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March 21, 2013

Billy Donovan

Erik Murphy

Mike Rosario


THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll go ahead and get started with the Florida student‑athletes.¬† We'll take questions.

Q.  For all three of you guys, just how much over the last two years being so close, how much do you think that's driven you guys to gets back to this point?
KENNY BOYNTON:  I would say we're a veteran team, last year was last year.  We can't dwell on the past.  But right now it's a new season.  We learned from our mistakes from last year.  We're ready to make a run in the tournament.
ERIK MURPHY:  I agree.  Those things are in the past.  But we have worked to fix whatever may have caused that.  We're just focused on Northwestern State right now.  We got to come out and be ready to play.
MIKE ROSARIO:  Just to feed off what both of those guys said.  We can't dwell on the past.  That's something that coach teaches us every day, is just move on to the next thing that's ahead of us.  So I feel like with this season we have been in every position.  Every coming down to the stretch and in every game we have been in all different types of situations this season.  So I feel like being in those situations has paid off for this round.

Q.¬† For all of you, a lot has been made of the fact you're 0‑6 in games less than 10 points.¬† Can you talk to the reasons why and whether someone needs to step up in this tournament and be a go to guy?
MIKE ROSARIO:  I wouldn't say someone has to be a step up guy.  I would just say that as far as the level of concentration and being poised and in situations in the second half, I feel like we have to still come out aggressive in the second half and be in attack mode still.  When we're up 12 or whatever the case may be, or down 12, we still have to have that attack mindset.
So I feel like with coach working on us in practice, on those situations, being in those situations, again, I feel like we did a great job of being on the edge and making sure that we make sure we take advantage of that situation.
ERIK MURPHY:  Those things have happened.  They're in the past now.  We worked to fix whatever caused that.  I think as far as a go to guy, I don't think we need that.  I think we need to do it together.  Which we're capable of doing.  That's one thing that we try to do on offense and defense is play together as one.  I think doing that, I don't think you need one guy to come up and step up.
KENNY BOYNTON:  I agree with Murphy.  I think we just need to do it as a team.  Whether it's offensively or defensively, just take it one step at a time.  We worked on our mistakes and that's in the past, so we're in a new season, we got to just get it right from here.

Q.  Looking at Northwestern State what is it that really jumps out to you guys on video about them?
ERIK MURPHY:  Obviously they play fast, they play in transition really well.  I think they lead the nation in scoring.
Obviously they're a high octane team offensively and they pressure the ball on defense.  We just got to be ready for that.  We're just going to follow coach's game plan and try to execute it as best we can.
KENNY BOYNTON:  I agree with Murph.  They're a high octane team.  They lead the country in scoring, so we definitely got to do a good job on the defensive end and I think that on their defense end, they pressure a lot.  We got to stay poised on the offensive end and we'll be good.
MIKE ROSARIO:  Just to add on what both of those guys said, I feel like the two main keys for us is handling the transition defense, getting back in transition, and getting to our man.  And just handling their pressure.
Just taking care of the ball and not making costly casual turnovers.  I feel like if we do a great job in those areas, I feel like we'll be fine.

Q.  Kenny and Erik, obviously when you guys got here, Florida wasn't too far removed from consecutive national championships.  And you guys talked about you don't want to worry about the past.  You talk about having the last chance and how much do you guys really want to go out with a bang after everything you've been through in these years?
KENNY BOYNTON:  I think that well me, Murph and Mike, I think our main thing is winning.  We want to go out as winners.  Our goal is to get to the national championship and win it.  And nothing less than that.
ERIK MURPHY:  I agree with what Kenny said.  We want to leave, us three want to leave that legacy of just being winners.  We just got to win every game we can.  Every game's its own game and we just have to try to come out and do what we can to win that game.

