11/30: Donovan on Murphy, Syracuse, zone

With No. 9/10 Florida Gators basketball set to travel to Syracuse, NY to take on the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange Friday evening, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss what preparations have been made for his team’s next road game.

MURPHY’S DIAGNOSIS NOT TOO BAD

Considering the original thought was that junior forward Erik Murphy had a tear in his meniscus, Donovan was pleased to learn early this week that he only has a bone bruise and will be able to “get back to doing as much as he’s capable of withstanding.”

Donovan said Wednesday that Murphy could return as soon as the Arizona game after doctors figured out the “subtle and small” meniscus tear was from when he was a sophomore in high school.

“When you see a torn meniscus on the MRI, your initial reaction is that he’s going to need surgery. Waiting to get the other MRI from high school proved to be very helpful in making a decision for what he needs to do rehabbing to get himself back,” he said.

PLAYING IN THE DOME

One of the best venues for college basketball in the country, Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is always an interesting place to play. In addition to the fans being raucous and the atmosphere electric, the dome itself provides different site lines for shooters that sometimes can take some getting used to.

“Hopefully the memories that I had in the Dome they don’t have. We never won at Providence when I was plying there in the Dome,” Donovan joked. “[Florida] did have some success there in the NCAA Tournament in 2000, which was great. They’ve got a great home court advantage. They’ve got a great environment. It’s a unique situation. I don’t know if there’s any other college program that plays in a dome setting like that. It’s a special environment. Our guys will enjoy it. It’s a different place to play, and I was fortunate 25 years ago to play there several times.”

Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario, formerly on Rutgers, had the opportunity to step on the court a number of times and provided his opinion on what it is like to play there.

“It’s a crazy atmosphere. It’s loud and it’s a lot of orange. A lot of orange,” he said with a smile. “It’s a dome and those guys love to go out there and just have fun out there. Their fans are loyal, so it’s going to be a good atmosphere for us to play in.”

Junior G Kenny Boynton was not too concerned with his team’s ability to perform in the dome. “A gym is a gym. You just got to go in there and try to get a win,” he said.

ATTACKING SYRACUSE’S ZONE

Famous for perfecting and running the 2-3 zone, the Orange will undoubtedly use the defense against the Gators regardless of the fact that Florida’s three-point shooting is some of the nation’s best heading into the game. Though Syracuse will allow UF to take its share of threes, Donovan is cautioning the team against settling for the historically low-percentage shot.

“One of the reasons why their zone is effective to me is they have great length, they have great size. They can alter shots around the basket. Their perimeter guys do a good job getting out to shooters,” he explained. “Certainly you’ve got to make great decisions. I’ve always felt like, when we’ve played against Syracuse, they’ve always been one of the best fast breaking teams in the country. They’re leading the country right now in turnovers. They get out on the break.

“Our guys have got to be strong with the ball. They’ve got to play and they’ve got to take care of the ball. [....] We’ve got to make some shots, move the ball and make good decisions and then we’ve got to try to eliminate those careless passes, careless shots that really get them into what they do well, and that’s play out in transition with their length and athleticism.

“It’s pretty clear when you watch them play, they guard everybody a little bit differently. [...] A lot of the zone is adjusting and moving based on your personnel. I’m not opposed to taking threes, but you really possession-by-possession have got to take what you create.”

Rosario, for one, is excited about the opportunity. “I wish every team would play a 2-3 zone. I love to play against 2-3 zones so you can shoot threes,” he said. “It’s a very good zone that we’re going to play against. That’s basically what Syracuse lives off of – their defense – and their zone is real good. They’re long. They have like 6’5” and 6’6” guys on the wing, so sometimes it’s hard to shoot over those guys. It’s going to be a good experience for us.”

However, like Donovan, he is also cautious of staying beyond the arc and not attacking inside the paint. “The guys at the top of the zone are going to be physical and athletic and can get out there as quick as they possibly can to shooters,” Rosario said. “It’s going to be a game where we’re going to have to go in-and-out. Go inside and then go out and let the game come to us from there.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how chaotic he thinks things are for Jim Boeheim: “I can only imagine. It’s a tough situation for everybody – for the victims, for the university. Jim knowing Bernie Fine for as long as he’s been around him, I’m sure it’s difficult for everybody.”

» Donovan on playing at Syracuse with the current situation ongoing: “It’s not a situation right now where the players on either team are involved in this. When the game takes place between the lines, both teams kids are going to go out there and play.”

» Donovan on the team learning to be more patient: “If we don’t have what we want within the first 10 seconds, we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and making decisions unlike what we did in Columbus there the second game.”

» Donovan on if the team’s decision making has improved: “We’ve gotten better. We’ve made some good strides. If you look at our turnovers coming out of that game, they’ve been drastically down and our assists have been up. We’ve taken better care of the ball. This is a different game than the last 3-4 we’ve played talent-wise. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of jump we’ve made.”

