Billy Donovan chose not to speak with UConn beat reporters before Monday’s game but he did chat with local media members in Gainesville Sunday morning before departing for Connecticut.
A few of the highlights of his words:
“They have three really, really good guards,” Donovan said. “(Shabazz) Napier is without question one of the elite point guards in the country but it’s not just him.”
Florida recruited DeAndre Daniels heavily. The Los Angeles native went to prep school in Florida (IMG in Bradenton) for one year.
“I don’t know how close he was. I really liked his skill level. He’s 6-foot-9. He’s a guy that probably has benefited by being in college for a few years. A lot of times there’s guys that have an impression they need to be one-and-done. … He’s a guy that’s benefited from it and put himself in position now to someday play in the NBA.”
The Gators are in the midst of a tough stretch of games. They’ve already played at Wisconsin (their only loss) and nipped Florida State Friday night. After UConn they’ve got Kansas at home then Memphis in NYC.
“When you play in games like this, you’re going to find out more about your team. You’re going to find out where you have to get better,” Donovan said. “This stretch of games, although very challenging against very good team, we’re going to get a chance to find out more about his team.”
A little Billy Donovan/Connecticut trivia?
He was 5-2 against the Huskies while a player at Providence. (He didn’t play in one game).
His last college game against UConn was a 61-53 win at the Hartford Civic Center on Jan. 25, 1987. He scored 18 points and added six assists. Cliff Robinson let UConn with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Ten days before that one Donovan torched the Huskies for 30 points in a 103-89 Providence home win. Donovan was 11-for-11 from the free throw line and also had nine assists. Robinson had 29 points in that one. The 103 points represented the second-highest total by the Friars in the series’ history.
Donovan’s last game in CT wasn’t against UConn, however. As a rookie point guard with the Knicks he played in New York’s 95-93 loss to the Celtics Feb. 22, 1988 in Hartford (The Celtics used to play a handful of games in Hartford every year). Donovan played just six minutes and was scoreless.