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March 16, 2014

Billy Donovan

Michael Frazier, II

Scottie Wilbekin

Patric Young


Florida – 61
Kentucky – 60

THE MODERATOR:  We'll begin with the players.  Coach will be in momentarily.  So take questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Scottie, when James goes down, when he's trying to drive the lane, what caused him to take that step too wide of a step?  Also Coach Calipari said he didn't want to take timeout in the final possession and he wouldn't have done it anyway.  So can you just talk about that final possession.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I switched on to Harrison, and I just wanted to play the best defense I could without fouling and putting him to the line.  He handed it off to Young, and Frazier did a good job of staying with him and he fell.  So that was that.

Q.  Michael, talk about switching over on that play defensively.  For Scottie, the feeling when you dove on the ground and knew that the clock was about to expire.
MICHAEL FRAZIER, II:  We did a great job of communicating.  He played good defense and then I was just able to stay with him and he fell.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Last time we played Kentucky at our place there was a loose ball that I didn't dive on and Will and Casey yelled at me for not diving on the ball and I felt bad.  So I thought about that, and there was no way I wasn't going to dive on it this game.

Q.  Scottie and Patric, Kentucky starts four freshmen, you guys start four seniors.  To do this as a senior class, what does that mean first of all, and second of all, do you think that played out at all during the game where your experience showed and their inexperience maybe didn't?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I don't know how you can, like, tell that or perceive that to be happening, but I just know that us as a team, we just tried to stick together and maybe that's our experience from being in games and losing those games.  Just stay together, stay on the same page, huddle after every dead ball and try to really focus on defense.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think that every team is different.  Even if guys are coming back, this team that we're on now is far different from the first three teams I've been on.  We have experienced so much, even though it's our senior year, and I think that experience is a huge factor.
They might not have that as being freshmen.  I think they have endured a lot, especially a lot of criticism coming in for being high caliber potential one‑and‑done players.
But I commend them on how they just kept fighting today and didn't worry that we were up on them.  They just kept fighting and kept punching back.  But we were able to endure that and come away with the win.
THE MODERATOR:  We're going to coach really quickly and let him give some opening comments on the game and then get back with the players.
COACH DONOVAN:  I think it was a great game.  I thought we played very well in the game.  I thought that the thing that hurt us in the game was our free‑throw shooting hurt us.  Us fouling them too much in the second half.  Then the game got really slowed.
I thought when the game started going up and down the floor, it was in our favor and we were able to build a pretty good lead.
Give them credit, because they also made some 3's late that really cut into our lead.  We had some empty possessions that allowed them to kind of quickly get back into the game.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions back now for the student‑athletes.

Q.  All three of you talk about you guys had the huddle there when they called the timeout and then you guys kind of had a little huddle before you got out on the court.  What did you say to each other during that little huddle before y'all went out there?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  The last possession?

Q.  Yeah.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  We just said everybody box your man out so they don't hurt us on the second shot.  Don't run to the rim like we did at UCONN.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Ditto.  That's exactly word for word what we said.

Q.  For Scottie and Patric, this was a very different game than the first two in this tournament.  What let it get away there for awhile?  What happened that changed things around so much and let them back in?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  They did a good job of fast breaking where we either took bad shots or had a turnover or got shots blocked.  Our shots weren't falling.  I think our offense got a little stagnant.  They just made play, more plays than we did.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think we got a little stagnant on the offensive side, which led to a lot of transition, easy run‑out baskets for them.  Then we were fouling a lot in the second half as well as in the first half.
We just tried to figure out that we weren't getting things going on offense as well as we were in the first half, so we just tried to lock in and focus on defense to stop that run and stop the bleeding a little bit.

Q.  Talk about that last free throw that you had, missed it and then Dodo was there for the rebound and he misses it.  What's your team thinking, only up one with 14 seconds left.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Will did a good job of just telling us next play, because obviously we wanted to make those free throws, but we just focused on getting a defensive stop.

Q.  You guys are known for handling close game situations.  How did you feel like you guys handled that down the stretch today?
PATRIC YOUNG:  Honestly I don't think this was our best in terms of handling the close game.  But when we needed to make plays, especially on the defensive side, we were able to.  Dodo came up with a huge rebound.  Then Scottie's and Frazier, they're switch out on the end, that's something we work on that exact situation every single day in practice.
So we were just put in the right situations, and didn't allow us not doing what we normally do in those situations to allow us to not do the next thing.  So we put our past mistakes of not stopping their runs and fouling too much behind us and just moved on to the next thing, which is what helped us get it done tonight.

