1/18: Donovan on Young’s ankle, Murphy’s head

The No. 14/17 Florida Gators earned their first true road victory last Saturday by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 79-65 in Columbia, SC. With sophomore center Patric Young (ankle) out of the starting lineup and hobbled with an injury, head coach Billy Donovan updated his player’s status on Wednesday and spoke about a number of other topics concerning the team.

YOUNG WILL PLAY, STATUS AS STARTER REMAINS DAY-TO-DAY

Donovan’s suspicions were confirmed Wednesday when he said that Young is not dealing with any structural or ligament damage to his ankle but is rather experiencing inflammation as a result of tendinitis. The positives are that he will not miss games nor has to wear a boot or walk around on crutches. However, the negative is that even with a week “off” Young will play but may not be able to start on Saturday against LSU.

“He’s just got some pretty significant inflammation in the area that’s causing the problem with it,” he said. “The best thing for him right now is rest. There’s nothing there for him that is going to keep him out of games or prevent him from playing or anything that we’ve got to do in terms of holding him for a period of time.”

As for starting, how much Young is able to do in practice during the week will determine his status on Saturday. He will continue to get rehab and take medication to reduce the inflammation in the meantime.

“That’s going to be the big thing – what he’s going to be able to do and can do and what he can tolerate and handle,” Donovan said. “If it’s a situation where he’s in the same position he was against South Carolina, it would probably be a decision I would make closer to the game. Certainly want to give him every opportunity to come back.”

MURPHY’S ISSUE “A BLESSING IN DISGUISE”

Faced with a legal issue in the offseason, junior forward Erik Murphy had a lot of decisions to make about his life and career as a basketball player. Donovan helped him face those questions head-on and said he believes Murphy is better for doing so not only as a player but as a person, too.

“It really forced him to look at the fact that, at this point in time, he’s only got two years left in his career. What kind of career does he want to have? What kind of commitment does he want to make not only to the basketball piece of it but to the academic part of his life? What does he want to do?” Donovan said. “It probably really forced him to do some soul searching in terms of what was important to him.

“Erik, in a lot of ways, was kind of just floating though life. I was able to post him up and pin him up a little bit and kind of get his back against the wall to make a decision on who you want to be as a person, who you want to be as a player, who you want to be as a student.”

Murphy is thankful for Donovan putting him in that position and now understands that the adversity and issues he put on himself over the summer has put him in a better position to succeed in life.

“The offseason issue made me grow up really quick. It definitely helped me. It was a blessing in disguise, I think, to make me grow up mentally and mature,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on the improvement of redshirt freshman F/C Cody Larson: “I’m gaining more and more confidence and trust in Cody. I’ve put him in the last several games and I think he’s given us some good minutes although they haven’t been a lot of minutes.”

» Donovan on redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario becoming trustworthy off the bench: “It’s all stemmed from practice. He’s really been pretty consistent, pretty responsible, pretty reliable. He’s built up a lot of trust in myself and in his teammates. Earlier in the year, probably some of his limited minutes had to do with a lot of his defensive focus. As that has started to get better, his back became a problem, his foot became a problem. The last two weeks since he’s been back from his ankle, he’s been pretty locked in, pretty solid and has done a good job for us.”

» Donovan on sophomore F Will Yeguete as a rebounder: “I definitely think his instincts play a long part in it. He’s very long-armed and guys that are really good offensive rebounders have a great ability to see a play developing or recognizing when a shot is going up and at times follow the flight of the ball or be able to guess where it’s coming off. The biggest thing in being a good rebounder is you have to rebound out of your area. Anybody can rebound in a telephone booth but can you spread out and cover the backboard a little bit? Will’s got a pretty good ability to cover a wide spread of the glass with his arm length, and he’s a pretty quick jumper.”

» Rosario on working on improving his defense: “One of the most important things is guarding the ball and guarding off the ball, so that’s what I’ve been trying to conquer these last couple of weeks.”

