The No. 7/8 Florida Gators should expect the numbers in front of their team name to drop significantly on Monday after being outplayed in both of their games this past week. After being routed 78-58 by the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday, Florida was stunned at home by the unranked Tennessee Volunteers, which picked up a 75-70 win Saturday. Gators head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the game as he looks to right the ship and finish out the 2011-12 regular season strong.
PUT UP OR SHUT UP TIME FOR THE GATORS
Florida has reached a point now where the team must decide how they want the rest of the season to play out. The Gators can either mature, learn from their mistakes, improve and fight their way to a high postseason ranking or falter like the 2007-08 team.
Like that squad, Donovan does not believe this year’s group has been “hardened” enough to understand what it takes to win game-in and game-out. He feels Florida struggles with some of the more minor things in games (getting fouled, missing shots) and instead should be worried about being consistently productive no matter what is happening around them.
“Our guys are not hardened enough right now. We have not been hardened. In a certain respect, there’s a lot of similarities – as much as I hate to say this – when Chandler Parsons was here as a freshman. There was not that hardening,” he said. “It took Chandler a couple of years. I’m using him [as an example], but I’d throw in Nick Calathes, [Marreese] Speights, that whole group. Those guys were not hardened.
“They followed two national champions and had no idea and no clue of what went into it. I think these guys are great guys, but we haven’t been hardened enough. Because of our limited depth there a little bit, we need to practice better. We need to be more on edge. We need to take everything to a different level, and we haven’t done that.”
Donovan let the Gators know just that after Saturday’s game by writing “NIT” in big letters on the board in the locker room, something he did mostly as a warning.
“My point on mentioning that to them was nothing more than the fact that there have been teams that have been here – Chandler and those guys started off the season 18-3,” he said. “We’re in a tough stretch for our team. I was using [2007-08] as an example. We’re 7-3 in our league after 10 games. We have six games left. There’s home games and the SEC Tournament.
“I don’t feel like we don’t have the opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament. I was using it as an example of don’t take for granted what you have in front of you. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We can’t come in and lose every game. I was using it as an example of: Have an understanding and a respect level of how good you think you are.”
How much is this Florida team like the 2007-08 group? Here are just a few figures to keep in mind going forward:
|As of February 12||2007-08||2011-12||
|Record vs. SEC:||6-3||7-3||
|National ranking (USA Today/AP):||UR/UR||No. 7/8||
|Losses vs. Top 25:||3||3||
|Wins vs. Top 25:||1||2||
|Record vs. Tennessee (season):||0-2||0-2||
|Regular season finish:||2-5, NIT||TBD||
YEGUETE OUT INDEFINITELY (CONCUSSION)
Gators sophomore forward Will Yeguete
went down early in the first half when he hit his head on the corner of the basket stand after going up for a block. Yeguete laid motionless on the floor for a few minutes while trainers came over to check on him. Eventually he sat up and left the court with blood coming from the right side of his face, never returning to action.
After the game, Donovan said Yeguete suffered a “definite concussion” and is “out indefinitely” because he failed concussion tests in the locker room and had 8-10 stitches for the cut above his eye. It is Yeguete’s second concussion this season as he also suffered one early in the year at Ohio State.
“When I got over there he was knocked out. He wasn’t even conscious,” he said. “He wasn’t even awake when I was over there. I was a little bit concerned there. He finally woke up and didn’t know where he was at. And then when he rolled over, he had a lot of blood coming out of his eye.”
Donovan called Yeguete “doubtful” for Tuesday’s game and does not expect him to practice with the team on Sunday or Monday. Should he pass concussion tests mid-week, Florida could potentially have him active for Saturday’s game at Arkansas but could hold him out until next Tuesday’s game vs. Auburn.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on how to “harden” the team: “That’s one of the greatest challenges and dilemmas in coaching there is. Because Joakim Noah and Al Horford, those guys weren’t hardened either. There is a mentality and an understanding of what really goes into a preparation to really go out there and win. I’m spending too much time in practice dealing with stuff I shouldn’t be dealing with instead of dealing with preparation. A lot of it is our maturity level and us growing up and growing through some of those things. […] Some teams have to go through that.”
» Donovan on if senior point guard Erving Walker is “hardened”: “Chandler Parsons was a great outlet for Erving Walker. Because when Erving got into maybe taking some quick, ill-advised shots and over-penetrating, [we could put it] in Chandler’s hands and facilitate offense through him a little bit and get Erv off the ball. It’s hard to do that with Brad there. […] From a verbal leadership standpoint, I’m not so sure that’s Erving’s makeup to kind of take over the team like that. I’ve probably got to help him in that area a little bit. The hardening part, I’m not so sure how hardened Erving is because there was always somebody to kind of help him through. But now a lot of this is kind of falling on his shoulders in terms of running our team. I got to do a better job somehow getting through to these guys about what this is about.”
» Donovan on what is “wrong” with sophomore center Patric Young: “He may have some foot issues. It may be bothering hm. I don’t think it’s bothering him. I think the biggest challenge Patric is dealing with is playing at an intensity level on a continual basis. There was one point there in the first half he played 18 minutes with one rebound. It’s hard for him. He’s a guy right now that’s really trying to figure out how to really play with that intensity level all the time. He’s shown spurts of doing it, but he’s unable to sustain it. Last year we could really do it where you could throw him in for 2-3 minutes. He would come in there, knock some people around, pick up a couple fouls, offensive rebound, dunk and all of a sudden he’d be gassed. Now because he’s playing between 24-28 minutes, you can see the great explosions and you can see the laboring. He’s got to learn how to push through fatigue and deal with the mental duress and those kinds of things. He’s got to grow in that area.”
» Freshman guard Bradley Beal on Donovan not being happy in the locker room: “No, not happy at all. We didn’t compete at all really. Our defensive press was really bad again. We really weren’t focused. We didn’t get any offense at all. We were jacking up shots. Our mentality throughout the whole game, we weren’t focused mentally at all. It started in practice a couple days ago. We really weren’t focused and weren’t playing hard. It showed tonight.”
» Beal on if depth issues can be blamed: “It was difficult, but at the same time it’s not an excuse. We go through situations like this in practice. Guys get hurt in practice and other guys have to step in. everybody has to be ready to play and we just have to work with what we have.”