Q.  Michael, when you guys were up one, and you hit that three, before that you went through a long stretch of not scoring.  What were they doing to keep you from scoring, and then when you did hit that three, what did you do or what did Kentucky fail to do?
MICHAEL FRAZIER, II:  In the game they were not helping off of me, so, I mean, I wasn't open.  But in transition, nobody has a man, so I was just sprinting the floor.  I think the guy that was going to matchup with me fell down, so I was able to get an open look and Scottie found me and I made a shot.

Q.  For all three of you, three days in this tournament, opponents hit six out of 37 3‑pointers.  Would you talk about your team defense.  That's pretty phenomenal.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think that we did good job of focusing on that because obviously the 3‑point line can really hurt you.  The past couple of games coming into the tournament we didn't do a very good job from the 3‑point line defensively, and I think we really adjusted our focus and did a good job of it in this tournament.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Could you repeat that, please.  On 3‑point line?

Q.  The defense, the 3‑point defense and the overall defense.
PATRIC YOUNG:  Like Scottie said, we probably weren't defending the 3‑point line as well.  Then we came into here just knowing we would have to pick it up.  Just in post‑season play that we have to play one percent better, just if we could do that and bring our team up just to another level, especially on the defensive side, it would just change the outcome for us in a lot of these games.
We really did a great job, especially against Missouri when they have one of the best 3‑point shooters in our leagues, I think Frazier is number one.
But overall tonight we could have done a lot better on the defensive side.  But our offense led to a lot of their easy points.  They made a lot of tough twos as well, so it was an okay night for us defensively, but we made plays when we needed to.
MICHAEL FRAZIER, II:  Basically what they both said, just we did give up a lot of tough twos, but we knew that if they can't make that much to beat us.  So we wanted to focus on not giving them 3's and making them take tough twos, because you have to give up something and we would rather that than the three.

Q.  For all three players, what does this do confidence‑wise as far as going into the tournament now?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think it's right, we're right where we need to be confidence‑wise.  Obviously we came into this tournament wanting to win it.  That was our goal.  We accomplished that.  Now it's just on to the next game.  Whoever we play we'll get ready for them and come in with the same focus that we have had.
PATRIC YOUNG:  I think we have the kind of confidence that we can lineup against anyone.  We think if we're playing the right way, that there's no one we can't beat.
But we have to go and do what we did after the regular season was over, start right from the bottom.  It starts with the practices, just coming in every single day with a mindset of still getting better.  Fine tuning our offense and utilizing each other better.
So that's just going to be our goal as well.  We'll be right on top of that and we're just excited for the process.
MICHAEL FRAZIER, II:  Coach told us that after tonight when we wake up in the morning this is in the past.  So I think we got to do a good job of understanding that we need to focus on our next point and focus on our next goal.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'll excuse the student‑athletes, you can return to the locker room.
We'll continue on with questions for coach.

Q.  Talk about in your huddle before the last play, did you assume that they were going to try to drive and get fouled?
COACH DONOVAN:  That's what they do.  They're aggressive driving team.  That's what I thought we would do is try to drive it, get it on the glass, try to offensive rebound it, get a foul.  Harrison, who John put the ball in his hands, probably the best driver.  They kind of put Young over on the right wing so he was driving to his left.
Scottie did a great job in my opinion just keeping him in front and never letting him get loose.  Young was coming so fast, he got maybe a little bit off balance.  It was a hard play.  Young was coming so fast out of the corner to his left hand and he lost balance.  I didn't have a good enough angle to see if he would have kept his balance could he have got down the lane.
I thought our team, those guys were pretty locked in when the ball got loose and made a great‑effort play when time expired.  But I thought the whole key to the play was Wilbekin on the ball.  That's where it all started, right when it started.
They held the ball until about six seconds, and then they went.  And then when he went, he tried to make a couple multiple moves to get by Scottie, couldn't get by him.  That's the key because if he gets to the front of the rim, now you got to bring help with you.  When you eliminate penetration on a play like that, it really makes it hard for the offense.  When the offense can break that seam and get the ball up on the glass, now there's all sorts of different things that come into play.  Offensive rebounds, tip‑ins, fouls.
Because they never could get the ball down the lane, that was the key.  That was the most important part of the play.

