11/25: Florida vs. Jacksonville post-game notes

By Adam Silverstein
November 25, 2011

The No. 9/10 Florida Gators defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins 107-62 Friday evening in Gainesville, FL, avenging an upset loss from one year ago. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan provided his thoughts on the contest his team just played.

BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON

Florida had already won two games by 30+ points this year but there is no doubt that their win over Jacksonville on Friday was the Gators’ most complete victory of the young season. In addition to UF outscoring their opponent by 45 points, Florida saw five players score in double digits, only committed seven turnovers and never relented after taking a big lead early in the game.

“This game was the best game we played in terms of how I envision our team playing offensively and defensively,” Donovan said. “There was added incentive. Our guys were probably disappointed about last year losing to Jacksonville on our home court. They were very focused and realized this was going to be a battle, that they were going to come in here very confident and had a lot of players from last year still on the roster. They beat us soundly in a lot of aspects, and I thought our guys came in really focused and wanting to play well.”

Senior point guard Erving Walker, junior guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore center Patric Young all agreed with Donovan’s assessment.

“No disrespect to Jacksonville, but on our home court we’re not supposed to lose to a team like that,” Walker said. “Today was our best game overall as a team from start to finish. I think we did a great job.”

Boynton and Young believed the Dolphins quit when the going got tough.

“We definitely feel like they gave up tonight,” Boynton said. “That’s how it goes. Once you feel like a team gives up, you want to keep pushing to try and kill them.”

Young added, “I really noticed it mentally with their team. They started arguing with each other a little bit and losing their team chemistry. After that they started turning the ball over. It affected them being a team. They couldn’t run their plays and were taking bad shots, and we took advantage of it.”

WELCOME BACK, ERVING
[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]
Walker himself admitted on Wednesday that he was trying to break himself of some bad habits. He played within himself Friday, finishing with six assists, just one turnover and 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting including going 2-for-4 from downtown and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

“Erving Walker did a great job recognizing that we were in the double bonus. He kept getting himself to the free throw line,” Donovan said. “He didn’t take a lot of shots tonight – and obviously he shot the ball better tonight than he had the previous four games – but he got himself to the free throw line. He had a level of recognition and was aware what was going on.”

If Walker can continue playing like he did on Friday, ensuring his teammates get open looks while hanging onto the ball and taking advantage of opportunities to get to the line, he could wind up having a very special season for Florida.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Boynton on the team focusing on rebounding: “We know the offense is going to come, so basically the plan is to rebound. We knew that they were going to come in here and try to fight hard because they had a lot of confidence last year.”

» Young on his extra energy in the second half: “Coach was talking about in the halftime how we need to come out with a lot of energy. […] It was a good opportunity for me to come out with a spark. I didn’t play too much in the first half, and I just felt like I could spark our team and give us what we needed.”

» Young said he will continue wearing the Oakley goggles for the short term because his eye is still bothering him a bit. However, it is not likely that he will have to wear them for the remainder of the season.

» Walker on Donovan being one game away from 400 wins: “I’m just a part of it. He’s been getting these wings for so long. I’ll be happy for him. He’s a great coach and hopefully we’ll get it for him.”

» Donovan of the fast tempo of the game: “We moved the ball, shared the ball, but we were really active in our press. We were able to cause a lot of havoc. Even though we didn’t turn them over a lot, it created a tempo and a pace where offensively we really were able to get out on the break.”

» Donovan on the play of sophomore G/F Casey Prather: “Casey coming off the bench – how he played in the game in the first half is exactly how he had been practicing all the way through. Getting him to transfer the practice to the game has been something we’ve been trying to help him with.”

» Donovan on nearing 400 wins: “I’ve had a lot of good players. It makes me feel very old, you know? Anytime you get to those milestones, they’re somewhat special, but more than anything else they reflect back on the guys that I’ve had a chance to coach. These guys are in their 30s now. I see Jason Williams here last week. The guy’s in his mid-30s and he’s retired. I just feel older now. It’s a different feeling. To be able to be here for so long and for that to happen, I’m just blessed to have a lot of really good players.”

» Donovan on freshman G Brad Beal spending some time at the four: “He’s just got an incredible mind in terms of picking things up. He just let the game come to him tonight. He had five turnovers; I thought a lot of his turnovers were off his defensive rebounds when he was trying to start the break. He gets 15 points and you don’t even know it. He grabs eight rebounds and you don’t even know it. I feel comfortable playing him anywhere.”[/EXPAND]

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