Q.  Coach wasn't too pleased with practice leading up to the Kentucky game.  I wanted to know how the intensity of practice has been since the Ole Miss lost and if there's a new focus and a new intensity in practice.
KENNY BOYNTON:  I think that practice has been good.  We had a good practice today.  It's been intense.  We have been going hard.  So I think leading up to this game practices consecutively have been good.
ERIK MURPHY:  I agree with Kenny.  We always try to practice as hard as we can.  We have had a really heightened focus level, I think, just coming down the stretch.  I think that practice has been productive and we have all been practicing hard.
It's a new season, so we kind of had that just a little bit extra pop in practice just from that coming down the stretch here.
MIKE ROSARIO:  I think the guys understand, at this point in time in March, it's one and done.  Right now, going into every practice that we have from this point on, I feel like everyone's been on the edge.  Everyone's been focused on their job and that's one thing that coach preaches to us every day is just do your job.
I feel like all the players, the coaching staff, everyone with our program has been focused up to this point.  So I feel like if we keep doing that good things will happen.

Q.¬† A lot of people kind of pooh‑pooh'd the SEC this year, only three teams got into the NCAA and now you've already seen two top schools, Kentucky and Tennessee, go down in the first round of the NIT.¬† Pretty big upsets too.¬† Is that something that you all should be concerned with going into this tournament, not just the first game, but the whole tournament, that maybe you're coming out of a conference that's not as tough as the others?
KENNY BOYNTON:  Honestly, not at all.  We play teams in other conferences.  Those teams, losing, I don't think it has anything to do with us.  I think our main focus should just be taking everything one at a time.  No matter who we play or what conference they're in.
ERIK MURPHY:  I don't think it should be, I don't think it should worry us at all.  Those teams, they're not us.  We are just going to take care of our business.  We got to play our game and they have no affect on what we do.
MIKE ROSARIO:  Our focus right now is on each other and Northwestern State.  I feel like with those two teams in our conference, we can't worry about that situation or what happened with those two teams.  But right now our main focus is what's up next.  And that's Northwestern State tomorrow.

Q.  Guys, do you have to expect they're going to be close games in the tournament, correct?

Q.  And how then, how better can you adapt to the late going than you did in the regular season?
MIKE ROSARIO:  Like I said before, we practice on these situation.  We know going forward everyone is bringing their best shot every game.
And that's what the NCAA tournament is about.  Us being a team that we are.  I know that we have a target on us for being a number three seed and being the experienced team that we are.  We feel like that we got to come out, just aggressive, and just be the Florida Gators.  And I feel like, up to this point, we just got to keep our focus on what's going on with our team and just be focused.
ERIK MURPHY:  Those things, us with the close games and everything, that's in the past.  Can't do anything to change it now.  We don't know what's going to happen in the future.  So we just got to focus on us right now and what we're doing to prepare and then playing the game.
KENNY BOYNTON:  Those games are in the past.  I think when the situation comes again, as a team, we just are going to take every possession one at a time and get it done.

Q.  Kenny, can you talk about playing against a team that plays so many players.  You guys are used to 32, 34 minutes a game.  You're going up against a team that's going to be constantly substituting.
KENNY BOYNTON:  Yeah, they still have only five at a time.  All the guys are productive.  But we have reserves also.  So we get a breather, we just got to get our wind back and be ready to play, match their intensity.
I think in this game it will be an offensive, the main thing will be our offense not turning the ball over.  So we just got to not get fatigued and keep playing.

Q.  Kenny, maybe all the guys, this team is at its best when you've got four or five guys in double figures.  How do you get back to maybe that scoring balance and ball movement that you had earlier in the season?
KENNY BOYNTON:  I think that with that, I think with our team, it's just playing the right way.  I think that if everybody has a mindset to make each other better and play the right way, everyone will be in double figures in the game.  It will be a high scoring game for us.  We worked on that in practice and we just got to go out and do it.
ERIK MURPHY:  We just got to play together, play the right way, play smart, and if we do that, we focus on being a high assist team and if we do that, we'll be fine.
MIKE ROSARIO:  Just to feed off that, I feel like if our team takes advantage of the defensive end of how we take advantage of the offensive end, that creates offense for our team.
And I feel like when everyone has the right mindset on the defensive end and everyone's trying to be in the right spots at the right time on the defensive end, it creates offense for our team.  But to feed off what Murph said, you know, 20 assists plus per game is a big margin, but we are capable of doing it.  I feel like that when we put ourselves in that situation of getting 20 assists in a game and less turnovers, we can be a really, really good team.

