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 from his latest media availability in the following post.
TURNOVERS, FREE THROW SHOOTING ARE BIGGEST WOES
The Gators are struggling in a number of areas, but Donovan pointed to the team’s carelessness with the ball and inability to knock down free throws as its two biggest issues at this point in the season.
“The biggest thing has been our turnovers; about 22 percent of our possessions are resulting in turnovers,” he said. “The free throw shooting, coupled with the turnovers, has made us a team that has scored in the 60s. […] We got to make better decisions, we got to stop turning the ball over, and I also think we have to shoot the ball better from the free throw line. […] We’re leaving a lot of points out there in games because of the turnovers and the free throw shooting.”
Donovan added an interesting nugget. Senior forward Chandler Parsons and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, who are supposed to be Florida’s most frequent visitors to the charity stripe from a game-planning standpoint, are also the team’s least effective shooters from that range. Parsons hits 50 percent of his attempts, while Macklin is only connecting on 39 percent of his opportunities.
SHOOTING NOT THE PROBLEM; THREE-POINT SHOOTING IS
Donovan did not have many answers when it came to diagnosing the Gators’ shooting issues, except to say that the biggest problem is the team’s percentage from downtown. “Three point shooting – that’s been a struggle for us – but from the field, we’ve actually shot a pretty decent percentage,” he said. “We’re getting good shots when we don’t turn the ball over, but we need to put the ball in the basket a little bit more.”
Though a Donovan-coached team should not be expected to check down from wide-open treys, perhaps it is time Florida starts concentrating on mid-range jumpers and driving the lane with its backcourt instead of counting on them to drain shots from beyond the arc. His most successful teams have been proficient from the three-point line, but the Gators are shooting 31.5 percent as a team this year with Parsons and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton each hitting less than 27 percent of their attempts. Boynton has shot it 76 times from downtown while UF’s best threat, junior point guard Erving Walker (45 percent) has thrown up 58 shots from long distance.
IS THERE A POSITIVE?
Though Florida’s offense is still working out the kinks, the Gators have significantly improved their defensive aptitude from the previous few seasons. That has kept them in some of their worst shooting games and helped fuel them to victories over Florida State and then-No. 6 Kansas State.
“The one thing that’s been really good for us as a positive – that maybe is not talked about – is that we’ve held teams down ourselves. We’ve played much, much better defense,” Donovan said. “We’ve rebounded the ball much better. We’re more of a physical team and have a better presence at the basket than maybe we’ve had the last couple of years. That’s a blessing.”
But can UF keep it up when their Southeastern Conference slate begins? “To consistently hold teams down game-after-game that low is hard to do,” Donovan added.
QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 12/29: Donovan discusses Florida’s struggles