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March 9, 2012

Bradley Beal

Billy Donovan

Erik Murphy


Florida – 66
Alabama – 63

CLAUDE FELTON:  We're joined by head coach Billy Donovan and student‑athletes Erik Murphy and Bradley Beal.  We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student‑athletes.
COACH DONOVAN:  With the bye and then playing on Sunday, I thought we had some really good practices getting ready for the tournament.  Obviously, it's always a little bit difficult because you don't know, when you have a bye, who you're necessarily playing, so...
When we landed we knew we were playing Alabama.  Again, for every team in this league, there's always that level of familiarity that everybody know each other.
So the last time we played Alabama was a little bit of a unique situation.  We were missing two guys to injury, Anthony was going through the suspension of his team, and both teams were probably trying to figure their way through all of it.
Then I think today, they have got JaMychal Green back, so he didn't play against us last time, but I was really pleased with the win.  Pleased with how hard our guys played.
And I think this time of year, you got to find ways to advance and move on and we did.  I thought we had some opportunities both in the first half and the second half to really extend our lead and we weren't able to do that.  We got it up by 12, and I thought our defense hurt us in terms of let ting them get back into the game and tie it.
I thought two big key plays in the game, Kenny Boynton got fouled on a three‑point shot.  He made three free throws, and then Scottie Wilbekin got fouled, made the three, missed the free throw, put us up by six.  And then it was pretty much six to four the rest of the way.
We were kind of able to hold serve there.  So happy we get the opportunity to play tomorrow.
CLAUDE FELTON:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Both of you guys talk about when Lacey lets go of the shot, what's going through your mind as you're watching the ball go up there?
ERIK MURPHY:  Don't go in.
Coach said in the huddle when he shot it, if he missed, and it was a long rebound, try to run out to the 3‑point line and then guard a guy.  And I just looked for Green and tried to box him out and make sure he didn't get an offensive rebound.  Everybody blocked out and came away with a win.
BRADLEY BEAL:  I was hoping it wouldn't go in because I was guarding him at the time, so coach is like, when he shoots the ball, don't jump, and I just stayed down and just contested his shot as best I could.

Q.  How bad was your ankle hurting you today?
BRADLEY BEAL:  It didn't hurt at all.  I was a hundred percent today.  It really didn't bother me.  I should be good to go.  I'm fine.

Q.  How do you think you guys were able to win a game in which you shot so poorly?
BRADLEY BEAL:  It was really our defense.  We had to bear down and play defense, because like coach always tells us, he says every night we're not going to make a lot of shots like we usually do.  So this has kind of been a trend for us this last couple games of not making shots, so we really had to bear down on defense and guard guys.

Q.  How different is Alabama with JaMychal Green out there compared to without him?
ERIK MURPHY:  Obviously, he's a really good scorer in the post.  He's good out of double teams.  He reads defenses and makes plays out of double teams, and he's a defensive presence, too.  So it changes their team definitely.  It definitely helps them a lot.
BRADLEY BEAL:  I believe he's a big player for their team because he has the capabilities of shooting the outside jumper from about 15 feet, and he can also rebound on both end of the floor.  So that creates a more bigger presence for them inside as well.  Like the first game, he wasn't there, so we were able to attack a lot better than what we did the second game.  So I think he's a big impact for the team.

Q.  In the last play, did you pretty much know it was a good chance Lacey was going to get that ball?
BRADLEY BEAL:  I sort of knew like what was going to happen because he had went down to the block.  And I was like, Why is a 3‑point shooter going to the block?  And they ended up sitting a pin down there, and he ended up coming back around, and I tried to stay on his back hip pocket and try to contest his shot as best I could.

Q.  I know you said on Monday the confidence was fine, but for both of you guys, just ending that three‑game losing streak and playing the way you did, particularly to holding on down the stretch, can you talk about what that does for you going from now on?
ERIK MURPHY:  We got the win today.  I think we always play with confidence, and I don't think that's a problem for us.  If we continue to defend and make shots, I think we can beat anybody.  We just got to play and stay together.
BRADLEY BEAL:  I believe our confidence is a big thing for our team.  We don't ever lose confidence in ourselves.  We always encourage each other to keep shooting the ball.  And even though the shots don't fall, there's other things in the game that we can do to impact and try to get the win.

