up stronger and closer as a team.
Q. Chandler, you and Erving Walker have some familiarity with Jimmer Fredette. Can you get into the background on that?
CHANDLER PARSONS: I played AAU basketball with Nike Team Florida. I'm really good friends with Penn State's point guard, Taylor battle. He was just telling me yesterday how much of a competitor he is. He's one of the strongest guards I've ever seen. Obviously, myself watching film on him, we have great respect for him. He's a heck of a player and they're a great team.
Q. For both guys, what's Coach Donovan been like in practice this week, and what's it like having a coach maybe that has that level of tournament experience before?
DAN WERNER: Obviously, Coach, you know, he's an excited guy. He's just trying to get us all pumped up for the game and just stay focused and, you know, not worry about maybe the other side of the bracket and stuff. Just BYU because that's the only game we have, here we're.
CHANDLER PARSONS: I would say the same thing. He's just trying to keep our mind right on the right things and us playing the way that we've been practicing which is, you know, competing, doing all the physical things, and really stay with defense and with BYU, you know, it's going to be a great challenge for us on the defensive end because they're a great team. We've got to take one game at a time and one practice at a time.
Q. Dan, can you take us back to the summer of 2007 when coach said goodbye to the NBA and came back and what was going through your mind during that time?
DAN WERNER: We just came out from the last championship. We were all flying high and stuff and coach decided to be to the NBA, basically getting the carpet pulled out from under your feet.
So, you know, there was a lot of guys upset, guys that were on my team that are no longer with us. We were all upset, but the coach decided to come back and, you know, I'm glad he did because I'm a lot better player and person because he came back.
THE MODERATOR: More questions?
Q. This is for both guys. How is there just maybe a different level of confidence with the team knowing that the burden is lifted with the NCAA? You don't have to answer the question about being here anymore. You can kind of embrace the being here?
DAN WERNER: Those questions are gone, but now you've got other questions. Maybe you guys weren't experience enough if we don't play well. Obviously, the pressure was lifted off of us from making the tournament. We want to come in and play well. Obviously, BYU is a great team. It's going to be a tough challenge for us. All we can control is ourselves and just hopefully play the best that we can.
CHANDLER PARSONS: I would agree with that. I know from my first time I'm stoked. This is what college basketball is all about is the getting here and what you can do from this point forward. I know that talking with our guys and being around them, you know, we're happy and stuff for being here and it's a great opportunity, but, you know, we're trying to make noise from this tournament. We're not just trying to play one game. We're trying to advance and play good basketball.
Q. Defending the 3-pointer. How much have you guys worked on that since the Mississippi State game and how crucial is that for this game?
CHANDLER PARSONS: We worked pretty much everyday on that. They advance the ball and shoot 3-pointers at a very high rate. They're similar in the aspect to Auburn and Mississippi State. They really get them up there and really shoot well. I think we did a much better job against Auburn than Mississippi State. We've got our work cut our for us. They're a different team, really high IQ, and just a well-coached team. Taking a away the 3-point line and getting back in transition is going to be huge for us.
DAN WERNER: We worked on it a lot. Obviously they're different because, you know, Mississippi State and Auburn, they'll drive and draw help and kick it out. These guys pass the ball a lot more than putting the ball on the floor. So that was a big key, throw it in the post and cut around the post.
That's what we worked on a lot.
Q. Chandler, from the time BYU popped on the screen as your opponent until now, what have you learned about them through study and what maybe has surprised you about them that you might not have known?
CHANDLER PARSONS: Honestly, when I saw Florida come up there, I didn't even know who we played until about ten minutes after, I was so excited. Once I figured where and when we play and who we played, we started watching film only on them and realized how good Jimmer Fredette is and a really smart team who really moves the ball. Can shoot the ball, lead the country in free throws. So they're an all-around really good team we're excited to go up against.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for the student athletes? One more up here.
Q. Just, you know, BYU, I guess, in their previous tournament appearances have had problems with physicality and rebounding. From playing in the SEC, how much do you think that might prepare you as far as being physical and doing the physical thing?
DAN WERNER: Obviously, they're a real physical team. A lot of older guys. So obviously they've been around the block, they know what they can get a away with and what they can't.
Like I say, they're real physical.
CHANDLER PARSONS: No matter who we go up against, we're going the play our game, trying to get up and down and defend and take the best shot available for our team, especially when you just play a team like that, you really have to be personnel and get back in transition and do all the things that try to stop all the things they do very well.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions. Student athletes. Anyone? Thank you, guys.
Now joined by Florida head coach, Billy Donovan.
COACH DONOVAN: We're very, very excited to be here in Oklahoma City and playing in the tournament, and, you know, it's a great time of year, you know, for me personally. I'm very, very happy for our guys. Having a chance if to see them grow and develop and get to this point and having a tremendous opportunity to be playing here in March, I think we're all very excited looking forward to tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions on the aisle.
