2/20: Donovan on Walker’s game, Rosario’s return

By Adam Silverstein
February 20, 2012

Coming off a pair of significant road victories, the newly-minted No. 11/12 Florida Gators are looking to continue their positive momentum Tuesday when they host the Auburn Tigers. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Monday to discuss his program heading into the upcoming game.

WALKER STEPS UP WITH CAREER NIGHT

Struggling with his stroke for the entire month of February (until Saturday), senior point guard Erving Walker broke out with a career-high 31 points against Arkansas on 9-of-12 shooting (5-of-6 from downtown) with five assists and no turnovers.

Donovan said Monday that a lot of Walker’s issues may have been his fault since he put so much on the veteran’s plate including leading the team on and off the court, corralling some of his tendencies, taking extra care of the ball and recognizing offensive and defensive occurrences during the game.

“Some of it was a lot of things that were built up on him – me being one of them. With him being our only senior and with the ball in his hands, I do think he’s trying to without question please me,” he said. “He hasn’t shot the ball well. He’s trying to run our team. He’s trying to do a lot of different things that maybe over the last couple of years he didn’t have to do.

“I’m trying to get him to think at a different level than maybe he’s had to in the past. The combination of all that stuff probably took away a little bit of him being focused on what he needs to do. In the game he’s done a better job of managing and handling all of that. I’ve also tried to take him to a different level in terms of his thought process and also take him to a different level in what it really means to be a point guard because some of those things are not natural for him. There is a balance between how much I do put on him and how much I take away from him. I do feel like in the game he played with a free mind. He was really focused.”

Junior guard Kenny Boynton was equally supportive of Walker, saying he played a great game and is doing his best to lead UF on the court. “He’s done a great job at it,” he said. “Erv’s not really a talkative guy on the court. He’s done a better job trying to be a leader on this team.”

Donovan added that though Walker may make mistakes or look out of control sometimes, he knows that it is not on purpose. “He really tries to do what I ask him to do,” he said. “He really goes out of his way to do that. I’m never worried about his intentions.”

ROSARIO SHOULD BE BACK ON TUESDAY
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Sidelined with a hip pointer for the last three games, redshirt junior G Mike Rosario originally got the injury by bumping into redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson in practice after the Tennessee game but returned to practice in full on Sunday. He tried to practice late last week but could not and was left in Gainesville, FL over the weekend to get additional treatment.

“When he’s running or cutting and moving, he’s got a lot of discomfort. He’s really favoring it to the point where he’s very leery of cutting and moving in certain ways. You can notice it just on plays where he’s got to push off or change direction,” Donovan explained.

“When those guys get hurt like that, we try to at least push them to a point where we’re not putting them in harm’s way. I don’t think he’s going to put himself in a position where he’s going to reinjure it or he’s going to hurt it any more severely than it’s been hurt. I do think he has a lack of confidence in the injury in terms of working through it because it just does not feel comfortable when he’s cutting and moving.”

Donovan said that, should Rosario practice in full once again on Monday, he will be available to play on Tuesday and going forward.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on sophomore center Patric Young’s recent foul trouble: “His foul trouble this last game was not his fault. It was more our guards’ fault. Our guards go to do a better job containing the ball on the perimeter. Because when our guards are getting beat off the dribble, it’s putting a lot of pressure on him at the basket. A couple of his fouls – I think two or three of them – came from dribble penetration by guards. We’ve got to do a better job in zone and/or man of containing the ball and guarding it.”

» Donovan on the team’s recent improvements: “You never want to stay where you’re at. You always want to try and continually get better. […] Our team has gotten better and has improved and has taken on some of the challenges we’ve had with these two road games this week.”

» Walker on almost being done with his senior year: “I know it’s only a certain amount of games, but I haven’t really thought about that. I’m actually thinking that it’s close to tournament time and we got to win once we get there.”

» Walker on if the team looks at bracket projections: “Sometimes…but Joe Lunardi is wrong sometimes.”[/EXPAND]

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