With the No. 7 Florida Gators set to play a tough opponent in the Marquette Golden Eagles on Thursday as part of the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to discuss his team’s 5-0 start and how it has been playing so far this season.
NO CHANGES TO STARTING FIVE
Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin may have had a career game coming off the bench against UCF, but his performance in that game or anything he has done in practice has not led Donovan to decide that inserting him back in the starting lineup is the best thing for the team at this time.
Though Donovan said Wilbekin is no longer being punished for the offense that got him suspended – and said offense will not restrict his playing time or anything else going forward – he has simply not seen a good reason to make a lineup change at this time.
“I’m not worried about that right now. There’s nothing that he needs to do. I look at things a little bit differently,” he explained. “I think there needs to be, right now, just a level of appreciation for someone like Will Yeguete, who has basically got put into a very difficult situation with Scottie’s suspension.”
Wilbekin being suspended, Donovan decided to move senior guard Kenny Boynton over to point guard and redshirt senior G Mike Rosario (who spent the summer learning to play the small forward spot) back to his more natural position of two-guard, opening up a spot in the lineup that Florida was not ready to fill.
Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Yeguete worked all offseason to play and defend in the post. However, he was quickly thrust into the starting role at the three and had to adapt quickly to help out his team.
“He has to learn an entirely new position. He goes out there and he’s having to play two different positions and he’s worked hard, he’s been a real good team guy,” said Donovan of Yeguete.
“There may be some time during this year that the decision to put Scottie back in the starting lineup would be more from a matchup standpoint or it’s the best thing for our team [then]. But because Scottie performed and played as well as he did against UCF, I think that’s great, but I also think Will Yeguete has performed and played pretty well himself.
“I look at it the other way. I don’t look at it like what does Scottie have to do. There’s nothing holding Scottie back from playing. I know from an ego standpoint, a lot of guys want to start, that’s kind of part of it. I’m not so sure that just taking Will out…this is not a punishment to Scottie or anything else. It’s more probably me showing appreciation or what Will has done for our team. Probably if Scottie’s situation did not arise to start the season, will would be coming off the bench, but he is starting.”
Donovan could also keep Yeguete in the lineup but swapping Wilbekin with Rosario, whose propensity for turning the ball over has been a thorn in Donovan’s side, and moving Boynton back to shooting guard. He said that is not a consideration right now because he believes in Rosario and loves the effort he is giving each day.
“Mike’s biggest issue is he’s got to get to a place for himself and for our team that he’s not careless with the ball. That’s an area that he needs to improve,” he said. “For Rosario going into the UCF game, he was leading our team in minutes played per game. So obviously I got to feel somewhat good about him if I’m putting him on the floor that much.
“Mike’s attitude has been really good. He’s worked very hard. He’s doing the things that I’m asking him to do. Clearly, I think he’s capable of shooting the ball better than he has and I think he’s capable of taking better care of the ball. The one thing that’s kept mike on the floor, at least so far, is he’s really made a personal investment in trying to be better defensively.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan said Boynton (sprained ankle) is perfectly fine after playing against Central Florida, has not missed another practice and is around 100 percent heading into the Marquette game.
» On junior G/F Casey Prather, who is currently wearing headgear during practice to protect him against another concussion: “Casey’s fine right now. Right now, knock on wood, we’ve got a healthy team. I don’t think Casey will be experiencing any more concussions in practice. … He’s got a helmet on right now…it’s not a helmet, ever see those Everlast sparring [head gears]? Well, that’s what he’s wearing right now. It says ‘Everlast’ across the front and it says ‘Muhammad Ali’ on the back. It’s a trainer’s decision. I know he’s frustrated right now dealing with that because he can’t see right now as well as he’d like to. It’s nothing more than precautionary. Obviously with a guy having two concussions as he had so close together, I think there is a period time our trainer would like to see him to continue to [wear] that.”
» On Florida having one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country and also playing nine games during the season’s first month: “That’s kind of the way it is. I think when you do what we did … six games in the month of November when you’re basically starting around November 9th is a lot of games in a short period of time. … What ends up happening is, when you have an expansion like we have inside of our league and you’re adding two more conference games, you really get caught trying to jam-pack a non-conference schedule.”
» On what he expects to see from Marquette: “Their team right now in losing [Jae] Crowder and [Darius Johnson-]Odom, those guys were really good players, but I actually think they have the potential and the ability to be better than they were a year ago. … When you look at their team, they’re incredibly balanced right now with the players that are returning.”
» On how the Gators can improve on the offensive end: “I still think because it is early, our execution and timing on offense needs to get better. I’d like to see us have more assists than we have right now as a team. We’re averaging about 13 a game and traditionally here we’ve been one of the SEC leaders in assists most years. We want to be in that top echelon.”
» There is no new information about whether or not the Florida-Georgetown game will be restarted and played again this season.
» Junior center Patric Young on if the Gators have been tested yet this season: “Either we’re just playing at a great, high level right now or other teams have not been able to match our intensity and energy. We’ll see. We haven’t really been down or had to face much adversity in the games that we’ve played. Not saying those teams that we played aren’t very talented, we’re just doing a good job playing our game.”
» Young on where he can improve after six games: “I’ve been struggling with finishing this whole season. That’s one thing I need to work on. My post defense has been solid. I need to do a better job keeping our guys focused on what’s going on in the game, awareness, being a more vocal leader, things I’ve been working on over this whole summer. Just finishing has been my main problem this year.”