Las Vegas — 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."