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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: OMAHA


March 15, 2012


Kenny Boynton

Billy Donovan

Erving Walker


OMAHA, NEBRASKA

THE MODERATOR:  We'll start with questions.

Q.  Is there any comfort level or familiarity level from having been through NCAA Tournament games before, this being your sixth game after playing five games the last two years?
KENNY BOYNTON:  Yes, it's better the second time around and basically our role here is just to calm everybody down before the game, let 'em know it's just another game, give us your all because if you lose here it's the end of the season.
ERVING WALKER:  We got some good experience and we are comfortable and relaxed being in this situation.  We know it's "go" time and we got to be ready to go.

Q.  Could you guys talk about how much of an asset it is to have the type of scoring balance you have, especially you, Kenny, not having to carry the load a lot of nights?
KENNY BOYNTON:  Yes, it's great to have a team like we have, like I say, at the SEC Tournament I didn't shoot well but overall we did a great job scoring the ball when you have all these guys, they can score any given night and it makes it easier for each one of us.
ERVING WALKER:  It's great to have the balance so teams can't just focus on one person or if one person is having an off day we have others that we can look to come up and score.
There has been one or two games where one or two struggled, but we continued to score a good amount of points.

Q.  You guys like to play at a high tempo to begin with but knowing that Virginia is the exact opposite, do you try to do that even more so to try to get them to play to your style?
KENNY BOYNTON:  Yes, I think basically we change our style of play, we have to be smart, rather than taking bad shots because every time we come back on defense we are going be going about 35 seconds, the whole shot clock so we have to take good shots and stay on 'em at defense because they do a good job at taking good shots in the shot clock.
ERVING WALKER:  We want to always play our pace and keep the pace going fast but we got to be prepared because they're a good team and they may not turn it over so, we have to be prepared to play their style and grind it out if it comes to that.

Q.  As far as Virginia's pack line defense, have you seen anything like that before?  Would your offense seem to be good for attacking something like that?
ERVING WALKER:  We have seen teams that have played defense like that but you never know exactly how it is.  In our offense we have enough weapons in shooting and can catch up and go attack any defense if we play the right defense and play the ball.
KENNY BOYNTON:  This year we have seen every defense I think you can and with our offense and the type of players that we have, we can adjust to any type of defense.

Q.  Kenny, when in your a shooting slump do you ever get to a point where mentally you think to shoot less, take fewer shots?
KENNY BOYNTON:  Not really.  My thoughts are basically, if I'm open, shoot it that's what Coach Donovan tells me, it's not me thinking, I need to get this amount of shots or anything like that, if it's not my night it's not my night, I just got to do other things to get people the ball.

Q.  As far as Pat and his challenge going up against Mike Scott, how has he looked in practice and how big of a game is this for Pat, not just offensively but on the defensive end?
KENNY BOYNTON:¬† I think basically, you know, he's looked good in practice but I think with Mike Scott it's going to be a team effort, we need to get help, he's a great player, has a great mid‑range game and it's going to come to a team thing, us helping Patrick.
ERVING WALKER:  We all got to help Pat.  Mike Scott is a great player and he's going to score his points but we want to make it difficult, on a player like that you can't shut 'em up, we just got to make every shot difficult and it's not just Pat stopping him.

Q.  You guys have seen teams that were defensively oriented, Alabama for example, is there anybody that compares to Virginia that you've played against this year?
ERVING WALKER:  Well, I would say Alabama is a great defensive team and they try to pack it in as well.
But like I said, we have only seen tape on Virginia, we don't know exactly how it is until we get on the court of them, but teams like Alabama, great defensive teams, Syracuse, even though they play the 2‑3, but those are teams that play defensive like Virginia.
KENNY BOYNTON:  I agree, Alabama is a team which I can compare 'em to, but we have only seen tape so I can't honestly say that they're similar to Alabama but we'll see tomorrow.

Q.  Do you guys feel like the performance of this team has lined up with the level of talent, and where is your ceiling?
KENNY BOYNTON:  I think we have been off and on.  Some games we came out and had great offensive and defensive efforts and some games we haven't.
But regardless of tomorrow we come out and have our best offensive game, we have to do a great job at playing defense and getting stops and rebounding.
ERVING WALKER:  I agree with Kenny, we have been up and down this year.  I feel personally we could have had a better season so far, but this is a new season and our ceiling is high and we continue to get better in practice and following Coach Donovan so hopefully we can make this a long trip.
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and best of luck.
Coach?
COACH DONOVAN:  We're excited to be here in Omaha and part of the NC tournament, I think is a great time in college basketball and feel fortunate that we have earned the opportunity to play.  Certainly we have a very good opponent tomorrow in Virginia.  We have a lot to get prepared for, and I think our guys are excited about the opportunity to play against a very good team.