Q.  Can both you guys just talk about playing Kentucky tomorrow.  They're going to have basically 90 percent of the seats filled, and it's almost going to be like a home game just playing against them for the third time.
ERIK MURPHY:  We're looking forward to playing them.  Obviously, it will basically be a road game, but we already played at Rupp before.  We just got to execute or game plan.
And we'll get together tonight as a team and go over what we're going to do against them.  We'll try to execute that and just go out there and compete.
BRADLEY BEAL:  We're looking forward to it.  Because we get another chance at trying to get a win against them, and it's a great team.  And we're going to just listen to what coach tells us to do and go by his game plan and just focus in mentally and just try to do our best tomorrow.

Q.  Erik, you drew a charge early in the game and then there was another one that you guys drew, I think it was Pat that drew it.  How important was that to set a tone defensively and get a couple charges going against them early in the game?
ERIK MURPHY:  It's a big thing that we work on every day in practice, is taking charges.  When somebody's coming down the lane and you step up and put your body into play, you got to do that.  That's a winning play.
So every time, every opportunity we have, we try to take them, I think.  I'm not sure whether or not those were big and key in our defense today, but we're always trying to take charges.
BRADLEY BEAL:  Whenever we take a charge, no matter who it is, I believe it's a big play for us, because it stops their run, if they're on a run.  And it gives us more momentum and a chance to be able to take the lead a lot more often, just basically getting a stop for us.  And I believe when we get stops, we can come down to the other end and make something happen.
CLAUDE FELTON:  We'll excuse the student‑athletes and take questions for coach.

Q.  You had a 47‑35 lead, and you had several bad possessions in a row offensively.  Seemed like y'all fell in love with the three and then it kind of seemed to leak into the defense, too, when you didn't make the shots, it leaked into the defensive mentality.
COACH DONOVAN:  During that stretch, I wasn't that bothered by the threes.  I thought Erving Walker really did a great job of getting in there, and he made really good decisions and got our guys wide open shots.  I don't think we shot it to the level we're capable of shooting it with the kind of looks that we got.  I thought Erik was wide open quite a few times, Erving probably, tough for him, just because he was handling and penetrating and making decisions.  Certainly Brad made three and he looked good shooting the ball.
But I thought we got some really, really good looks.  And the problem was on the defensive end of the floor.  We would get a stop and we wouldn't come down with the ball, wouldn't come down with the rebound.  Green tipping it back in, loose ball, they came down with it, and it gave them an extra possession in the game.
And they didn't have a lot of offensive rebounds, but I think they had some timely possessions, where they got the ball back.  That kind of shut down our run.

Q.  Could you talk about getting a win after three straight losses, and as you said, making plays down the stretch, whether it was Kenny making the two free throws or just please talk about that.
COACH DONOVAN:  I know coming into the tournament we lost three games, but I also think sometimes that it can have less to do with you and a lot more to do with your opponent.  Certainly you look at what Georgia did last night against Mississippi State, they're a good team.  And we could have played well in Athens and still would have lost the game with the way they played.  We just didn't play the way I would have liked to have seen us play.
Then we're playing Vanderbilt on senior night with about six guys.  They're a really good team and they have been playing very good basketball since they have gotten their team back healthy.  Then you come back and you play the number one team in the country at home.  I actually thought we played fairly well in both of those games and put ourselves in a position.  We had some things that we're going to need to do better, playing Kentucky a third time now, and there was some things we need to do better against Vanderbilt.
But I never felt like our guys lost confidence, or, Geez, when are we going to win?  I think that they understood the magnitude of the level of competition in this league coming down the stretch, and in a lot of ways, how it is set up for Vanderbilt and Florida and Kentucky where if you look at that last two weeks, those three teams, we're all playing each other and it was challenging.
So our schedule was difficult coming down the stretch as well.  But I think our guys, they came to practice, I thought these three days that we had leading up to today were good.  I thought our guys were pretty focused.  I did sense a little bit from our team playing today that there's just a different atmosphere when you get to this point in time of the year.  I'm not so sure, outside of Erving and Kenny, if it's not a different feeling for our team.
You get a police escort over here and traffic's stopping, you're coming into a different place, you see all the pageantry in the city of New Orleans.  I thought our guys, I don't want to say they were nervous, but I think that they were very anxious.  And I think that, to me, the greatest sign of your team being anxious is when everybody just looks exhausted and they're running a quick stint.  And I think once they caught their breath and settled in, we played a little bit better.

