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March 26, 2014

Billy Donovan

Scottie Wilbekin

Will Yeguete


THE MODERATOR:¬† At this time, we'll get started with the student‑athlete press conference for Florida.¬† We've been joined by senior forward Will Yeguete and senior guard Scottie Wilbekin.

Q.¬† Scottie, there are no 6'9" point guards in the SEC.¬† As a matter of fact, a lot of them tend to run your size or smaller.¬† Talk about the challenges you're going to have and the times you're man‑to‑man against Kyle Anderson.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yes, it's going to be tough.  He's definitely a unique cover.  The Harrison twins and Jordan Clarkson were the two tallest guards that we faced this year.
We're just going to try to keep him out of the lane, not let him get a step because he obviously has great length.  So if he gets a step on you, he can finish over and around you.
So we just have to build walls, help each other, and try to keep him out of the lane.

Q.  For Will or Scottie, talk about helping each other.  They pass the ball a lot, and Anderson's really good at sharing the ball.  How much does that increase the pressure of trying to have good defense on these guys?
WILL YEGUETE:  I mean, like Scottie said, we understand their size, and we know they pass the ball really well.  I think we have to make sure to use our hands on defense and help each other a lot even more than we've done before because we know that they don't really turn the ball over.
With their size, they're going to be able to just pass the ball over us.  So I think that as a team, we've got to understand this is a different team, a different size, and we'll just have to do more and be better.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:¬† Just like what he said.¬† If we do help each other and if we end up having two on the ball, whether it's a post trap or pick‑and‑roll, our back‑line defense is going to have to be really alert because they do a good job of cutting and having secondary actions.
Like Will said, they're tall.¬† So even out of a double‑team, they can see out and make the pass that they want.¬† So we have to be ready to run to the open man.

Q.  Scott, Coach Donovan and Coach Alford were in a Final Four at the same time, didn't get to play each other.  I'm wondering, since Coach Donovan was a very good player in the Big East, a named conference, and was on a big stage in his playing career, has that translated in being able to help you in these situations in NCAA Tournaments, his experience?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Well, he definitely has a lot of experience, and he knows what it takes to get it done.  I'd say his experience from a coaching standpoint, being here in 2006 and 2007, we've been here the last three years, just that's what helps me the most.  Him just being able to coach me and direct me and correct me if I'm doing wrong, that's really where he's helped me the most.

Q.  Scottie or Will, they have so much on offense.  They score over 81 points a game.  When you see that with the defense that you all have played this season, what do you start thinking?  Do you look at them and start trying to think how to break them down?  How much do you want to try to hold them under their scoring average?  Does it kind of get the juices going?  Do you want to see how well you can stop that offense?
WILL YEGUETE:  I believe it's going to be a challenge for us because, obviously, it's a very good offensive team.  We know we're a really good defensive team as well, and it's just going to be a battle.
We're going to stick to our principles and just play the way we've been playing, and we're just going to have to limit them because we know they're going to score tough shots.  They're going to be able to move on.  Just keep on playing.  Just take one possession at a time and do the best we can do in that one possession, and I think we'll be fine.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  They're a great offensive team.  We're a good defensive team.  I think those styles are going to clash a little bit in the game.  Whoever's style of play wins out will be the team that wins the game.  So it's going to be no different than every other game.  We're going to play defense, but we're also going to have to play offense.  They're going to play offense, but they're also going to have to play defense.  So it's just going to be a battle.

Q.  Scottie, what do you remember from that 2011 game when you guys faced UCLA?  I think you had the inbounds pass near the end when you guys hit a three.  What do you remember about either that time or about that game in general?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:¬† I remember that Irv made a pretty tough shot over one of their big men and he got knocked down to the floor, and it was an and‑one, but that's about it.
I don't think any of their players from that team are still on the team.  I don't think that game's going to have much of an impact on this game.

Q.  Do you think the fact that Florida has knocked UCLA out three times in the last eight years, do you think that kind of history matters at all?  Some of you were at least on that team in 2011.
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  No, honestly, I don't think that matters at all.  It's not going to have any impact on the game.

Q.  Scottie, in terms of you guys being a good defensive team, how much of that is holding to all of your defensive principles and everybody being in the right place at the right time, and how much of it is just want to?
SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think it's both of those things equally.  Without one or the other, you can't have a good defense.  So it has to do with our will, but it also has to do with the principles and sticking to those principles and all five guys doing their job, because if one guy doesn't do their job, then the whole defensive possession breaks down and the other team can get an easy bucket.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay, thank you, guys.
We'll get started with our final press conference of the day.  Been joined by Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

Q.  Billy, you guys came one game away from playing against Steve in '87.  I wonder, do you recall any chance encounters you might have had that week at the Final Four with him?  And what are your recollections of watching Steve play either in person or on TV from that time?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, against Syracuse, I wish we were one play away.  We were quite a few more than one play away.
We both, obviously, got out the same year.¬† He had an unbelievable year.¬† Always had a lot of respect for him as a player, was great with their motion offense and the way they played.¬† He was just a tremendous shooter, great free‑throw shooter, certainly a catalyst to that team, and a major, major part of why they won the National Championship his senior year.

