Here’s your post game quotes from the players and coaches on the Gators’ win over the Oregon Ducks.
MODERATOR: I’ll ask Coach Billy Donovan to open up this session with a statement on the game, then we’ll go to questions for the four student athletes of Florida.
COACH DONOVAN: I’m so proud of these kids to get to this point and have a chance to get back to a Final Four again with them. Give Oregon a lot of credit. They’re a very, very good basketball team. We knew it was going to be a battle.
I thought the game—our bigs had a size advantage. There was no question going into the game. But we’ve always been a team that’s tried to take what the defense gives us. And they did a real good job with their other guards getting inside on Joakim and getting inside on Al and Chris Richard, and it took a while to figure out some things.
But it was a game where we were going to have to make some three-point shots and just not play pound the ball inside.
So it was a game where our bigs didn’t score a lot of points and our guards shot the ball very well. And it was also a game where our bigs got their front line in foul trouble. Hairston was in foul trouble. Leunen was in foul trouble. So our bigs did a great job.
They just didn’t get a lot of touches because of the way they were playing.
Felt like it was a little bit of a different game than Butler. There was a lot of talk about our big guys being able to move their feet and how much we switched out against Butler. We did that because Butler brought a lot of times two players into pick and rolls.
This was a game where they kept our guards on their guards and they really spaced our bigs and tried to beat our guards off the dribble. In the first half we had a very difficult time with their speed and they got to the rim and got some layups.
As the game went on, the guys on help side started to adjust a little bit better to know when to help and when to stay at home.
And you’re not going to take away all the 3s, but I think against Butler, now against Oregon, we’ve made more 3s than those two teams. That’s been really important and helpful.
Everybody was talking about our free throw shooting, and free throw shooting certainly kept them in the game. We got to the free throw line 43 times, we outrebounded them.
But our guys just battled and played. And it’s not always pretty just because teams, the way they are coming out and playing us, but these guys just continue to battle and compete and play. Like I said earlier, I’m very, very proud of them.
Q. Lee, in the first half, late in the first half you actually broke the twine. Could you tell us about that shot. Did you have any special spin on it?
LEE HUMPHREY: I think it was a faulty net or something. I didn’t shoot it any different than I shoot the rest of my shots. I don’t know. Maybe the net was a little messed up before the shot.
Q. Corey and Al, could you just talk about the difference in getting to the Final Four this year, how much harder it is and does it make it more rewarding because of that expectation level that was put upon you?
COREY BREWER: It was a lot harder this year, just because night in, night out we get everybody’s best shot. And people play us totally different. Easy game trying to figure out a way to beat us.
So we have to adjust. And this has been really tough. But it’s been really rewarding because we got the same five guys back from last year starting and just basically the same team with Walter and Chris. And we just love playing with each other. It feels so good to get back to the Final Four.
AL HORFORD: I just really take like—just think about this and really appreciate about the opportunity that we’re getting. Not a lot of teams get the chance to do this again. And it was a different—we’re a different team than last year and people like Corey set plays different. I personally, and I know these guys, we appreciate it a lot more. It’s been a lot of hard work and adversity, and to be able overcome it we’re just excited about the opportunity.
Q. The other night you didn’t get a lot of shots. Maybe 2 for 5. What got you going today and when did you feel it and could you imagine when you knocked down those back-to-back baskets with nine minutes to go that would be the end of your baskets since you didn’t score another one?
LEE HUMPHREY: I think one of the main differences was just the way that Oregon was playing defense on us. They really wanted to take away our inside today and the past couple of games teams have been really taking away perimeter.
I don’t know, our guys do a good job. Like Coach said, taking advantage of what defense they’re giving us, and today was the perimeter jump shot.
Q. You banged those two back-to-back, you guys didn’t get another basket the rest of the night and still could win?
LEE HUMPHREY: Yeah, I think that’s a strength of our team. I mean, our team doesn’t need me scoring those last nine minutes to win. If I get good shots then I’m going to take them. But we’ve got—our whole team’s capable of putting up points and that’s what makes us tough to guard.