Q.  Usually you can look at the box score and figure out a team won because of this, a team lost because of this.  But you shot the ball very poor low, they shot the ball very well, you didn't really defend that well, they out‑rebounded you, how did you win the game?
COACH DONOVAN:  10 threes, the greatest equalizer in college basketball.  We made, you know, seven more than they did.  That was the difference in the game.
Their kids played hard, but I think if you look at their shooting percentage and look at ours, we won by three, and at one point in the game, we were up by 12.  When you have stretch there where Scotty makes a three, Kenny Boynton gets fouled, and all of a sudden, it's a six‑point swing in a tie score on two possessions, then Kenny knocks down another big three...
So those three‑point shots...
And the same thing could be said for them.  We're up by five, and we miss a shot with, like, I don't know, 50 seconds to go, we do a really poor job getting back in transition, and I think it was Lacey, one of those guys, knocked down a three and it's a one‑possession game.  And you know what, at least if you make them shoot a two‑‑ but the 3‑point line changes the whole thing.
You can sometimes overcome and be a tough defensive night if you make enough threes and the other team doesn't.  And I think that's what happened today.
Also, Alabama had a huge, huge discrepancy from the free throw line last game against South Carolina.  They won the game from the free throw line.  I thought today, we won the game where the free throw line didn't offset so much our 3‑point shooting.

Q.  Do you think that Bradley Beal's ankle was bothering him more than he let on?
COACH DONOVAN:  No.  I tell you what I did is, he wanted to practice on Monday.  He wanted to kind of go.  I can tell just working him out, he looked like he was unsure of himself.  And I told him, No, you're not going to practice.
Then on Tuesday, he came to me and said, I can go.  And he was moving fine.  We put him through a workout and, you know what, I just said he comes down in the lane in practice, he tweaks it, we got enough time to get him back in.  I felt like he could have practiced on Tuesday.
So he practiced Wednesday and Thursday, but both of those days on Monday and Tuesday, he worked out and I did not see any signs.  And he was in every drill, every contact, he did not miss anything the last two days.  I think he probably could have practiced on Wednesday.  So I think he's doing fine.

Q.  As you guys go to face Kentucky now, was today's game more encouraging to you or a little more concerning?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I just think that in competition the ebbs and flow sometimes of the way your team can look in a 48‑hour period, 24‑hour period is, you never really know.
This has been a great group.  I really enjoy being with these guys.  They listen, they try to do what you ask them to do.
Are we perfect?  No.  Do we have bad attitude?  Uncoachable?  No.
I think there's some things that we got to do maturity‑wise.  There some things we got to do basketball‑IQ‑wise to help us get better.  But in terms of their willingness and their eagerness to put forth the effort to try to do what you're asking them to do, I feel like every guy on our team does that.
So I'm always encouraged with them.  And again, probably the time I was least encouraged for whatever reason was the first half against Auburn, and obviously, playing against Georgia on the road.

