12/19: Florida post-game – Rosario, Boynton

No. 8/9 Florida Gators basketball (8-1) throttled the Southeastern Louisiana Lions (1-8) on Wednesday night in Gainesville, FL. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» After only giving up 26 or more points in a single half twice in the team’s first 14 halves of the season, Florida has allowed three-straight halves to hit or eclipse that mark including two against Arizona (29, 36) and one on Wednesday (26).
» The Gators are now 33-2 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» Florida held Southeastern Louisiana scoreless for the first 7:02 of the second half.
» The Gators registered 20 assists on 28 made baskets and turned the ball over just eight times on the evening.
» Florida won the rebounding margin 40-30 and doubled up the visitors by outscoring them in the paint 30-14.
» Wednesday marked the sixth time in the last nine games that the Gators held an opponent under 50 points.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario put together an impressive performance for the second-straight game, scoring a game-high 20 points (the most in his Florida career) on 8-of-13 shooting (4-of-8 from downtown) with a team-high six rebounds and four assists. Rosario is 19-of-31 from the field and 8-of-14 from three over the last three games.
» Senior G Kenny Boynton is on the other end of the spectrum from Rosario right now. He followed up one of the worst shooting nights of his career with an equally bad performance Wednesday, going 1-for-7 from beyond the arc. He is now 9-for-40 on field goals and 3-for-27 on triples over the last four games.
» Junior center Patric Young was the only other player to score in double figures, posting 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting with five boards, two steals and a block.
» Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin had a great all-around game, hitting 3-of-6 treys for nine points with six rebounds, four dimes, a steal and a swat. He is 6-of-9 from beyond the arc over the last two games.

ROSARIO HOT; BOYNTON NOT

Donovan denied Wednesday that he has been overly critical of Rosario in the past even if some of his comments last season and early this year have pointed out fatal flaws that existed and are sometimes still present in his game. Instead, Donovan noted that he was simply being honest when asked why Rosario was not seeing more court time in the past. All of that has changed now because the player is finally showing the coach what he expected from day one.

“He’s much more disciplined. He’s much more responsible. He’s much more accountable. I feel like I know what I’m getting from him day-to-day,” Donovan said. “I think that’s the most difficult thing to deal with as a coach is when you have a talented player that you don’t know who’s showing up or who you’re going to get day-to-day. And that’s who he was a year ago. To his credit, I think he’s kind of put it together where he’s become more responsible, reliable, accountable and because of it I think he’s playing very well.”

Rosario missed a number of practices last season, claiming he was unable to go due to various ailments. Donovan poked fun at him before games began this year, saying that his daughter could have played through some of the things that kept Rosario out. This year, Rosario has practiced every single day and has come to each one ready and prepared to play hard and do the right things.

Read what Donovan had to say and see much more…after the break!

“Getting him to see his individual talent and then making him be responsible and holding him accountable has enabled him not to make excuses,” Donovan explained. “He’s the kind of guy, if you give him an inch, before you know it there’s 100 yards opened up. What I have not done with him is I haven’t given him an inch because he hasn’t earned an inch. But you know what, as time goes on, he’s playing more, I’ve got more trust, I’ve got more confidence in him. He’s playing in an area where I kind of feel like I know what I’m getting from him, which is what I’ve always wanted.”

Rosario is equally appreciative of the tough love approach that Donovan has used with him up to this point. He said it is making him a better player, and perhaps more importantly, a better teammate. “Just by Coach Billy keeping the heat on me every day. I’m a fifth-year player. I’m experienced. I’ve been through the Big East, and I’ve been through a lot of challenges in my life. I just feel like Coach Billy challenges me every day. I look forward to it because this is my last go-around and I feel like my teammates need me to bring that consistency every day, and I just try to do that,” he said.

While his teammate is making great strides and becoming a big contributor on a game-by-game basis, Boynton is seeing his confidence fading away. As a player who has, as Donovan put it, “always been identified around scoring,” Boynton’s inability to find the bottom of the net has hampered his effectiveness over the last four games.

Donovan does not believe there is anything mechanically wrong with him but rather that Boynton is in his own head and needs to get his confidence back.

“I told him, ‘You just got to let it go. You got to let them go and shoot the ball. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to everyone here on the team to shoot the ball with confidence. If you’re going to worry [about it going in] then don’t shoot. But if you’re going to rise up and shoot, you have to let it go and believe it’s going in,’” he said.

While Donovan certainly wants to see Boynton break out of his slump as soon as possible, he has found a bright side to his gloomy performances even if he did have some difficulty articulating it on Wednesday.

“This is gonna sound terrible to say because I don’t know how to put it in the right context. This [slump] is great for him,” Donovan said. “Not that I want him going through a difficult time, but he’s got to fight through this. I think any time anything comes easy to you and you really don’t have to work for it and struggle for it and battle and grind, I think you lose a sense of how hard it is to make shots and be a good player.

“Obviously for him, shooting the basketball here the last [four] games, he’s really struggled shooting the ball. I think that this is going to enable him as a senior to persevere, to fight, to take on the struggle, take on the challenge and really work through this and utilize this to make him stronger as a player. If he’s going through some difficult times in games later on in the year and it’s been just a cake walk for him, he’s got to learn how to fight and battle here a little bit.

“Do I want him making every shot he takes? Absolutely. Do I want him to struggle personally? No. But, at the end, this could be really good for him.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On Wednesday’s game as a whole: “It was a discipline game. … In the first half, nine of their 17 [points] came from a lack of discipline on our part. … We talked about that at halftime, just being disciplined. … I thought our discipline in the second half was really, really good. It was a game that was kind of a grind-out, no-flow game because they just kind of decided to hold the ball for 30 seconds [each possession].”

» On if the win got the team back in a groove after a tough loss: “I thought they bounced back on Sunday. I didn’t think we needed this game to bounce back. You always look at the bounce back of how guys practice the day after a game.”

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