Q.  For you guys, you talked earlier about having played before, the sense of urgency, but talk about how much experience the experience that you guys have in the tournament can help as you try to make this run and also Will's return, has that helped you very much, how much has it helped and does he seem like he's back to getting closer to where he was before he went out?
KENNY BOYNTON:  With Will, I think that he's back to where he was.  In practice he's been active on defense and offense I think that with us, just finishing our games, we just got to do it.

Q.  The experience though.
KENNY BOYNTON:  I think that me and Murph and Mike, Pat, Scottie and all of us, being guys that have been in the tournament, we have been here before, we have played in pretty much every situation in this game or this year.  We just got to get the young guys experience and get over the hump.
THE MODERATOR:  All right we'll let you go and take an opening statement from coach.
COACH DONOVAN:  We're excited to be here in the city of Austin and also being part of the NCAA tournament.  I realize that we have a great challenge in front of us tomorrow against Northwestern State.  Coach McConathy has done a terrific job with his team.  A veteran team.
I think everybody knows about their style of play and their system.  So a lot to get prepared for coming out of the SEC tournament and I know our guys, our coaching staff and our program are excited about the opportunity to play tomorrow night.

Q.  Can you talk about your coaching against a team that's going to run like 90 players at you.  And I don't know if you ever experienced anything quite like that.  Do you change your substitution patterns at all?
COACH DONOVAN:¬† No, not really.¬† I think there's going to be one you're always ‑‑ for us we're going to sub based on fatigue, foul trouble, those kind of things.¬† But I also do think matchups.¬† If there is a matchup to their substitution that we need to change.¬† But that wouldn't be anything different than what we would normally do in a given game, so to speak.
There's going to be some lineups that we could have on the court that may not be great matchups for us and from the bench got to be aware of that.  And maybe make some adjustments or changes based on how big or small they are.  But that's something that we'll have to keep an eye on.
But overall, going into the game, it's not going to be a situation for us, we have got kind of our rotations and things that we need to do and some of those rotations are dictated and predicated on fatigue, foul trouble and matchups.

Q.  Can you talk about some of the better teams you had that made runs in the tournament, had some veteran players, and that came up big at tournament time.  Can you talk about how much experience plays once you get into this one and done situation?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well I would say this; to me the most important thing this time of year is maybe not necessarily the experience part of it.  I remember in 2006 we came in with a very inexperienced team and we won six games.

Q.  You had some older guys though?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, but I mean Horford, Noah, those guys played a little bit, but I tell you what, you can have all the experience you want, but if you don't play well a lot of that experience is wasted.  I think the one good part for us going into the game is at least our guys have been in this environment, they have been in this venue, they have experienced this.
Now it's a totally different set of circumstances, different team, different year, everything's totally different.  But I don't think our guys understand all the things that you have to go through, because this time of year for a young kid, if they have never been through it, it's a little bit different.  It's a little bit different.  But I think the experience, if you play well, can help you.  But if you don't play well, I'm not so sure how much it helps.

