Billy Donovan took time out of his day today to speak with some members of the media. The Gators are preparing for their Sweet 16 matchup against Florida Gulf Coast University.
- Rather than fly from Texas to Gainesville and then back to Texas, the team elected to stay in the Lone Star state.
- However, that doesn’t mean that this is a vacation from class for the players. Scottie Wilbekin had to take an online test at the hotel and the team has an academic advisor that is traveling with them.
- Billy credited Mike for being able to make a dramatic turnaround following the NWST game.
- When asked if coaching Mike would be one of the most rewarding experiences as a coach, Billy responded, “I think so. There are so many things for him that I love about him. He’s got such a good heart; he’s a good kid. But I think things that have prevented him sometimes from being all he can be is when he is not responsible and accountable. I think one of the things that we’ve done here, not myself but our staff, is tried to hold him responsible to be the best he can be, not only on the court but also off the court. It’s nothing bad, Mike’s never been in trouble, he’s not that kind of kid. He’s got responsibilities sometimes that he doesn’t take care of.” He continued. “So for me, whenever our time is done together, between Mike and I, I hope in someway his experience here at Florida has not only helped him from a basketball perspective but its’ also helped him in his life.”
- Donovan said that he thinks that losing basketball was an eye opening “life hits you in the face” experience for Wilbekin.
- He said Wilbekin was emotional when he was told that he wouldn’t be making the trip to play on the USS Bataan.
On Florida Gulf Coast
- Donovan said in speaking with Florida Gulf Coast University’s head coach, Andy Enfield, that he could tell the coach was excited about his team and they proved it with an early win against Miami.
- Donovan says that FGCU is playing as good as any team in the country right now.
- The only thing surprising to Donovan about FGCU is that they are a 15 seed.
- Credits them with shooting the three really well, having a point guard with great vision, an athletic front court that can block shots and very multiple in their defensive schemes.
- Donovan says that FGCU is outstanding in transition and that Florida will need to go a good job of taking care of the ball and getting back in transition.
Experience playing “Cinderella teams”
- Florida has a recent history of playing teams who have been labeled “Cinderella” teams. (George Mason, Butler, etc…)
- Donovan doesn’t buy into the media label. He says any team that is still playing basketball right now is a really good team. He looks at the team on film and prepares for opponents based off of film, not seeds or media story lines.
Bond built on a long road trip
- Donovan believes that the team builds a bond on the road because players have to rely on each other when they’re in new cities.
- Donovan says that the team spends a lot of time with each other off the court and that long road trips only increase the bond they already have built.