12/1: Donovan shares his post-game thoughts

By Adam Silverstein
December 2, 2010

The No. 16/18 (for now) Florida Gators (5-2) suffered a tough loss Wednesday night, falling 57-54 to the Central Florida Knights (6-0) in Orlando, FL. Though the upset loss is certainly tough for the Gators to stomach, the way they played appeared to make head coach Billy Donovan queasy. He spoke to the media after the game and had plenty to say about his team’s performance at the Amway Center.

EVEN IF FLORIDA WON, THEY LOST

Some teams steal wins and others – like Florida last year – get lucky with some buzzer beaters, but no matter what happened Wednesday in Orlando, Donovan knew that the Gators were not worthy of any positive recognition should the outcome have gone their way. “We didn’t even deserve to be in that position [to tie or win],” he said. “If we would have won the game, it would have been a complete steal. I would have felt bad for Donnie [Jones]. Nevermind how he would have felt, I would have felt awful for him. I would have gave him the win.”

Though Donovan dismissed the notion that he was “irate” after the upset, he did explain that the team’s “issues are bigger than this loss” though they can be corrected with maximum effort. He continued, “The one thing that’s good with our schedule is, when you play games like this and you play Ohio State, you play on the road at Florida State, your issues flour – they get exposed. Every team’s got issues. How you become a good team is how well you deal with your issues inside your team to get better.”

NOT SELFISH BUT CERTAINLY NOT SELFLESS

Donovan treaded carefully after Wednesday’s game to ensure he did not use world “selfish” when describing his team’s performance. However there is no question that word could certainly be used when discussing how Florida played in the contest.

“We have a group of guys – all of our older guys are way, way too wrapped up in their offense,” Donovan said. Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton – you look at their assist-to-turnover ratio last year to this year [and it’s not good].

“You look at, in this game, with the way we were scoring in around the basket, those guys should know just by playing the game [that] the ball needs to go inside. We get wrapped up when we’re not scoring or we’re not getting touches and looks and things like that. We’re not a cohesive team right now, certainly on the offensive end of the floor. The defensive part is easy because they understand if they’re not doing the things they need to do they’re probably going to come out of the game.

“They’re not playing together. They’re not utilizing each other’s individual talents. And the disappointing part is these guys played together last year.”

TEAM LACKS UNDERSTANDING, ISN’T HELPING EACH OTHER

“That’s the part to me that’s a little bit disturbing as a coach,” Donovan said of the team not recognizing that [Vernon] Macklin was on fire and could not be defended. “He got in foul trouble in the first half so he was out with two fouls, but the recognition by your team… I can’t call a play every single time down the floor because there’s transition. When they’re playing they should be seeing the fact that Vernon Macklin is having a big night offensively. The other four guys should be saying, ‘Let’s get Vern the ball.’ But we’re too wrapped up in, ‘I didn’t get a shot now,’ or ‘I missed my last one.’ They’ve got to see those things. Every time I ran a play, I kept running a play at him.

“We don’t have very good chemistry on offense with this group right now at all. And that’s the disappointing part. These are older guys that are less focused on what they can be doing to help the group get better. You always hear the thing: ‘A great player makes everyone else around them better.’ We have a bunch of guys on the floor that make nobody better. We’re less concerned about how to do that; we’re more concerned about, ‘How am I doing.’”

PARSONS FAILS TO DELIVER IN RETURN TO HOMETOWN

With approximately 70 tickets distributed to family and friends and a lot of eyes on him Wednesday, senior forward Chandler Parsons appeared to crack under pressure. Though he helped distribute and rebound the ball, Parsons simply played awful in his 32 minutes on the court, going 1-for-9 from the field (0-for-3 from downtown) for two points and 0-6 from the charity stripe (including an air ball). He played so bad, in fact, that his lack of production stood out even though fellow senior F Alex Tyus went 0-for-5 and was held scoreless in 21 minutes.

