Mike White alongside Colin Castleton and Anthony Duriji spoke to the media Sunday afternoon after the Gators’ 71-55 home win over No. 20 Florida State.
Here are the main takeaways.
- “We tried to simplify our approach they are one of the best defensive teams in the country.” When asked about Colin Castleton’s performance and team’s performance White said, “I thought he was terrific and made some solid decisions. It wasn’t perfect, but we will learn a lot from this game.
- When asked about Anthony Duriji, White responded with, “he made some big shots for us and played a great game. Duriji finished the game with 15 points along with 7 rebounds.
- “We didn’t know Phlan was going to play until right before the game he missed the last two practices,” when asked about Phlandorus Fleming.
- The highlight of the postgame press conference was when White was asked about his thoughts on Florida State’s head coach Leonard Hamilton saying, “They out Florida State-ed Florida State.” White responded with “I don’t know how to take that they have had a great run for a long time, and we have a lot of respect for their program.”
- When asked if the team can be better defensively, he said, “I do think we can be better defensively, but you want to be as good as you possibly can be. This team has a chance to be very good defensively.”
- White emphasized how much this team is going to make its hay as a gritty, defensive team this year.
- Brandon Mckissic and Phlandrous Fleming Jr. were both brought up due to their great performances and White responded with, “Mckissic and Fleming are terrific defenders they hold themselves accountable and are great on-ball defenders.”
- “Those guys are going to have to learn its next level emotions and that goes for road and home games when asked about Mckissic and Fleming being transfer players.
- When asked about the atmosphere he said, “Yeah it was rocking, and I didn’t mention our crowd it was an incredible college basketball environment. It definitely fueled our guys, it was a great significant home-court advantage, the rowdies were great.”
- “It is okay to show some emotions, but our guys have to learn to play disciplined in front of fans.”
- On a lighter note, White said to the media, “I am looking forward to a glass of red wine and a nice cheese pizza.”
- He mentioned how this game was personal for this team because Florida State’s a rival, the Gators haven’t won in seven years and because of the scare with Keyontae Johnson in 2020. “We just knew we had to come (as) prepared as we did. I’m just glad that we won.”
- The Gators were down 30-28 at halftime and didn’t feel they were playing up to their standards according to Duruji. A big factor in them staying in the game for the second was coming out in the second half with intensity. “We knew we just had to bring that energy. Sometimes we were usually slowing coming out in the second half. But I think we focused on bringing that right intensity and energy. That’s what helped us get the lead and we kept it all the way.”
- Duruji spoke on their identity as a defensive team. They have a lot of older guys who are ultra-competitive and want to get stops because it can lead to easy offense.
- While it’s a big win for Florida now, there’s a lot of season left. And Duruji knows that. “This can lay out the foundation for the rest of the season. We have to continue to build upon this. It just means so much. I’m happy for my teammates.”
- The forward was asked about maintaining the intensity level coming out in the second half. He said it doesn’t matter what teams do in the first half but rather how they come out and hard they play in the second. They went on a run and kept FSU from doing the same. They did a great job in his eyes of applying pressure and not letting up. “That's how you win the games. It's how you finish games, big games like this. It's everything.”
- Playing for Keyontae Johnson was a big deal for this team against Florida State given what happened last year. Johnson really wanted to play in the game and was down about not being able to. But he keeps the same mentality as well and shows his emotion on the bench. “We came into this game knowing what happened last year. And we just played our heart out for him. Everything was for him.”
- Castleton also answered questions about what he’s done to make himself more consistent and his ability as a shot blocker. He said being consistent is all mental. It’s what players bring in practice, shootaround and everything else. “Don't worry about all the other stuff that you know a lot of people worry about, just worry about doing what you do, and everything else will fall into place.”
- And his play on defense is just about taking pride in it. It’s about not letting guys feel comfortable and not just blocking shots but at least making shots harder than they should. He credited the team’s guards being able to make it easy for him to have those opportunities. “We’re on defense that's my rim, and I feel like you're got to just focus on nobody getting an easy shot up.”
Jake Hitt and Joseph Munroe contributed to this report
WCC: Updates on everything they had to say can be seen HERE.