» Rosario on not focusing on defense at his previous stop: “At Rutgers, I had to basically be an offensive threat the whole game in order for us to stay in the game and in order for us to try and win the game. By me being that type of player I had to be at Rutgers, it took a lot of energy out of me. Plus playing 37-40 minutes a game and plus trying to do both ends of the floor, it was a little bit too much for me.”

» Rosario on joining a winning tradition at Florida: “It’s good to be here because there are a lot of teams here that won in a lot of categories – tennis, soccer. When you have a program like that with a lot of athletes and a lot of talent and a lot of pros in one program, it says a lot about the program and the school as well. I wanted to surround myself around that because I wanted to compete around a lot of people that are trying to make it to the next level as well as me.”

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Five Qs with No. 25 – Rockets F Chandler Parsons

Less than a quarter of the way through the lockout-shortened 2011-12 NBA season, Houston Rockets rookie forward Chandler Parsons is already making a name for himself. Though his team currently sports a 7-7 record and is two games behind Southwest Division leader San Antonio, Houston is on a 5-2 winning stretch ever since head coach Kevin McHale promoted Parsons to the starting lineup on Jan. 7.

Parsons is averaging 9.3 points, 6.7 boards, 2.4 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per game as a starter, shooting 45.9 percent from the field in 29.6 minutes of action. OGGOA caught up with Parsons Wednesday on a rare non-game day to discuss his early success in the league and how he hopes to improve as the season goes on.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Obviously you’ve had a real solid start to your rookie season. What has the fan reaction in Houston been like and how does it all feel?
CHANDLER PARSONS: “It’s an unbelievable feeling and a great opportunity. The fans have been tremendous just with their support and all of the love they have given me on Facebook. The people have been unbelievable. It’s really a blessing to be able to come out here and play and be able to help my team so early on in my career.”

AS: Even back at Florida you always had a knack for following up your teammates’ shots and either grabbing the rebound or putting the ball back in the hoop with a dunk. I know you worked on this even more over the summer in California with Don MacLean. Can you talk about some of his teachings and how working with him has helped you?
CP: “Basically every drill that you do with Don MacLean, he always emphasizes finishing strong and finishing at the rim. When I first went in there, I would do layups or floaters and he wouldn’t let me do that anymore. He would make me dunk everything. It just gave me the aggressive mindset to attack the rim. I knew coming into the league that it would be physical; everyone is faster and everyone is stronger. I just want to go to the hoop aggressively every time I attack and not settle for anything weak. It’s a physical league so being able to play the last couple of weeks and these first games, [you can tell] it’s just very physical. There’s nothing easy, so when you go to the rim you’ve got to go strong.”

AS: Gators head coach Billy Donovan last week said that he was especially proud of how well you’ve been playing at the start of your rookie season. How did your last two years at Florida, and perhaps more specifically Donovan’s coaching, help prepare you to play in the NBA and perform at this level?
CP: “He has helped me unbelievably. I give a lot of credit to Coach Donovan because everything that my coaching staff at the Rockets wants and emphasizes, I’ve already heard and seen form Coach Donovan. He taught me how to work and what goes into winning. Coming into the league, I didn’t get hit blindly by anything because he prepared me so well for the NBA. Everything that’s been thrown at me I’ve been prepared for and that has a lot to do with our entire coaching staff at Florida.”

Continue Reading » Five Qs with No. 25 – Rockets F Chandler Parsons

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Beal, Patriots, Mincey, Matthews

1 » A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow “tore cartilage on his first rib where it attaches to the sternum, bruised his lung and had fluid buildup in his pleural cavity” at the beginning of the third quarter of Saturday’s game against New England. If you were watching the game, you may remember Tebow being hit hard and backup Brady Quinn warming up on the sidelines. Tebow stayed in the game even though his team wound up being routed 45-10. “Because of the severe pain, Tebow had trouble sleeping over the weekend, then had an MRI on his chest Monday to determine the extent of the damage,” Schefter reports. “He has been undergoing rehab throughout the week.”