Q. Al or Corey, was there ever a point during the season that you guys kind of wondered if you had made the right decision in coming back or regretted the decision and does this reinforce it or vindicate it?
AL HORFORD: Regardless of what would have happened in the NCAA tournament or anything, I felt that we made the right decision. At least I felt like I made the right decision. Just being able to come back and enjoying the process and playing with the guys, it’s something I would never give up for anything.
And I’m really glad that we got the opportunity to come back and play.
COREY BREWER: For me, just to have the chance to play with these guys again, just to have a chance to go to college again for another year. It’s been great. It’s been very rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade it in for the world.
I’m just happy that we’re back in the Final Four. But if we would have lost in the first round I still would have been happy.
Q. Al and Taurean, you heard the talk coming into the season about how tough it is to repeat and having gone through four games in the tournament now, do you believe how tough it is? Is it tougher than what you thought, what you heard?
AL HORFORD: After the Butler game I was drained. It’s really tough. Just you gotta expect every team’s best shot. And I think we’ve done a good job on taking on the challenge. But I think what’s gotten us here is that we’re not thinking ahead.
We’re taking it one game at a time. And that’s the way that we’ll approach games.
TAUREAN GREEN: Like Al said, the teams we’re playing is different. I mean we’ve heard how hard it is to repeat and get back to this point, but I think we had to go through it. And I think personally after the Purdue game I was drained.
And teams are playing us different. We’ve had to adjust to the way teams are playing us.
Q. Al, even though both of you have just described this as being more of a grind than last year, is it possible that now that you’re back in the Final Four and you’ve gotten that part of your mission accomplished, that you might be able to relax a little more than you have in the tournament so far and just go play?
AL HORFORD: I mean, we play UCLA.
It’s not like we’re—any team that’s left at this stage of the game, we can’t relax because if you relax it’s over. And the other team knows that if they relax it’s over. One of us is going home. Now is the time to really step it up and there’s no excuses at this point.
Q. Corey and Taurean, down toward the end of the game there, Joe’s yelling keep hatin’, keep hatin’ and we win, we eat. Can you explain that and how much you have thrived under that kind of everybody cheering against you kind of role?
COREY BREWER: He says keep hatin’. He’s just talking about how it’s us against the world because we’re number one. So everybody kind of wants us to lose because everybody usually cheers for the underdog. I know I used to cheer for the underdog in the NCAA tournament. When he said, we win, we eat, it means we win, we’re happy. Basically we’re happy. And we love being happy, I guess.
TAUREAN GREEN: Like Corey said, we love winning, and he personally hates when other people hate on us. And we use this as energy ourselves. We thrive off of that. We know basically every game we play now is going to basically be an away game because nobody will be rooting for us. We just use that and we like those kind of environments.
Q. How much is it about just getting to play at least another game with these guys? Regardless of what the juniors do, you’re done after this. How much for you is it about just getting to play another game?
LEE HUMPHREY: It’s exciting for me to have another chance to play at least one more game with these guys. I’ve been excited this whole year and just have a lot of fun playing with the guys. This is a fun group to play basketball with and they really make the game fun and we enjoy being around each other. We need another weekend to enjoy each other as a team.
Q. Lee, you’ve got the Florida record for three pointers now, what does that mean to you and when you look back in the record books and you see your name there?
LEE HUMPHREY: I think it’s a pretty cool accomplishment. I mean, there’s been a lot of great players at Florida and to hold that record is pretty cool. I think it’s cool for our team. I think it says a lot about our team and the unselfishness of our guys. And I think there’s several records that our guys hold at the University of Florida, which is cool just as a team.
