No. 17/19 Florida Gators (18-5, 7-2 SEC) 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 Monday.
AVOIDING A LETDOWN AFTER A BIG WEEK
All but one of the Gators’ losses this season have come after a hard-fought and/or impressive victory. Florida fell to Central Florida after beating Florida State 55-51 on the road, lost to Jacksonville in overtime after defeating then-No. 6 Kansas State in South Florida, dropped a tough one to South Carolina following a 81-75 overtime win at Tennessee, and lost to Mississippi State after taking down Georgia 104-91 in two overtimes. Coming off two difficult home games against top 25 opponents, UF looks not to repeat a trend Wednesday at USC.
“We are at an interesting time right now in our league, because we will start to play people in the East for the second time,” Donovan said of his team’s second game against South Carolina. “[We’re] going to Columbia against a team that I thought played very, very well here in Gainesville, they really out-played us all the way through. Their front court did a great job blocking shots. I thought when the game was close [Bruce] Ellington, really made some key free throws and some key plays coming down the stretch. It was a hard-fought game; a game that they really out-performed us, and out-played us, and we now have the challenge of going there to play.”
He also realizes the Gators must mentally adjust to being successful and adapt accordingly. “There’s got to be a level of awareness and a step that we can make to understand what we got to do. We do have a very, very clear visual understanding that the team we are playing against beat us already – and beat us on our home court. We’ve got to understand why we got to do to get better,” Donovan said.
“They’ve got to understand very, very clearly what we have got to try to do against South Carolina. They are a great offensive rebounding team. They are a great shot-blocking team, and they are a team that takes a lot of three-point shots. Those things really, really hurt us. Our energy and our effort; emotionally, can we get to a level that we need to get to on Wednesday night to try and play at the very best of our ability?”
Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons has improved his offense substantially over the past few games, but what he has done rebounding the ball has been equally impressive. Donovan notes that his growth in that area is simply due to putting himself in the right place at the right time and being aggressive.
“The biggest thing is, for any rebounder, he’s active. He makes the effort to go to the glass. When you are a small forward like he is, there is an advantage there for his size because he is on the perimeter a lot,” he said of Parsons. “It is a lot more difficult, believe it or not, for Vernon Macklin or [Alex] Tyus to rebound the ball when you are in a smaller space. For a guy like Chandler, who is playing on the perimeter, it’s a lot easier to see flights of balls and run in. The tendency when someone’s on the perimeter a lot of times is not to block them out, to lose sight, to be caught in a rotation. That gives him a lot of times the free run to go in there. It helps us when he defensive rebounds, because of his size he can start to break and run quickly without having to outlet the ball. He provides effort when he goes to the back board.”
GOOD DEFENSE MAKES UP FOR POOR SHOOTING
Junior point guard Erving Walker, perhaps the team’s best pure shooter at this point, continues to struggle at points either for portions of games or for full contests. Saturday was one of those nights as he went only 1-for-9 from the field (1-of-6 from downtown) and scored six of his nine points from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton has also had issues scoring this season, mostly stemming from his reliance on the three-pointer. Donovan believes that even though the duo may not be shooting as well as he’d like, what they’ve done on the other end of the floor has been huge.
“I thought [Walker] was really pretty good [Saturday],” he said. “I did not think that he forced very many shots; he took nine shots. He really tried on defense. He had a huge steal that he got fouled on when we were down. He ran our team. I did not think he got to a point where he was over-penetrating and trying to be too aggressive and make too many plays. He and Boynton, when the ball goes in or out, it is going to be kind of part of it with them. I do think both guys try at the other end of the floor. Boynton has been on some tough matchups these last couple of games. He gives it to me at the end of the floor; both those guys try to do that.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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