Florida coach Donovan wants no Final Four distractions

Florida head coach Billy Donovan calls a defensive play during the Gators' NCAA Tournament victory over Pitt.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Florida head coach Billy Donovan calls a defensive play during the Gators' NCAA Tournament victory over Pitt.

GAINESVILLE

Florida coach Billy Donovan says that it's a good thing the Gators don't have to play their NCAA Final Four game against Connecticut in the next couple of days because they wouldn't be ready.

Having coached in the Final Four three times and participated as a player at Providence, Donovan has a clear understanding of how much hype surrounds the event — and how players can get caught up in it. So the players were given Sunday and Monday to handle their personal matters. Now, it's back to business.

"Right now this early part of the week, these guys have got to get their personal stuff out of the way," Donovan said.

"I think when you go to a Final Four, there is a lot of stuff coming at them. I can't even imagine the amount of people that want tickets from them and people want this or that. … I need to give them time to handle their personal stuff. You need to get that stuff out of the way. Then we need to move forward in terms of the preparation part of that.

"Having a chance and being fortunate to be part of some of these events, I've got to try to help them understand what they're walking into. In doing that, they've got to really, really pay attention to just them doing their job of moving to the next thing and not get distracted by all this event brings to it."

FAMILIAR FACES: Florida will be joined at the Final Four by Kentucky, Wisconsin and Connecticut — all teams the Gators have faced this season, including the only two (the Badgers and Huskies) to beat them. Donovan and the players said there are benefits to that, but it goes both ways.

"I think for us, whoever we're going to play, the other team's got the same thing," Donovan said. "From a preparation standpoint we can take some things from previous games, things we need to do better. I think every team right now, since we've played them, has evolved in some ways. Hopefully we've evolved, as well."

Senior G Scottie Wilbekin said he would expect any opponent in the Final Four to be tough to prepare for, but having played each of the teams could help — he thinks.

"If there's more familiarity, it's probably easier to remember scouting and stuff like that," Wilbekin said. "But it goes the same for them, too. … I would have been happy with our chances just because I'm confident in our team regardless of who we're playing. But at the end of the day, if you're at the Final Four, it's never going to be easy. We have a long week ahead of us to get ready. It will be an exciting game."

PRATHER HONORED: Florida senior F Casey Prather was among 10 players named to the John R. Wooden Award All-American team, made up of student-athletes chosen in an online vote who have excelled on the court and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Prather is averaging 13.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists. The John R. Wooden player of the year award will be announced on SportsCenter on Friday.

DID YOU KNOW?: This is the fourth time since 1994 that the SEC has half the Final Four teams, the first since '06 when LSU and Florida were both in the final.

Final Four

at Arlington, Texas

Saturday's semifinals (TBS)

No. 1 Florida (36-2) vs. No. 7 Connecticut (30-8), 6:09

No. 2 Wisconsin (30-7) vs. No. 8 Kentucky (28-10), 8:50

Florida coach Donovan wants no Final Four distractions 03/31/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 9:53pm]

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