Q. Billy, I need him to jump on this after I ask this of Lee. As Lee was popping the 3s, I’m looking to see who are they going to foul at the end of the game. I’ve seen Lee has taken twelve free throws all the year. Why isn’t a great shooter like that involved in the free throws at the end of the game? Lee, first of all, wouldn’t you like to do that? And then I’ll ask the coach why he didn’t.
LEE HUMPHREY: I don’t know exactly. I know I don’t get to the line very much, that’s for sure. I might have the worst free throws per minute in the country.
AL HORFORD: They won’t foul him. I don’t know why.
LEE HUMPHREY: I don’t know.
AL HORFORD: They won’t foul him.
COREY BREWER: He’s shooting the nets off and stuff, would you foul him?
COREY BREWER: Nets coming off. Go get letters, they couldn’t find one. Lee Humphrey for 3.
COACH DONOVAN: I don’t know. Lee is obviously a guy that doesn’t draw a lot of contact and doesn’t get fouled. But I really don’t know.
Q. At the end of the game situations?
COACH DONOVAN: You know, Corey and Taurean have done a good job, sure, if he got the ball. Again, those end of the game situations, there’s things that you can try to do to get the ball in somebody’s hands. If the defense is doing a good job taking those things away, you gotta do some other things. Taurean has been a real good free throw shooter for us. He missed a couple of free throws, but I think you mentioned a little bit earlier about going nine minutes without scoring.
I don’t know if we’ve been part of a game where we’ve taken 32 free throws. Part of the reason we’re not scoring, we’re getting fouled. I felt like those same guys a day or so ago against Butler were making them.
So big thing I think in those situations when we get the ball inbounds, take care of it, and get fouled, and then guys will have to step up and make them.
Q. As a great three point shooter yourself, talk about Lee. How do you relate to Lee and what makes him so special?
COACH DONOVAN: I think the biggest thing with Lee is he’s as good as any shooter I’ve been around. And the thing about him is he can really keep his focus in the game and he can drift through a game and go through four, five, six, eight, nine minutes of play where teams do a good job. Then all of a sudden he gets freed up.
And he really can make shots when maybe he doesn’t have a rhythm. I thought that was key against Butler. He made two 3s back to back against Butler where he hadn’t gotten a whole lot of 3s off.
This happened to be a game where for most of the game the way Oregon was playing they did a good job defensively against us. We had to go offensively against a lot of things, against them jamming and trying to push up on our pick and rolls, went down to switching to pick and rolls, they went back to half-trapping them. They switched all of our screening action and pressuring us, trying to get disruptive. We faced a lot. But Lee is one of those guys, plays through the game, lets the game come to him.
A lot of times when you’re a shooter, if that’s what you do, you get frustrated when you don’t get shots. Lee has never been like that. He has the best understanding I’ve been around of a young man that shoots the ball as well as he does, letting it come to him. But the other thing is Lee does a great job defending. I thought he did a terrific job today on Porter as best he could.
And those two guys are really hard to guard. But I think Lee keeps his focus throughout the course of the game.
Q. Coach, this year most all the teams in the Final Four will be 1 and 2 seeds. Is this a random thing or do you think there’s a larger pattern at work here in college basketball?
COACH DONOVAN: I think that’s a great question, because for whatever reason it’s really worked out that way where a lot of the higher seed, lower seed, whatever, I would say higher seeds have gotten to the Final Four. I don’t know. I think maybe like there’s been some coincidences where maybe there’s been those higher seeds that have been between 5 and 11 have gotten there.
I don’t know if it’s a trend or not. It’s hard to say if it’s a trend. But I think UCLA was a 2 seed, Ohio was a 1 seed, we’re a 1 seed, so those three teams there you’ve got pretty much the Final Four is going to be 1 or 2 seeds. I don’t know the last time that’s necessarily happened.
Q. How special is it for you to have these guys back in the Final Four and how would you compare this to last year and your other trips to the Final Four?
