Gators Talk On Friday

AUSTIN -- Florida head coach Billy Donovan and players Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton address national media after defeating Northwestern State 79-47 in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament...

Full transcript from Friday's Florida post-game media press conference...

COACH Billy Donovan: Well, I thought for us it was a game of two halves. Kenny and Rosario had early foul trouble. Probably played Scottie Wilbekin with their rotation, probably too many minutes.

And the thing I was disappointed about in the first half was our defense. We did not do a great job, they shot over 50 percent from the field and I think 45 percent from three. And we did a much, much better job. I think some of that is when you're playing a team for the first time and you haven't really seen them before, there's a little bit of an adjustment period, probably. And I thought our guys adjusted pretty well coming out of the half defensively.

Then I thought we really defended well in the second half. We established inside. I thought Patric Young and Erik gave us really good post presence where we could get the ball and do good things around the basket. And I thought our back court and Kenny did a good job of finding them and getting them the ball. So it was a good win considering the fact that we came out of maybe a little bit of a slow half.

Q. For both players, talk about defensively in the second half the run you guys made and it seemed to kind of fuel your offense as well. But they were getting an awful lot of lay-ups and easy baskets and what you did differently in the second half.

Kenny Boynton: I think that we came out, I think it was our energy. Our energy level and our focus. I think in the first half we had slip ups and guys were cutting back door, they got wide open layups.

I think in the second half we just, as a team, came together and started helping each other out. And the main key thing was getting rebounds and getting out and I think we did a great job at doing that.

Q. For both student-athletes, can you guys talk about the keys in the second half? They only shoot 19 percent and you guys ended up holding them to 34 points below their season average. What were some keys in the second half for you defensively specifically?

Erik Murphy: I think one thing was we got back in transition a lot better and got matched up. They were hurting us a little bit in transition. We just came together as a team and decided we were going to get stops and when we play together on defense, we play well. It's tough for teams to score.

KENNY BOYNTON: I think that the same thing Murph said. I think it was a collective effort. I think that we did a better job at guarding the 3-point line. We had our heels inside the 2-point line and they got some open looks in the first half. And I think we did a good job contesting those shots after that.

Q. Erik, you make a lot of 3-pointers, but scored a lot inside tonight. Was that part of the plan to go at them?

ERIK MURPHY: Yeah, I just try to offensively, whatever's there, I try to take advantage of. The ball got inside tonight to me and Patric Young and we just did a good job of finishing around the rim. And guards got us the ball in good positions and that's what worked tonight.

Q. Kenny, how does it feel to go over 2000 points in your Florida career. You're only the second player in school history to have done that.

KENNY BOYNTON: It's a great accomplishment, but we're in a struggle in the first half. Luckily we still got the win with it.

Q. Erik, their coach was saying he kind of knew they were in trouble when you guys walked out on the court because you were longer than he thought, than he saw on tape. Do you feel like you guys could dominate the boards the way you did, you Patric Young and Will?

ERIK MURPHY: Yeah, I think that's a big thing for us is rebounding. That's one of the keys to defense. If you guard and make teams miss, you got to rebound and end the defensive possession.

And I think that as long as we have a mindset that it's the whole team, it's not just the front court guys, it's the whole team. I think if we have that mindset of just ending defensive possessions with rebounds, I think we can do that.

Q. Speak to what may or may not have been said at halftime about the defense in the first half?

KENNY BOYNTON: The main focus was energy. As a team we were giving up just wide open lay-ups, defensive efficiency, I think they shot like 1.02. So the main thing was coming out with energy. I think that we did a great job of coming out in the second half and getting stops and getting out in transition.

Q. Erik, what was it like to come out for tip off to almost an empty arena?

ERIK MURPHY: I mean, it doesn't really affect the game. We just got to do our jobs and play the game. I don't think that really bothers us. It's an early round game, it's in Austin, who knows how many people are going to show up. That shouldn't have any affect on how we play.

Q. The first half of that game and the last half of the Ole Miss game, it seemed like they were similar in a way in that you guys were having a hard time protecting the rim. What had to change there in that second half?

COACH DONOVAN: I think a couple of things happened. One is the game got going up-and-down the floor and I thought that that was good for us. It's the way they play and we try to play the same way.

I thought we did a really good job against their press of getting the ball out up the floor and advanced. And we got some advantages on the break and we scored easy baskets. And we're jogging back and we're just saying okay we're back, we're on our man, and I think our guys were, as much as we talked about it, were surprised that those guys just all of a sudden just coming at us on the break. And beating the defender and we didn't really have good help at all. Then I thought our pick and roll coverage, on West in particular, we were leaving the ball too early before our guard got back on the ball and that was opening up driving lanes. Then when they did drive we were getting cut behind our head and we just did not do a great job handling that part. We were back, it wasn't even a matter of not getting back, we were back. And our defense was set.

But it was almost like this is a little bit different than what we have gone against before, with the way they did it. One time West came down the floor, was already down, he dribbled up and shot a three and it took Wilbekin by surprise. He thought, wow.

That's the way they play. I liked watching them on film. The things that they do. It's definitely unique. They all have freedom. Hicks is a tough matchup guy because he passes it so well and he can score from 15 feet and in very well.

But I think their overall speed got us back on our heels where our defense wasn't very good at all. And then we had a couple plays where we missed some chippies around the basket, we didn't shoot it great from the free throw line, and we were fortunate to go up eight at the half.

But I thought in the second half we had better built-in help. That was the big thing was building a wall around the ball with whoever's guarding the ball. That's a hard play to guard when the floor is spaced and a guy is coming at you full speed and you're standing there. You need some built-in help. I thought our help built-in to recover was much better in the second half.