Q.¬† Can you talk specifically about Erik and Kenny, just all they have been through and just their last chance to ‑‑ I know that they want to be part of more than just a regional final.
COACH DONOVAN:  I think that they're no different than any player that's never experienced that.  When you get into this tournament, I think that that's everybody's dream and goal.
I remember being a senior in college myself and going to, I remember going the first two years, not even getting into post season play.  And then we made it to the NIT in my junior year and then, my senior year, made it to the Final Four.
I think every kid that gets into this tournament, that's a dream.¬† I just think maybe those guys have been a little bit more outspoken.¬† I think if you checked with Northwestern State or Illinois or UCLA or Minnesota, I think every kid's dream ‑‑ I don't think there's anything abnormal about that for them wanting that.
I think they also are mature enough and understand that the most important thing right now is what's in front of us today.  Because tomorrow in this tournament is never, ever guaranteed or promised.  I think that they realize what a challenge it will be tomorrow night playing against Northwestern State.  But I think that that's the goal in this tournament, to keep advancing.

Q.  Can you talk about, a year ago, you went through this tournament without Will.  He was here, but he obviously didn't practice, didn't play rather.  On a personal level, how happy are you that he's got healthy enough with his surgery and his back to where he is at this point and is able to play.
COACH DONOVAN:¬† I think he gives us a little bit more depth.¬† He gives us another defender, another rebounder.¬† I still think‑‑ I think a lot of times when somebody's cleared to play after injury, the normal response is he's going to be exactly like he was before he got hurt.
Usually a guy that's been out for a month, that's never the case.¬† There's usually a period of time that goes on.¬† I still don't think ‑‑ he's much better than he was going back to our Alabama and Vanderbilt game.¬† But I still think he's not at the level he was.¬† I think he can get there.¬† We'll need that in a hurry.¬† But there's no question from a depth standpoint and what he brings to the table for our team, having him out there is certainly much more important than having him sitting on the sidelines on crutches.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH DONOVAN:  I'm happy for him.  That's a hard thing, because I was with him when we went through having a sit down and talking to him and he needed knee surgery.  And that he probably wasn't going to be able to play if he didn't have knee surgery.
Just going through what he went through, as you mentioned, last year with his broken foot and missing this time, I mean he really, he cried about as hard as a kid I've ever seen cry before.  Because he wanted to play.
The option was to wait and try to manage it, but it had gotten to such a problem with all the swelling and the bone chips in there that he couldn't have done it.  And we needed to do it immediately or he needed to wait until after the year was over with.  But I think his initial reaction was, I can play, I'll try it with it.  But it would have never worked.
So I'm happy that he can play and experience this.  I think the one thing that was probably frustrating to him when he did come back during the SEC, the end of the schedule there, is that I think he put a lot of pressure on himself to perform at a level that he wasn't capable of performing at because he was coming off that injury.  I think there was part of him that felt like he was letting everybody down, because there is this big excitement about Will gets back, he's cleared to play.  And no one takes into consideration, well, you know what, he's back, but he's probably really not back to where he was.

Q.  You seemed really emotional in the SEC tournament championship game.  Was that seeding or momentum or just every time you go out on the floor and does your team feed off that?
COACH DONOVAN:  I hope it's not every time I go out on the court, because I wouldn't be able to coach too much longer doing that.
No, I think that sometimes in certain situations there's things you see going on, on the court, you get emotional and passionate about what you want to see from your team.  When they're not doing those things, I can get animated.
But this has been a great group to coach.  They have been, they have gotten along real well.  We have had really good chemistry, they're unselfish, good kids, they work hard.  But I think every game, every situation's always a little bit different going into these, whether it's the SEC tournament or the NCAA tournament.
But I don't go in with any preconceived notions of how I'm going to act or be.  But there are certain things that they know that probably are going to set me off a little bit on the sidelines.  More than anything else, just trying to get them to fire up and compete and play.

