Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the key news and notes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional quotes after the break.
STARTING FIVE SET
Considering Florida’s entire starting five from last year returned this season, it should come as no surprise that junior point guard Erving Walker, sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, and senior forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus will take the court for the Gators to start each game. Donovan confirmed such on Tuesday, noting that he is pleased with how his starters have been playing in practice but that roles might change depending on how they play together.
“We’ve got five guys obviously returning from a year ago. That doesn’t necessarily mean their roles are going to be that this year. Anytime you move from year-to-year, guys’ roles can change,” Donovan said. “Erving Walker went from playing off the ball his freshman year to strictly being the point guard of our team. Chandler early in his career had to play some power forward spot for us just because of our lack of depth, and he certainly last year clearly played the small forward spot. Roles can change but the one thing those five guys have is a level of experience under their belt and a lot of games under their belt. With that being said, it’s really hard to get better in practice. One of the things we’ve struggled with is that balance between of really trying to get better in practice through competition.”
FRESHMEN PROVIDING GREAT DEPTH IN PRACTICE
Donovan cited the fact that the deep freshman class is really helping the older players in practice on a daily basis even though the competition level is not at its highest point yet. He has matched up each freshman with an older player with whom they go head-to-head every day. “It’s me vs. you because I’m making you better and you need to make me better; when you can create that kind of environment, your team has a chance to get a lot better. Patric Young has made Vernon better, Vern has made him better. [Mike] Rosario has made Boynton better, Boynton has made Rosario better. Scottie Wilbekin – Erving Walker, Casey Prather – Chandler, Will Yeguete – Alex, Erik Murphy. We’ve got enough now that the practices are at a level physically competing wise that guys are in a position where they have to compete on a regular basis.”
He is also impressed with how the youngsters have handled the heavy workouts and are trying to play to the level of what was an NCAA Tournament team last year. “I’m a little bit cautious with freshman after a week of practice to sit there, start giving guys a lot of praise,” Donovan said. “What happens is, they haven’t hit the wall and the grind and what happens there. But as of today, they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do – I think all the guys have.”
Even Parsons has noticed. “Coach really emphasizes that you can go as hard as you can just for as long as you can because there’s basically a sub there waiting for you at basically every position,” he said. “It’s different. My first couple years, we’re going three-on-three or four-on-four and you’re not getting off the court until you get the amount of stops coach wants or until he’s happy. At least now you’re going hard and you’re rewarded because there’s a sub there for you. It’s just nice having some depth there.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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