Q.  Coach, your reaction to signing the contract extension at Florida until 2019, what it says about your commitment to them, their commitment to you, and going a little further?
COACH DONOVAN:  I was actually a little bit surprised it came out.  That happened last year.  So it's like I'm getting congratulated on this new news, but that was done last year.
So, obviously, very, very thankful, very appreciative of Dr. Machen and Jeremy and what they've done for myself and my family.  But that was something that happened at the end of last season.

Q.  Billy, can you talk a little bit about what this run has been like with Billy there on the team?  Secondly, can you just talk about, you guys have been really good about not turning the ball over.  This is a team that's like fourth in the nation, steals per possession, how important that is for you.
COACH DONOVAN:¬† Well, it's been great for me as a father.¬† I've always said this.¬† I think, when your children go off to college, there's always that wonder of will they ever be back?¬† Will you see them a lot?¬† Is it going to be a long distance relationship?¬† Will we keep in touch over the phone, or maybe the off‑season, you get a chance to see them?
So when he decided to come back, certainly, he went to a lot of our games.  He's been to a lot of NCAA Tournament games.  But now to have them in the locker room on the court, part of practice every single day, has really been great for me.  Very, very rewarding, very, very thankful that I can share these times with him.  It's been a lot of fun for me.
Did you say the turnover part of it?

Q.  Yes.
COACH DONOVAN:  They're terrific at coming up with steals which generates fast break points for them.  They're terrific on the break.  They're very fast.  They're a great passing team.  They're an unselfish team.  Certainly missed shots, turnovers, loose ball turnovers in the middle of the floor, they're great at taking those plays and turning them into points.

Q.  Billy, it seems like a lot of people thought Chris Walker was going to come in and be an immediate superstar.  Do you think expectations are unfair on some of these high school, college freshmen coming in, and what has Chris' development been like?
COACH DONOVAN:  I definitely think that's something that happens to these guys.  They get blown up, and it's almost impossible to reach the level of expectation that's people have.
I think when Chris was getting closer to being cleared to play for us, I think people thought I was downplaying him just to kind of take pressure off him.  But I was with him for a month in practice before he played, and I knew where he was at.
And for him, it's going to be a process.  There's a lot of things that he needs to learn.  There's a lot of growth that he needs.  He needs to get physically stronger.  He missed a whole summer and fall of lifting.  He really missed the whole summer and fall of conditioning.
He's been a great kid to coach.  He keeps working and getting better, but he's got a long road ahead of him to get to the level that he needs and wants to get.
Now I think his individual talent in terms of running and jumping, shot blocking, there's things that he's very, very gifted at that come easy to him.  But I also think the days of standing in the lane in a high school game and daring people to come down the lane and blocking shots, those days are over with now.
Now he's got to worry about screening action, being screened, guarding pick‑and‑rolls, guarding big guys that shoot, being in the right spot.¬† There's a lot that goes into that I think he even himself sometimes has been overwhelmed by.
But he continues to get better.  I think with the attitude he has now, if he continues to keep that and doesn't get frustrated with how far behind he is, that's the thing that's been most impressive to me.  When you deal with a guy that's as highly exposed as he is, the frustration can seep in after a couple of games, Okay, I'm fine not playing, but why am I not playing now?  He's not been like that.  I think he knows coming in midseason, he hasn't had the attitude of disrupting our team.  I think he's tried to contribute and help however he can.

Q.  Billy, if you could just speak to whatever pressure you might feel now, kind of trying to live up to your own reputation, having made deep runs.
COACH DONOVAN:  Yeah, I don't know.  I think all of us, as coaches, want to move on and advance in the NCAA Tournament.  I've always said this.  There's no easy exit out of the NCAA Tournament.
I like the fact that we're having a chance to play and compete.  And I think every game you get a chance to win, it becomes more difficult.  It becomes more challenging, it becomes harder.
I think the pressure that I place on myself would be more internal in terms of trying to get our team prepared and ready to play.  I don't think my intensity or my passion has changed today from where it was ten years ago as it related to that.
I think, when you go through different experiences, you learn different things.  But for me, I'm just excited that we're still playing and have a chance to compete and play tomorrow.

Q.  [ No microphone ].
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think, in those situations when you're a young coach, you're always in a position where you're trying to prove yourself.  I don't think it's any different for anybody in any job.  You get a job when you're young and you get a promotion and you're young, you're going to want to prove that you can do the job and do it well.
But I think, as I've gotten older, we all want to win.  We all want to win National Championships.  I think every coach would tell you that.  But for me, there's a lot I've learned as it relates to life and as it related to the drama of the NCAA Tournament.
What are these guys going to take from this experience, and how equipped are these guys to take the next step in their life?¬† The process we go through as a group, to me, putting it in a capsule, where we were the first day of practice with Wilbekin suspended six games, Dorian Finney‑Smith suspended three, Damontre Harris not on our team, injuries, playing without a point guard in a game, with Wilbekin and Hill being out, dealing with Will Yeguete's knee, and if Eli Carter can't get himself healthy, our team was in complete, shambles and disarray when we came back to school in August.
And to me, to see what those kids have done in terms of trying to come together as a team, like that stuff to me is really what it's about, more so than just the end result of winning.
We all want to win, and I hope we go all the way through, I'd love that.  But that stuff, I probably have a lot more appreciation for now than maybe I did when I was younger.

