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March 15, 2013

Billy Donovan

Erik Murphy

Patric Young


LSU - 58

THE MODERATOR:  We're ready to continue on with Florida.  We'll ask Coach Donovan for some general comments on the game, then we'll take your questions for the two student athletes and excuse them back to the locker room and finish up with Coach Donovan.
Coach Donovan.
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think coming out of our last regular season game, we had I think a few days to practice and get better on some things, and certainly the first time in a long time I think we've got our full complement of players back healthy.  I think that time from Sunday till Thursday served our team well.
Give our guys credit, they came out focused and ready to play.  We moved and passed the basketball.  I thought we had pretty good offensive flow.  Johnny O'Bryant got in some foul trouble, but I thought we did a pretty he good job on him defensively.  Erik certainly had a great game inside and out, scoring and Patric did a very good job defensively and posting up and giving presence up-front.
Overall, I was pleased with the way our team played.  You know, really from start to finish.  It was a very good game by them.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take your questions for either of the student athletes.

Q.  Erik, I know you tweaked your knee a little bit this week in practice.  How concerned were you about it and what exactly happened?
ERIK MURPHY:  I just was feeling a little pain in it in practice and wanted to be cautious coming into the tournament, and just pretty much treated it, iced it and went a little sleep.  But it's fine.

Q.  For Erik, just wondering, how do you guys view this coming in?  Does this feel like the first game of the post season, the NCAA Tournament all that and you want to take it to another level, or is this a quest for a trophy here this weekend?
ERIK MURPHY:  I think, you know, obviously we want to win the tournament here, but we got to take it one game at a time.  We were focused on LSU today and last night coaches gave us a game plan.  We tried to execute it, and now it's time for the next game, the next opponent.

Q.  Patric, in the Tennessee game, what sorts of things did you do to keep Jarnell away from the basket?  He only had 8 shots or so in that game.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Well, I just try to do the best I could to be in the right position.  I'm really good at trying to be active and really focusing and locking in on trying to keep the guy I'm defending uncomfortable.  I just was lucky and had a good game defending him in that game.

Q.  For both Patric and Erik, how difficult were the practices leading up to today for you?
PATRIC YOUNG:  I can't lie.  It was really difficult practice, but I enjoyed every minute of it.  Coach really challenged us because he wants us to be great and we challenged each other.  We went out there, I can say that we honestly left everything we had in those practices leading up to the tournament here, and it really did help prepare us and to really get us focused on finishing games and just going out and doing what it takes to win.
ERIK MURPHY:  Yeah.  Practice was tough.  You know, Coach was focused on certain things.  He made it hard on us in practice to see how we would respond, and I think we did a good job in practice and good job today responding.

Q.  This is for Erik.  Talk about your day today offensively when you really had your shot going in the first half after you hit I think your third 3, you kind yelled, "Woo, man."  Can you talk about your day?
ERIK MURPHY:  Yeah.  Shots were falling today.  I felt good, so that always feels good.  That was today.  Whether the ball goes in the basket or not is out of your control.  The coach has actually been saying just give good reps this week.  Every rep in a good rep, whether it's in game or practice.  I try to do that.  The shots fell today.

Q.  This is for Erik.  Erik, you've had double-doubles now in the back-to-back games.  What's been the difference for you rebounding?  Has it been a mental thing, you know, focusing, looking more at it, or is it just happen to come your way more?
ERIK MURPHY:  I think just obviously everybody on our team, it's a big thing for us, is folks not rebounding, it's a big part of the game.  I think I've been, you know, put extra focus on and I just happened to have those two games.

Q.  Erik and Pat, did this game, the rhythm, the execution, the way it played, did it feel more like that run you had in January when you were routing all those SEC teams?  Did you have that kind rhythm to it?
ERIK MURPHY:  We were clicking today offensively, which always feels good.  I don't know if it feels like -- every game is a different game and what happens in that game, you know, you have to deal with during that game.  So, today, we clicked offensively, we were playing well defensively, and I think -- I don't think it necessarily felt like one of the games back then, but I think we can do that all the time if we focus and play together and play the right way.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think it was definitely a step in the right direction.  We did a better job minimizing those times in the game where we have slippage.  What I mean by "slippage," we lose focus and we're not aware that we had two, three turnovers consecutively and don't realize we need to get a good shot up.  I think we did a really good job not doing that so much.  We did slip up today in six possessions and had four straight turnovers, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.  Hopefully, we can just build off on that and do even better job next game.
THE MODERATOR:  One more question for either of the student athletes?  Anyone?  All right.  Thank you, fellas.  We'll excuse you back to the locker room.
We'll continue on with questions for Coach Donovan if you'll raise your hand.

