Sunday, November 26, 2006

UF bemoans first setback

Donovan credits Kansas, then laments Gators' lack of ball movement


— Gracious in defeat, Billy Donovan, coach of the defending national champion Florida Gators, first gave credit to Kansas University and then sounded a lot like Bill Self has sounded in recent weeks when talking about his team.

"I thought we made some poor, poor decisions," Donovan said after his team lost in overtime to KU, 82-80, Saturday night in Orleans Arena. "I thought our shot selection was poor. We didn't play to our offensive identity. Our identity has always been ball movement, player movement, making the extra pass. We didn't move the basketball very well at all. I don't know what the reason was for that at all."

Florida (6-1) had the momentum going into overtime, but couldn't get away from a poised Kansas team.

"We didn't have it tonight," Donovan said. "These guys have got to understand who they are. Kansas was ranked so high not based on anything they had done, but based on talent level, recruiting, the guys Bill (Self) has brought to Kansas. We weren't ranked at the beginning of last year.

"What made us special last year was we were a great team. We got away from our team concept, I thought, a little bit, tonight. We weren't cohesive as a unit in my opinion."

And KU was, which was why the same talent that lost to Oral Roberts was able to defeat Florida.

"Julian Wright stepped up and had a very good game," Donovan said. "And I thought (Darrell) Arthur was great."

Joakim Noah, MVP of the Final Four, called it a learning experience.

"I feel you definitely learn from experiences," he said. "Losing always hurts, but I feel we definitely learn from this. It's humbling. It's very humbling to lose. We got away from our team concept too much and got wrapped up in one-on-one. It was just a humbling experience."

Donovan added: "It's great to play team like Kansas early. We're going to go through ups and downs. As a coach, I couldn't be any prouder. From time we started practice, just their attitude, in every single huddle it's always been about hustle. Tonight is about getting our team back looking at what we did wrong, growing from it, and getting better. Any time you get humbled, it allows you to grow and understand who you are."


goldlighting 13 years, 2 months ago

Be humbled away then, yahooooooooooooooo!

mcoan 13 years, 2 months ago

Very nice write-up on the game by ESPN's Andy Katz:

Jayhawks and Gators put on a Vegas floor show

By Andy Katz

LAS VEGAS -- Billy Donovan cracked a smile. The Florida head coach was fine. He was totally at ease in discussing the Gators' state of affairs as he walked toward his locker room at the Orleans Arena late Saturday night. So, see? This wasn't March. It wasn't a conference tournament title game or the NCAA Tournament. Seriously, it wasn't.

But didn't Kansas' fans storm the court? Storm a supposedly neutral court? And wasn't that a female KU fan holding the Las Vegas Invitational trophy above her head while she was getting a piggyback ride?

This was November, right?

Well, if you were here, you would have thought otherwise for the 2½ hours that Kansas and Florida played, albeit hardly flawless, one of the most emotionally charged November non-conference games.

Kansas won 82-80 in overtime in the finale of the predetermined Las Vegas Invitational. What it proved for both teams is worthy of a discussion. But on the surface the game itself should be first celebrated for its sheer enjoyment.

It would be hard to argue against Gonzaga's triple-overtime Maui Invitational semifinal victory over Michigan State last year. That game was one of those "wish you were there" kind of games. But the buildup was hardly comparable to this one with No. 1 Florida going against No. 12 Kansas -- still the choice by many to win the national title. It didn't matter that the Jayhawks had lost to Oral Roberts at home already and looked rather pedestrian in beating Ball State the previous night here, while Florida looked UNLV-like -- in the best of the Tark era -- in walloping Western Kentucky.

cont. at

Sparko 13 years, 2 months ago

The extra pass? Kansas was stealing those all night. Florida played very hard, made critical threes, and played some tough defense or this one would have slipped away early. Florida played absolutely as well as it could, got some critical non-calls, and still lost. Kansas is that good this year when it plays hard.

truefan 13 years, 2 months ago

I think Florida played amazing, but we wanted it more. I thought we were going to crumble when Florida went up by 3 in the final minute, but our team just kept coming back. I don't know if I can chalk that up to good coaching or just the sheer balls that our team has. I expect us to lose a few more games this year just because our team hasn't proven that we can bring that kind of effort every game. I do think that we will be battle-tested and ready come March though.

Ray March 13 years, 2 months ago

gators don't bite...........they suck!! nice job jayhawks!

ps: why is there a viagra ad on this page?? ??

mr_lawrence 13 years, 2 months ago

The reason you didn't move the ball so well, Billy, is because you faced on of the best defenses in the country. And the reason you 'got wrapped up in one-on-one' is because your team cannot defend off the dribble. You were outmatched and outplayed.