Q.  As you know, the coaching carousel continues every year, and John Pelfrey's name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the USF job in Tampa.  First of all, would you speak of John.  Secondly, would that be a program you would endorse to John to take over if he was interested in?
COACH DONOVAN:  Being in the state for 18 years, I think South Florida has got great potential.  I think John would be terrific there.  I have not spoken to anybody from South Florida.  I don't know where their interest level would be at.
I really haven't talked to John much about it.  I think the one thing I respect about him is he's not a guy that's out there chasing jobs.  I think he would want to be in a place where it's a good fit for him, good fit for the school, and they wanted John.
But John would be tremendous at South Florida and my recommendation to him would be that that would be something that he'd need to seriously consider if there was interest on their part.

Q.  You've recruited Memphis in the past.  You've got Chris Chiozza coming in in 2014.  What's your fundamental view as Memphis as a place for talent you can get for Florida?
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think it's a great city for basketball.  When you look at Memphis Tigers, they have great support.  The City of Memphis has always produced a lot of really good, talented basketball players year in and year out.
It's always hard, I think, coming into this city when Memphis really wants a player here.  I think it's got to be maybe a unique situation where maybe there's not a need for a player at Memphis, and the kid is looking maybe to leave the city or the state.
But I think, if you look at a lucrative talent‑based pool of a city, Memphis has got as good a talent as anybody in the country.

Q.¬† Billy, if this game were to turn into a roll‑up tempo, high scoring game, you guys have excelled on the defensive end.¬† Do you feel like this team is equipped to really put up some numbers, if necessary?
COACH DONOVAN:  We all want the ball to go in the basket.  I hope we score 120 tomorrow, but we haven't done it this year.
I think we want to play up tempo.  UCLA wants to play up tempo.  There's things you have to do in playing up tempo.  You have to take care of the ball.  You don't want to give up easy baskets.
Certainly for us, we're pressing.¬† When we press, we're trying to force tempo.¬† We would like to play fast, but there's things that we have to do inside of playing fast, and when you're playing against a team as gifted and as talented as UCLA is on the break, in their half‑court offense, you want to make sure that you're able to get matched up and not give up a lot of easy baskets.

Q.  Coach, you guys had beat UCLA three times in the last eight years in the NCAA Tournament.  Any memories specifically from '06, '07, '11 games?  Is there any striking similarities or differences with this team from those past teams?
COACH DONOVAN:  You know, it's hard just because I know the jersey, letters across the jersey still say UCLA.  But for our team, everything's really changed.  We've got a totally different team, totally different players.  They have a different coach.  They have different players.
So I'm not so sure what we would be able to take from any of those past games, past experiences.  Certainly got a lot of respect for UCLA, their tradition, what they've been able to accomplish over a very, very long period of time, but I'm not so sure there's anything with our guys that we would bring to the table that would help us get prepared to play them tomorrow.

Q.  [ No microphone ].
COACH DONOVAN:  Well, I think, for us, there's some very, very challenging games.  Certainly for us getting a chance to win a National Championship, and I think Ben did a great job of three straight Final Fours, I think, at that one stretch.  They were playing very, very well, great defensive teams.  Ben did a great job, I thought, defensively, really hard to score against.
I don't know how many years ago it was when we played them, maybe it was Tampa, another very, very challenging game.  That would be it.

Q.  Coach, how do you think this team adjusts to playing at different tempos compared to other teams you've had?
COACH DONOVAN:¬† I think we're pretty good at it.¬† Sometimes you want the game to go up and down the floor.¬† It doesn't go that way.¬† You've got to play in the half‑court.¬† There's other times the game does get going up and down the floor because a the lot of missed shots or turnovers and you've got to be able to play that way.
I think this time of year most teams that are playing right now can play a lot of different ways tempo‑wise, and I think we're accustomed to being able to play a lot of different tempos.

Q.  Billy, I read where UCLA is playing zone about 37% of their possessions.  This year your thoughts on their zone and how effective you guys have been this season in terms of facing zone defenses.
COACH DONOVAN:  You know, I think for them, they're going to mix their defenses.  They've played man the majority of the time.  They've played some zone.  They've got length in their zone.  They've got size.
Certainly, I think, against any zone, ball movement, player movement, good passing, good spacing always becomes important.  I think we know we're going to see zone.  We're going to see man.  We're going to see both defenses tomorrow.  That's what they do.
I think they'll play to their identity and who they've been the entire year.  So for us, both going against their man and going against their zone, we'll have to do a good job.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.
COACH DONOVAN:  Thank you.

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