COACH DONOVAN: Last year was I think a great learning experience for our team that how much can be accomplished when everybody sacrifices and you become a team, and here’s a bunch of unheralded, unknown guys that come out of nowhere. And last year going into the season with the losses of Roberson and Walsh and David Lee weren’t even ranked. We were picked to finish fifth on our side on the SEC, some polls had us 75th in the country.
There was a level that they felt they had to prove something. And they wanted to be really the best team they could be. And I felt like last year we had a chance to be a good team. I don’t know if we would be able to win it all. This year it’s a little bit different. I shouldn’t say a little bit. It’s a lot different, you know, coming in with the high expectations.
And the thing that’s so pleasing and rewarding to me is these kids have been able to get back to a Final Four again where they were totally unheralded, and then totally where whether you want to say bull’s eye or the expectations or target or whatever you want to use, they’ve had a chance to get there on two opposite ends of the spectrum. So I think it really shows a lot about their competitiveness, their internal wanting to win, be a team, and how important each other are to them.
Because I think any time something great and special happens in your life like you had happen in the national championship, it’s only human to become a little complacent, a little unmotivated to maybe feel a little full of yourself to think you’ve arrived and have it figured out.
I would have to say that these guys have stayed focused. A lot of people may or may not know this but these kids started practice in October because we went to Canada and played over Labor Day weekend. These guys have been playing since April, and then had part of the summer off, and then toward the end of August we started practice. We practiced for 10 days.
It’s been a long haul for these guys to keep their focus, and that’s why sometimes people say, what was wrong with us, when we lost to Vanderbilt or lost to Tennessee or some of those teams, these kids are human beings. They’re not machines that are just going to be on focus, on edge, and play the best of their ability, but the greatest thing about them is I know they care.
Q. The hug that Joakim gave you was reminiscent of the national after the SEC championship where he almost killed you. I’m wondering what your back level is right now? And secondly, in your mind was it harder to do this again to get back to the Final Four?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, my back’s okay. I had a bad back when he did that to me last time. But just him, he’s been through so much over the last—this season. He’s gone through so much.
I’m happy for him, but I’m happy for all the guys. I think how it’s different this year—it’s so hard to get to a Final Four. It’s so hard. I mean there are so many great programs, great coaches, great players that never get a chance to be afforded what we’ve been afforded. And I don’t think people truly understand how hard it is.
There is no easy road. And I’d hate to say last year was easier. They’re both really, really hard, really hard. I think what happened to our team coming into this season is because of our margin of victory last year in the tournament outside the Georgetown game, everybody’s expectation or perception is, geez, Florida is just going to roll.
We’ve had to climb this mountain. We’ve had to go through this journey a different way. We couldn’t do it exactly the same way we did it last year because people were not going to allow us to do it the same way. We’ve had to do it a little bit differently.
And it’s been different things. We’ve seen and faced so many different schemes and what people have tried to do against us that the journey has been a lot different. That’s the biggest thing, the journey has been a lot different. But both very hard.
Q. Has their attitude changed? Do you sense they’re having as much fun with this this year as they did last year?
COACH DONOVAN: I think that’s a great point. One of the things I’ve seen happen to teams that have had high expectations on them was the fun gets taken out of it. And people were asking me questions about us cutting down the SEC regular season in Gainesville and we won the SEC tournament championship. I think since we started practicing, when we took the trip to Canada, you know ESPN was with us. Sports Illustrated was with us. Everybody wanted to track our team.
There was so much publicity that people can start to critique every little thing you do. And the thing I did not want to happen to these kids, I did not want the fun to be taken out of it. So that was part of the reason why I want them to celebrate and have fun and enjoy it because, you know what, there’s been times where I’ve seen really, really good teams win and the kids are in a locker room upset because people are saying, you only won by 5 or you didn’t do this or that. What happened here? What happened there? What happens, it’s like, geez, unless I’m perfect and play perfect it’s not fun.
