Florida coach Billy Donovan addressed the state media for about 30 minutes on Wednesday, taking a wide variety of questions.
On Ray Shipman’s decision to transfer:
“As a coach I’m not going to make promises to kids to keep them if I can’t back up and follow up that kind of promise. And he has every opportunity like every guy on the court to earn that kind of role but I think it was very clear we needed him to defend and we needed him to be a stopper for us. And I do think Ray is a good defensive player. And I think for him he wanted to be more than that, he wanted to have more of a scoring opportunity, he wanted to have more of an offensive role.”
On how the transfers (five in the last two years) have impacted the depth of the program:
“I really don’t worry about that. That stuff happens. I think kids want to play. You know the only one that was maybe a little bit of a surprise was the Jai Lucas situation just because of the amount of playing time he was getting. Most of the time when a guy makes a decision it’s usually a direct correlation of playing time. But you know Ray was playing, maybe 12 minutes a game. You know guard (Casey) Prather is coming in right now and he’ll probably have a little bit more of an opportunity … Where we need to probably add a little bit more depth is in our backcourt. (Erving) Walker and (Kenny) Boynton have a lot of experience coming back after this past season. Casey Prather gives us a little more athleticism on the perimeter. But there is no question we need to continue to add some depth into our backcourt.”
On rumors of being a candidate for Oregon, St. John’s head coaching openings:
“I think any of that stuff a lot of times, it’s media driven, speculation and I’ve never and will never comment on that stuff because none of it was true. There was a lot of stuff going on with the St. John’s situation. It was amazing to me, just my family, people being back in New York, like, I have no idea but any of this stuff. I think here the one thing that makes it unique is the administration. I’ve got a great relationship with (AD) Jeremy (Foley), although there’s been a couple of different presidents that have come through here, I think they’ve all been extremely supportive they’ve been extremely supportive. I love Dr. (Bernie) Machen, he’s a great guy. I’ve always been really happy here and I like it here in the community.”
On filling needs through recruiting:
“We’ve been actively recruiting guys all year long, it’s all going to depend on the fit on the need and it someone we feel that’s going to be able to contribute over a period of time. I’ve never been a big believer of just jumping in offering someone a scholarship, just giving away a scholarship. I think there’s got to be a relationship built. I think you’ve got to get to know the player. You want to get the player to know you. You want them to be able to feel like you can provide what they are looking for. But it could be one, it could be two, it could be three, it all depends on who they are really going to be involved with and what happens here as the late signing period approaches.”
On expectations for next season:
“Three or four weeks ago, it was, can you even get in (the NCAA Tournament). Now it’s, can you make a deep run. I think the expectation piece of it is good. That’s what you want. You want an expectation. And now that this group has gotten that part behind them, hopefully it’s a situation of you get in the NCAA Tournament, now what. I think we have a good group of guys that want to come back … we bring back two backcourt guys (Boynton and Walker) with a little more experience then a year ago. (Erik) Murphy is a year older, hopefully (Kenny) Kadji can get healthy. We’ve got to add some pieces. You know, I made a comment after the BYU game that if there’s one thing we’ve got to do as a coaching staff is add some more depth to our backcourt. I think the expectation part of it is those guys want more and they want to experience more.”
Donovan said that Shipman was a great ambassador to UF and that he would take him back “in a heartbeat” if he changed his mind. Also, Donovan said he would be willing to schedule UCF, which recently hired his former longtime assistant Donnie Jones as head coach. But Donovan made it sound like the first game would be at the O’Connell Center, “He’s welcome to come up here anytime,” Donovan said.