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Quotes - 3/15/07

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March 15, 2007

FLORIDA HEAD COACH BILLY DONOVAN MEDIA DAY QUOTES

On his memories of being in New Orleans as a player on Providence's 1987 Final Four team:
"When we were here 20 years ago, there were not a lot of places the size of the Superdome. I was very overwhelmed with the size of the building and playing in front of so many people. It was a great experience for me personally, though, to have that happen (play in a Final Four) in New Orleans. I just wish that we would have played better. I'll tell you that. That would have helped our team. That was a great Syracuse team with Derrick Coleman up front, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas. Sherman used to play me great. That was the one team that year that we just could not beat."

With No. 1 seeds being 88-0 do you believe your team is in danger of losing?
"Absolutely. I told someone earlier that when the ball gets thrown up in the air, you can take seeding and everything else and throw it out, it doesn't mean anything. It's certainly a great honor for the selection committee to give you that honor (of a No. 1 seed). But, it's a body of work of what your team has done the whole season. I try not to pay attention at all to past records and past numbers.

We've got great respect for Jackson State. This time of year everyone that is playing is a good team. Everybody has earned the right to be here. Jackson State is without question a very good team, they're playing good basketball and we'll have to play well."

How much did Florida's five starters gain from returning for this season:
"Playing-wise, (playing in college) is probably the most fun that you'll ever have. Especially for someone like myself, where I got to experience the Final Four as a player. You talk to guys that have an opportunity to further their career and go on and certainly professionally there's a lot of monetary gain and a chance to set your family and children up for a long time. There's a lot of safety there and stability there. But, when you talk to guys that played the game and had great college experiences, they always say its nothing like playing in college. I think that these guys understand that and that's part of the reason that they came back and wanted top stay together as a team. It's because their parents, in a lot of instances, have had the opportunity to play professionally and the happiest times they had when they were competing was when they were a lot younger. They probably understand that professionally it's a job. I don't know if our guys view playing the game as a job as much as they do having fun. They enjoy being around one another, being in college and having that whole experience. It's probably been a lot different for them this year than a year ago and one of the things I've tried to do is make sure that they enjoy what they are going through. There's no question that hearing Joakim Noah say that he's learned more this year than any other year is rewarding for me as a coach. Sometimes guys play to the next level based on potential and they have to wait their turn. I think that with Joakim and some of these other players having these expectations and being under the microscope, you learn that basically your only happiness as a player and a person comes from yourself. You have to be the one that satisfies yourself."

On playing Jackson State and Trey Johnston
"You don't get to the point they're at, winning a conference championship, by just being a one man team. He (Trey Johnston) gets a lot of recognition and a lot of attention and deservedly so, because he is a terrific player. He is a great player. He can score a lot of ways. But, those other guys that are on the floor with him they really do a terrific job of playing with him. Whether it's defense or screening to get him open. He (Trey) really plays the game the right way. He makes the extra pass; he gets people involved; he gets the ball where it needs to go. He gets a lot of publicity and a lot of exposure but its their team that collectively as a group that is very, very good."

On his tenure at Florida
"I've had a great time over the last 11 years. I appreciate having a chance to be a part of this as a young coach and have the help of the school and its administration and assistant coaches to help build it. There were a lot of ups and downs and I think sometimes you need to take time to reflect, to look back, to see what happened. I have really enjoyed this season, I have enjoyed coaching these guys, even though the expectations on this team have been so high, I still have enjoyed it. I've had a lot of fun. I said earlier how your happiness comes from within, and I've had fun, I've enjoyed my time at Florida."

How the team has handled expectations this season:
"Our guys have done as good of a job as they can. I'm really proud of them. They've tried really, really hard to be the best team they can be. I still see them smiling, I still see them coming to practice trying to get better. I till see them enjoying the competition. And it's been that way. I see their excitement in playing. And, to me, that's what it all comes down to in handling it. You have to be able to live up to the expectations that you place on yourself. They've handled themselves in a very classy way. I've seen teams not enjoy it and fragment with all of the exposure and hype and publicity a team like this has received. These guys do a good job with it."

On Corey Brewer and his defensive skills:
"Corey is long and rangy. He's been able to play a lot of different positions for us. He's played a variety of different guys. He takes pride in playing defense and he learned that as a freshman. He defended; he rebounded and was disruptive defensively. That's pretty much why he started as a freshman. But, one thing that's a great luxury is that he can play a lot of positions. And the more positions you can play, the more valuable you are to your team."