UPDATE: The Denver Post confirmed Tebow’s chest injuries but added that he also hurt his “right, non-throwing shoulder” during the game. Additionally, the injuries are bad enough where “Tebow in all likelihood would not have been able to play in the AFC championship game this week” if the Broncos had won last Saturday. The Post goes on to say that should Tebow be selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, “he is not likely to be able to play” in that game either even though no surgery is required and he is expected to be 100 percent for the start of conditioning workouts in April.

2 » Despite a request from CBS inviting Tebow to join the network’s NFL Today program on Sunday to preview and discuss the conference championship round of the NFL Playoffs, he has instead to spend some time away from football and not appear on the show, telling the Denver Post’s Mike Klis on Tuesday, “I’m not doing it.”

3 » In a new feature from ESPN, Dana O’Neil takes a look at Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal and his siblings, which includes two other former scholarship athletes – one a tight end at Northern Illinois and the other an offensive lineman at Alabama State. Beal lucked out when it came his turn to be recruited as his parents “Bobby and Besta learned from their own mistakes with their older boys” and were more prepared for the circus, “shepherd[ing] him through the heady experience by keeping him humble, reminding him that being a good teammate was as important as being a good player,” O’Neil writes. His selflessness is one thing that Florida head coach Billy Donvoan has praised him about since day one. Having apparently worked through some early struggles, Beal is focused on helping the Gators and doesn’t need his mom or his coach criticizing him to know what he does wrong on the court, even though he’ll happily listen and accept their advice. “I’m my own biggest critic, but now I try to go back to my room and contemplate my mistakes,” he said. “I watch film and try to learn from them. I’m trying to understand I need to embrace the adversity.”

4 » While Tebow was defeated on Saturday, the three former Gators playing for the New England Patriots will be advancing to the next round of the playoffs. Tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the Patriots’ biggest contributors all game, appeared to suffer a concussion during the contest but told reporters Wednesday that he is good to go for Sunday’s game. “I feel great,” he said, “Ready to play.” Knowing head coach Bill Belichick, Hernandez (even if cleared to play Wednesday) will be listed as questionable all week heading into the game. Linebacker Brandon Spikes had some kind words for New England fans, praising the home crowd for being loud during Saturday’s game. However, according to Patriots.com writer Erik Scalavino, he laughed and said it was still nothing like playing in The Swamp.

5 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith made it clear when speaking Tuesday night that signing the team’s free agents – including veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey – will be his first priority in the offseason. Mincey had a career year in 2011, starting all 16 games for Jacksonville and totaling 57 tackles, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. In somewhat related news, former UF head coach Ron Zook is interviewing for the special teams coach job with the Jaguars. Mincey replied to OGGOA‘s tweet about Zook interviewing, throwing his support behind his former coach and saying, “I hope he gets it.”

6 » Nease High School – where Tebow got his start as a youngster in Jacksonville, FL – has hired none other than former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews as the team’s new head coach. A former assistant at Gainesville High School, Matthews has never been a high school head coach before but told The St. Augustine Record that he is excited about the opportunity. “I felt Nease had a lot to offer,” Matthews said. “It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it had to be the right fit and I feel like this is.” He plans to run a balanced but fun offense and said that his former head coach Steve Spurrier’s teachings will undoubtedly be an influence in everything he does.

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Former Gators light up the NBA on Tuesday

Eight former Florida Gators basketballers competed in five of the seven NBA games played on Tuesday and most ended the night with praiseworthy performances.

Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee posted a team-high 29 points (on 13-of-20 shooting) with nine boards (four offensive) and three assists in a team-high 35 minutes as Golden State went on to upend Cleveland 105-95.

Similarly dominant, Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer played a team-high 34 minutes off the bench, scoring a team-best 22 points (on 8-of-14 shooting) with four rebounds, two steals and a block. Denver defeated Milwaukee 105-95.

The Miami Heat had two former Gators in action but guard Mike Miller, who dressed for the first time this year after being forced to miss the first 12 games of the season due to having offseason hernia surgery, was the most impressive. Miller went a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown for 18 points and added four rebounds in just 15 minutes.

