Florida’s post-game notes; Donovan talks absences, Florida State game

With No. 11/12 Florida Gators basketball set to host the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles on Thursday, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to discuss what preparations he and the team are making for the squad’s next game.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (back) and redshirt freshman center Cody Larson (strep throat) both sat out Monday’s game against Mississippi Valley State, and Donovan was not too confident that either would return for Florida State calling them both “doubtful” in his post-game press conference. He expanded on that thought Tuesday:

“Right now he’s out today,” Donovan said of Rosario, whose preseason back injury flared up on him after the Texas A&M game. “He’s not going to practice today. If he can’t do anything tomorrow in practice, then I’m probably not going to play him. He’d have to at least show me some things that he can at least get back [into the flow].”

He also said that Larson will probably miss the game mostly due to his need to gain strength back after an illness. “Cody’s doing better. We’ll have to see what he does in practice,” Donovan said. “He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s going to be drained. I imagine conditioning is going to be a problem. Whether or not he can really provide anything for us, I think I’ll have a better feel tomorrow after practice.”

PLAYING ON THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

For the first time years the basketball game between Florida and Florida State is not being played on Thanksgiving weekend. This is something the Seminoles have recently changed their minds about, and Donovan gave some insight into why head coach Leonard Hamilton might feel like moving the game to another weekend is a better option.

“Leonard’s view is he wants that game to kind of stand on its own two legs by itself,” he said Tuesday. “I get that, and I understand it and certainly respect it, but I’ve also been in this state long enough [to know] that you get a lot of people traveling in for that game football and basketball wise. I always thought it was a great weekend.”

Donovan said that, despite this year’s game being scheduled in December, the Gators plan to play the game on Thanksgiving weekend when they host FSU in 2013 and 2015. However, he has no problem if Florida State does not do the same in 2012 and 2014.

“I’m just looking at the best environment for both teams,” he said. “There’s a great environment in Tallahassee when it’s the Friday before the football game; there’s a great environment here. I just think it’s a great time to play. Right now during these times you got students missing and things like that.”

Donovan added that his preference for that date is his own opinion and pointed to Lon Kruger and Pat Kennedy choosing to play the annual contest in Orlando, FL when they coached UF and FSU, respectively.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On how Florida opened the game strong: “They showed a level of maturity. [...] I thought our focus, our energy and how they tried to play the game was really good.”

» On the Gators’ free throw shooting: “The last two games we’ve shot well from the free throw line. Those guys have focused on it; I think they realized they got to get better at it. [...] I certainly don’t think we’re a 59 percent free throw shooting team. We’re probably somewhere in the middle. They’ve focused on it and they’re getting better at it. That’s been encouraging.”

» On why Florida ran sprints before the second half: “These guys are all warmed up and they’re lathered up before the game starts, but the opposite happens in the second half. We’ve got to find a way to get them [going]. Some if it is their responsibility, too, to get themselves ready to go. I was disappointed the way we came back out the second half against [Texas] A&M, and I told the strength coach we need to get these guys moving around better.”

» On the leap that junior G Kenny Boynton has taken this year: “Because of the way we play, there’s a lot of freedom that I give our guys. Obviously I was a guard and there’s nothing worse than looking over your shoulder wanting to know if you’re coming in or out of a game because of a shot. So much of what we’re doing is predicated on concepts and spacing and positioning on the floor and different things are happening that these guys got to make reads. For Kenny, like anything else, when you first come to college you’re going to rely on what you’ve always relied on until you get enough experience under your belt to start to understand those things. For Kenny, he was pretty much just a three-point shooter as a freshman. Now he’s starting to pull up, he’s starting to get drives to the basket, he’s starting to make threes, he’s starting to understand shot selection and understand – more importantly – the length of time of a game.”

» On Florida State’s defense: “They’re disciplined. that’s the biggest thing they know what they’re doing. They got great length, great size. They have shot blocking at the basket, so a lot of times your numbers are going to be predicated on how well you do at the basket.”

» On why practice wasn’t “cancelled” on Tuesday: “I wouldn’t say practice is cancelled. The contact and the banging was probably a little bit cancelled right now. We obviously had a week of practice going into A&M; we had three really hard days going into that game. We had a real hard practice going into this game last night and played last night somewhat shorthanded with Mike and Cody being out. Right now more for us is more of a mental day of things we need to do mentally to get prepared to play on Thursday.”

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