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March 22, 2014

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No. 9 Pitt vs. No. 1 Florida, NCAA Tournament Third Round, March 22, 2014

No. 1 Florida 61, No. 9 Pitt 45


QUOTING PITT’S Jamie Dixon, Talib Zanna AND Lamar Patterson

Jamie Dixon:  Well, first of all, congratulations to Florida.  They're obviously a very good team, and the most physical team we've played all year long.  They beat us on the glass and beat us to loose balls and we got to give them credit.  I'm very proud of our two seniors who had great careers and really finished up strong as the year went on.  That says a lot about them, guys have improved all year long, Lamar and Talib, and they had great years and great seasons.  They provided great leadership for us. Simply put, I was extremely disappointed in how we played.  We're a better team than what we showed today, and we have been playing better basketball.  We just didn't get it done, and I take responsibility for that.  We didn't execute well enough, we didn't rebound well enough, and as I told the guys, I'll take responsibility for that.  We didn't block out as well as we needed to, and we didn't execute offensively as well as we needed to, and again, I take responsibility for that. We lost to a very good team, though, so take nothing away from Florida.  They're good, and there's a reason why they're the No. 1 seed, the most physical, oldest team we've played all year, and they showed it.

Q.  Lamar, can you talk about the end of the half and the job that Wilbekin did overall?

Lamar Patterson:  He's a great point guard.  He took care of business.  He led their team to a W.

Q.  Lamar, about Wilbekin, also, the whole Gators defense, especially in the second half, you have Young and Yeguete with their strong post play.  What did they do after the break that caused that confusion for you guys?

Lamar Patterson:  I don't know.  Like I said, they just got it done.  The coach said they out-rebounded us, they beat us to loose balls, and those are their recipes to victory, and they did it.

Q.  Talib and Lamar, you guys have had long careers.  Lamar, you're the highest player in terms of games played.  Kind of reflect on your career and what the man sitting to your right means to you and kind of how big Zanna especially this has been for you coming here from Nigeria.

Lamar Patterson:  Talib is a brother to me.  Couldn't ask for a better person to spend five years with.  He worked hard.  He improved over the course of his career, and it showed out on the court.  Our career, like you said, it was long, but now that it's over, I felt like it wasn't long enough.  There's not much I really can say.  I just appreciate that everything I had at Pittsburgh.

Talib Zanna:  As Lamar said, I mean, I have a really good relationship with him.  We've been through a lot since freshman year until now.  I just want to thank the school, University of Pittsburgh, for everything, and just being in our corner and just giving us the best career they can.

Q.  Talib, now that you've actually played Florida, could you just describe the problems they present and how good they can be moving forward in this tournament?

Talib Zanna:  What did you say?

Q.  Could you describe how tough Florida is and how far maybe they can advance in the tournament?

Talib Zanna:  I mean, the numbers doesn't lie.  They outplayed us.  They out-executed, everything.  They got to the loose balls.  We didn't get it done.  We just have to move on, and for the younger guys, they have to step up and just come back next year and try to prove people wrong.

Q.  Can you talk about Wilbekin in that second half?  What did he do offensively that made it such a problem for you guys to defend him?

Jamie Dixon:  Got in the lane.  Constantly, we handled the first ball screen, second ball screen and just kind of got into the lane at the end of clock and made some plays, made a couple tough shots, the one runner on the left side, that was a tough shot, and you know, I think it just became a struggle for us because of our offense.  We weren't scoring so we became harder -- we had to get a stop every single time down defensively.  That led into it.  But obviously he's a senior, he's a really good player, he's been through some ups and downs, obviously, and he's had a great finish to his career, and that's what you hope happens to a kid that learns and gets better.  They played well.  I'm sure they're proud of him and what he's become, a local guy that's done well. He played really well, and we didn't do a good job on him.  But you think he has a lot to do with it.  He's been doing a pretty good job all year long.  There's probably a trend there.