Q.  Coach, I'm not going say that the 3 at the halftime was a necessarily pivotal basket only because of the final score.  But heading into the half, how much of a momentum maker is that?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, I think anytime you can, you know, make a shot at the end of the half either way, it always gives you a little momentum going in there.  You know, I thought there was enough time with the ball, you know, was being taken out that we could at least get an attempt or get the ball in a good area of the floor.
I thought Michael made a tough shot.  I thought LSU defended it pretty well.  He was able to get it off.  That's really what you want to do.  You're probably not going to get off the highest percentage shot, but you want to give yourself a chance to at least put it up on the rim.  And I think the lead was maybe at that time 12 and went to 15.  No question there's momentum.
We come out of the second half with the ball and then got Patric got fouled on the first possession, and I think he made both free throws and probably more importantly for us, it put O'Bryant in a situation where it was his third foul on the first possession of the second half.  So probably that last three seconds and the first five, ten seconds there was definitely some momentum change there.

Q.  Billy, two questions.  First of all, how concerned were you with Erik's knee just because, I mean, you've gone through all these injuries all year and then he shows up with a sore knee?
COACH DONOVAN:  I was concerned because the trainer was concerned.  He didn't practice.  It was really bizarre.  You know, we had just finished a stretch, and we were doing just some going through like pick and roll coverage.  I wasn't even a contact drill, more of a teaching drill.  I kind of planted his foot and went to turn.  He felt something.  Had kind of a sharp pain in his knee.  Didn't know what it was.
They pulled him out.  He went back in the Training Room and then came back out and it was still bothering him.  And the trainer felt like it was in his knee joint and really don't know what it was.  Nothing showed up on the MRI.  It was negative.  That night he started to feel progressively better.  There was no swelling.  There was nothing on the MRI.
So, more than anything else, you know, we felt like everything was fine.  At the time they were concerned.  Not being a doctor, I don't know, I just go by what they tell me.  They were concerned.  I think when the MRI came back later that night and it was clean, I think we felt like he was going to be able to play, wouldn't be a problem.

Q.  Was that Thursday?
COACH DONOVAN:  That happened on -- happened on Wednesday.

Q.  Second question.  Was there something from the previous game at LSU or watching them on tape that you thought Erik could have this kind of a game?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, you know, I'm a big believer, Pat, that you got to try to move and share it.  We went at Erik a few times inside where we got him the ball inside, but I think on the perimeter when he was 5 for 7, I felt like our backcourt guys did a good job finding him off the penetration.
He had that one stretch there, I think we missed a couple 3s in a row and offensive rebound came out again and got kicked to him.  I think his 3s were more other guys finding him.  We tried to do dome things offensively for him in both halves to have him catch the ball a little bit closer to the basket.

Q.  Billy, can you talk a little bit about what you saw out of Kenny today.  It seems like he's still struggling with his shot, but he had 7 assists, but how do you evaluate his offensive day?
COACH DONOVAN:  I really thought he played well.  One of the things, if you look at in some of our offensive struggles, you know, have been Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton shooting.  The last six games of the year going into this tournament, both those guys are below 40 percent from the field.  I think Mike is maybe like at 30, 31 percent from 3 and Kenny is about 28.  And they're aggressive offensive players that just need to understand when they take good shots, that's fine, but if shots aren't falling, there's other things they got to contribute to our team other than scoring.
I think Kenny took that to heart today.  He found guys in a lot of key situations and in particularly found Scottie Wilbekin.  I thought Scottie played very, very well today offensively because he was on the receiving end of some things that Kenny did for him.
So you can absorb, you know, a rough shooting night.  What we were having last six games, in my opinion, was you look down at the stat sheet, you know and you'd see 6, 7, 8 assists, 9, 10 assists, you know and maybe 7, 8, 9, 10 turnovers.  There was no balance because those guys were being aggressive to score, but they weren't finding other people.
And I think some of our shooting percentages, the number of points we were scoring, everything was down, our assists were down, and we're just a better -- and we can score a lot more.  We can absorb Rosario and Boynton not shooting the ball well when they take good shots provided they're doing other things sharing the ball.
Not only were they not shooting a great percentage from the 3-point line or from the field, their assists were way down in those six games.  Rosario had 11 assists and 14 turnovers, and Kenny Boynton had eight assists, six turnovers.  That's where you get hurt.  That's when your numbers start to drastically dip.  That's when your shooting percentages start to dip.  That's when you're not really playing off of each other.
Kenny took really good shots today.  I thought he had really good clean looks.  They didn't go in.  I have confidence when he takes those kinds of shots that he can go on a run.  He didn't today, but you know what, he probably accounted for a lot of other points with the ball in his hand finding other people.
Mike did not do a great job in that area tonight.  He had three turnovers.  Not very many assists.  But we need those guy to provide other things on defense and on offensive if shots are not falling.  We can't be a group that relies on them offensively because it's too up and down.
If you take those two guys off the stat sheet offensively, they're 3 for 14.  We shot 50 percent with those guys going 3 for 14, but they did other things in the game which was good and some other guys shot higher percent.  So if we ever get it to a point where we can continue to have a night like this collectively as a group and those guys start making a few shots, then I think we become that much more potent offensively.

