Florida forward/center Cody Larson has decided to leave the Florida basketball team. Head coach…
Donovan, Butler Talk Florida Hoops
On playing Georgetown Nov. 9 in the Navy/Marine Corps Classic: "I like the game. Obviously I'm not so sure how good the elements are going to be playing out there, but I also think too, for our guys, to be on an aircraft carrier like that around men and women the same age as our guys who serve and protect our country, it makes our guys realize how fortunate they are to be on scholarship, free education, playing basketball, doing those kinds of things."
More on that game/experience: "I think it will be great because there are also some things set up where I guys will be able to interact with some of the troops as well. So I think for both Georgetown's players and our players, I'm hoping it will be a very impactful experience."
How the game came to be: "There was talk about trying to do one out West in San Diego, and there was another one talking about doing it in Jacksonville. They approached the people at Jacksonville, and they immediately called Florida to see if we'd be interested in doing it. Then the administration ran it by me, and I was all on-board to do it. That's kind of how it came about."
On PG Scottie Wilbekin: "I think the normal tendency when you lose a player like Erving Walker, who was a three-year starter and kind of was the face of our program at the point guard spot and now Scottie comes in, would be to compare him to Erving or see if he's doing the same thing's Erving did. And he's totally different than Erving. What I need out of Scottie is for Scottie to be Scottie. I think he's one of the best defenders in our league. He's got two years of good quality minutes under his belt, he's been in some key situations, but now a bigger role is going to fall on his shoulders. I still have a lot of confidence in him, and I think he can lead from back there. Maybe he doesn't shoot the ball with the range that Walker did, but he's gotten better offensively and certainly he gives us a lot more size and athleticism back there at the point guard position."
On the team's identity: "I think the one thing that we've got to do is create kind of an identity for ourselves because we have a lot of people coming back who have a lot of experience – two starters in the front-court in [Erik] Murphy and [Patric] Young and another one in [Kenny] Boynton. We lose two starters, but we have some guys who are somewhat seasoned, some veteran guys who I think can step into some major roles. That's the one thing I'm anxious to see. Sometimes you've got a lot of guys who are better role players than when they get thrown into the major roles. I think our guys can handle some of the major roles. We have the ability to be good defensively this year. We need to be better defensively. Last year we could overcome a lot because of our ability to shoot the ball. We had the ability to make between 11 and 15 threes in a game, and that can totally change things. I think we're a good shooting team, but that team was a great shooting team."
On being different from last year's team: "I think your identity's got to be different based on your personnel. We had an identity on offense last year where we really, really spaced the floor and opened things up and took a lot of threes. We really tried to utilize the three-point line. Maybe this year we'll be a little bit more physical than we were a year ago offensively. I think defensively, based on lineups, we can press. Sometimes we didn't press (last year). But I also think now with being a little bit healthier, having some more speed and athleticism, we can be a little bit better pressing and defensively."
On rebounding from the three position: "My biggest challenge right now is that the last two small forwards for us, [Brad] Beal and Chandler Parsons, were great rebounding small forwards. Right now when we go to a little bit of a smaller lineup, we don't rebound the ball well enough. That's an area we have to be better at."
On players leaving early: "I think it's the way the chips fall because Brad Beal left after one year, Patric Young's had opportunities to leave as well and has elected to come back, and Kenny Boynton has toyed the last two years with putting his name in the draft. So everybody's a little bit different. Everyone asks what's my philosophy on that kind of stuff. I try to recruit a player that's going to fit what we're looking for, but what happens is, when that type of opportunity to leave presents itself, the coach really doesn't have very much control. The player and his family are going to make that decision. So we could've actually ended up losing this year Beal, Boynton and Young, and now all the sudden we're having a different conversation today. So there's not really a philosophy of ‘Listen, we're going to recruit you and you have to stay here for four years.' When the opportunity opens itself up for these guys to go the NBA, I'm all for it because the chance to change their lives financially."
On the biggest area of improvement from last year: "That remains to be seen. I think it's going to be really hard to say one thing that we've improved on because we're so different, but if I had to nail it down I'd say it's in the overall daily expectation of work and success. That's a credit to last year's team where this year's team is in that regard … This year's team just seems to be at a whole new level of working, and that's not something that has come from the coaches. Certainly we're happy about it, but we feel like we've tried to do that maybe every year, and I think this year's team is taking ownership of that. They want to be a team that outworks people, is not afraid of challenges, embraces challenges and sees the benefit of every so often failing at those challenges because it makes them a little hungrier, a little meaner going into the next day."
On where that leadership comes from: "We've got a leadership committee. We're not calling it that, but we've got five young ladies that at the end of last season said ‘We want our leadership to be better, and we want to be a big part of that. Now tell us how to do that.' So we've taken a very different approach to leadership this year, and those five ladies are training others to be leaders … Those five young ladies are Jennifer George, Lily Svete, Kayla Lewis, Jaterra Bonds and Carlie Needles. They're all doing a great job of carrying forward the lessons that we're learning every week."
On a higher standard in the SEC with Texas A&M and Missouri on board: "Oh, I definitely do (believe that). I think that there's no question we've got two great additions that just make this league stronger. They're two very different programs with two very different coaches, but again that just makes the challenge even greater because they're not similar. You've got to prepare in probably very different ways to compete against a Texas A&M and to compete against a Missouri. With Texas A&M's success, in particular the national championship year, we studied them quite a bit that year, before we even knew they would be our conference sisters, because they were the best. Their pressure, their physicality and a lot of those things were their calling card in the way they play. They're a force to be reckoned with."
FightinGators.com Recommended Stories
Fives for FSU
It is going to be a typical nasty brawl in Tallahassee Saturday afternoon. The Gators take on the Seminoles at 3:30 pm while facing different circumstances to end the year. Despite that, this looks to…Read More
Amazing Video: Scout's Top Football Recruits
Watch hundreds of incredible profiles of the country's top football recruits in action. For all you recruiting fanatics, it doesn't get any better than this!Read More
History provides confidence for Florida
Florida State carries its 27-game winning streak into Saturday’s rivalry game with Florida. It’s a streak that started following the last time these two teams played in Tallahassee.Read More
Video: Neal ready for the Noles
Keanu Neal is a big play maker in the Florida secondary that the gators missed for a couple of games. He's back and ready for the big match up Saturday against Florida State.Read More
Outdoorsman's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014
Finding just the right present for that special someone can be a challenge, so we’ve compiled a wide variety of hunting, fishing and outdoor gifts that you—or Santa—can deliver this Christmas.Read More
- Just got word job was offered to....
- Handicapping the Gators job search 11/23
- Game Thread: Georgetown vs. No. 18 Florida 11/26 9:30 pm
- Pat Dooley tweet
- Four possible surprises for the Gators job