Q. Billy, you know your team is obviously inexperienced in the tournament, but you have a lot of experience in the tournament. What have you been trying to kind of pass down to those guys about the experience?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I think the biggest thing right now is it's still a 40-minute game. I think what makes the tournament so unique and so different is in a lot of ways, you're always playing against teams that maybe you're totally unfamiliar with, and certainly with BYU being out West and the time change, you know, you don't get a chance, our players don't get a chance to really maybe see them a whole lot. A lot of time when's we're playing, they could be just finishing up practice or have a game themselves.
I think the biggest thing is getting to a point of being familiar, trying in a short period of time to get your team to know the things that you've got to do to put yourself in a position to win, and then I think really the most important thing is I think you have to maintain a level of aggressiveness.
This is today the only time that we've really faced this was in the SEC Tournament where you're in a one-and-done situation. What you want to be able to do is go out and play to the very best of your ability and play a great game.
I'm sure BYU feels the same way. I think there's so many things that they need to know, you know, and I mentioned this before, you can get into this point and just be happy, and I think our guys are excited about the opportunity and looking forward to playing, but I think there's a lot of things about the tournament that are maybe so much different than what they've experienced during the course of the year and I think there's certain things you can help them with and certain things they've got to go through themselves.
Q. Billy, you said about being in the moment. For these guys with the drought that you had and then now being here, aside from winning and advancing obviously what do you hope they most get out of this experience?
COACH DONOVAN: I think for our team we're losing one player off this team in Dan Werner. It's a great opportunity for our basketball team to really, really grow in a lot of ways, and there's been a lot of growth up to this point in time.
You know, I think our guys, as any kid in the tournament, when you're at this point, it's such an exciting time to be able to play and advance and move on and everybody wants to be able to do that.
I think our guys, you know -- certainly the goal was to get here. I think every team's goal is to get there. I think now once you get there, you have to really be focused on the opportunity that's in front of you and really in a lot of ways know that as a team collectively, you've got to really want to go out there and play your very best.
You got to have everybody on the same page. I think you have to handle the adversity, the changing in the game, so to speak. I always think the gauges are officiated in the NCAA Tournament. I think our guys are just excited to play and want to play against a terrific BYU team and, you know, again, it's still 40 minutes. It's a new game, and I think when the ball goes up, you know, there's always going to be a little nervousness and jitters by all the teams. I think once the ball goes up, people will be excited to play and for us, you know it's almost like we're one of the first teams and so is BYU opening up the NCAA Tournament with playing an early game tomorrow.
Q. Billy, who does BYU compare favorably to in the SEC? Who have you watched in the SEC that maybe would help you prepare for them?
COACH DONOVAN: I don't think that there's anybody that we've played against that we can look at that would mirror them or anything that they do.
That's a unique thing. I think that, you know, being in the SEC, we had a chance to see a lot of great point guards in John Wall, and Devan Downey. I don't think either one of those two guys impact a college game like Fredette does. He has a totally different affect level on a game. As much as I have great, great respect and admiration for Wall and Downey, a lot of great point guards, those guys can't get 50 in a game. They can't get to the free throw line 24 times in a gay. Fredette is one of the best kept secrets in college basketball, and as a coach and a basketball fan and someone that loves the game to be able to watch him on film, was really, really -- great treat to watch.
I also think, you know, he get a lot of publicity there around their team and exposure, but I think their ability to move and pass the basketball, it's the way they cut, how hard they cut, the way they move, the way they play, I think is really, really unique and a lot different. People talk about maybe a Princeton style offense being different. I think more and more teams do that.
This team has got the largest margin of victory in the NCAA, any school. They're in the top two, three.
They're shooting 78 percent from the free throw line. 42 percent from the 3-point line. They're extremely efficient, and They have depth. They certainly get Haws back who had that eye injury. Emery is a shooter and defender. They have a terrific team and a team that's really been ranked all year long.
I wish I could sit there and tell our guys you know what, this team is like this team we played against. I don't think they're like any team we've played against.
And certainly on the offensive end of the floor, I think we're totally different.
Q. You probably answered this a few times. People out West would like to know, how much harder or how hard was it to stay on top compared to getting to the top?
COACH DONOVAN: I think they're both very, very hard to do. I think you've got to take -- I think you've got to embrace both of those situations. The climb of getting to that point and then you got to be able to handle and deal with the fact that most of the time when you are like that, there's going to be a tremendous drop.
I've often used this, I think the Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neil, three NBA Championships and they went through a period and never got back to that point and won it last year.
I think for me as a coach, I've said this many times, when you lose three lottery picks, you lose 22nd round draft picks and you lose the all time 3-point maker in NCAA Tournament history, that is a recipe for disaster.
We should have won five games the next year after that and then we lose our arguably our best front court player to the Philadelphia '76s. And then lose Nick Kalathes to Greece. Not only losing those guys two years ago, but we also lost some young guys on our team and it's been so rewarding for me to see the growth of these kids getting to this point and getting better with this core group of guys, and I don't think anybody ever stays on top forever. Doesn't happen that way.