Q.  You start four seniors, Kentucky starts four freshmen.  Were there points in that game where you maybe saw a little bit more experience from your guys then Kentucky's?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, I never look at it that way.  They have got whatever it is 30‑something games under their belt.  They're all high profile players.  They have played on national TV.  They have played against the best competition.  They're good players.  They have played on road.  They played at home.
So maybe in November, you could maybe mention that.  Now I'm sure from John's perspective there's things that they need to grow and get better at and learn from, but I've never felt like playing against Kentucky the last three times that, Wow, this is a very, very young, young team who doesn't know what they're doing.  I don't feel that way at all.
They're a very, very good team and they do what they do.  They drive it hard, they offensive rebound it, and they transition when they can.  That's pretty much what they do.  It's not very complicated on offense.  They're going to try to space you and put the ball in one of those guys' hand and go.
I thought we did a really good job on Randle tonight.  It was interesting we guarded the 3‑point line really well, but I thought in the game, they made some timely threes late that really got them back in the game.  We had some empty possessions.  We had some turnovers that got them out on the break.
Then our free‑throw shooting was terrible and we put them to the free throw line way too much.  That's why the game was so close.  I think if we could have done a better job from the free‑throw line and not fouled as much, being up whatever it was, 14 or 16, not saying we would have won by that much, but we could have kept some space and some distance, and we were never able to do that.
The game got slowed.  I liked it when the game was going up and down floor.  Because we went for a stint we couldn't score, we never could get the press on.  It wasn't a lot of up and down to the game the last eight minutes.

Q.  Does winning the regular season title and the tournament title carry its own set of sense of accomplishment?  What's the difference between the two?  And then winning both in the same season is obviously as good as it gets?
COACH DONOVAN:  Make no mistake about it, today was a road game for us.  These guys won on the road again.  It was clearly a road game for our team.  We battled and fought and hung in there even when things weren't going well for us.
But you think we tried to look at it as two parts.  Obviously the regular season, SEC, is 18 games and we tried to put that to bed and get ready for the tournament, having a week off.
Then there was another opportunity, and it's one of those things where I think people come into conference tournaments with a renewed sense of spirit, enthusiasm and excitement, because it's neutral.  There's something on the line in terms of a conference tournament championship, but there's also seeding on the line.  There's also some teams get into the NCAA tournament.  There's a lot that goes on there.
So a lot of times people are critical of conference tournaments.  But for basketball, I'm sure Missouri wanted a conference tournament.  I'm sure Arkansas wanted a conference tournament.  I'm sure all those teams wanted just another chance to play.
So I do think it's a different feeling and a different set of circumstances when you get into one and done.

Q.  You've won a couple national championships.  Obviously you're going to be in position to win another one now.  Can you just talk about knocking down this fallacy of building a basketball program at a traditional football school and what, if any, obstacles you faced along the way.
COACH DONOVAN:  It's hard.  It is hard.  I think the one thing that is unique about Florida is I liken Florida to Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, where you can have both.  You can do both.  I'm not at those places, but in our league, the passion by the fans is towards football.  It is.  That's just the way it is.  I've never tried to battle that or fight that.  I've tried to embrace it because I think it's healthy.  I think it's good.
I love our college atmosphere in September and October during football season.  I think it's great.  But the one thing that's different with Florida is the University of Florida, to me, in my opinion, being there for 18 years, is bigger than any sport that's on campus.  If that makes sense.  There's great pride with the University of Florida.
Now, southeastern passion is football.  That's what it is.  And it's difficult when you're recruiting sometimes to explain to kids that there is a commitment here at Florida.  They do want to win.  This is important.  When you come to our environment, it's special, it really is.  It's a special basketball environment.  I'm proud of it.  I'm excited about it.  But it's a challenging thing to kind of change the mentality sometimes that you can have both.
And I think Norm Sloan started it off where he showed there could be some success when he got there.  Then I think that Lon Kruger in a very difficult set of circumstances re‑established the credibility and took a team to a Final Four.
I think the next step for the program was, Can you do it on a consistent basis over a long period of time?  That's been the challenge.
But it's a great place and I do think there are programs that have great football and basketball and can do both.

