No. 17/19 Florida Gators (19-5, 8-2 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 Thursday.
AVOIDING A LETDOWN AT SOUTH CAROLINA
On Monday, OGGOA noted that 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 the South Carolina Gamecocks 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 was successful in not repeating that trend Wednesday.
“They really came into our place and outplayed us [on Jan. 15],” Donovan said. “Besides having a week of playing against Vanderbilt and also playing against Kentucky, we were also going to play against a team that beat us. Our guys had a respect level going into Columbia knowing that this team beat us on our home court, knowing it was going to be a battle and a challenge at their place.”
PARSONS TURNING THINGS AROUND
What senior forward Chandler Parsons has accomplished on the court over the last few weeks is undeniable. Marred in a shooting slump and seemingly lacking confidence early in the season, Parsons has begun to ignore outside influences and is instead concentrating on doing one thing – winning basketball games.
“The biggest thing with him is playing without intention. When you go into a game with intentions to do anything, or you have intentions of how the game is going to go or what you’re trying to do in the game, that’s generally going to lead to a lot of bad things,” Donovan said. “Chandler’s in a place right now mentally that he’s playing, he’s making good decisions, he’s making good passes, he’s rebounding the basketball, he’s shooting at the right time, he’s passing at the right time and he’s really playing with no intention. The only intention he’s playing with is to make the next best play. He’s grown in that area.
“It’s not necessarily the scoring, it’s not necessarily the rebounding or the assists, it’s just him playing the right way. When you’re a good player in today’s day and age, there’s a maturity you have to have to deal with the expectations – both internal expectations, outside expectations, expectations to get to the next level. If you’re not mature enough mentally, and you let that stuff creep in, it can really have an ill effect on how you play.”
Teammates redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and junior point guard Erving Walker are notably impressed with how Parsons has been playing. “He realizes how much he can do for this team,” Macklin said. “He’s one of the more versatile players I’ve ever played with in my life. He’s just taking his time, playing, and helping us out a lot.” Walker agrees. “That’s what we’ve expected from him the whole time. Being 6’10” and so versatile, he can shoot, pass and rebound,” he said. “He’s been playing with a lot of confidence, and we just want him to keep it up.”
For his part, Parsons realizes he was forcing things earlier in the season. “[I was] trying to get involved and stuff like that. I’ve realized – just let the game come to me,” he said. “I’m going to take what the defense gives me but at the same time be very aggressive, not just try and score [but also] try to get my teammates open shots, try to get our big guys the ball down low and try to rebound, defend.” Now he’s doing his best to handle the success he’s found. “I don’t really feel pressure. When you’re playing, you can’t put expectations on yourself or your team, you just got to keep playing and keep trying to get better,” he said. “It really is irrelevant what other people say; you just have to keep playing your game.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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