Q.  Could you talk about a lot of people think that you guys are kind of almost like the kings of the grind-'em-out style of basketball.  Could you talk about how Florida was able to play that style with you today?

Jamie Dixon:  Yeah, it's something that gets talked about, but it's often times not accurate.  Offensively we've been pretty good.  Our offense has been far ahead of our defense this year, but perception is often times, people actually look at the numbers and the facts and -- but yeah, that's what they do, and I think people try to find something wrong with this team at 34-2, and there's not a lot wrong with them.  They're old, they're experienced, they're by far the most physical team we've played.  They just banged us around all game long and the bodies are evident, their size, their experienced, they're old.  They're well coached, all those things, and we just didn't execute.  We tried to cut, we tried to curl, we tried to go to the basket, and we just bounced off of them.  That was something we talked about throughout the game.  We just couldn't get it done. They were more patient offensively, made a lot of shots at the end of the clock, at the end of possessions, and we didn't.

Q.  What makes Florida such a defensive team, and what goes into good defense?

Jamie Dixon:  Experience.  I mean, generally your older guys are your best defenders, and we hope that we can get old again and become a better defensive team.  But that's something we've been trying to work on. Again, I think their physicality is evident, and like I said, they're the most physical team we've played all year long.  They're big across the board.  They've got size all the way through, and they use it.  So I think that's part of it.  Their patience offensively I think helps their defense, as well.  I think that's a big thing.       You know, they change how they guard ball screens, and at times I thought that was effective against us.  The other day they got the rebounds, and it seemed like we had some opportunities in transition to go on, we had some turnovers where we fumbled the ball and didn't make the play, and that's where we needed to open up on some transition baskets on their missed threes.

Q. Can you talk about the play right before the end of the half when you made the substitution, what Wilbekin did, whether you felt like that was a turning point?

Jamie Dixon:  I don't know if it was a turning point.  We lost by 16 points, but it's my fault.  If there's anything that goes wrong it's my fault, and I take responsibility.  We know what happened, but we can't blame anybody else but me.

Q.  It didn't seem like you used the 2-3 zone as much today as you have in the past.  Was there a reason?

Jamie Dixon:  We haven't been doing that.  We've haven't been playing zone.  We've been playing better with our man and so that's something we haven't played in the last six games or so.  We've really decided to make that decision was to our defense, our rebounding, we had to be more accountable defensively with the glass and know what we were doing.  You know, our defense wasn't good enough today, but I think they had a lot to do with it:  14 offensive rebounds, we were getting beat on the glass from the first play of the game, and that to me was the biggest issue.  I don't think that was a concern.  I mean, they shot 43 percent.  We needed to get some transition baskets, score some more at the end of the press.  That would have helped us.  But I think that would have been more of a factor. But it's obvious the game just got away from us.  But the things that were there early were the rebounding, the offensive rebounding, and even though we were down a couple and up, we were still getting out-rebounded early, and I think that eventually got to us.

Q.  The play at the end of the half, originally you fouled and then didn't foul.  Can you take us through what the plan was there?

Jamie Dixon:  I just spoke on it earlier.  Obviously I'm going to take full responsibility for it, but I think we all know what happened, and it's on me.  If we don't get it done, we don't get it done, and that's where it's at.  Again, we didn't get it done.  Kid made a running shot from 25 feet, but we didn't do what we -- I didn't get it done.



BILLY DONOVAN:  We knew it was going to be a challenging, physical basketball game, a low-scoring game, which it was.  I was really, really proud of the way these guys came out and responded from our game on Thursday.  I thought the difference in the game for us, one, I thought 10 steals, which means there's live-ball turnovers, which kind of got us out on the break some, we got some points off turnovers, even though I thought Pitt did a very good job against the press, I did think the press was effective in terms of just getting the pace of the game going up-and-down the floor. I thought Scottie coming down the stretch of the game before I took him out, banged knees, really got in the lane, made some things happen for our team, made some great plays, and then I thought Will got back to being who he was for most of the game. You know, it was interesting last game Frazier didn't get very many looks, and I'm not so sure he's had the kind of looks he had today.  He goes 2 for 9 from the three-point line, and I thought we had very, very good looks.  Our frontcourt, I thought Patric and Dodo in particular really had some decent shots.  Patric in particular in the first half just couldn't finish around the basket, but we overcame that, and I thought our defense in particular, both halves it was good, but I thought in the second half it really, really was good, and these guys did a really terrific job from start to finish.

Q.  Scottie, two questions:  One, take us through the end of the half when they fouled you intentionally and then for some reason didn't foul you, and secondly, the last four minutes of the game or so when you just took over?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, I expected them to foul me, too, but they didn't, and I was just trying to get a shot up, and at the end of the game just trying to get a good shot.  They were kind of pressuring out, so I was able to get into the lane and the bigs weren't really stepping up on me, so I was able to finish.

Q.  Scottie, could you talk in particular in the end of the sequence of the game on the shot where you drove in the lane and made the tough one with the left hand?  Did you think that was going in?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, I mean, I thought it was going in.  I just -- it was kind of a weird -- I think if I remember what you're talking about, it was kind of a weird finish.  I had to twist my body a little bit.  But I mean, it went in.

Q.  Scottie, can you talk a little bit about yesterday, how much of this game was won in your preparation and how hard Billy was on you guys, and can you talk about the start of the game?  Were you going to let this team come out with less energy than it needed to have?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, Coach was really getting on to us and challenging us and just asking us if that was the team that we wanted to be in these last couple of games that we have.  We just wanted to come out and not let them play harder than us or not let us play as hard as we can, and I think we did a good job of having our energy up at the start of the game, and we played together on offense and played together on defense.

Q.  Will, a long way from Florida Air Academy days, but talk about your aggressiveness tonight.  For me it was one of the more aggressive games that I've seen you play.  There was a sequence where you had a blocked shot, a steal with a behind-the-back pass for an assist and then a deflection all in sequence.  Talk about your aggressive play, and Scottie, did you feed off of that energy?

WILL YEGUETE:  I was just trying to be aggressive defensively.  I knew they were going to be a really good team.  On offense I was trying to make plays and help my teammates, and I was able to shoot the ball sometimes and able to make plays, and that's really what I wanted to do today because I knew they were going to be a really good team from the get-go and I had to be ready to go.

Q.  Will, along the same lines, what did you do on Talib Zanna and a hobbled Mike Young?  What were you able to do to prevent them from getting offensive rebounds and muck up the paint?

WILL YEGUETE:  We knew going into the game it was going to be a battle.  Pat and myself, Dodo and Chris, I think we did a good job boxing out, and the guards got in there, got a lot of rebounds.  I think Frazier got a lot of rebounds, Scottie had three rebounds as well, I guess he had six rebounds, so that would helped us move those guys to get in there and rebound the ball and help us out.

Q.  Scottie, how would you characterize your personal development over the last several months since the suspensions, and how do you think that's kind of translated on the court for you?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think just trying to get better in little areas, the small stuff, trying to be a better leader.  As far as how it translates on the court, I think it's helped me become a better leader, be more connected with my teammates and coach, and just -- it's helped me play with a freer mind.

Q.  Scottie, at the end of the game you were almost subdued.  Was it because of the banged knee?  You looked exhausted there at one point.

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, I was kind of tired, but I don't know if I banged knees or what happened, but after the tie-up is when I started to feel it.  I think it's just a bruised knee, so I'll be fine.

Q.  Can you just talk about this team's defense all year?  What makes a good defensive team, and why do you think you guys are such a good defensive team?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I think it starts with Coach and the rest of the coaches really making that an emphasis in practice and us buying into it as a team.  And I think that we have good individual defenders and we've bought into playing team defense and really helping each other, and it's something that we value and we take pride in playing good defense.  It energizes us when we get good stops.

Q.  Scottie, just before the half when you made that shot from about 35, 40 feet, you wanted open looks and three-pointers, did you ever expect that kind of an open look?  Talk about that.  It looked like you jumped, you lofted, you really moved it.

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  Yeah, I mean, that's the look that I hoped for in that situation.  I don't really shoot too many runner threes, but it went in, and I was pretty happy about it.

Q.  Scottie, when you think about that last six-minute sequence where you got the 13 points, did you consciously make an effort to kind of try to take over because you seemed to have spots in games where you do that for two or three possessions and then you kind of let the game flow the other times, but did you make a conscious effort to try to do that or did it just happen?

SCOTTIE WILBEKIN:  I would say that it just happened.  Our offense isn't really designed for one player to do something.  The ball was in my hands, kind of a late-clock situation, and I was able to get down the lane.  I think with phrase spacing and I think we did a good job of having good spacing, so I was able to finish the play, whereas if they would have stepped up I would have tried to find Pat or Will or somebody else. 

Q.  Billy, we've seen time and time again you guys make adjustments during the break, but what allowed Scottie to go off in the second half, and when was the last time you saw a player really dominate down the stretch?

BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, you know, Pitt, they're very, very disciplined.  You know, they guard pick-and-rolls in a unique way in the fact that they really run out there with their big people and really try to disrupt the guard coming off.  And then they really do a great job with their protection, they are three guys that are protecting, and they rotate a little bit more uniquely than maybe some other teams we've played against this year in the backside. And what happened was I thought as the game wore on we were able to make their big guys late to get all the way out there like they normally do, and Scottie was able to turn the corner, Kasey Hill was able to turn the corner and we were able to get the ball down the lane.  They're very, very difficult to score against, Pitt, when you try to post feed from the lane, when you try to run offense from side to side.  You've really got to play, in my opinion, down the lane.  If you look at a lot of Patric's post feeds were high-low passes where they couldn't double as much.  It was pick-and-rolls in the middle of the floor to get down the lane and distribute. I thought Scottie did a great job several times finding Frazier on skip passes because of the way they rotate.  We just didn't make those shots.  But a lot of times it was the movement before Scottie got any screening action that allowed him to get some space around their big guys, and for a guy like Zanna and Young and their frontcourt, it is physically demanding what they do, and then they gotta go down there and they got to play post defense, they've got to run back and run offense, and I thought as the game wore on they were not quite as good or able to get out there like they normally were maybe earlier in the game.

Q.  You guys outscored Pitt by 12 in the paint and held Zanna to 10 points.  Was that a point of emphasis coming into this game, controlling the paint?

BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, Pitt is a really, really good rebounding team.  I'm not so sure that Zanna, in my opinion, is a go-to guy for them offensively.  The thing I was impressed with, because obviously I saw Pitt play a little bit during the year, actually I saw them, I think I said this on Thursday, when they played against Albany.  He is a great energy guy.  He's a great offensive rebounder.  I think he had 21 offensive rebounds against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament, 10 of which were offensive. He's good at kind of driving from the elbows.  He's good at sealing when they can find him.  But Jamie, the way they run their offense with a lot of screening, a lot of motion, a lot of times when he's a screener and you've got Patterson coming off or Wright coming off, he gets a lot of dump-down passes.  So there wasn't a lot really for him, I didn't think, where they were just post feeding him and going to him to score.  He's kind of an opportunistic scorer but he also scores based on offensive rebounding.  I thought a big key for us was at least we out-rebounded them and we held them on the glass.  We didn't give up a lot of offensive rebounds.

Q.  You didn't have Will a couple years ago in the tournament and he was just recovering from an injury last year.  How different is this team when he's healthy?

