The former star at Providence, Billy Donovan, is 359-146 in his career and in his 15th year at Florida. Here is his take on Jimmer Fredette during Florida’s presser in New Orleans today:
Q. Does Jimmer remind you anything of you when you were at Providence?
COACH DONOVAN: He’s a lot better than I was, I’ll tell you that. He is — I think the one comparison between he and I that I could maybe see was just — last year finding out a little bit more about him because he started to kind of get the kind of attention he’s gotten this year was I’ve always admired his work ethic and I’ve admired his love and passion for the game. He’s a better player this year than he was a year ago. And I think it’s so hard for young people when they have a high level of success, individual success and team success, to be able to come back the next year and understand the importance of what the off-season means in terms of his improvement.
And just hearing the story about his brother and the drive between those two and how he’s pushed him and just his focus and his commitment, I mean, I’ve got great respect and admiration, and I think he’s a great story for a lot of young kids for all the right reasons because here’s a kid that really put the time and the work in, and I think the one thing you can say about him is every year he’s been in college he’s gotten better. I would say I was probably somebody that loved the game just like he loved the game. Problem for me was I just wasn’t as good as he was.
Q. What makes him a good shooter?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I think, like any great shooter, he’s probably taken thousands and thousands of shots, and he’s got great confidence and belief in himself. I think a lot of it has to do with the coaching staff and with Coach Rose, having that kind of confidence in him. I think as a young player you need a coach to give you confidence as a shooter.
I think the other thing is he’s got the ability. You know, there’s certain guys that have an ability to put the ball in the basket, and he’s got the ability to put the ball in the basket in a lot of different ways: runners, off balance shots, fade aways, post-up, drives to the basket, deep, deep threes. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, and he can do it at a very, very high level.
But with all that being said with him, there again, they’re getting over 80 points a game. Eighty points a game would lead the SEC in scoring, and it’s because of the other guys around him, and that’s what makes them such a great team is you may look at the scoring differential, but in a lot of ways they’re balanced.
And I’d say the other part of him that nobody talks about is I think he’s a terrific passer. He’s the kind of guy that can get eight, nine, ten assists in a game because he’s playing with good players, he can get Hartsock, he can get Emery wide open shots, and when those guys are open they make shots. Same thing with Abouo, those guys make shots. Rogers comes in they make shots, and a lot of times you get caught watching him on helping on him and he gets those other guys great looks. He’s really a complete player.
Q. You had mentioned earlier that you think BYU is a better team now than they were last year. Are they doing anything differently this year as opposed to what you scouted last year?
COACH DONOVAN: Well, I think there are certain characteristics of any team that are going to reflect the head coach. I’m sure there are some things that Coach Rose looks at with us and there’s carryover. I think the same thing can be said about Dave’s team, there’s going to be some carryover. I think they’re better because Fredette is better, Emery is better, Hartsock is better, Abouo is better.
They add Collinsworth as a freshman who’s a hard, tough, physical player. They are a physical team. They’re a very aggressive team. They’re a great steal team. They got a big taste of it last year doing what they did. They got a win last year in the tournament, and I just think that when you do what they did this year, when you go from whatever their record was now to having 31 wins and four losses and you’re in the Sweet 16, they’re a better team than they were a year ago, and I think our players realize that.
We’re not playing the same team we played a year ago; we’re playing a team that’s better than they were a year ago. So for us, and I’ve said to people, unless they’re going to take points from the last time we played them or rebounds or assists, that game has nothing to do with this game tomorrow. What we can take from the game is having a familiarity in terms of their personnel.