“Chandler and Vernon last year, they were really on edge about really trying to compete and do the things they needed to do. Chandler – with the way he’s shooting free throws right now – that looked like he was his sophomore year,” Donovan said. “[He’s] just not in the right frame of mind. I don’t know if we’ll be a great free throw shooting team or not, but Chandler’s certainly better than 0-6.”

A career 61.5 percent free throw shooter, Parsons was making them at a 66.6 percent clip before Wednesday’s game. Struggling more is Macklin, who shot 58.8 percent from the line in 2009-10; he is currently shooting 23.1 percent from the stripe.

QUOTES (After the break…)

On consistently scoring less than 60 points as a team: “I’m very concerned about it. I’m very, very proud of Donnie – just the way his team played. Working with him so closely, he’s done a great job. They were clearly the better team than we were today. And there’s no question, in my opinion, a lot of it has to do with our offensive chemistry.”

On improved defense by the leaders: “Last game against Florida State our older guys struggled a little bit playing defense, and our younger guys came off the bench and did a great job. [Tonight] I thought, in the second half, our older guys really defended very well.”

On Boynton taking an open three on the inbounds play at the end of the game: “That was the first part of the play, and then the ending of the play was really Chandler really coming off on a baseline runner there – a double screen – and Vernon was one of the screens. And if Chandler didn’t have a shot, we were going to dump it into Vernon. Sometimes when you got Vernon at the end of the game, with the way he’s shot free throws, I’m sure they would have been very aggressive and physical and probably would have made him take some free throws.”

On Marcus Jordan’s performance: “His perimeter shooting has really helped his overall game.”

On playing youth if experience isn’t there: “The younger guys really carried our team in the second half of that Florida State game, but they don’t’ have the offensive ability because they’re young right now as the older guys [do]. The disappointing part is those older guys are, to me, less concerned about trying to do something great collectively as a group and more wrapped up in, ‘What’s going to happen to me? After my senior year, where am I going?’ It’s normal, it’s human nature a little bit, but they’ve got to be mature enough to be able to handle that. We have to find a way to get that corrected. If we can’t get that corrected, I got to try to get Patric Young and these other guys more looks to get them ready to play right now.”

On the team’s poor free throw shooting: “Right now on the offensive end of the floor, the best way I can put it is we’re not playing with a clear head. Just play the game. What does the game dictate? ‘Do I need to pass it; do I need to shoot it?’ What does the game dictate? We only have so many hours we can practice. Vernon needs to get in the gym a little bit more on his own like he did a year ago. His free throw shooting has really, really drastically dropped off from a year ago.”

On returning to Orlando for a similar game in the future: “[Smiling] I’m never coming back! … It’s a great game for us, to be able to play in a Jacksonville, an Orlando, a Tampa, a Miami where there’s obviously a good Gator following. Obviously I feel bad for the way our team performed today with so many fans that came out.”

3 Comments

  1. JW says:

    It just seems like when we really need a basket we have nobody we can depend on late to either hit an open jumper or create their own shot. Boynton is athletic but he looks like the same streaky shooter he was last year. Parsons looks like he’s regressed. Walker does not strike me as a legitimate point guard. Hack a Shaq will become Hack a Mack at the end of games if Macklin keeps shooting free throws at less than 30%. I don’t know what Tyus’ role is but I would not be surprised if he loses his starting spot to Young. I did see Prather hit a nice jumper last night. I’d like to see him get more invovled in the offense.

  2. CH says:

    Donavan finally hit the nail on the head. Too much concern for themselves and not the team. I think if Tyus and Walker don’t get their act together, they both could lose the starting role. All I see from Walker is a lot of dribbling, bad shot selections and turnovers. I know he has the ability to break down a defense, but some time on the bench might teach him to play by donavan’s rules and not his own NY Bronx streetball.

    What’s so sickening about this, is that I believe they have the talent and depth to be special this year, but chemistry is blocking them from accomplishing that.

  3. jay d says:

    The b-ball players are having the same issue as the football players….they are all a bunch of selfish soft cookies that think they deserve everything!

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