Q.  Your comments on the 3‑point, how important that is to your team, your offense, and you call it the great equalizer.  You shot better from beyond the arc in the first half than you did overall.
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, you know, again, I thought we got some really good looks.  The dilemma was, both Anthony and I were having to adjust to personnel on the floor.  We would go small, then they would go small.  They would go big, we would have to go back big.  But I thought the biggest thing for us is our guys, and I thought Bradley Beal had a couple great drives in the first half.  And in order to shoot the three, you have to be a threat to drive the ball around somebody.  You have to be a threat when the paint is open and a guy's driving the ball in there.  You have to be a threat to make a layup.  So then all of a sudden when the defense has to provide help, then the ball should start moving.
But I think our guys have done that fairly well and Brad had that one play he slipped in the first half.  I thought he ‑‑ point blank layup he missed, and then he missed another layup.  But Erving Walker got to the rim, Mike Rosario, like you got to be able to sprinkle in post touches, drives to the basket, if teams are going to press up so far on the perimeter.
I don't know if we had necessarily like a terrific dominant low post scorer on a consistent basis, Patric has shown signs of doing that from game to game.  But last year's team, with Macklin, Tyus, and Parsons, we had a lot of length and could score around the basket more efficiently.  We didn't nearly shoot the three last year as well as this team does, but I think you try to play to whatever your team's strengths are as best you can.

Q.  What's your plan of attack for Kentucky?  Keep the same game plan or go with something different?
COACH DONOVAN:  The one thing that's good about it is the fact that it's been less than a week since we have last played them.  They're obviously a terrific team.  There's a reason they're number one in the country.  They're very, very good.
We're playing tomorrow at noon.  There's probably not a whole bunch that you're going to be able to tweak and change.  I think there's some things that we'll look at, how different we'll play, I'm not so sure.  They're really, really good at looking at just basically when you sub, matchups where they think they have got an advantage.  And in those situations, of their five guys, there's going to be somebody on the other team that they feel that they have got an incredible matchup on.
And then they really, really try to exploit that, and then what they do is they try to put you in situations where you have to help on that matchup.  And then once you start helping on that matchup, it opens up a lot of other things for their team.
So there's only so much you can get prepared for.  But the good part about it is, like I said, we played them last Sunday and here it is Saturday.  So it is less than a week ago.

Q.  Can you talk about Brad's rebound when Pat goes out, fouls out, and then Brad's able to get that rebound and keep them from possibly winning the game right there.  How big of a play was that for him to make?
COACH DONOVAN:  Brad did a great job staying down.  I think one of the things you worry about when you know a team has to shoot a 3‑point shot is the rebound's going to be long.  And I've seen this happen a lot where a guy takes a three early and 10 seconds is a lot of time, because you can get a shot up and it could be five on the clock and it hits the rim and you got another second or two.
I've seen a lot of teams lose games where you shoot it, it hits the rim, and it's a long rebound, and you have three of your guys or two of your guys running after the ball.  And when they run after the ball, there's someone left open and it's one pass and a guy gets a wide open three.
So I told our guys, You have to stay man on man.  If the shot goes up and it's a long rebound and we can't get down to it, whoever is closest to it, everybody else stay on their man and that guy that gets the rebound, you got stay with him.
But Brad's a pretty intelligent kid for a young guy.  But he defended the play very, very well coming out, and then obviously did a good job going back in there and rebounding the ball.

Q.  And that missed free throw right there at the end that he was able to get...
COACH DONOVAN:  No, Green missed that shot, which was big.  They could have tied the game and 20, whatever it was, and then we were able to run some clock.  I thought Anthony, I think one of the things that happens sometimes is guys see 21 seconds on the clock and think they're going to get fouled, and they pick the ball up, and they're waiting to get fouled, and they get trapped or turn it over or make a bad play.
Our guys kept playing, and Anthony was trying to trap and get a steal.  And then when the ball crossed over in the front court, he then fouled.  But Brad can make a lot of different plays.  And no question, with Patric being out and having a small lineup on the floor, when Green missed that free throw, the worst thing you can do is give up an offensive rebound because now they're shooting to go ahead.

Q.  You got a presence in the paint in Murphy when you did have to go small.  Would you talk about how important that was.  The process of getting Murphy to become more of an inside guy, instead of just a guy that pops out and shoots threes?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think the one thing our guys are starting to figure out, too, is when teams switch and do a lot of different stuff, we got to find ways to take advantage of them, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that today here with him.
CLAUDE FELTON:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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