12/20: Donovan dismayed by competitiveness

By Adam Silverstein
December 21, 2010

No. 19/20 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Suffice to say Donovan was none-too-pleased with his team’s performance against the Jacksonville Dolphins.

GATORS LACK COMPETITIVENESS AGAINST OPPONENTS

One of the main things that stood out to Donovan after Monday’s embarrassing loss to Jacksonville is the fact that his team plays down to its competition and does not get up for “smaller” games the same way it does for big-time showdowns.

“Clearly for the people that watched us play against Kansas State – two totally different teams. One team unable to handle the human element,” he said. “We were riped to be beat. We were totally riped to be beat. I’m not so sure we could have beat anybody tonight. And that’s not to take anything away from Jacksonville because their kids did a great job. […] We don’t handle that human element part of it well. You talk about being a great team? The great teams are able to do that.”

Donovan provided a thought-provoking example. “Can we be a team that is almost playing like a faceless opponent, a nameless opponent? We would have been better off tonight playing the Los Angeles Lakers,” he said. “That would have been better for us. If you’re a competitor, it doesn’t make a difference who you’re lining up and playing against. That’s an internal make-up, and I don’t know if you can all of a sudden instill that in guys. Our guys are competitive. But can you be competitive when there is no reason to be competitive? We don’t have that mentality. And I have to find a way to help them get it.”

Who exactly has that mentality? “There are certain guys that I would [say] are just killers. When they line up, competition doesn’t make a difference,” Donovan said. “You talk about Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant; there’s just a certain kind of guy that it doesn’t make a difference what happened yesterday. They do not live in any level of success. They are just focused about competing and putting their reputation on the line every time they play or compete. That’s what [Al] Horford and [Joakim] Noah, [Udonis] Haslem, [Matt] Bonner – those guys had the ability to move from one thing to the next.”

WHO IS GOING TO SHOW UP FOR FLORIDA?

Another issue Donovan says the team is facing is a relatively simple concept. “I don’t know who’s going to show up necessarily from game-to-game. So [I’m always] trying to find combinations and pieces to throw out there,” he said adamantly.

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton showed up big against Kansas State on Saturday and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin was the man over the last few games. Aside from junior point guard Erving Walker, who put up a lot of points out of necessity, no one truly stepped up on Monday.

“I made the comment after the Kansas State game that I was very anxious to see our guys’ level of maturity coming into a game like this,” Donovan said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever, ever sat over there in 15 years and seen a team that I’ve coached effort-wise and playing-wise and awareness-wise…forget about playing good or bad…just [being] in the game. We have 13 turnovers in the first half. I’m not so sure we ran a play.”

BLAMING HIMSELF FOR PREPAREDNESS

“I certainly did not do a good enough job in a quick turnaround in 36 hours getting them prepared to play,” Donovan admitted early in his post-game press conference. “I’m the head coach and I did not do a good enough job getting them prepared to handle Saturday-to-Monday. I did not.”

He went on to compare Florida’s faltering to how it played Central Florida coming after the tough and competitive victory against Florida State just a few days before.

“The one thing that happens during the course of the season is you’re dealing with either prosperity or adversity. We’re dealing with adversity. Our guys handle adversity pretty well. They really are a resilient group. They bounce back pretty quickly. They fight. They try to improve,” he said. “In order to be a great, great team you have to be able to handle prosperity. Because if you’re really good that means you’re winning a lot.”

THEY’RE NOT “THERE” YET…

Donovan made it a point before the season to tell the media that he did not have the high expectations for his team that were thrown on them by all of the analysts surrounding college basketball. He reiterated that statement on Monday. “I think you know why [before the season I said] I’m ‘optimistically cautious.’ And I’m probably not even optimistic right now; I’m really cautious,” he said.

Much more from head coach Billy Donovan can be read…after the break!

HE’S TELLIN’ YA’LL – IT’S SABOTAGE (Part II)

For the second time in less than two weeks, Donovan pointed out that his team continuously sabotages itself even when things are finally going well in a game.

“We find a lot of ways to sabotage ourselves. We sabotaged ourselves in the game,” he said. “We got up by seven and there was nothing that they did to get back in the game. It was everything we did. We take a deep three out of the corner by Alex Tyus up seven on the fast break. Scottie Wilbekin over-helps. Missed block-out opportunities. Chandler Parsons get the ball just totally taken out of his hands; he’s a senior in college.”

QUOTES (After the break…)

Donovan on two of Walker’s important shots: “Erving’s got to pass the ball. He’s got to pass the ball. He tried to drive, they cut him off. He needs to go to the next man, and he just held onto it. And the same thing happened in regulation. We needed to do a much better job executing.”

Donovan on the team’s overall effort: “If there was one thing I was disappointed in as a coach… I can live with mistakes and mental errors. You try to work through that. Just the lackluster way we came out. It was not even a comparison between teams. And that is my responsibility as a coach is to get a group of guys prepared and ready to play. And I probably didn’t do a good enough job doing that.”

Donovan on a lack of energy from the freshmen: “The thing that hurt us tonight, in my opinion, it was the first game where I didn’t feel like our freshmen had great energy. We didn’t get enough out of our bench tonight. I can see Kenny Boynton and Erving and Alex maybe not having the kind of motor they need to have because they played a lot of minutes [against Kansas State]. We didn’t have any energy from our bench at all either. We didn’t. They didn’t give us a lot. And tonight we really could have used them.”

6 Comments

  1. JW says:

    It seems like last season all over again. Nice early season wins against FSU and Michigan St. and then head scratching losses against Richmond and South Alabama. This year there have been nice wins against FSU and Kansas St. and bad losses to UCF and Jacksonville. Additionally, I quickly glanced at Jacksonville’s lineup and it looked like they were really undersized. How does someong like Macklin not completely dominate a game like that? They should be feeding him as often as possible. Finally, these freshmen need to score at some point. Energy and rebounds are nice, but it would be gret to get some more points off the bench.

  2. JW says:

    Yeah, they did. I agree that the Richmond loss is similar
    to UCF this year. Not an awful loss, but a game you expect them to
    win. That being said, if they can beat Xavier and Rhode Island,
    they’re in good shape heading into the SEC.

  3. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I’m glad that Donovan said this. These guys just don’t seem to get it that they have to come ready to play every day no matter who their opponent may be. It really burns my hide that they have the mindset to not play hard against weaker opponents.

  4. Wingtee says:

    I’m worried that Billy is going to turn it in at the end of
    the year . The things he says and the way he says it. I’m reading
    between the lines. I wouldn’t be shoked

  5. Joe says:

    I can see Kenny Boynton and Erving and Alex maybe not having the kind of motor they need to have because they played a lot of minutes [against Kansas State].

    That’s on you Billy.

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