“I think the thing that has been the most impressive about them is they really have played well from start to finish,” Donovan said during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference Monday. “They haven’t had games where they’ve been vulnerable, in my opinion. They have answers on all spots of the floor, both offensively and defensively. (Terrence) Jones has emerged. I think (Anthony) Davis has emerged even more of an offensive threat than he was earlier in the year. They’ve got 3-point shooting, they’ve got post-ups.”
Donovan says the Cats also have that special attitude like his back-to-back national championship teams had and uses senior Darius Miller and freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as proof.
“When you talk about a team getting better, the thing that’s impressive to me with them is you take a guy like Darius Miller or even (Michael Kidd-) Gilchrist. Gilchrist didn’t score a lot of points last night against us. To me, Darius Miller only played 17 minutes as a senior. They just seemed consumed about winning and that is it,” Donovan said. “ Whatever they’ve got to do to win, regardless who scores and/or who plays the minutes — and I’m sure Darius Miller wants to be out there 40 minutes as any players does. But they have a better perspective of understanding the big picture.
“So I think because of their chemistry or their disposition or their personalities, they are going after something that’s bigger than their own individual minutes, statistics, points, rebounds. That, to me, is something that’s impressive when you’re looking at a lot of young kids and then you’re also looking at a senior that could say this is my time. He (Miller) just kind of goes in there and plays his role, whatever it needs to be. Last game we played them in Lexington, he played a lot more minutes and had much, much more impact than he did the last game.
“Terrence Jones did not have a great game against us in Lexington, but he played very well yesterday. So it’s like different guys step up at different times and they have a bunch of guys on their team that are capable of getting 20 (points), but when they don’t get 20, you don’t see any level of them pouting or them upset or any of that stuff. That, to me, is the most impressive thing.”
Donovan is not one that thinks having a 22-game win streak going into postseason play hurts Kentucky or that a loss was needed to enhance UK’s chances of winning the national title.
“We had two years where we were able to play for national championships and lost games on the back end of our schedule and then won the (SEC) tournament and went on to the NCAA,” Donovan said. “I don’t necessarily buy that (a loss) has to happen. I think you can get re-focused through winning. I think every game going in you are trying to win. I don’t look at how many they have won in a row and feel they need a loss to grab their attention. I don’t think that has any impact going forward.
“Every player understands from here on our it is one and done. Really everything that has happen in the past is over and done with, Regardless of how many they have won in a row, they have another game coming Friday and they will go out and play. I don’t think if they are coming off a loss it will all of a sudden make them that much better.”