And I really have worked very, very hard on my end to make sure that they enjoy and have fun with the competition part of it. Enjoy it, I think these guys had a great time. I see them having as much fun and enjoyment this year as last year. You know what, that may be the hardest thing to do.
Q. Billy, kind of goes along with what you were saying. But the ability for these guys to remain as unselfish with the basketball as they are from one year to the next when some of them maybe start thinking about different things, how has that maintained that—you’ve maintained that so strongly.
COACH DONOVAN: I think one of the things that you have got to try to do is you gotta create a level of awareness before the season starts with the team and you also gotta have an individual that has the right mind set that’s willing to listen to those thoughts.
One of the things that happens when you win a championship is people want to credit different people for being the sole reason. The sole reason for us winning a championship last year perception-wise was Joakim Noah. He was the reason, he was the difference, he was this, he was going to be the Preseason Player of the Year candidate and the Preseason SEC Player.
We’ve all in this whole group sat down and tried to prepare them as best we could of what was going to come at them. I told them I thought the greatest gift they could give each other this year was the gift of unselfishness, that nobody’s role was more important than the next and that we had to maintain a level of unselfishness and we still had to have the attitude of who cares who scores, let’s just make sure we play the right way and take advantage of what’s available.
I can honestly tell you I never had a problem with them all year where somebody was worried about the next level or somebody was worrying about their role or somebody wasn’t getting enough shots. The thing if you look at our team, the difference of shots between all five, six of them it’s remarkable how close it is. They really try to play the right way.
We’re not—we’re a flawed basketball team just like everybody. Everybody has their weaknesses, things you want to get better at. One of the strengths of our team is they play unselfishly and really try to play together and care for each other.
Q. Is there any disadvantage to facing UCLA a team you handled so easily in the title game last year? Are you concerned at all about that, seeing that team again? And what did you see this year compared to last year?
COACH DONOVAN: I knew I was going to get a question about the next game. It’s hard to enjoy it even today here a little bit. UCLA has had a terrific year. Their team is probably a little different than it was a year ago. Jordan Farmar not being there. Collison being in.
We know it’s going to be a challenge. I’ve got to really watch more film and try to evaluate it. But there’s no question I think for us to be back there playing against a program like UCLA with the tradition, with what they’ve done.
And two teams give UCLA kids a lot of credit, give our kids a lot of credit, two teams that were there last year. Half the Final Four from last year is back. Kind of a neat thing, too, I think of kids going into a season really trying to compete to get back to that point.
So I probably will be a lot more educated over this week as we try to get prepared.
Q. You can probably anticipate one of these lines of questioning, this really isn’t a Kentucky question, but I’m kind of curious. Have you had any humorous incidents over the course of the last few days from either fans or administrators or players, people blatantly sucking up to you to make you stay and fall in love with Florida more?
COACH DONOVAN: No. No. I’ve got an unbelievable relationship with our administration, with our coaches. Love the University of Florida. And our relationship, I think, is a lot deeper than that. And I can honestly tell you—and this is not because of anything else. I do this all the time.
The minute I get on the road, I don’t even look at my cell phone. I give it to my secretary and tell her she’s in charge of it. If anything comes through that I have to deal with, that’s fine. I do not know one person that’s called me that I’ve spoken to. Really what I try to do I go from practice to watching film. That’s what I do.
I don’t even have a phone to deal with. So I haven’t seen anything like that, no.
Q. In today’s game, did you guys put more emphasis on Porter getting out on him or do you think he just kind of missed some shots today?
COACH DONOVAN: I think he kind of missed some shots. I can’t sit there and say—because you know what, he and Brooks are about as two of the better guards we’ve seen and played against that they make tough shots. You look at the shots Porter made against UNLV, they were the same exact shots he missed against us. He’s so fast and quick you’re not going to prevent him from getting it off.
