The No. 19 Florida Gators opened their Southeastern Conference home schedule Tuesday with a rout of Georgia, providing head coach Billy Donovan with plenty of things to talk about when he met with the media following the game. Florida is next set to play South Carolina on the road Saturday at 7 p.m.
INTENSITY BETTER BUT NEEDS TO BE EVEN MORE CONSISTENT
Donovan admonished the Gators following their loss on the road last weekend for the team’s lack of intensity and aggression away from home. Though Florida showed a renewed effort in both of those areas Tuesday, UF’s game was at home and not nearly as difficult of a situation. The Gators held Georgia to a season-low 48 points, which undoubtedly pleased Donovan.
“We did a pretty good job defensively,” he said after the contest. “Our effort was really there for most of the game. This was probably the one game I was disappointed in our rebounding, especially in the second half. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds and loose basketballs. I was much more pleased with our effort on that end of the floor, our level of awareness, being sharp, focused. I thought we defended them very well and obviously we held them to 48 points. You hold any team to 48 points, and I think you’ve done a pretty good job defensively.”
However, Donovan was still upset with one aspect of the game – Florida not putting their foot on UGA’s collective throat when up by 25 points and instead allowing their opponent to reduce their deficit by nearly 50 percent.
“You’re up by 25 points, how do they get back in the game? Well, they get back in the game by making threes, they get back in the game by offensive rebounds, and they get back in the game by [your team] making really poor decisions and taking quick shots on offense,” he explained. “We did all three of those things in the second half. We took quick shots, we gave up offensive rebounds and we gave them threes, so the lead goes from 25 or 22 down to 13 or 14. We’ve just got to have a little bit better awareness of what is going on.”
Sophomore center Patric Young, who grabbed 10 boards and scored just eight points, thinks the Gators could have done even better. “I feel like we should’ve held them to under 30, I’m just saying, because if you take away the offensive rebounds and the open threes and the second-chance points, it’s a completely different game,” he said.
BEAL, ROSARIO GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
“The last couple of [weeks] one of the things he has struggled with is a comfort level – what’s open and what’s available. I really felt like the last couple of days in practice he was starting to figure some things out offensively in terms of when he should be looking to shoot, when he should be looking to pass,” Donovan said about Beal’s improvement. “That’s been something that’s bogged him down a little bit because he’s so unselfish, but I think he had a much better feel and flow today offensively than he’s had in a few games.”
Also stepping up was redshirt junior G Mike Rosario, who Donovan said had two great days of practice on Sunday and Monday. Additionally, Rosario is feeling better after suffering through back and ankle injuries and even scored seven-straight points to launch the Gators on a 22-4 run in the first-half that put them ahead 20 points.
After the game, Rosario said it “felt great to go out there and just be able to compete again to my full ability” and knows that there is “a lot that I can bring to the table for the team.” He also praised Donovan for the impact he has had on him both as a player and a person.
“We embrace all of Coach D’s challenges. Every challenge he brings to the table, we embrace it because it’s a step to get better in life and also it’s a step to get more mature as a man,” he explained. “When you got to take on challenges and be responsible for your actions, it says a lot about you as a man. So that’s what Coach D really wants us to focus on – being responsible and being on edge.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on Florida playing better on the this Saturday: “Can we now flip that switch mentally and be able to take that [intensity and effort] to the road? That’s the challenge in trying to help those guys do that. It will be something we’ll focus on going into Columbia.”
» Young on the Gators needing to step it up on the road: “When you’re on the road you have to play twice as hard because any team at home doesn’t want to get beat on their own court. We didn’t come out with that same effort. We came out with that average attitude that we could just come out like it was any other game.”
» Donovan on redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson practicing better recently and getting more playing time: “I’ve been really happy with Cody. He’s really worked hard. His attitude has been great. He’s done a really nice job. He’s come every single day with a great attitude – just works and gets better. Even in the Tennessee game I put him in for a couple minutes to rest Patric. You know what? He’s getting better and I feel more comfortable with him.”