Donovan Post Game Presser

Donovan is now 18-3 in last three NCAA appearances

It was a tough fought mentally tough game for both sides and the Florida Gators came out just a bit short. For the second year in a row Billy Donovan has seen his team come up seconds shy of making it to the Final Four, but he thought this team was a little more prepared to get there in the end. The 72-68 loss was hard on him and his team but he talked to the media after the game about it.

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan shares with the media after the game Saturday night.

Donovan with media Part 1

Donovan with media Part 2

COACH DONOVAN INTRO: Well, obviously it was a great game. I personally, for me, am very happy for Coach Pitino. Certainly emotionally going into the game it's always a difficult situation like that, with our relationship, but I don't think any coach enjoys losing in this type of situation. But if I had to lose, it would be to him, to have him towards the end of his career to enjoy this experience.
I thought our guys played really, really well. I was concerned going into the game just with a one day prep really being able to attack their match up zone, their changing zone. Our guys did a terrific job the first half, attacking it, moving it, passing the basketball. They did a great job. And we obviously forced them in the second half to play a lot of man to man. And they played switching man to man to take away the three.
And I don't know if we did a great job offensively of taking advantage of what was open. I thought we stood around too much, I thought we overhandled. I don't think we got the ball where it needed to go. And we allowed them on some empty possessions to dwindle the lead back down. And then we got a great defensive stop. I don't know about Brad's play there. It kind of got bumped, maybe traveled. They got the ball back, forced us to foul. But we had the ball there. Down by one, with 17 seconds. So that didn't pan out.
I think both teams battled and fought. And it was a hard fought game.

Q. What were your thoughts about some of the shots that you were able to get down the stretch?

COACH DONOVAN: Well, there was a couple I was not happy with, that I will say. But like going into the game, at the end if you would have told me we were going to shoot 50 percent against their defense and 40 from three, I would have taken that. We really did a good job. I really thought getting them out of that zone would have played better into our hands. I just don't think we did a great job.
We've seen switching all year long. And I thought we took some ill advised shots. I thought we did not recognize what was open. I thought there was times on the shot clock we took a couple of quick ones. We had some pretty decent looks in the second half that didn't go down. We've been shooting the ball. There's been some games that we go on the streaks, like the first half, where we're lights out. During the course of the year or a game it kind of balances out.
But I thought our offense there and then them getting in the lane and offensive rebounding and short shots around the basket hurt us quite a bit. I thought Brad had some good drives. We did do some good things. We missed some shots when we were open and couldn't get enough stops.
I think the other thing that hurt us, too, were the turnovers. There were some turnovers. Brad's turnover hurt us, which was obviously unintentional. Not that any turnover is intentional. The difference in the game is our 14 turnovers to their six. They didn't turn us over in the press, it was more in the half court handling, and making decisions and recognizing what was open and I think at times we did not do that.

Q. Is this game hauntingly familiar to last season, and what are the comparisons?

COACH DONOVAN: Totally different, actually. Last year we really got beat on loose balls. I don't feel like we got beat there. I thought our guys did a great job on loose balls. There were a couple that got away from us.
I thought for the most part we played the right way and played a pretty good game. I think we had some defensive breakdowns a couple times.
And then I also thought offensively we were way too rushed and became too stagnant. We should have continually played like we were against their zone. I thought a big play in the game, Patric we had some good looks and some good drives and the ball didn't go in the basket. We had some good plays where we couldn't finish. Patric got the ball one time, a little jump hook, came up a little bit short.
Brad had a couple of drives where he turned the corner and Dieng either made a nice block or didn't get it up on the glass. We did some good things and the ball didn't go in the basket. There were also some times we took some quick ill advised shots that probably hurt us a little bit.

Q. Can you talk about the decision to play defense there with whatever it was, 40 seconds to play, and then you get the turnover and you get the travel. What did that do kind of to the bench and to your guys? Was it deflating?

COACH DONOVAN: We did a great job, it was a one point game and we get the stop and Brad, whatever happened, I was kind of blocked, so I couldn't really see it. It was still down by one, we would have had to make a shot and who knows what would have happened.
We got a couple of pretty good looks, down three. I thought last year in a couple of situations we were late flowing into plays against Butler in regulation and we got caught maybe taking it a little bit rushed. I thought the play we had on down three was really well executed by our guys. We had Brad Beal pretty wide open at the top of the key. Patric Young offensive rebounded it, made a quick kick out pass again to Boynton. We had two fairly good looks that could have tied the game and sent it to overtime, unfortunately cut it a little bit short.

Q. Could you just talk about Rick's decision to put his entire starting lineup back in late in the game, even though most of the guys were in foul trouble?

COACH DONOVAN: I think you have to do that. I think it was the right decision. They tried to go small against us and I was concerned and then we would go small. And he came back big and we came back big.
What ended up happening on the switch, really our guys did a great job, it's what fouled Siva out, because he switched on to Patric Young, we did a great job, we rolled him to the basket, threw it back to the wing and we went right inside, and Siva picked up his fifth foul. We should have been going inside a lot more to Patric and to maybe Murphy a little bit.
Like Erving Walker gets switched out on Dieng and he's dribbling around, just pass the ball and move. You've got a seven foot guy on you, and there's a guard on our big guy, either go by him right away or pass the ball. Sometimes we got a little bit stagnant in those situations.