I think what you've got to embrace during the course of a time and a place is the peaks and valleys and ups and downs, and I think what you're always looking to grow and get better, and clearly when we lost what we did in '07, we didn't replace three lottery picks with three lottery picks. I wish we did, but we didn't.
We replaced them with very good players, great kids that have worked hard, and then they've gotten back to a point where they're playing for an opportunity to move on and advance right now.
Q. Coach, this is your first tournament appearance anything lower than a sixth seed. From your perspective, can you compare the previous approaches to what you face now as a ten?
COACH DONOVAN: I think when the ball goes up tomorrow at 12:20, no one will have any idea is a sixth seed or a ten seed, who is 1, who is 12, who is 15. You're just going play.
I think what happened in our conference tournaments doesn't mean a lot. I think what happened three, four years ago doesn't mean a whole lot. It's going to be a game that's going to be played between two basketball teams for 40 minutes period of time and I don't think -- when you look at the success in the tournament, clearly the teams who have had much higher seeds have been able to move on and advance. That's why there is seeding.
But if that was a full-proof formula, the lower seeds would never win. So there is an opportunity, and I think anytime you're in this situation where you're playing a one-and-done situation that's what makes it so exciting. Anything can happen on any given night.
In this situation, there's great opportunities for both teams in this game and for everybody playing in the tournament. I know our guys were excited to be in. You can't really do anything about your seed. I've been in some situations where I've come into the First Round game and people said, Boy, are you disappointed with your seed? Do you think you should have had a higher seed? Do you think you should have been maybe a three instead of a five? You know what? That's out of our control where we get seeded.
We're happy that we can be able to compete against a terrific team tomorrow, and I think the seed, for example, part of it doesn't mean a whole lot to our team. We appreciate the opportunity to be able to compete tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Last two questions.
Q. With Kenny tomorrow, how important is his roll going to be in slowing down Fredette? Have you given him any advice on playing defense, don't let it affect your offense tomorrow?
COACH DONOVAN: Kenny is a good defender. Fredette has seen the best defenders on everybody's team. It's not going to be Kenny Boynton's job to stop him. We got to do it collectively as a team and what makes them so unique and him so special in my opinion is he does it in a lot of different ways. He shoots 3s, he gets fouled, he passes it, and then they have other people around that are really, really good players.
They have a big strong, physical front court. They have wing players that can shoot the ball. A terrific point guard. It's not going to really just be Kenny Boynton's situation that he's got to play this guy for 40 minutes. There's going to be other people on him to try and help out. I always think that as an offensive player when you put your focus on things that you have a chance to do on the defensive end of the floor, sometimes it frees you up to even play a little bit better offensively.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. Billy, go back to two years ago when you got -- got eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. I heard you locked the players out of the practice facility. What have you done over last few years to improve the maturity level of the team?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, it was the first year after that in '07, we had I think three players, four players returning that didn't really play at all, and then we brought in five freshmen who I think really had maybe a little bit of a mentality of, Hey, I'm at Florida, they've won two national championships, this is going to be easy. Now it's my time. And we had absolutely no leadership, no experience.
We had all -- majority of our team was freshmen. Did not have a very good maturity level at all. We had to be honest with you, an awful work ethic in terms of being able to practice at a level we needed to practice at to get better.
And I think trying to get them to the point and level of appreciation for playing at Florida and just the commitment our schools made to the facilities. Actually part of the reason why I did that is I tried to take the team back to where we used to practice when Mike Miller was there and Udonis Haslem and Matt Bonner was there and some of the kids that played before them. Some of the things you guys have right now have everything to do with what came before you and they made the situation better for you and you're in a place like this because -- this is where these guys practiced. This was their locker room ten years ago and I want them to appreciate that. I thought last year we got really a lot better in terms of our work ethic. Our -- we're able to get better through practice, but I didn't think there was a commitment to the things that really went into winning at a high level.
Then I think this year they made that jump to try to be a little bit more committed to those things. So I think like anything else, I've always said this, it was not their fault. You know, a lot of these kids walked into a very, very difficult situation, and you know what I would say this when those kids stepped on campus, the confetti was still falling when they got there and it was almost like they won the National Championship and they were a part of it, you know?
It was almost like they came to Florida and they didn't even have to get up to bat, they stayed on third base. We kind of had to start over. It was no different.
I think my first two years at Florida we had two losing seasons, and then we got to the NCAA Tournament and it was kind a similar situation. We really started all over, you know, after 2007 completely over and you know what, in two years, two years these guys have gotten back in there.
I think these guys deserve a lot of credit for getting better and proving their maturity. How we go out and perform tomorrow who knows, but up to this point in time, it's been really rewarding for me as a coach and I'm happy for them because the things I've tried to instill in them and talk to them about over a two-year period, you can see it slowly, you know, starting to sink in and starting to figure some things out, which I'm happy for them that they've been able to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
End of FastScripts