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 following Florida’s 77-71 defeat of the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday.
As a young team the last few years, the Gators’ propensity for turning the ball over has been somewhat understandable. However, the team as-assembled features three seniors in the frontcourt and a junior point guard in Erving Walker, meaning it was time for bad habits to change. Going into Saturday’s game with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1 (201-200), Florida finally turned things around and dished 22 dimes compared to coughing the ball up only seven times. Though Walker has not been the only one turning the ball over, his ratio was the most concerning (he went 3:1 on Saturday). Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin and senior forward Chandler Parsons were part of the solution, combining for 11 assists and zero turnovers on the evening.
“I was really disappointed with us defensively tonight. Offensively we’re getting better. We’re starting to utilize each other. We’re taking higher percentage shots,” Donovan said after the game. “We ended up going 22 assists and seven turnovers – that’s how I’d like our teams to play. Our guys are getting better on offense; they’re getting better taking care of the ball.”
TEAM MEETING + FAIRFIELD CANCELLATION = BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE
There is no question that after they fell to Jacksonville, even though they first defeated then-No. 6 Kansas State 48 hours earlier, the Gators were in turmoil. Donovan condemned the team for its selfishness and said the only way they could truly turn things around and have a great season was to play for each other. He expanded on that philosophy on Saturday.
“Selfishness is an interesting word because it’s all about how you play, what kind of intentions you play with,” he said. “When you’ve been around the game long enough, you know when guys are playing with intentions like, ‘I got to go do something.’ I would classify that as being ‘selfish.’ But it’s not so much selfish as, ‘I want to get my points,’ as much as it is, ‘I want to help my team.’
“It still comes across as they’re trying to do what they think they need to do to help the team. It looks that way. I think our guys are doing a better job. Our shot distribution is better balanced. Our guys are a little bit more patient. We have a better balance of inside-out than we’ve had in the last month or so.
“I started to see that change after the holidays. It was probably a blessing in disguise that we did not play the Fairfield game. Because we’re playing Xavier with no classes, and I got these guys with no time constraints on me. Playing Xavier on the back end, with what they did to us last year, we had [the players’] attention and I thought we got better that period there. I thought we made some strides.”
Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, faced with his own struggles this season, said a team meeting during that time really turned things around. “We had a team meeting and we basically told each other, in order for everyone to be successful and do better as a team, we have to play as a team and not worry about individual stuff,” he said. “Since we had that team meeting, we’ve come out and played better.”
Read more from Donovan and the players on Saturday’s win…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes