Billy D. Staying at UF!
Gator head basketball coach Billy Donovan will stay at the University of Florida.Â Here are some of the comments Donovan made at a press conference after announcing his decision to stay:
"I have great respect for Kentucky, Mitch Barnhart and the way they handled the whole process. There was a lot of speculation, and I was very open and honest. I said that I had not heard from anybody from Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament. I really appreciate Mitch and the University of Kentucky allowing us to go through the Tournament. A lot of the stuff got stirred up where people wanted to talk about it. I did talk to Mitch today. I had some time to think about it. Jeremy (Foley) got a phone call from Mitch, and Jeremy let me know yesterday that they wanted to talk. I felt like when we got back on Monday, I had Tuesday and Wednesday to think about it a little bit. I've got a strong place in my heart for Kentucky because I started coaching there, and they gave me a great opportunity with Coach Pitino and Coach Pitino bringing me along with him. I have great respect for the tradition, for the fans, for the program, for everything that it represents. In our conversation this morning, when I did speak to Mitch, we never discussed the job being offered to me. We never discussed financial package. None of that stuff was ever discussed. I think Mitch's main reason for the phone conversation was to find out where my interest level was. I felt like the right thing to do was to be able to make a decision without stringing anybody on. I have too much respect for Jeremy and the job he does here, and Dr. Machen and the University of Florida. I have too much respect for the administration and Mitch, and they job they've got to do at Kentucky. I just really felt like I wanted to make a decision on what was going to make me happy, and I'm happy here at Florida. I love the University of Florida. I love the relationship I have with Jeremy, Dr. Machen , the school, the players we've been able to coach, the commitment to basketball. I'm happy here. That's what it came down to. It never came down to dollars and cents. There's never been any money discussed. I didn't think it was right or appropriate to have both schools going back and forth. I felt like I needed to make a decision of what was going to make me happy. That's how the whole process unfolded. Kentucky's a great program, great tradition. I think Mitch is a terrific athletic director, and they have great fans. I felt like at this time in my life, the best thing for me was the University of Florida."
On what factored into the decision to stay:
"When I was 28, 29 or 30, I could do a lot of things because the kids were younger. Now, there are five other people that factor into my decision. One thing I love and respect about my wife is that she loves Gainesville, Fla., but she's also very supportive of me and if I had made the decision to leave, I think she would have been very supportive of that decision and she would have been behind me. I also know that she and my kids are very happy here and I'm happy here and I felt like I needed to make a decision based on that rather than maybe some other variables."
On his confidence in Florida:
"Jeremy (Foley) and I met this morning, and before he and I talked about contracts or anything, I told him that I wanted to be at Florida. This is where I wanted to be, I am committed to being here. We had talked some parameters about the contract and I didn't make a decision to come back here based on the contract. I made the decision to come back here based on relationships and the way I feel about this school. I am confident that when I go to sign a contract, the ball is in Jeremy's hands and Dr. Machen's hands, and there's a process that is gone through with the University of Florida when it comes to drawing up contracts. I have no doubt that Jeremy is going to get something done that I will be very happy with. I feel good abut that. I trust Jeremy, I trust Dr. Machen and I trust the school. I feel I have always been treated very fairly here, I've always been treated very well here and I know that Jeremy will get to work and do what he needs to do. I am very comfortable with where things are right now, and I need to wait for when things are comfortable with Jeremy. It's on him. It's not on me and when all is said and done, I will be pleased"
On deciding to stay:
"Kentucky is a great program, they have great fans and great winning traditions and there are a lot of special things there. I had the opportunity to experience a lot of those things for five years as an assistant. I'm also proud of what we, the administration, have been trying to build (at Florida). We're trying to build something. I want to try to continue to keep building that. I'm still excited about trying to keep doing that around here. Really, the decision came down to my heart and where I was happy. And it's like, 'Well, Kentucky has a great tradition, there's nothing to build there, Florida's got no tradition, and we'd have to build it.' I really factored it down to where I enjoy working. There's no question that Kentucky has tremendous commitment to basketball and its program, but I really feel that Florida and Jeremy Foley have made a great commitment to basketball here. It really didn't factor too much in for me, as much as where am I happiest? Where will I be happy? And right now, I'm happy."
On next year:
"I think next year, we're back at a point where we're starting over in many respects. You can't lose half of your team â€“ four of whom are NBA draft picks, the two-guard spot that's the all-time 3-point field goal leader in NCAA history and a back-up center that would have started in most SEC programs - and not miss a beat. We have a very young, unproven team with kids without experience of being in crucial situations with key moments or being in key games. They've had a chance to watch a lot, and to practice a lot, but they haven't had a chance to go out there and perform. We're going to have to get back to work. One thing that's great about our program is that we'll have a lot of playing time, and there might be a situation where everyone's starting from scratch and working to prove themselves, and here we came back with a team that was pretty much in tact, but now we come back with a team that is completely not in tact. We'll have a lot of work ahead of us."
On the expectations of the rising sophomores:
"I think its' going to be a challenge. Again, I felt like if you looked at Brewer and Noah and Horford and Green, the minutes they played as freshman were far more significant than what this freshman class has played. We obviously had some very talented guys coming back, so maybe they weren't afforded the opportunity, but I don't know about this group coming back. I don't say that in a bad way, it's just that I don't know. They've got a lot of work cut out for themselves right now. I made the comment last year that I didn't know where the team was going to go, but I knew everyone was going to love watching this team play. For the freshman class, it was a learning experience, but I also think it was a hard year. When you have something good going, then to give it to new guys, they don't want to mess things up. They're great kids. They're humble. You've got to be as a competitor to realize when it's not your turn yet. I'm very respectful of their attitude and humility. They really blended into the chemistry of our team. To sit here and say they're going to do the same things that Noah and Horford and Brewer and Green did as sophomores, I think people would be way out of line and people would be way off base."
On filling out the roster this spring through recruiting:
"I think we have to â€“ we are still actively recruiting. One thing to mention is plenty of playing time. I also think we need to make good decisions and evaluate everything, and bring guys in here that can contribute and be a part of a team, as well as have a level of unselfishness that has been demonstrated by the last two years. I think even the teams before them, maybe we didn't get as far, but those kids â€“ Matt Walsh, Anthony Roberson and David Lee â€“ those kids were great, too, and they worked very hard. The Brett Nelsons, the Matt Bonners, they worked hard. Hopefully we can do the best job we can to get back to building a team. I think everyone here will agree that there isn't a team that will have lost as much as we have lost in these six kids."
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