BILLY DONOVAN:  It's huge.  He's big.  And again, he's one of those guys that look down at the stat sheet and he's probably going to take anywhere from two to five shots per game, but he just does so many different things in the press.  He's such a great cover guy with our defense.  He's a great help defender.  He's the epitome of a guy that when you look down at the stat sheet it's hard to have a level of appreciation for him. You know, for me as a coach, I've always tried to talk to Will about how much I appreciate, because he really impacts winning.  He really impacts the game in a very, very positive way for us, and what he does is really, really rare.  It's hard to find.  It's hard to find guys that really kind of hang their hat on being kind of a dirty-work guy, and it's hard sometimes because certainly it doesn't really give them a lot of headlines.  He's not a headline guy.  But he really does a lot for our team.

Q.  With all the talk about the slow starts and letting the lead slip away toward the end, how important was it to start off fast and solidify the win?

BILLY DONOVAN:  I think getting off to a good start was important because if you look at the way Pitt got off against Colorado, they really did a great job defensively creating turnovers, getting out on the break and really opened the game up within the first eight minutes of the start of the game.  If you look at them against Carolina in the ACC Tournament, they jumped on Carolina and had them down by 19, so I think when you're playing against a good team like Pitt, you want to at least -- not that you're going to jump out to that many points -- but you don't want to get down eight, 10, 12 points to start the game and then try to play catch up.  I thought for the most part in the first half, it was really back and forth.  You know, we got up by a few points, they got up by a few points, we got up by five, Patterson makes a three, cuts it to two, we got up by four.  It's a two-point game in the last position, Scottie throws a tough shot at the end of the half, we go up five, and then we slowly build a bigger lead as the game wore on there in the second half.

Q.  Can you describe yesterday's practice and how you got everyone's attention, and Scottie is a guy you've tried to get the attention of for years.  Why do you think it's sunk in so well with him?

BILLY DONOVAN:  Yeah, you know, I was -- I think after the game on Thursday, as a coach you always want to play to your identity and who you've been and who we've been the entire year.  I didn't feel like we did that.  We didn't play to our identity there and I was disappointed by that because we really hadn't done that all year long.  That's why I was disappointed.  And I think it's very, very easy just to kind of say, okay, hey, win, survive, we move on, everything is okay.  I saw things inside of our team that I just did not like.  And I say that in a way, there was nothing bad like in terms of bad attitudes or guys having a problem with one another, there was just this frustration, personal expectation, game not going the way they wanted it to go, and that's not who we've been.  I just wanted to make sure they understood that and we got back to who we were.  Yesterday, physically, we didn't do very much at all.  I don't think you could do a whole lot.  It was a 12 o'clock game today.  We found out, basically, first thing that morning, late that night, that we were playing at 12:15.  There's not a whole lot you can do. But I did through film and through clips and different things that I saw try to bring it to their attention, areas that I thought we needed improvement.  And I think to their credit they kind of got back to -- I don't think any of them disagreed with anything I had to say.  And I think that they understood where I was coming from and hopefully that in some way helped us get prepared for this game.

Q.  (No microphone)? 

BILLY DONOVAN:  Yeah, Scottie -- listen, for me, it's been one of the great experiences for me as a coach going through what he and I have gone through together.  People get a chance maybe to see him grow as a player, I got a chance to see him grow as a person.  It was a struggle and a battle for me because I had to do two things.  One, the long suspension for him had more to do with, for me, he needed to regain credibility inside of our team.  He had lost all his credibility.  So I tried to put him in a situation where he could show his commitment to the rest of those guys.  And also he needed to start the season -- I think you heard him say it.  He had a lack of awareness of how choices and decisions he made affected or impacted other people, and he never understood that. Now, obviously he served a penalty and he looked at it like, well, I'm the one being punished, how is that a problem.  But these younger guys on our team that look up to him, there's other people that are looking at how he acts and what he does.  I think he is a kid that learned some valuable lessons and didn't have a lot of awareness of things today that he has an awareness of maybe earlier on in his career. And I think he realized that I was serious when I told him he needed to transfer and just move on and start fresh somewhere else, and I think once he made that commitment that he wanted to finish out his career here, he wanted to work his way back, he's a guy that loves challenges, and in his own way, what I was presenting in front of him was a real, real challenge because I'd kind of painted a picture that said I don't believe you can do it or you will do it.  I said, time will tell.  And I think he thrived on that.  And it was hard for him.  He went through a very, very difficult time because he was separated from our team for so long.