Q. Patric Young said he was a little bit winded in the first few minutes, is that a product of the way that they play and how did you feel about the way he bounced back from that?

COACH DONOVAN: I think that when you get into tournament games there's always that anxiety, there's an excitement, there's an emotional level where you probably feel like you're running in quicksand a little bit.

I think it probably took him a little while to get going. I thought we did a good job of establishing him up front. He was 6-10 from the field and I actually thought he missed some easy shots around the basket. But we got it to him in good areas of the floor. I think that his being winded was probably just normal of, NCAA tournament, sitting around and watching games probably yesterday and today, and we're getting ready to play, there's just an excitement around the tournament that I think a lot of teams, you're exhausted and you feel like you're out of shape, but once you settle in, you're a little bit better.

And I noticed the same thing that you're talking about. I tried to sub him pretty frequently there in the first half to get him a quick rest and put him back in.

Q. You outscored them 44-22 in the paint. Talk about the ability to work the ball inside throughout the game and stick with it throughout the game.

COACH DONOVAN: Well, one of the things that they do, which is unique, is they switch a lot of things out on the perimeter. And you got to be very careful passing the ball, because if you're careless with the ball, it leads to a lot of fast breaks for them. And I thought we did a very, very good job of catching entry passes. And then Patric Young was able to establish himself, so was Erik, that we were able to get it inside. Will Yeguete got in there, he was 1-6 from the field, but he even got it deep and probably needed to do a better job finishing than he did.

But that was kind of a mindset, that we needed to establish it inside. I think one of the things that they probably get teams to do, which would not have been good for our team, because this is the best way to exhaust your front court, is to come out in transition, beat their press, have numbers and start launching threes. We wanted everything to be taken to the basket first and then if they showed off penetration, then we can kick out and take threes. And I thought our guys made some really good, wise choices in both halves of doing that. That we went to the basket. We had a stretch there where Frazier was open, Kenny was open, we had a couple plays in the second half where we really shot it quick. Wide open, it's hard to turn those down. But if you end up in a game like this, in my opinion, you take 35 threes, and your front court players, all they're caught doing is running from the front of the rim to the front of the rim and they needed to be established. And I thought our guys got it to them in good areas.

Q. You touched on this, earlier, but you guys tried to match their pace. You guys, went at it the way they went at it. Was that something you had talked about beforehand?

COACH DONOVAN: We're going to always play fast. We're going to -- sometimes it's harder to play fast against certain teams. They want to play fast, it's no different for us. We want to play fast. So we had no problem, everybody was talking about the fact that they rotate five guys in, five guys out, are our guys going to get worn out. We're playing pretty much eight guys. We can manage eight guys and rest guys enough that they can be effective over a 40 minute game.

But the faster the game, I think it was more to our liking. We shot a really high percentage from the field, and we got out and we attacked their press. And we weren't looking to pull the ball back out, we were constantly running.

I think that's just the way we want to play. So I was never concerned going into this game about the pace of the game. That didn't concern me.

What concerned me more was what happened in our first half. Hard drives to the basket, not being in good position help-wise, rotating, giving up second shots.

And then what would lead into even more transition for them would be if we turned the ball over too much. And we didn't really do that, but the pace I thought was fine for us, we wanted to play just as fast as they did.

Q. You were talking about sitting around watching games all day and obviously there's all kind of upsets. Even when you were a timeout, they were calling the Gulf Coast win over Georgetown. Do you caution your guys about getting caught up in it or let them enjoy it?

COACH DONOVAN: I talk to them a lot about it. What happens I think sometimes publicly is, when games start, they're always, for the tournament and the excitement of it, they're always looking at the seeds. This is a higher seed, this is an upset. This is not an upset.

Listen, it's amazing to me. Every year there are upsets, as people like to put it. I don't know why anybody's surprised any more. Everybody that's in this NCAA tournament is a really, really good team. And if you don't play well, you're going to probably have a hard time winning the game.

So I just talked to our guys, more than anything else, that when the ball goes up in the air and it's tipped to start the game, there's no extra points we get for being a higher seed. We don't start the game 10-0, there's no extra benefits from being that. It's two teams lining up and playing.

I talked to our guys a lot about, you cannot, in these situations, get so wrapped up in what you're talking about that you lose sight of the fact that they need to go out there and play.

Now, I don't like pull the plugs on their TV sets and tell them not to watch TV and sequester them and they can't do anything and they're in a room. I'm not going to do that. But there needs to be a level of maturity and understanding that whatever they're watching on TV has no bearing on our game. Okay. We have got to come ready to play. And in this tournament, anything can happen on any given night. It's just, that's just the way the tournament's always been. And it will continue to be that way.

And that's what makes this tournament so great and so special. And also there's a lot of teams out there that are really, really good. But I think people who don't get a chance to see Florida Gulf Coast -- I knew they were really good. They beat Miami this year. But they didn't get a lot of attention or recognition from that. But when you're in college basketball and you're following that stuff and you're hearing that stuff, you understand how good teams are. Maybe our players get a chance to see some of the teams play, maybe they don't. But I understand that, you know what, like there's just games there that are going to be very, very challenging and very difficult.

I was very concerned coming into this game. And I would have been concerned against any team that's in the NCAA tournament, because that's just the way it is. But you got to keep your focus on who we're playing against, what's the scouting report, how do we need to play, and the things that we need to do to try to be successful in the game.

Transcript provided by ASAP Sports

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