Q.  With the team shooting double digit amount of 3s, I think it was 11, how important was it going inside early, how much did that open the 3-point area for you?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think Erik and Patric have to help the guards, they have to help themselves.  I thought Patric made himself available.  He got to the free throw ten time.  He didn't shoot in particularly well.  But I think he made 4 of his last 6 in the second half.  That's a clear sign we're getting more free throws.  We got to the free throw line 22 times which is good.
Erik, I think, was much, much more of a presence at the basket.  He established himself.  Even when they were switching and doing different things, we found him.  I thought we were balanced today inside and out.

Q.  Billy, also pretty significant rebounding margin today.  How much do you think working with the bubble kind of carried over in terms of your ability on the glass?
COACH DONOVAN:  I think all that helps, but I also think, too, that the most important thing is the effort.  It's very, very difficult to rebound when you don't jump.  And we've got our front court guys, I thought Erik in particular, and he really, really went after rebounds today, and, you know, he was active and our whole team was a little bit more active.
We did a pretty good job on the glass.  We're a capable team on the glass.  I wouldn't say that we're a great rebounding team, but we can overachieve and do a better job than we have in the past rebounding.

Q.  Coach, you hadn't been in a lot of close games this year.  Is there a concern about closing games?  And how do you teach a team to close games if you're not in those situations?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah.  I mean we played, you know, obviously three games or maybe four and I would even say five.  The Alabama game to me was a close game even though the score didn't indicate that.  We were down by 8 with 8 or 9 minutes to go.  It ended up being, I think, a 12-point game.  Certainly, the score didn't indicate how close it was.
You know, I think some of the things that we've got to do in those situations has been our turnovers.  That's been a problem for us where it's not -- listen, you're going to have some turnovers in the game, but when you have like -- you look down at the stat sheet and you have 12 turnovers but five come in a short period of time, those things have kind of hurt us.
And when you don't -- when you turn the ball over, you don't shots up.  So I really look at it this way:  I think that when you're going through a regular season, there are going to be things that you have to confront and address with your team.  And I'm happy that we've been in those situations.  How we respond in the future, I don't know.  But the fact that maybe we didn't close out some games has no bearing or doesn't mean anything as it relates to going forward.  It's a lot more about what we've learned and how we've gotten better in those areas.
THE MODERATOR:  Two more questions.

Q.  Billy, going back to the America's Tournament, in what ways do you think Stokes' game compares with Karl Malone, and do you think he's really progressed since Brazil this summer?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I mean, that's a heck of a comparison.  You're talking about the best power forward in the game, Karl Malone.  He's got great upside, Jarnell.
The thing I like about Jarnell, one, he's a great kid.  I loved being around him for the time we were together.  He's very even keeled, you know, he don't get overly emotional, doesn't get down.  I always said this with him:  The greatest strength of his game, in my opinion, is his hands.  You know, you can have a big body like that and if you don't have great hands, you can't use it real well.  He's got phenomenal hands.  His hands are like a vice.
When the balls hits it, he grabs it.  I think that's why he rebounds so well, because he understands how to use his size and strength, and then when he gets it down there and he gets it anywhere near his hands, he rebounds it, he grabs it, he holds on to it, and he really does a tremendous job carving out space.
You know, I think he's doing more on the perimeter than maybe he did a year ago in terms of putting the ball on the floor.  He's really effective to me when he really runs hard.  When he really runs the floor hard and changes ends, that's what I think made Karl Malone such a special player.  He was a great guy changing ends of the floor.
I wasn't with him long.  I obviously got drafted by Utah.  So I was with him in training camp for two years.  Just his stamina was really remarkable.  And I think that for Jarnell being so big and strong, there's a lot of weight you got to move up and down that floor.  I mean, I really liked him a lot.  I think he's gotten better from the summer to where he is now.  I think he's had a phenomenal year for Tennessee.  He's played really, really well.
THE MODERATOR:  Last question on the front.

Q.  Billy, LSU spoke about Erik's ability to recognize matchups and exploit those.  Can you speak to his basketball intelligence and his versatility?
COACH DONOVAN:  It's taken us a long time to help him with that.  That's been something that he's -- I think he's got better with over time where he understands what's happening in screening action and having a better awareness of who's on him.  Once he's had an awareness, he's done a pretty good job here of late of making himself available to catch the ball.  So if you're going to try to put a smaller guy on him, we can get hit down inside.  He can post and finish over, around.  And then obviously when he's on the perimeter and bigger guys are trying to chase him and our guards can find him, he becomes effective shooting 3s.
But Erik has done a much better job in tems of his basketball intellect.  I think over the course of the season, he's got better with that.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.
COACH DONOVAN:  Thank you.

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