MEMPHIS, Tenn.– For the Florida Gators, it’s back to the old familiar Elite Eight. The last three seasons have converged here, the last three seasons have ended here as well. Head coach Billy Donovan me with the media the day before the game that Florida hopes isn’t its last.
- Donovan says he’s excited to have the opportunity to get another 40 minutes to play. The team got into its hotel early Friday morning after the late ending to the Sweet 16 game against UCLA. They watched a bit of film Friday morning and planned to do much more Friday afternoon.
- He’s knows Dayton often goes 11 deep into its roster and says that makes them different in the respect of getting so much production from so many members of the team.
- Donovan said Dayton uses its depth to its advantage as well as its versatility.
On the difficulty of dealing with Elite Eight losses:
You know, I don’t know if there’s ever any easy exit out of the tournament. I think, because of the, quote, unquote, nicknames, the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight, the Final Four, people determine where it’s successful or not successful. I can tell you it was just as painful in 2000 walking off the court losing the National Championship Game as it was losing last year in the Elite Eight.”
- Donovan says there is an increased importance on maximizing timeouts in the postseason now that they are longer. You must realize as a coach that you have time to talk about more during a timeout, but on the other hand it becomes harder to wear a team down because the length of the timeouts allows for extra rest time.
- He knows with former assistant coach Tom Ostrom on the opposite bench there will be familiarity but because the 2014 team is so different from its predecessors, it will be hard to gain a significant strategic advantage because of that.
- Donovan says he thinks Dayton does an exceptional job of ball and player movement, he admires the way they find the open man.
On Patric Young’s frustration about his Sweet 16 performance:
Yeah, I think I would have liked to have seen him handle that situation, to be honest with you, a lot better than he did. I thought he got way, way too wrapped up in trying to explain that he didn’t travel, explain that he didn’t foul. In reality, those calls are not going to be changed or overturned. They don’t give him a red flag like the NFL.”
- Donovan says this team, as all still alive this late in the NCAA tournament are, is a special bunch and there’s a reason they made it this far. That’s what really makes tournament exits difficult.
- He says Dayton has a lot of different guys that can handle the ball and they’re very good in transition. Defensively they shut down gaps, scramble and rotate well.
- Donovan says it’s a challenge every day to keep his team motivated as it probably is for all coaches, he says the only thing the Gators try to do is focus on the things that matter to their performance.
On his team’s experience:
Now, when you have some older guys that have been through it, there’s a growth and a maturity of being able to move from one thing to the next, and I think that’s the challenge is being able to move to the next thing. That’s hard sometimes. So it’s been a good group for me to work with as it related to that kind of stuff.”