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

You know, its funny. If this same game would have been played in March, Billy Donovan would have said:

Im proud of our kids, thats probably the hardest Id seen them play all year, but unfortunately only one team could win today.

However, its November and he is going to use this loss to be hard on his kids. Sure, he is spinning the truth a little in his postgame comments but its his job to be hard on those kids to get them ready for another champioship push. We will see what he says when we win again in March.

William James 13 years, 2 months ago

Oh yea, Id would like to congratulate the sixth man in that game. You guys were incredible. The announcers were saying it reminded them of Allen Fieldhouse. My hats are off to everyone who made the trip out west for that game. I went to the football game in Columbia earlier in the day. We were pretty loud too, but I think you guys got us beat. Rock Chalk!

true_fan 13 years, 2 months ago

Those of you who are saying Florida "sucks" or dogging on them in any way need to replay the game. They're a deep, talented team and will win a lot more games this year, and they'll most likely be highly seeded in the tournament. Last night our 'Hawks just wanted it more.

Which brings up an observation I'd like to throw out. I watched the UNC games that were on recently, and watching them made me feel like I was watching KU during Roy's years. Style and personality. When they got down in points a bit to the 'Zags, I just knew they were going to lose. They looked just like the KU teams did when they lost, and the only descriptor I can come up with is "soft".

Which is exactly what the 'Hawks did NOT look like last night. Instead, in the waning moments of regulation when UF took the lead and they could have "folded" and just said they would "grow" from the loss. Huh-uh. Not last night. They "toughed up". They sucked it up and took it right back. They looked tough. Determined. Purposeful. Man, is it GOOD to see that on OUR side of the court for a change! To steal a line from a television show, "Clear eyes, strong hearts, can't lose". It's going to be one hell of a season! Rock Freakin' Chalk, baby!!!

Mr_Sandman 13 years, 2 months ago

Florida is a great team, this is a great win for the Hawks early in the season. Hopefully we will approach all of our games with the same toughness and have an awesome year. ROCK CHALK BABY!!

kataboom 13 years, 2 months ago

donovan doesnt know why there wasnt good ball movement for the gators? its because kansas clogged their lanes so bad. duh

nanuq 13 years, 2 months ago

You hit it on the nose, kataboom. You can't make the "extra pass" when it isn't there.

mikedog1 13 years, 2 months ago

First, I was forced by my KU watch group to eat hummble pie regarding my previous statements about Bill Self and his coaching abilities if Kansas where to beat Florida. So, here is what I have to say. Bill Self did one great job of coaching this team to be ready for Flordia on Sat. night. Not only did he do a great job but he took a team that looked to be well below their playing ability on Friday night to the pinnacle of their play so far. Nice job Coach, you are no longer on my fire him list but still on my short list. Keep it up, Keep the fire under them!

Second, everyone should give Flordia a round of applause. Not only are they a very good team their fans were gracious in defeat. After the game there where a group of 15 to 20 Flordia fans applauding the J-hawk fans as we exited the stadium and entered the Casino. I found that to be a very class act.

Third, to all the Jayhawk faithful that make it to Las Vegas this weekend I want to say thank you! I live in the West and the last game I made it to was Kansas vs. Oregon in Portland where the fans where out numbered and the team was out played that day. For me, to be in Vegas, to see Jayhawks up and down the strip (everywhere you went you saw JAYHAWKS), to hear the cheers and the chants, to celebrate a victory with thousands instead of a couple of handful was fantastic! I wouldn't call it Allen Fieldhouse West like some people have only out of respect and love of the one and ONLY Allen Fieldhouse but this had to be the next best thing! THANKS TO ALL JAYHWAKS AND THANKS TO VEGAS!

princess 13 years, 2 months ago

I agree. The Florida fans were great after the game. They were handing out high fives and I saw one guy taking funny pictures with KU fans for at least a half an hour at our bar after the game.

Fantastic game! Amazing crowd! I am so happy and feel so lucky to have been a part of it. It really was impressive. I will never forget the sound of the Rawk Chalk Chant echoing as we all came down the escalators and into the casino.

JayCeph 13 years, 2 months ago

Florida... a class act team. I'm proud the boys in blue won.

I hope we can keep the 'mushhawk' digs to a minimum. KU is a class act as well and it makes us look bush-league when we don't know how to win gracefully.

A great weekend for Jayhawk nation!

Bring on Dartmouth...

William James 13 years, 1 month ago

Great weekend? We lost to Mizzou on national television and because of which wont go bowling and won a basketball game that wont mean much in March. I think that "JayCeph" should rethink the weekend for the Jayhawk nation. At best it was "bittersweet".

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