Florida Gators Head Coach Billy Donovan is a Confident Man

Published: Apr 04, 2014 15:49pm EDT
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 04, 2014 @ 03:49pm EDT


Billy Donovan is a confident man heading into the Florida Gators final four matchup with UConn. It’s nice to be confident and feel good about one’s self, your team, and of course your odds of victory. With Billy though, he has every reason to be confident heading into this matchup with Connecticut, who beat them in the regular season, and even more confident that his team will walk away NCAA Champions for the third time in school history.

During his news conference here in Arlington, TX during the big media day for all Final Four teams, I asked Billy what the confidence level was for himself and the team heading into their matchup with UConn, considering how tough they played them in a regular season loss short-handed.

I think that the confidence level our team has has been what it’s been really the entire year. These guys understand what goes into playing and competing, they’re really good as it relates to scouting report and preparation. I think they understand how hard they have to play, how well they have to play defensively together, offensively together.

So I think that the things that go into that, you got to believe you can do. Our guys I think have great belief and confidence in one another, that the things we can control inside the process of each possession, I think that they believe in one another and in getting the job done each possession collectively as a group.

When Florida played Connecticut back in December they were stunned on a last-second shot by Shabazz Napier, the top player and playmaker for Connecticut. He also happens to be one of the most clutch point guards in the nation. It was he who scored 26 points and the deciding two points as the horn sounded, which sent the 10,167 fans at Gampel Pavilion into a frenzied state.

The thing to remember about that loss to the Huskies, their last loss of the regular season, is that the Gators were nowhere near 100 percent in regards to health or having a full roster. They played the Huskies tough with essentially six players, and even had to make-due with five players at one point, as they were missing Kasey Hill, DeVon Walker and Jacob Kurtz played a combined eight minutes, and Chris Walker was not yet at the school.

What happens when you try to assess a college basketball team after a devastating loss, or victory, early on in the season is that you typically don’t have every layer of the narrative fully worked out – which will leave your assessment of said team, coach, or player a bit short. As was the case with Florida in that December matchup with UConn, they were missing key players due to injury and ineligibility at the moment.

Now that Billly Donovan’s team is fully healthy and are riding a 30-game win streak, you have to feel confident about their chances coming into Saturday’s contest.

As far as how certain players on Florida’s team will matchup with Connecticut’s players, Coach Donovan has repeatedly stated his belief that great offense will always beat great defense. That’s why he’ll be counting on a team effort when defending Shabazz Napier as opposed to relying solely on Scottie Wilbekin to win the one-on-one matchup.

Shabazz is a great offensive player. And Scottie is a great defensive player. Bu Scottie is not going to be able to deal with Shabazz one-on-one. We have been a team that’s played collectively as a group on the defensive end of the floor.

Scottie’s going to need help because Kevin [Ollie] puts Shabazz in a lot of situations that he’s coming off screens, he’s in pick-and-rolls with the floor spread. To put Scottie on an island and expect him, all by himself, to handle him – Shabazz is just too gifted offensively. So it’s got to be a group effort…

Not only him. It’s got to be a group effort against DeAndre Daniels, against Boatright, against Giffey, against just their entire team…

It can’t be Scottie versus Shabazz and Michael Frazier versus Boatright and Will Yeguete, that’s not who we’ve been and that’s not how we have played this year.

It’s that group effort that has gotten this Gators team to the Final Four and it’s that group effort that can propel them to another National Championship. It’s also consistency that Coach Donovan has been able to get out of his players on their incredible run to the Final Four. So much has happened that could have derailed this magical season for Donovan and the team, but they maintained their focus and come into this matchup with the Huskies as the hottest team still standing. 


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Lance Rinker
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