Gator Men's Basketball Prepares For Mississippi State


Florida coach Billy Donovan yells to forward Chris Richard during the second half of the Gator's 80-72 win over South Carolina at the O'Connell Center Saturday in Gainesville.

Photo by Rob C. Witzel / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 5:50 p.m.

University of Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan Weekly Media Luncheon Quotes

Opening Statement:

"Mississippi State is a team that's got a lot of experience. They start four seniors and they start (Gary) Ervin, who's a sophomore.

They've got a great player in our league in (Lawrence) Roberts, who I think everyone knows about.

He was player of the year in our league last year and in just about every game, he's an automatic double-double.

They're a team that's dealt with a little of what we've dealt with, with the loss of Matt Walsh, in Winsome Frazier - a senior who is a good player and hurt us quite a bit last year.

They're probably learning to play without him. Some of the teams we've played up to this point have been a little bit undersized in the front court and each has rebound the basketball (a little bit differently).

Mississippi State, over the last four years, has been the best rebounding team in the SEC. They've got great size with (Marcus) Campbell and Roberts up front.

They go to the backboard very hard, and I think rebounding will be a challenge for our team tomorrow night.

They are a team that's been one of the best in our league the last several years.

We got dominated when we played them at home last year, and we're going to give a better effort against them tomorrow night to put ourselves in position to win."

On MSU without Frazier:

"Frazier's one of those guys that is very athletic and can score in a lot of different ways.

He can shoot threes, he can put it down, he's an experienced guy that knows what the league is all about.

When he gets hot, he can make five or six three's in a given game.

When you've got someone in there that you're depending on and he gets taken from you, you've got to find different guys to step up.

I think they've done a very good job of that. They've got a lot of guys that understand what it's all about and can stay on an even keel over a 16 game schedule."

On defensive adjustments made over last year to account for Roberts:

"He's a hard guy. He's like Mr. Double-Double. I heard some comments from Brandon Bass and Glen Davis made after the game and they said the key to the game was they shut down Lawrence Roberts.

The guy had 16 points and 13 rebounds. That's pretty good if you're shutting a guy down and he's hitting 16-13.

I'd like to have them say they shut some of our front court guys down and they (still) hit 16-13.

He's one of those players that his capable of getting around 20 points a game, which is pretty close to his average, and he grabs about 12 rebounds a game.

I can't say we've got this defensive scheme in place that will all of a sudden take him out.

He's seen about every defense there can possibly be. What makes him such a good player is he has the ability, like David Lee, to pass out of the post and out of the double teams and makes guys around him better.

To say we've got one scheme to take Roberts out, he's a very good player, but I don't think the other players get the recognition they deserve."

On Mississippi State's 49-point loss to Alabama:

"It's so hard to beat a team by 49 points, even one outside your league.

We had that situation here last year, where I think we beat Tennessee by a bunch of points.

That's one where you take the tape, throw it in the trash can, burn it and move forward."

On his performance in the South Carolina game improving Chris Richard's confidence:

"Chris has put two back-to-back games together for us. I thought he played very well against Georgia and played one of his better games since he's been here against South Carolina.

The biggest thing with Chris Richard where he's made great strides has been in his maturity and growing up and understanding what he has to do on a regular basis mentality-wise.

So much of sports is made up of your mindset, and Chris' mentality is to overcome when things don't go well.

When a little adversity hits, he can get frustrated and down on himself and he doesn't move to the next play.

He's gotten much better being able to stay focused in the game and in the moment and move from play to play, whether it's been good or bad. Last year I thought he had a difficult time being able to do that."

On the MSU game being a team effort:

"We need our whole entire team this game. We need all four front court players that are available.

They've got two really experienced guys in Campbell and Roberts. We've got one sophomore, two freshmen and a senior.

We need all those guys to play well and understand what's going on, but it's a tall order for our basketball team.

Our rebounding margin is obviously very impressive, but we're going to find out a lot about our team over the next ten games.

Over the next two weeks, we have Mississippi State on the road, Alabama on the road, Kentucky on the road and Tennessee on the road.

We've got some tremendous challenges and we have to focus on (one game at a time)."