A lot of times it’s a matter of is he hot now. There were a couple ones that he didn’t really have a clean look and he missed pretty significantly. But he and Brooks, boy, they’re two really guys that are hard to guard. Both of those guys.
So we somewhat did a pretty good job. But I think you look at the shooting percentages of their team from the three-point line against Winthrop, Miami (Ohio) and UNLV. It was really impressive, and tough shots.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
MODERATOR: Representing the Pac-10, the Oregon Ducks, NCAA Midwest Regional runner-ups. And like in previous post game conferences we’re going to ask the head Coach Ernie Kent to start off with a statement on the game then go to questions for just the student athletes.
COACH KENT: It’s very difficult at times to put into words how much a team grows and how much they develop and everything they’ve went through. And this team has been through a lot over the course of the last couple of years. And I couldn’t be prouder just how well they represented not only the University of Oregon but how well they represented themselves as men and how they carried themselves through the season through the Pac-10 tournament and through this NCAA tournament as well too.
Florida is a great team. I thought they battled extremely hard. We battled them hard as well, too. Everybody talked about the size difference and those things. At times it was a factor but at other times I thought this team did a nice job of playing with a lot of guts and a lot of grit, as well, too. So they’re a great team to move forward to the Final Four.
But I’m proud of my guys and how they represented themselves and our university.
Q. Aaron, obviously very disappointing to end this way, but when you look back at the season as a whole, how would you say that the season went?
AARON BROOKS: It went pretty well. I think we quieted a couple of critics. We showed what we could do. People were down on us the last couple of years because we didn’t play to our capability. And they had a reason to a little bit.
But a lot of things went on behind the scenes and we heard a lot of negative stuff about us and he with just grew from it. So it’s been a big growing experience and I’m proud to be a Duck.
Q. Were you surprised that they didn’t go down low as much and that they were doing more perimeter stuff like you guys usually do?
BRYCE TAYLOR: You know, we tried to do a good job of taking away their easy looks down low just by scrambling and staying in front of the bigs. So we caught ourselves helping down a couple times, which we got burnt by Humphrey and Taurean did a good job coming off screens and shooting behind the big man.
So we knew they were capable and we just didn’t do a good job of taking away those easy three point looks.
AARON BROOKS: Like what he said, we didn’t do a good job with the ball screens. I think the ball screens really killed us in the first half, then they got the big guys going. Big guys started playing in the second half and started rebounding and they fed off the energy of the guards because the guards were doing a good job.
And the big guys did a good job of finding the guards open when they were open for shots. Like they’ve been there in that position before. That’s why they’re the champions and they won the game.
Q. Aaron, in their totality, what impresses you the most about Florida?
AARON BROOKS: I can see in this game they had—they were still hungry. What impressed me is probably Noah’s energy. Even though they’ve already won a championship and been to the Final Four they had the energy and poise to repeat and get there.
They played hard. They play with desire, the same desire that we had to win the game, they matched it pretty much.
Another thing is their big guys are agile and they’re able to move with our guards a little bit and that affected us a little bit.
Q. Aaron, what did you tell Tajuan after the game or during the course of the game?
AARON BROOKS: Keep your head up. Tajuan is the type of kid when he comes out and plays, misses his first five or seven and gets down. You have to say, the next one is going in. I know Tajuan. He was down about the game. He got us here. He’s a key part to the reason why we’re here, and you just gotta be there for him and support him. Because this one game can really affect him in a negative way. I told him just look at the positive things he done this season and how he’s really helped this team. He helped me a lot he helped everybody a lot.
So I think that’s the one thing I let him know that we’re grateful for having you and regardless of how you played this game, just keep playing.
Q. Aaron, if you had to fill out a bracket right now, who would you pick to win the national championship?
AARON BROOKS: Who is in it? I know three teams, who is the fourth?
Q. Either the winner of today’s game, Carolina or Georgetown.
AARON BROOKS: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think it’s going to be a good game between Florida and UCLA, the two teams that play hard. I guess we just have to wait.