Q.  I believe players from Virginia were talking about this as kind of a battle between two different styles.  How do you see the styles differing?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think they're definitely are two contrasting styles.  We're a team that's looking to go run and press and go up and down the floor on a regular basis.  I think one of the misconceptions with Virginia is they don't want to run at all.  They're an opportunistic running team when they have the opportunity.
I think for us defensively we're probably out pressuring more and for Virginia they're in position where they're taking away dribble drives, paint touches, those kind of things.
I think you look at their scores, you know, they're playing in the mid‑50s, a team that obviously defends very well and has held teams down all year long and probably a team like ourselves that's looking to go play in the mid 70s to 80s, so I think speed, tempo, pace of the game is probably different on both ends.

Q.  Billy, with regard to their pack line defense and the way you guys play, would you feel that of all the styles of offense that you could run against that pack line that yourself would be one that would be well suited for attacking it?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think like any defense, you know, there is no solution defensively for every single thing on offense.  And one of the things that helps on any offense is when teams can make shots.  I think with Virginia they are an outstanding defensive team and they have done it against everybody all year long.
I think teams that have had success against them have been teams that have been able to make some shots, but they do a great job of providing a lot of help, being in position to help.  I think for us, our spacing, how we move the basketball, what we try to take advantage of, what we see as being open, making decisions will become very, very important.
I don't know if necessarily all our offense or what we do offensively is an advantage going against their defense because it's not like for us this is the first time for them playing in the ACC and their non‑conference schedule that they may not have not seen already a similar style of play.¬† We've gone against some very good defensive teams in our league, Kentucky for one, with great length and shot‑blocking ability and they were number one in the country for percentage goal defense, and Alabama has held teams into the 50s so we have gone against very good defensive teams and they have probably gone against a North Carolina or Duke that want to go up and down the floor.¬† So although the styles are contrasting, I don't think it's going to be a surprise, for us or them, that at sometime during the course of this lengthy season that we haven't seen similar its in each other's similarities.

Q.  Billy, talk about how the experience helps and you you've been in a number of NCAA Tournaments, but just the experience factor.
COACH DONOVAN:  I don't know, Pat, because I remember in 2005 we had a group of guys that were coming back with absolutely no experience with Joakim Noah and those guys and we won a National Championship and experience didn't hold out well in that situation.  I remember myself being a player, never played in the NCAA Tournament my whole entire career until my senior year and we were fortunate enough to go all the way to the Final Four.
The reality is when the ball is thrown up in the air it's going to be forty minutes, like every other game, the dimensions on the court are the same and what's different is the lead‑up into the game.¬† Myself being up here, our players being up here, Virginia being up here, different things, it's different, but when the ball goes up, both teams are going to play.¬† I think Virginia has a wealth of experience playing in the ACC and we have a great wealth of experience playing in the SEC.
So I don't know tournament experience, how much that is going to play a factor once the ball is thrown up in the air.  Teams have to play and players have to play and they have to work through both teams.  If there is jitters or nervousness, both teams will have to work through that.

Q.¬† Coach, back in the day you made the jump from a mid‑major program to a BCS‑level program and this time of year that happens quite a bit.¬† I see movement in the coaches.¬† What's your thoughts on some advise for mid‑major level coaches?¬† What do they need to be concerned about before making that kind of a jump?¬† What things do they need to take into consideration and be weary of?
COACH DONOVAN:¬† I think the first thing is you have to understand where you're at in your job to begin with.¬† There are, in my opinion, really, really good quality‑‑ and I wouldn't use the word "mid‑major" they're capable of beating majors, but the perception is maybe they're mid‑major, it's not a BCS conference.¬† And leave a great opportunity or situation like that and go into a BCS conference or league where traditionally that job has been lower level, middle of the pack at best.
I've always felt if you can get into a situation where there is great commitment by the administration, where there is a commitment to build something, a belief that you can legitimately recruit and bring in the level and quality of players, that you need to compete at that level is important.  But I think so much has changed for me in recruit and go college basketball, it's changed more so today than it was maybe 20 years ago.

Q.  I sense you don't feel it's going to be a matter of who imposes whose will on the other team, that if it's in the 50s you could win or if it's in the 70s they could win it's just a matter of execution?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think every game you're trying to impose your will on the other team, so to speak.  But, you know, I think that regardless of where the score is at, I think our basketball team has an opportunity to win regardless of where the game is being played at.
I do think that Virginia is capable of winning the game wherever the score is.  I don't think the game is going to be played in the 90s, that's not going to happen.  If it's played in the 50s or the high 60s, that remains to be seen.  I think both teams are capable of playing in a wide range, so to speak, of points being scored in a game.  They're a team that certainly tries to impose their will on you with their screening, motion, defense, with how physical they are, they are an extremely physical team.
They do a great job of protecting the paint and do a great job of taking away easy baskets.¬† I think that we're a team that tries to impose our will.¬† I don't know necessarily if all the sudden the game gets slowed and they get control of the pace if I feel like, oh my gosh, we can't win the game right now.¬† And I would say if the game got going up and down the floor with their 3‑point shooting and with Scott, I think they're more than capable of playing that way.¬† This is not a team that walks the ball down the floor and holds the ball and shoots when there are five seconds to go in the shot clock, they're going to run their offense, if they get something good they'll take it if they have to go deeper into the shot clock, they will.
I think our team has to be prepared for going up and down or half‑court.

