1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

By Adam Silverstein
January 10, 2011

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following Florida’s 77-71 defeat of the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday.

ASSISTS…WITHOUT TURNOVERS?

As a young team the last few years, the Gators’ propensity for turning the ball over has been somewhat understandable. However, the team as-assembled features three seniors in the frontcourt and a junior point guard in Erving Walker, meaning it was time for bad habits to change. Going into Saturday’s game with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1 (201-200), Florida finally turned things around and dished 22 dimes compared to coughing the ball up only seven times. Though Walker has not been the only one turning the ball over, his ratio was the most concerning (he went 3:1 on Saturday). Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin and senior forward Chandler Parsons were part of the solution, combining for 11 assists and zero turnovers on the evening.

“I was really disappointed with us defensively tonight. Offensively we’re getting better. We’re starting to utilize each other. We’re taking higher percentage shots,” Donovan said after the game. “We ended up going 22 assists and seven turnovers – that’s how I’d like our teams to play. Our guys are getting better on offense; they’re getting better taking care of the ball.”

TEAM MEETING + FAIRFIELD CANCELLATION = BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE

There is no question that after they fell to Jacksonville, even though they first defeated then-No. 6 Kansas State 48 hours earlier, the Gators were in turmoil. Donovan condemned the team for its selfishness and said the only way they could truly turn things around and have a great season was to play for each other. He expanded on that philosophy on Saturday.

“Selfishness is an interesting word because it’s all about how you play, what kind of intentions you play with,” he said. “When you’ve been around the game long enough, you know when guys are playing with intentions like, ‘I got to go do something.’ I would classify that as being ‘selfish.’ But it’s not so much selfish as, ‘I want to get my points,’ as much as it is, ‘I want to help my team.’

“It still comes across as they’re trying to do what they think they need to do to help the team. It looks that way. I think our guys are doing a better job. Our shot distribution is better balanced. Our guys are a little bit more patient. We have a better balance of inside-out than we’ve had in the last month or so.

“I started to see that change after the holidays. It was probably a blessing in disguise that we did not play the Fairfield game. Because we’re playing Xavier with no classes, and I got these guys with no time constraints on me. Playing Xavier on the back end, with what they did to us last year, we had [the players’] attention and I thought we got better that period there. I thought we made some strides.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, faced with his own struggles this season, said a team meeting during that time really turned things around. “We had a team meeting and we basically told each other, in order for everyone to be successful and do better as a team, we have to play as a team and not worry about individual stuff,” he said. “Since we had that team meeting, we’ve come out and played better.”

Read more from Donovan and the players on Saturday’s win…after the break!

WALKER SURPASSES 1,000 CAREER POINTS

Finishing Saturday’s contest with a team- and game-high 20 points, Walker now has 1,006 during his time at Florida and is averaging a career-high 14.3 per game this season. Donovan said it is competition that fuels the Gators’ smallest player.

“There’s certain guys you’re around that they shy away from that competitiveness. He likes that competitiveness. He really, really responds to that,” Donovan said.

Walker is happy with his accomplishment but knows that is not important in the long-run. “We want to win every night. Whether it’s the first game, last game, we just want to get wins,” he said. “We know it’s not going to be easy, but we just want to get wins.”

He also explained why he has been taking – and making – plenty of three-pointers from extra-long range. “I just been trying to get my legs into my shots and taking good ones when I have time and space,” he said. “I’m a real confident shooter, and I’m going to just keep working at it – taking good looks.”

QUOTES

Donovan on Ole Miss’s Chris Warren: “I was very concerned at the half up 11 just because Warren had not scored any points, only took four shots. I’ve seen him enough, and I told our guys, we were aware of it that he was going to take over the game. He did that. And he single-handedly almost won the game for them. For him to score 20 in the second half, credit goes to him, but we really didn’t do a good enough job. I was a little bit disappointed for about the first eight minutes there of the second half just the way we responded to losing the lead we had. But I was happy the way we responded once Mississippi took the lead, and we found a way to make some plays and win the game in the end.”

Donovan on Parsons overcoming his slump: “The last two games, his offense has been good. But if his offense is not going, he still needs to play with confidence. He has got to believe when he shoots the ball the next shot’s going in. He really, the last couple of games, has played exceptionally well.”

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