Q. Can you reflect on your career at Oregon since you’re the lone starting senior?
AARON BROOKS: I had fun. It’s been a road. I’ve grown a lot during these four years. And I just love my teammates, regardless. We’ve been through so much together and I just love my guys. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
I’ll give up whatever I can for them. And we’ve been through so much and we all helped each other. We pulled together. And this is family. And when we say family, we mean it.
We’ve been through a lot of stuff, a lot of BS, all that just—that made us stronger and tighter.
I just can’t wait to get back to the locker room and be with these guys still. We’re always going to be family, so it’s not a parting.
Q. Were you surprised you didn’t get a call there with 25 seconds to go?
AARON BROOKS: The way the game was going, I’m not surprised. But that’s the way it goes.
Q. Ernie, can you imagine not winning a game when you hold a team like that without a basket for the last nine minutes?
COACH KENT: You know, I’ve said all along that this is a very good defensive team. And someone asked the question about their big guys. We did a great job of fronting their big guys. We had great weak side help and probably rotated a couple times too much, which gave them a couple of wide-open 3s because we really didn’t want to give them as many 3s as they got in the ball game.
But it is surprising because I thought we just performed with a grit on defense that allowed us to play with them.
When you’re playing the defending national champion you have to come at them and it’s got to be a battle there and you wish you could have battled a little more, few less fouls and everything. But they’re national champions and they play very, very hard.
And Aaron mentioned this as well. I think when they got to that one game before the Final Four, whatever was missing before in terms of—I’ve heard people talk about them not being as focused, they’re one game away from the Final Four, we knew we were going to get a focused basketball team and one that was going to play very hard.
Q. Tajuan got a lot of open looks. Was it as simple as the ball just not going in the basket or was there something else to it?
COACH KENT: Having done this for a long time, you can talk about a guy where he shot himself out maybe in the first game or whatever. But it was just that simple, because he was wide open on probably about 80% of his looks.
So as Aaron mentioned, he’s done such a great job all year long and you can’t fault him because we would not be here today. He’s had some spectacular performances. He’s been very, very consistent. Probably the most consistent guy when it came to scoring the ball over the course of the last 15, 16 ball games on this team and everything.
So he missed some shots. He felt bad. We told him in that locker room don’t even worry about it. Use it as a learning experience because he’s going to be a great, great player, he’s going to set or break a lot of records before he leaves the University of Oregon.
Q. This has been a tournament where the 1 and 2 seeds are all going to go to the Final Four. Do you think it’s a random kind of thing or do you think that there’s a larger pattern or reason here?
COACH KENT: I would say the committee did a great job. I think you got one of the better balanced years in college basketball. And even though everybody has emerged, No. 1s have emerged and all those things, they’re all good teams moving forward regardless of the winner of Georgetown North Carolina. We’ve played Georgetown and UCLA. We’ve beaten both of those teams. They’re both really good teams. You’ve got teams with size, depth, tradition, history, all those things are right in place. So it should make for one great Final Four.
Q. Did you feel like maybe they took your fast-pace style of play and threw it back at you a little bit?
COACH KENT: No, we weren’t fast enough is what I thought in the game. There was several of the timeouts, media timeouts we talked about let’s get running. We didn’t feel like we got up and down the floor as much as we wanted to get down the floor. Because I thought we got fatigued getting up and down, we didn’t get out. It was such a battle defensively to keep those big guys off the boards and keep them off the block.
And then all of a sudden you have to turn down and run down the floor hard. We hit the wall a little bit. I’m proud of the guys where they gutted it through and played it. I don’t think they beat us at our own style at all, in no way. So I don’t think there are a ton of transition points by them. There was not a ton by us. Probably more by us than them when it’s all said and done. We got them to turn the basketball over. They hurt us on the boards because some of the 3s came off second shot attempts. We did a good job neutralizing them and had them pinned in underneath and a foul was called where you couldn’t get the rebound and run them. So there were opportunities. And we did a good job and thought we were able to get out and run and couldn’t run for something that happened off the ball and everything.