Also coming off the bench for the Heat was PF Udonis Haslem, who registered four points and two boards. Like Haslem, San Antonio Spurs PF Matt Bonner was efficient with three points and six rebounds, but San Antonio Fell to Miami 120-98.

Still fighting through a hand ailment, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had arguably his best game of the season, posting his third double-double of the year with 13 points (6-of-10 shooting) and 12 boards (six offensive) to go along with three dimes in 28 minutes. Chicago took down Phoenix 118-97.

Wrapping things up were former teammates going head-to-head as the Houston Rockets and surging rookie F Chandler Parsons defeated the Detroit Pistons and PF Vernon Macklin 97-80. Parsons once again earned the start and played 31 minutes (second-most on the team), scoring seven points and adding seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Macklin only saw one minute of on-court action.

And though the game occurred one day earlier, former Florida C Marreese Speights, now with the Memphis Grizzlies, had his most impressive showing of the season on Monday. Speights started and saw 34 minutes of action, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 boards (four offensive) for his first double-double this year. Memphis wound up beating down Chicago 102-86.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Pease, tennis, Swamp, WBK

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow may have been eliminated from the NFL Playoffs on Saturday, but CBS would like to keep him around for a while. According to USA Today, which spoke with CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, the network has reached out to Tebow to sit in as a guest analyst for the studio show the way Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh did last week. There has not been a public response from the Tebow camp as of press time.

2 » ESPN recently spoke with former players who were once coached by new Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease and asked each what one should expect from him as a coach. Former Kentucky wide receiver Derek Abney classified Pease as someone who coaches “through discipline and assertiveness” but noted that his team was winning thanks in part to his methods. He also noted that Pease “didn’t make you fit into his scheme. He recognized your strengths and played to them and avoided weaknesses,” something that should undoubtedly have Gators fans smiling considering the offense is still on its way to becoming a complete pro-style team.

3 » A pair of Gators tennis players won consolation singles titles in separate events over the weekend. Junior Caroline Hitimana captured a victory at the 2012 Freeman Memorial Championships over Duke’s Ester Goldfeld, while sophomore Michael Alford came away a winner at the 2012 SEC Coaches’ Indoor Championships by taking down both Kentucky’s Ryuji Hirooka and South Carolina’s Kyle Koch. The women’s and men’s tennis programs enter the 2012 regular season ranked No. 1 and No. 8, respectively, despite the men’s team losing 2011 No. 6 Alexandre Lacroix and the No. 17 team of Lacroix and Sekou Bangoura, Jr. from a year ago.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Pease, tennis, Swamp, WBK

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, PGA, Caldwell

1 » In his season-ending meeting with the media, Denver Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway gave quarterback Tim Tebow his biggest endorsement thus far even if it was not completely what Tebow’s fans may have wanted. “Tim is the starting quarterback going into training camp,” Elway said Monday, according to the Denver Post, failing to go further than that designation. “He made great strides. He has earned the right to be the starter going into training camp next year.” Elway also admitted, as expected, that Denver will look to add some competition for Tebow at the quarterback position because the Broncos’ “passing game was not where we want it to be.” As he mentioned during the season, Elway plans to work with Tebow in a number of areas including in the film room and on his footwork, drops and timing with receivers. He expands on these comments in the video below:

2 » Continuing his stellar play this year Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons had yet another solid game Monday, again earning the start and scoring eight points (on 4-of-7 shooting) with eight boards (three offensive), four assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. He also had two impressive plays in the game including one put-back slam and another dunk over Washington’s 7’0″ center JaVale McGee, which you can see below:

In related NBA news, center Marreese Speights had his best performance with his brand new team the Memphis Grizzlies, registering a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards. Speights went head-to-head with Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah, who has been struggling with a hand problem this season and had just two points and five rebounds. Memphis beat Chicago 102-86 on Monday.