On limiting MSU's offensive boards:

"That's important because with Mississippi State, they had so many points on the paint.

A lot of it was from fast breaking and fouling. Generally when a team is a good rebounding team, as Mississippi State is, offensive rebounds lead to fouls in your front court.

Fouls lead to them shooting free throws and putting our people on the bench because of foul trouble. There's no question, if we get them to miss or take a bad shot, we're going to have to limit them to one shot."

On improving Chris' aggressiveness:

"Certain guys have that make-up. That's Joakim Noah's make-up and Al Horford's make-up.

They are just aggressive by nature. I would not classify Chris as an aggressive player by nature.

I think sometimes he feels when he's out there, and you're talking to him about being more aggressive and chasing rebounds, he thinks he's playing hard.

But when you go back and show him film, he can see (there's room for improvement.)

The big thing with Chris Richard is getting him in that mindset of being aggressive.

He's a great human being, he's a good kid and he wants to do well. I can't sit there and say his personality and demeanor is that of aggressiveness and attacking, but he's made some strides."

On Lee Humphrey:

"Lee went through practice and felt a lot better. We seem to think it was food poisoning and not a bug or anything.

It might have been something that he ate, but he's fine and feels a lot better.

They said he lost about nine pounds after the game, but he should be fine."

On David Lee since the FSU game:

"David is a very caring kid and a kid that wants to do well. Sometimes he can get lost in a game, overanalyze, and lose a level of aggressiveness.

I've tried to keep it very simple for David. Generally his activity and him playing well is predicated on how hard he's going to the backboard and how hard he's rebounding.

When he's doing those things, for whatever reason, it creates a level of focus for him.

I think that sometimes when you're a senior, you feel like `I've gotta score, I've gotta pass, I've gotta rebound,' so I try to keep it simple for David.

He didn't get off to a good start against South Carolina, but when he got back into it he played very well.

His performance should be judged on what he can control. I don't care who we play against, I think he is capable of grabbing between 11 and 15 rebounds a game.

He's pretty close to doing that, and I think he's done a good job responding since the beginning of January."

On Taurean Green's confidence:

"Taurean's confidence is good because he's playing. I've often felt with young guys that when their minutes decrease or they view their role as only going in to (give another guy a break), that can hurt their confidence.

Taurean's assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting percentage in the SEC may not be great, but he does other things to help us win.

I've played him 20-plus minutes consistently since the SEC began, and I think he's done a pretty good job.

He's played pretty well and given us pressure on the ball. I feel secure with him having the ball in his hand and running our offense.

There are some times when he's made mistakes and he's tried to do too much.

But his confidence should be high based on the fact that I've got him in the game."

On Corey Brewer becoming a player like Justin Hamilton:

"Justin was a very conservative defender. He was one of those guys that was gonna keep you in front, use his long arms and get you to take bad shots.

Corey Brewer is more of a high steal guy, and his discipline is not the same as Justin's.

Justin was a guy who you knew would never get beat off the dribble or allow a good shot to get off.

He might not have gotten a lot of steals, but he was gonna lock down a guy.

Brewer's got the ability to be that way and also be a high steal guy. He's got to get better when he gambles, because sometimes it puts our defense in a bad position.

But then there are plays like he made at Auburn when we're up by one, he steals the ball at half court, dunks it and gets fouled.

He's had some of those plays when we've needed them. You don't want to take away his aggressiveness, but you don't want it to put our defense in a bad situation."

On Matt Walsh returning to his typical game:

"I felt like Matt played a great game against South Carolina. He was patient, he didn't force shots - he only took eight shots and he had very good looks.

The thing that most impressed me about Matt was he made the extra pass and didn't try and force the offense.

A big key for us going into the half, we were running the clock down to close the half.

He caught the ball and he stood at the three-point line wide open with about 25 seconds to go.

He had the resiliency to turn it down and pass the ball back out and we ended it with Lee Humphrey getting a three as the clock was running down.

They ended up taking a desperate shot and we were up by 17. Matt's shooting percentages aren't very good in the SEC, but I think some of it has to do with the games against Tennessee and Georgia being his first two games back.

However, he's getting back to that form of play like I like to see him play."

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