Q. Your defense in the second half, did you anticipate having that much trouble matching up with Behanan and what were some other things defensively when you think about the second half?

COACH DONOVAN: Well, the biggest thing going into the game defensively was, No. 1, was the three point line. And I thought we did a pretty good job. Kuric got loose early in the game and knocked down two. Outside of that we were pretty good guarding the three.
What we were willing to give up was those midrange jump shots by Siva and Russ Smith. And they made a lot of them. And Behanan had a couple of good post moves.
We were trading two's for three's in the first half, that's why we were up by 8 and we got up by 10 or 11. Then it was 2's for 2. We had a couple of empty possessions, and it gets down to six and then four and it's a game.
I knew at this time in the season against the teams you're playing against, you know teams are going to make a run at you. That's going to happen. And they made a great run, and I give them a lot of credit.

Q. What will be your memory that you'll take away from this team?

COACH DONOVAN: A team that was really young and immature in a lot of ways and in front of my eyes I got a chance to watch them grow up and mature competitively. To see where Patric Young was at the start of the year, in January, to see where they finished. To see before Brad was in November and December, see where h he finished. Same with Erik Murphy. Our guys grew up.
That was one of my difficulties during the course of the season, there was an immature competitiveness about them. I don't mean that negatively, they just didn't understand what it took.
But because of them being great kids, it was great to see them mature and grow that way, because you don't get to this point in time unless you have some substance. And I think our guys have some substance and some toughness and some qualities. They poured their heart and soul into trying to win the game, as did Louisville. We came up short.
And I think I told somebody this, this is life. I think when you pour your heart and soul into something and you don't get the results you want, you find out how important and you find out the reasons why you do things. And can you come back with the same level of passion and enthusiasm and excitement to get better.
But it hurts. And I think the further you go in this tournament, if we were fortunate enough to make it to the Final Four and lose, it gets almost more and more painful the deeper and deeper you go. On the other side of it, the more and more you win the more exciting it gets.

Q. What do you think it means to Rick personally and to his legacy going to the Final Four?

COACH DONOVAN: I said this earlier, for myself, I don't think any of us like losing. But if someone said to me, you have to lose a game, who would it be to? I would say him. Obviously he's toward the end of his career. And I've never said this publically, but I'll say it, here. I'm absolutely shocked he's not in the Hall of Fame, shocked. He should be way in the Hall it should have happened a long time ago in my opinion. I don't think there's a coach in the country that's done more with less. And believe me, I was on a team with a lot of less.
And he's done it when Kentucky was on probation. Second time taking Louisville to a Final Four. So to me, you know, that's what I'd like to see happen for him as he finishes it up. It hurts me, it hurts our team losing, but to see him, I'll be very happy for him.

Q. When Peyton Siva fouled out, are you thinking that's pretty good, I know Russ Smith is awful quick, too. But when he leaves the game.

COACH DONOVAN: Believe it or not, I think sometimes Russ Smith is more dangerous than Siva because he really has got a fearless spirit about himself. Siva is a little more under control. Russ Smith is sometimes crazy, you know, with some of the things he does. But he really made some great plays. I thought a big, key play in the game was he was getting ready to come off a pick and roll, and he crossed back over and past Erving Walker and went down the lane. He's actually in a lot of ways more explosive than Siva is.
Even though Siva went out, I thought maybe Smith would maybe make some tough plays. He turned it over a couple of times. But he really did make some good plays for their team today.

Q. What did Rick say to you at the end of the game?

COACH DONOVAN: He just said, I'm sorry. I said, listen, I'm happy for you, congratulations, and hope you enjoy this.

Q. I think the Pitino situation is going to get rectified in about a week. Why do you think he is not already in the Hall of Fame?

COACH DONOVAN: I don't know. I'm not taking anything away from any of the coaches that are out there. But that's just my opinion.
I don't think he's always had great talent. I don't think he's always been in, quote, unquote, the best jobs. And I think wherever he's gone he's done a remarkable job.
So I don't know what that is. I just feel like he should be, and maybe I'm biased because I've played for him and coached with him and I've seen what he's done.
I told him this, and the thing that bothers me as a coach, I was at Kentucky with him for five years. And that program was on probation. And I'm talking about rock bottom, where we couldn't even go to the NCAA tournament. And I think in a lot of ways because of him being at Louisville there is nobody, in my opinion, that's done a better eight year coaching job than he did at Kentucky from where it was to what he took it to.
And I think when you look at that, because of the rivalry and him going to the Celtics and then going to Louisville, he could have gone anywhere else and there would be statutes built of him in Lexington, with what he's done. But because of that rivalry there's some people that can't handle it. And I just wish the people back there, the whole state would just embrace him for the job that he's done at both programs.

Q. Can you just talk about how you think next year's team will look as far as the makeup and strengths and weaknesses?

COACH DONOVAN: It's really hard for me to even get into next year right now. We'll see. It's been a good group. We've got some young guys that got better, improved. Hopefully they'll get back to work here. And I think we have a locker room full of guys that really tried to play the right way.
I got a different feeling from our team this year than I did last year. I think last year it was like we didn't do enough in the game. I felt like our guys did enough in the game to have a chance to win.

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