3 » Former Gators golfer Matt Every, who led the 2012 Sony Open for two days, wound up finishing tied for sixth in the event…with fellow former Florida golfer Brian Gay and two other players. Every and Gay (-10) each ended the tournament three strokes back of the leader (Johnson Wagner, -13) and were two of three former Gators in the top-13 with Chris DiMarco finishing -8 over four rounds. As OGGOA mentioned over the weekend, Every recently opened up about a marijuana arrest. This video provides more on that and includes a discussion he had while leading after the second round.

4 » According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, it is not likely that former Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell will be back with the Cincinnati Bengals next season. Caldwell, who brought in 37 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns last season, is now a free agent and is unlikely to be retained by the team. Caldwell himself is probably looking for a better opportunity as well and may find that with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Bengals’ former offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, has taken that same position with the Jaguars.

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Florida steps up in latest polls after two SEC wins

The 10th editions of the 2011-12 regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Syracuse Orange maintained their spot as the No. 1 team in the country for the sixth week in a row.

The Florida Gators rose a few spots to No. 14 and No. 17 in the respective polls on the heels of consecutive victories at home against Georgia and on the road at USC. Florida is one of three Southeastern Conference teams listed in the respective rankings.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (31), Kentucky, Baylor, Duke, Missouri
6-10: Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Murray State
11-15: Connecticut, Georgetown, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi State
16-20: San Diego State, Virginia, Creighton, Michigan, UNLV
21-25: Louisville, Marquette, Saint Mary’s, Harvard, Illinois

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (30), Kentucky (1), North Carolina, Baylor, Ohio State
6-10: Duke, Michigan State, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas
11-15: Georgetown, UNLV, Michigan, Murray State, Louisville
16-20: Connecticut, Virginia, Kansas State, Florida, Mississippi State
21-25: Creighton, San Diego State, Gonzaga, Marquette, Harvard

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (60), Kentucky (4), Baylor (1), Duke, Missouri
6-10: Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Georgetown
11-15: Indiana, Murray State, Connecticut, UNLV, Virginia
16-20: San Diego State, Florida, Mississippi State, Creighton, Michigan
21-25: Marquette, Illinois, Louisville, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (60), Kentucky (5), North Carolina, Baylor, Ohio State
6-10: Michigan State, Indiana, Duke, Missouri, Kansas
11-15: Georgetown, UNLV, Michigan, Louisville, Murray State
16-20: Virginia, Connecticut, Kansas State, Florida, Mississippi State
21-25: Gonzaga, San Diego State, Creighton, Seton Hall, Marquette

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Donovan’s USC post-game, Monday SEC teleconference: Young’s ankle, Beal’s maturity

The No. 19 Florida Gators earned their first true road victory on Saturday by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 79-65 in Columbia, SC. With sophomore center Patric Young pulled from the starting lineup and hobbled with an ankle injury, head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the game and when he spoke to the media on Monday during the weekly SEC teleconference.

YOUNG’S STATUS REMAINS DAY-TO-DAY

Following the game Saturday, in which Young played just 13 minutes (mostly in the second half) after being pulled from the starting lineup because he was not 100 percent due to an ankle injury, Donovan revealed that his player has actually been dealing with discomfort for about two weeks.

“He’s got some tendinitis in his ankle, and he’s got a blister under a callous. He really has not been himself in practice really for the last 10 days,” Donovan said. “He’s tried to go and then [Saturday] at shoot around, trying to watch him move and him trying to work through it, I just told him we’re going to need his effort and his energy and if he can’t bring that then we can’t start him. He agreed and understood.”

On Monday, Donovan noted that he did not have any update about Young’s condition, saying that he has been laboring in practice recently and the team’s medical staff is doing whatever it can to figure out what is wrong with him and how to move forward to get him healthy as quick as possible.

“I don’t think it’s anything severe or significant or anything that cannot be cleared up,” he said. “Our medical people here are probably going to go to the next step and maybe X-ray him and [perform a] MRI, something along those lines more for precautionary [reasons]. Where he’s sore it’s not over any bone issue, it’s more over soft tissue. I have a feeling it’s some sort of ankle tendinitis.

“What I’ve tried to do with him is to utilize him in practice as he can tolerate right now. How long it’s going to be, I don’t know. We’ll probably find out a little bit more here Tuesday and Wednesday once we get back to practice.”

Donovan made sure to point out that, while Young is very important to the Gators for a number of reasons, one thing he will make sure to do is not rush him back to a full workload, especially if his condoning suffers as much as he expects it will due to him having a nagging ankle injury.

“My concern right now is his conditioning, him maintaining a high level of conditioning. I don’t think the last couple of weeks he’s been able to practice with the intensity that he’s needed to,” he said. “I’ve seen this before with frontcourt guys – the first thing that starts to go is their conditioning. We’ve got to make sure in terms of helping him keep up a high level of conditioning, but it’s hard. When you got a foot injury like that, it’s hard to condition. That’s more my concern right now with him conditioning-wise, how much he’s lost over the last few weeks.”

OTHERS STEPPING UP FOR THE GATORS

As junior guard Kenny Boynton continues to lead the way offensively and senior point guard Erving Walker is charged with keeping the engine running each game, three other players have really begun to find their respective grooves, Donovan said over the last three days.

He was especially pleased with the way sophomore forward Will Yeguete, thrust into the stating lineup in a moment’s notice, performed on both sides of the ball. “He responded really well. He had a terrific game, made some great plays, rebounded the ball for us, defended very well,” Donovan said. “We really needed him. We were pretty much in the first half rotating he, [Erik] Murphy and [Cody] Larson when Patric picked up his fouls. To go on the road and win and not have someone like Patric, a real instrumental part of it, on the floor, some other players had to step up and some other guys did for us.”

Freshman G Bradley Beal, who has been an efficient scorer and significantly cut down his turnovers over the last two games (one total last week), has received praise from Donovan all season but got even more from him on Monday.

“The one thing that’s been great with him is I think he’s very eager to get better,” he said. “He’s very eager to improve. He’s a pretty accountable kid when things are not going his way or he’s struggling. He’s pretty self-reflective in figuring out what he’s got to do to get better. For him, the more and more experience he has playing, the better and better he gets. He works at it. He’s a hard-working kid. He’s a good teammate. He’s a good chemistry guy. He has a lot of intangible things that you probably can’t see by watching him play but you would notice by being around him. He’s played very well, and I think he’ll continue to get better and improve as time goes on.”

Donovan also took some time out to praise redshirt junior G Mike Rosario, who through defensive struggles early in the season and a pair of nagging injuries (back, ankle) over the last few weeks, has had trouble finding consistency. His coach believes those issues are now behind him.

“It’s pretty clear for me that he really has been consistent here for about two weeks. Some of his inconsistencies really were out of his control,” Donovan said. “He had the disc issue in his back that forced him to sit a couple games during the holidays. And then the first game back was Rutgers for him and he only practiced one day. [He] played pretty good against Yale and then sprained his ankle towards the end of that game. There’s been no consistently flow-wise for practice.

“Since he’s come back from his ankle after the Yale game, I think he’s really strung together a week or two here where he’s been pretty consistent, pretty reliable, pretty responsible. It’s definitely added a level of trust for me as a coach with the way he’s working and the things that he’s trying to do. When he’s doing that, he needs to be afforded ore of an opportunity to play. The last couple of games – Georgia and here now against South Carolina – he’s been a positive addition coming off the bench, providing some scoring and different things our team needed.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On having an early bye week: “Certainly the bye week for us comes pretty early in the conference schedule having played three games. Hopefully we can utilize this time to get better and focus on ourselves early in the week and then get prepared to play LSU here at our place on Saturday.”

» On not turning the ball over as much on Saturday: “Our guys just made better decisions. We had a better awareness of taking care of the ball. For whatever reason why we didn’t do it earlier in the year, I don’t know, but we were certainly much more conscientious of that part on the offensive end of the floor. We were able to get more attempts up at the basket maybe on the road against South Carolina than some other teams because we had turned it over a little bit too much [in the other four road games]. That’s something we can move forward and get better at. Certainly we’ve worked on it in practice; I think it’s been a focus for us not only on the road but at home, making good decisions and taking care of the ball.”

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