Q.  Bill Belichick was in the stands in a Gator visor.  Talk about your relationship with him, what you've kind of taken from him, and also, he's known as a defensive coach.  Talk about your defense, as well.

BILLY DONOVAN:  Well, he put the scouting report in today.  (Laughter). Coach has been great to me.  I don't know how many years it's been, I went to Boston and met with him maybe after their third Super Bowl and have developed a very, very good relationship with him and got a great respect for him.  He was in Gainesville, I guess it may have been a pro day or watching practice, and he called me and said he wanted to come down for the game.  I left him a couple tickets.  I didn't get a chance to see him today.  We text messaged back and forth, but I've really enjoyed my relationship with him.  It's interesting you get a chance to talk to a guy like that, most of the stuff that we're talking about is the whole coaching perspective of just dealing with people and motivating people and inspiring people and just different things.  I always appreciate the amount of time over the years he's given me and the amount of time we've spent with one another.

Q.  Today on defense the emphasis seemed to be on staying down, staying in the lane, forcing Pitt to have long possessions, making them work, just wear them out and affect their shooting that way late in the game.  Was that what was really happening, or was I just imagining that?

BILLY DONOVAN:  No, I think that that happened.  I think we had long possessions, too.  I think when you go against good defensive teams it's hard to score early in the clock, and I thought our guys did a good job of awareness wise of not trying to force things and jam things that weren't there because I think really good defensive teams, early shot clock are great.  They may be a little bit more vulnerable as the shot clock starts to wind down.  Same thing for us, we're really good generally early in the clock, and through movement you get more vulnerable.  But we put them in some late-clock situations. A big key for us, I thought Patterson got loose a couple times there in the first half.  He was 0 for 3, he made one late there in the first half, but we kind of dodged a bullet with him on some shots.  He didn't shoot it particularly well, and probably he and Frazier offset themselves because I thought both of those guys on the floor were the two best shooters and neither one of them had a great shooting game.

Q.  The play at the end of the half, were you assuming that they were going to foul Scottie, and what did you pretty much say?  And then secondly, you're talking about the SEC Player of the Year there, but was that his best game?

BILLY DONOVAN:  You know, they fouled, and I don't know what there was, three-and-a-half, four seconds there, and I just told Scottie you're going to have to go and get away from the shot and get a shot up because they may foul, and I don't know if they were trying to foul or not try to foul but he was able to turn the corner and at least get a clear path there and gave us at least a five-point lead coming in. Again, I thought -- I did not think Scottie played particularly well in the game against Albany.  It was good to see him come back and respond the way he did today.  I thought all the way around he played very well.  You've got to understand, with what he did and I think you mentioned about him being tired, he was worn out.  He was chasing Patterson all over the court and he went down the stretch and scored 13 or 14 points in a row for us.  I mean, he was great on both ends of the floor because he really gives it up on the defensive end, and when you give it up like that and you're the point guard there's a physical toll that your body takes over a period of time.

Q.  Talk about the team discipline.  It was 9-and-a-half minutes before the first team foul was committed.  I believe it was at the 10:33 mark, only two in the first half.  Talk about how key that was to this game and then going on, Sweet 16 and beyond.

BILLY DONOVAN:  I thought for both of us it was a pretty clean game defensively as it relates to defensive breakdowns.  There were not a whole lot of them really by either team, especially in that first half.  And I think when you're disciplined you play clean on that end of the position.  You're in position, you kind of take yourself out of harm's way of picking up a lot of fouls.  The first half there wasn't a lot of free throws.  I think it says a lot about both teams in the fact that you've got two physical defensive teams, physical frontcourts, and it could've been a game where there was 20 free throws by both teams in the first half and it didn't happen that way, and I think a lot of it had to do with both teams doing a pretty good job discipline-wise. 

Post-Game Quotesheet

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