Q.  What does it say about your team that you can shoot a better percentage from the 3‑point line than the free‑throw line and then still come away with a win against Kentucky?
COACH DONOVAN:  If you would have just showed me the stat sheet and I would have saw 7‑17 and 21‑26, I would say we're going to have a hard time winning.  Kentucky normally takes more free throws than their opponents.
But what you got to do is when you got to the line, we need to do a better job than that.  We did not do a good job there and we had some opportunities to put the lead out to three with Scottie's free throws and Dorian Finney‑Smith's and we came short.
But to our guys' credit we moved to the next thing and we still had the lead and we still had a chance to get a stop to win the game.

Q.  Would you talk about this team's resilience.  I mean there have been so many close games this year that maybe not that came down like this one did, but some pretty close calls all along the way.  This team just seems to find whatever it needs to do to get the win.
COACH DONOVAN:  I would say this:  What happens is there is a level of luck that comes into a lot of these situations.  It just does.  For example, we lost to UCONN on a freak play at the end of the game.  Ball bounced the wrong way.  We lost to Gonzaga on a freak play.  We beat NC State a couple years ago on a freak play and the ball bounced to Parsons and he threw it from 75 feet and it went in.  There is an element of luck that happens in these situations.  Okay.
But what I would say that our guys have learned is in the moment of something negative happening, being able to move past it and let it go and refocus to the next thing.  That's what they have learned to do.  Where you could have come out of that timeout Kentucky called with 14 seconds, Dorian Finney‑Smith hanging his head, Wilbekin hanging his head, I missed free throw, can't believe it.
Now they're not even thinking about the next possession.  They're worried about what happened at the free‑throw line.  They did that in their career.  That was a problem for them.  They have gotten better through those experiences.  That's where I think we have gotten better is we're a better focused team moving past runs adversity, mistakes, challenges, things not going our way.

Q.  Obviously only three teams made it from the SEC in the NCAA tournament.  Do you think that more teams should have gotten in?
COACH DONOVAN:  The hardest part for me is I totally get the body of work.  That's the one thing that's so hard.  Everybody in the country just all of a sudden tunes into the TV today and figures out how they can get off work from Thursday and Friday and watch college basketball.  But the kids and the coaches have been dealing with this since August.  So there's along long journey that takes place just to get to today, Selection Sunday.
But the one thing I think I feel unfortunate that happens to some teams is they get to a place this time of year and they're playing really, really good basketball, and maybe because of what happened in November, they can't overcome it.
I think that's the one thing that's hard, I think, because a lot of times you have to look at the whole body of works.  You got to look at what you've done.
Certainly I think playing against Missouri, they're an NCAA tournament team, I know they're not in.  Arkansas without question, NCAA tournament team.  I'm saying NCAA tournament team worthy of getting into the tournament and also winning some games.  That could happen with our league.
So we got three teams.  Hopefully all three of us will be able to represent our league well.

Q.  Back to the confidence thing, is it if a team would lose in a game like this, can that be devastating in terms of a tournament, in terms of self‑doubt and so on?
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, a lot of this stuff right now that these guys deal with when you're dealing with guys that are 18 to 21 years old, a lot of this stuff is mental.  I've always been a big believer in don't let a team beat you twice.  You lose a game to a team, don't come back and let them beat you again because you're living in it.
You got to be able to move to the next thing.  And the same thing can happen in winning.  You can win and it can become intoxicating and you lose your way and lose your focus and lose your sight of where do we need to get better.
But I think all those things, guys' confidences go up and down.  Sometimes the biggest thing I try to get across to our guys is, most of the time we, as people, we're living in two extremes.  We're either fearful of something or we're way overconfident about something.  You got to be able to get yourself focused on what reality is.
Sometimes in those situations where a guy misses a free throw and he loses confidence, well, I mean, he's being paralyzed by fear.  It's one shot and it may be in a crucial situation.  Just like a guy that maybe makes a game‑winning shot thinks he's the greatest thing on the face of the earth and doesn't go back to working and keep things in perspective.
So I think as a coach, you try to help those guys get through those kind of situations.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
COACH DONOVAN:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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