Q. We all saw the way the title game turned out last year, Florida and UCLA. Can you look having played them both this year now and looking at this year’s UCLA team, break it down for us?
COACH KENT: I think this year’s UCLA team is probably tougher mentally because they’ve been through the grind a second time now. They’ve been through a much more grueling Pac-10 conference that has gotten them tougher mentally as well, too.
They’re probably more together having gone through it the second time as well and obviously they’re going to know what to expect from a Florida team getting there.
I still think it’s going to come down to defense. If they can defend Florida in the inside, at the same time taking away those great three-point shooters on the outside, they’ll have an opportunity to play with them and win a game.
It’s just going to be a great battle between those two. But Florida is one of those teams, they can get out run you in transition, get looks, got a great shooting team. But UCLA is a much better basketball team this year than they were last year.
Q. Yesterday you talked about your experience from the last time you were in the Elite 8 and what you did differently. Was this time to try to get them more rest. What do you take out of this Elite 8 experience for the next time you’re here?
COACH KENT: Bring bigger guys to the battle. Particularly the low block that will be a focal of ours. Our style of play is what we are. We’ve got a great style of play. And when you look at what we did in the Pac-10 tournament with this basketball team and the roll they’ve been on the last nine games, it’s incredible.
Battled well today. When it was all said and done, we know what we need. But we don’t have the tradition as some of the teams that are sitting in the Elite 8, but we have a lot of things to offer. And it’s just a matter of recruiting, recruiting. But I got a great core of guys coming back and hopefully we’ll be back here a little bit bigger, little bit stronger next time around.
Q. Can you talk Florida, seeing them in person, seeing them live and up close, what sticks out about them and maybe anything that was faster, better than you expected?
COACH KENT: No, they’re everything I expected because you’ve seen them enough. I saw them at the Final Four in person when they played last year.
And they’re big. They’re probably longer than what you expect when you get on the floor and start to play with them because they’ve got size and length on top of that as well.
But they’re as every bit as strong and physical and deep and as athletic as you thought they were. They shoot it as well as you thought they would. That’s why we knew we were going to be in such a battle with them, knowing how hard they would play with that size and athleticism and talent on the floor. When you get that kind of talent on the floor and get them to play hard, you’re in a pretty good situation there.
There were no surprises at all. If anything, I thought from our perspective we battled them really tough today and I thought they responded really well.
Q. They’re as good as advertised?
COACH KENT: Yes.
Q. Do you think that the way they were able to get the open looks outside was just because you were trying to keep those big guys from getting the ball inside? Was that a byproduct of it?
COACH KENT: If you think NBA, you got two 7-footers down there that neutralize each other. You can play behind them behind in the post and push them off the block, and they may score points but they kind of neutralize.
In our situation, we had to keep the ball from coming into post, force you to front, which had a rotating guard on the weak side for lobs and that gave them an opportunity to skip the ball to shooters on the other side of the floor.
So we talked about letting them beat us in fact with their big guys and taking the three-point shot. We got caught up in a couple of rotations where they saw three point shooters on the weak side, and I feel like we gave them too many three point shots in the game.
When you look, two is much better than a three, particularly if you have seven 3s versus seven twos. You’re still minus some points in your favor on that. If anything that got away from us, we gave them too many three point shots. And that was due in part because of our rotating down defensively and trying to shut down the big guys.
I don’t know how many people are from St. Louis, but you did a tremendous job at hosting this event. The weather felt like you were in Florida. Maybe that was, too, more relaxing for Florida to be in this weather and everything. But just a tremendous, tremendous job. This is a great city. People are really, really friendly seemed like they were excited to have this event here and hopefully got well entertained here with this event being here.
MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.