Donovan pleased with Florida’s effort in loss

By Adam Silverstein
March 1, 2012

Three days after head coach Billy Donovan was as disheartened as he had ever been when he and the Florida Gators left the court on Saturday, he had a much better disposition despite the fact that his team had just lost by double digits to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Tuesday in Nashville, TN.

“I was as disappointed as I was as a coach walking off the floor in Athens, Georgia after watching our team perform. I felt totally opposite here [Tuesday night],” he said.

“I thought we competed; I thought we played hard against a very good team. I’m disappointed with the loss [but not in the team’s effort].”

Donovan questioned Florida’s passion and intensity one week ago, pointing to a void in leadership as one reason why the team struggled mightily on the road against Georgia. He said that the Gators never gave themselves a chance to win the game and that it was completely up to the team to turn their season around.

“Some of our mishaps, some of our lack of execution in certain situations was a byproduct of not being really on-edge, locked in [during] practice and utilizing that time to get better,” he said following Tuesday’s contest.

Florida has also been dealing with injuries to more than half of their roster, including sophomore forward Will Yegute who is out for the season with a broken foot. Donovan wants the Gators to use two long periods of upcoming practice time to work out the kinks and get ready for the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this story.]“I told our team we got basically Wednesday-Saturday practice and then we have basically from Monday-Friday. If they want to really continue to try to get better, I still think we have growth left in our team,” he explained.

“We obviously have got to play a little bit differently, and we did some of that stuff [Tuesday]. We were spacing it and trying to drive the ball to the basket. The next 11-12 days for our team, because we do have some periods where we can practice and focus on ourselves, we got a little bit of time here right now.

“With one game left, we have to take a day or two and spend some time really working on us and then towards the end of the week we have to get ready and prepared to play Kentucky.”

Senior point guard Erving Walker, who was criticized by Donovan on Monday for not leading the team by his actions, played with fire in his belly on Tuesday, scoring 15 points while dishing three assists and grabbing two steals.

“When he is locked in and he is really focused and applying, it charges our team up. It gives them confidence and it gives them a lot of energy,” Donovan said. “When he is not locked in, our team is looking for direction and there is no direction.”

Though Walker is not a vocal player, his intensity helped lead a strong Florida effort for most of Tuesday’s game. Some of his teammates – including freshman guard Bradley Beal, sophomore center Patric Young and sophomore PG Scottie Wilbekin – visibly huddled the team during critical stretches help clear up some communication issues.

The Gators’ newfound effort will be tested early Sunday when Florida hosts No. 1 Kentucky in both teams’ regular season finale. The game will air live on CBS at noon.[/EXPAND]

2 Comments

  1. The amount of time between Vandy to Kentucky and Kentucky to the SEC Tournament is huge. Billy will do wonders in practice to prepare them for these next two opponents.

    The effort was really great on Tuesday, just our defense didn’t keep up in the latter stages of the game. Made some more crucial mental mistakes. These are things that can be fixed. Let’s hope it happens for Sunday.

  2. Joe says:

    The only consistent thing about this team is its inconsistency.

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