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 following his press availability on Monday.
“AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING” KEYS TO RECENT TURNAROUND
After failing to score at least 70 points in seven games, Florida has done so in each of its past three contests (71, 84, 77) and has had what some would consider an offensive resurgence since Dec. 31. Donovan attributes the improvement to the team’s overall understanding and execution of the game plan.
“Our guys are always willing to make the extra pass. When things happen inside of a game and plays happen very, very quickly and you have to react, I felt like earlier in the year we were not taking advantage of each other’s strengths and talents,” he said. “Nothing more than probably a lack of awareness or understanding of what’s open, what’s available and what they should be looking at.
“As time has gone on, they have gotten better at seeing some of those things. We needed to do a better job taking advantage of each other’s skill set. Hopefully we can continue to get better because as you start to play, teams are going to take away different things and you’re going to have to adjust and adapt to counters and different things preparation-wise.”
Just because the Gators are improved does not mean the team has taken their game to another level. “When the ball goes in the basket, it gives the appearance that you’re playing better,” Donovan added. “There’s no question that when the ball goes into the basket for any team – that helps. It can’t get to a point where, if we’re not shooting the ball well, it bleeds into and affects the other things that they’re doing on the floor. We can’t be a team that, when the ball is not going into the basket, it affects those minutes we’re not shooting the ball.”
UNHERALDED CONTRIBUTIONS KEEP TEAMS IN GAMES
“On ESPN they don’t show great block outs or a guy stepping up and taking a charge. They show high-flying dunks, a guy who scored 40. Instinctively, people will say, ‘How did you do? How many points did you score?’ And a lot of times it has nothing to do with that,” said Donovan when discussing some of the other priorities he trying to instill.
“If we don’t shoot the ball well and we don’t do the other things I’m talking about, we have no shot at winning. I don’t think any team has a shot at winning. So what you really try to do as a coach is control the things you have control over as a team. And then what you try to do is unselfishness, extra pass, high assist total, guys taking shots that they have a chance and an opportunity to make. If you don’t shoot the ball well, you still want to give yourself a chance to win in a grind-out game. We got to offset some of that stuff because not every team every game is going to shoot great. For our team sometimes we have more off nights shooting it than we do [on nights].”
That message has gotten through to the team, especially freshman center Patric Young. “Basketball’s way more than just scoring on the offensive side,” he said. “You have to block out and play defense. What are [coach's] favorite words? Block out. Step up. Take a charge. Move the ball.”
Read more from Donovan and the centers…after the break!
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