Q.¬† To follow‑up, a lot of people compare Florida and Texas athletics programs.¬† How would you say the interest in Florida basketball compares to the passion in Florida football?
COACH DONOVAN:¬† Well, I've said this:¬† This is the unique thing about Florida to me being here now 17 years.¬† In the southeast there is nothing sport‑wise that takes more precedent over football.¬† There is a southeastern flavor for football that it is just there.¬† I mean, I think it's a long, rich standing tradition when you talk about Florida and Georgia and Alabama and Auburn and Tennessee and all the teams.
The difference at Florida, in my opinion, is the University of Florida, to its fans, alumni and boosters, is bigger than any sports situation.  And that's the thing that makes Florida, I think, so unique is that people that are supporting Florida, when Florida's playing, whether it be in volleyball, baseball, football, basketball, the university takes precedent over any sport.
There's a level of pride there in Florida, the Gator Nation, that thing.  So I've never ever, since I've been there, ever looked at it football versus basketball or anything like that.  I just looked at that I'm part of a great athletics program and we're one sport and the goal is to have the best overall athletics department in the country.  And you need a lot of sports to do well there.  And that's the one thing that's been positive for me is I think sometimes, at least back when I got hired, people always wanted to create a divide between football and basketball.  And create animosity.  And that couldn't be further from the truth of what the environment is at Florida.  Everybody supports each other, everybody helps each other.  I've been at Florida with Spurrier and around Zook and Urban and now Will.  And I've had great relationships with all those guys.  And that's the one thing that I find enjoyable about Florida is the people that represent Florida, when Florida's involved, there's passion, regardless of what sport it is.

Q.¬† A lot's been made of you guys being 0‑6 in games six points or less.¬† How do you explain that?¬† And in a tournament where most games or a lot of games come down to six points or less, why are you guys in better shape now to combat that?
COACH DONOVAN:  I don't know if we are or we're not.  I think a lot of times it's all how you want to look at things.  Because we have beaten teams on our schedule by 20 or more points twice as many times as we have lost close games.
So I think in those situations, to me, the more experiences you have, the more opportunities I think you have to handle those better.  And for us it's been different stuff.  That's been probably the part that's been somewhat baffling for me a little bit is it's been different things.
In the Kentucky game, the last game of the year, we couldn't make a shot.¬† We missed, I think we were had five turnovers out of 15 possessions and went 0‑10 from the field.
Against Mississippi we were 3‑11 I think from the free throw line in the second half.¬† For whatever reason.
Those things have obviously hurt us.  Turnovers have hurt us.  I think a lot of times people want to go back and look at the last possession, but to me when you got a 12 point lead going into the second half against Ole Miss in the SEC tournament, that wasn't an end of game problem, that was a coming out of the locker room problem, where pretty quickly the game got tied up.
So I would say this:  I have confidence in our guys.  I think that they have confidence in themselves.  When that situation comes up, we'll see how you respond.  I never ever think anything that happens in the past equals your future.  Just because, if we made every game winning shot, doesn't mean we're going to make the next one.  And if we miss every single game winning shot, doesn't mean we're going to miss the next one.
We have got to ‑‑ I think our team has grown and matured and gotten better in some of those situations.¬† I think we have made better decisions, I think we have executed better.¬† We have not finished plays like we need to.

Q.  You weren't too pleased with practices leading up to Kentucky, but how has practice been lately?  Is there a new intensity, a new focus?  Are you pleased with how practice has gone?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, it was a little bit, I think coming off of playing three games in three days coming out of Nashville, you know, we gave them off on Monday to recuperate.  I thought that we practiced hard Tuesday and Wednesday and then practiced again here today.  They have been pretty good.
I think our guys understand that everybody's fighting for the same things during the course of the year.¬† You're using your non‑conference to prepare for your conference.¬† Then you're trying to compete for a conference championship.¬† Then you're trying to compete for a conference tournament championship.¬† And then ultimately what you want to do at the end of the day is you want to be in this event.¬† And I've always said, this event's like the lottery, you got to be in it to win it.¬† And that's what makes it so special is it's so wide open and anybody can beat anybody.
I think our guys are excited.¬† I think ‑‑ listen, if you're not excited to play this time of year, you shouldn't be out there right now.¬† This is what college basketball is all about right now.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thank you, coach.

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