Q.  Billy, you've talked about Pat this year and battling consistency issues.  How big of a challenge is this for him and how has he looked this week?
COACH DONOVAN:¬† Pat has been good, he's had a good week of practice.¬† I think our front court has a great challenge, certainly one of the most unique players in the country is Scott, great, great mid‑range shooter, maybe as good as I've seen in a long time.¬† Mitchell is a terrific front court guy that offensively rebounds and plays off of Scott so I think those guys for Murphy and Young are a great challenge, I think their ability to shoot the ball with Sammy Zeglinski and Harris makes them tough.¬† They have a good balance on their team and our front court has a challenge but I think Patric has had a good week and we'll see how he plays tomorrow.

Q.  Patric said he will be back for next season, is that a surprise and how important is it for your program?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, that's the first I've heard of that.  So that's always great news.  I think Patric has learned a lot this year.  I don't think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.  I think a lot of times when you're a player that's in a role and all of the sudden you go from a role to a primary position, your impression of what you think your role is going to be like may not match up to it and when your shoes are in that role the consistency is different.  I think Patric realized there is consistency he needs to make and he probably realized he's here to grow and he's here in college to grow and he's much better today than he was a year ago and I think next year he would be better than he is this season so I think it's a process for front court guys.
He has been a great kid to coach but there are up's and down's for him, considering it's a grind and we all started in probably September, and it's a long season and it's a grind.

Q.  Billy, I think we counted there are ten coaches in the tournament this year, coaches who have won national championships, I'm sorry, 10 coaches, 9 of which have won national championships.  Is there something about knowing how to win in March?
COACH DONOVAN:  If there were you would have guys doing it year in and year out.  Believe me, I've been through it as a coach and a lot of it, and I made this comment after I won a national championship in 2006 you could start the tournament over, okay, and there may be a different winner at the end of it.  You could take an NCAA Tournament team and put them in the NIT right now and they could loose an NIT game that's how much parity there is.
Certainly time has proven out the higher seeds you have the more likely of an opportunity there is for you to advance, that's pretty consistent.¬† I think coaches that have had higher seeds do have a chance to move on, and I do think the level of experience goes into making those kinds of runs in the tournament but you know what?¬† When you're dealing with a one and done situation, it's like the lottery, I always say you've got to be in it to win it, the more times you are in it the more times you have an opportunity to advance and that's the heart breaking part of this time of year is you spend all this time getting ready for this moment and it can be an unbelievable ride or a very, very difficult loss that's the price of playing, but anytime you're dealing with a one and done situation, anything can happen and that's what draws so many people's fascination to the NCAA Tournament, the unknown, just one game, anything can happen.¬† It's not like the NBA playoffs where it's a five or seven‑game series.¬† You want your guys to understand the process that goes into playing well and you want them to play well.¬† There are different things you have to deal with, there are distractions, pressures that your players feel, I think maybe trying to cut off or alleviate or get them to focus on the things that are going to be in front of them would be important.

Q.  Is there an ingredient that you know you'll need in the days to come that you still aren't quite sure you have?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think that for every team the main things of being able to defend and rebound become important this time of year.  I think the other thing that is helpful and I don't think any team knows is teams that shoot the ball well in March, that can score in and around the basket and can score from the perimeter, giving themselves an opportunity to win.
Most of the teams that are in this tournament are capable of doing those things, that's why they're here in the tournament.  I don't know if there is one thing I look at and say, wow, we haven't done this, we have been inconsistent doing this.  I think there have been up's and down's all the way through the year but I don't know that we're that much different from anybody else.

Q.  Billy, when you have a guy like Kenny Boynton who is in a shooting slump do you ever tell him to scale it back and shoot less or is it a worthwhile gamble to let him go because if he starts making shots it would help?
COACH DONOVAN:  My whole thing with my guards and shooting is when they're open they have to let it go and they have a responsibility to their teammates to shoot the ball with confidence and I tell them all the time that if they're going up for a shot and they're not sure it's going in you better not shoot it.  I want them to have confidence when they're shooting the basketball.  My job is to get them to understand what is a good shot and a bad shot.  Generally a guard is not going to take a low percentage shot, I think the length of Kentucky on the perimeter at times disrupted him but when he's open he needs to step up and shoot the ball with confidence, we need him to do that, we need all our guys to do that, that's something I've got to instill in them.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach, best of luck.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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