» Donovan on the Gators success at rebounding: “We’ve gotten better in that area. I didn’t think we did a great job against Stetson. They came up with a lot of loose balls and did a great job physically coming down with a lot of difficult rebounds. At the half we were down rebounding margin, but we’ve done a pretty good job. They’ve made an effort to do it. The one thing that is happening is when you see a guy like [Brad] Beal gets 10 rebounds, Erving Walker getting six, Rosario had a game where he’s had seven, Boynton’s gotten in there and got five or six. That’s what we need to happen. It can’t be just Patric [Young] or Will Yeguete or our frontcourt guys who have to get 15 rebounds apiece and our guards don’t do anything. We’ve got to get back in there. Our guards can help in that area, and they have, and that’s what’s helped us defensively limit teams.”

» Donovan on if he expected this type of play from Yeguete during recruiting: “Watching him play, he really did a lot of little things. He was physical. He stepped in and took charges. He had good athleticism on the floor. He could rebound in traffic. He’s always kind of been – that’s who he was in high school – he could do a lot of different things. He really understands defense. He understands positioning. He can really keep balls alive. He’s a hard guy to block out. He showed quite a bit of that in high school.”

» Boynton on slow ball movement at times: “A majority of the teams we’ve played, we’ve been getting stops and easy turnovers. A team like Syracuse, you don’t want to go through stretches where you stop ball movement and don’t score because they can score right back at us.”

» Boynton on the lift Yeguete brings to the team: “He’s definitely helped out on the rebounding, too. Yeguete provides energy. He forces turnovers with those long arms.”

» Rosario on how Young has helped the team: “We just need Pat to stick to his strengths. His strengths last game were him being patient, waiting for the game to come to him and doing the things we need him to do to help us win. That’s rebound the ball, block shots and run the floor. He’s been doing a great job at that.”

» Rosario on playing Syracuse: “This will be a great challenge for us. Another step forward. We built from our game that we played against Ohio State. We got better at the things we needed to get better in. I think we’re prepared to go out and win the game Friday.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Donovan earns 400th win as Florida routs Stetson

Despite some coaching news that may have hit Florida Gators fans the wrong way earlier in the day, Gator Nation had an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of head basketball coach Billy Donovan Monday evening.

Donovan picked up the 400th victory of his head coaching career as No. 9/10 Florida (5-1) routed the Stetson Hatters (3-3) 96-70 in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at Amway Center in Orlando, FL.

Donovan became the youngest active coach with at least 400 Division I victories with the win but gave all of the credit to the talented players he has coached over the years.

Freshman guard Brad Beal led the way for a Gators with the best performance of his young career, notching his second double-double including career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 50 percent from the field, beyond the arc and at the line, blocked three shots, grabbed two steals and accounted for two assists for Florida.

As has been tradition this season, the Gators started hot out of the gate and used an impressive 20-4 run including four threes to take an early 38-16 lead.

The Hatters answered quickly by posting 13-straight points as UF went on a 4:36 scoring drought, but Florida responded by hitting six free throws and a three-pointer to end the half on a 9-0 run and take a 47-31 lead on Stetson into the break.

Though the Gators maintained a comfortable lead in the second half, the Hatters were relentless on both ends of the floor.

Florida hit nine threes to start the game but went 10:53 through the half without knocking another in from downtown. Senior point guard Erving Walker finally connected on a trey with 11:52 remaining, marking a school record six-straight games in which the Gators have hit at least 10 triples.

Despite the back-and-forth play, Florida pulled away in the end and took a game-high 26-point lead on a three by Walker with under two minutes to go.

Walker finished with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-for-7 from three) with five assists. Junior G Kenny Boynton, who struggled early in the game, added 13 points and was just 3-for-8 from downtown.

Sophomore center Patric Young was tagged four quick fouls and scored just nine points, but sophomore forward Will Yegeute picked up the slack with his first career double-double of 10 points and 11 boards. He started his second-straight game in place of junior F Erik Murphy, who remains out of action with a tear in his meniscus.

The Gators also got quality minutes from sophomore G/F Casey Prather, who scored five points and picked up two steals but was the first player in over a year to foul out of a game for Florida.

UF shot just 45.3 percent from the floor and 40 percent from downtown but hit 70 percent of their free throws. The Gators outrebounded the Hatters 40-33 (14-5 on the offensive glass), stole the ball 12 times, forced 17 turnovers and only gave the ball up nine times. Stetson was held to just 1-of-18 shooting (5.6 percent) from three and hit 40.7 percent of their shots from the field.

Florida will face their second top-five ranked opponent this season when they travel to face No. 3/4 Syracuse on Friday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

11/25: Florida vs. Jacksonville post-game notes

The No. 9/10 Florida Gators defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins 107-62 Friday evening in Gainesville, FL, avenging an upset loss from one year ago. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan provided his thoughts on the contest his team just played.

BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON

Florida had already won two games by 30+ points this year but there is no doubt that their win over Jacksonville on Friday was the Gators’ most complete victory of the young season. In addition to UF outscoring their opponent by 45 points, Florida saw five players score in double digits, only committed seven turnovers and never relented after taking a big lead early in the game.

“This game was the best game we played in terms of how I envision our team playing offensively and defensively,” Donovan said. “There was added incentive. Our guys were probably disappointed about last year losing to Jacksonville on our home court. They were very focused and realized this was going to be a battle, that they were going to come in here very confident and had a lot of players from last year still on the roster. They beat us soundly in a lot of aspects, and I thought our guys came in really focused and wanting to play well.”

Senior point guard Erving Walker, junior guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore center Patric Young all agreed with Donovan’s assessment.

“No disrespect to Jacksonville, but on our home court we’re not supposed to lose to a team like that,” Walker said. “Today was our best game overall as a team from start to finish. I think we did a great job.”

Boynton and Young believed the Dolphins quit when the going got tough.

“We definitely feel like they gave up tonight,” Boynton said. “That’s how it goes. Once you feel like a team gives up, you want to keep pushing to try and kill them.”

Young added, “I really noticed it mentally with their team. They started arguing with each other a little bit and losing their team chemistry. After that they started turning the ball over. It affected them being a team. They couldn’t run their plays and were taking bad shots, and we took advantage of it.”

WELCOME BACK, ERVING

Walker himself admitted on Wednesday that he was trying to break himself of some bad habits. He played within himself Friday, finishing with six assists, just one turnover and 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting including going 2-for-4 from downtown and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

“Erving Walker did a great job recognizing that we were in the double bonus. He kept getting himself to the free throw line,” Donovan said. “He didn’t take a lot of shots tonight – and obviously he shot the ball better tonight than he had the previous four games – but he got himself to the free throw line. He had a level of recognition and was aware what was going on.”

If Walker can continue playing like he did on Friday, ensuring his teammates get open looks while hanging onto the ball and taking advantage of opportunities to get to the line, he could wind up having a very special season for Florida.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Boynton on the team focusing on rebounding: “We know the offense is going to come, so basically the plan is to rebound. We knew that they were going to come in here and try to fight hard because they had a lot of confidence last year.”

» Young on his extra energy in the second half: “Coach was talking about in the halftime how we need to come out with a lot of energy. [...] It was a good opportunity for me to come out with a spark. I didn’t play too much in the first half, and I just felt like I could spark our team and give us what we needed.”

» Young said he will continue wearing the Oakley goggles for the short term because his eye is still bothering him a bit. However, it is not likely that he will have to wear them for the remainder of the season.

» Walker on Donovan being one game away from 400 wins: “I’m just a part of it. He’s been getting these wings for so long. I’ll be happy for him. He’s a great coach and hopefully we’ll get it for him.”

» Donovan of the fast tempo of the game: “We moved the ball, shared the ball, but we were really active in our press. We were able to cause a lot of havoc. Even though we didn’t turn them over a lot, it created a tempo and a pace where offensively we really were able to get out on the break.”

» Donovan on the play of sophomore G/F Casey Prather: “Casey coming off the bench – how he played in the game in the first half is exactly how he had been practicing all the way through. Getting him to transfer the practice to the game has been something we’ve been trying to help him with.”

» Donovan on nearing 400 wins: “I’ve had a lot of good players. It makes me feel very old, you know? Anytime you get to those milestones, they’re somewhat special, but more than anything else they reflect back on the guys that I’ve had a chance to coach. These guys are in their 30s now. I see Jason Williams here last week. The guy’s in his mid-30s and he’s retired. I just feel older now. It’s a different feeling. To be able to be here for so long and for that to happen, I’m just blessed to have a lot of really good players.”

» Donovan on freshman G Brad Beal spending some time at the four: “He’s just got an incredible mind in terms of picking things up. He just let the game come to him tonight. He had five turnovers; I thought a lot of his turnovers were off his defensive rebounds when he was trying to start the break. He gets 15 points and you don’t even know it. He grabs eight rebounds and you don’t even know it. I feel comfortable playing him anywhere.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

No. 9/10 Gators cruise past Dolphins 107-62

Revenge is a dish best served from downtown.

The No. 9/10 Florida Gators (4-1) utilized 11 clutch three-pointers to upend the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins (2-3) Friday evening, avenging an overtime upset one year ago with a blowout 107-62 victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton led the way for his squad with a game-high 22 points on 50 percent shooting (4-for-7 from downtown), and senior point guard Erving Walker chimed in with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting while hitting 7-of-8 free throws and adding a game-high six assists.

Jacksonville opened up hot with a pair of threes to take an early 6-2 lead, but Florida quickly responded with an impressive 26-4 run spanning 6:21 to jump ahead 18 points with 10:25 left in the first half. Boynton made consecutive treys to end the run and also contributed a layup and two free throws during the stretch.

Undeterred by the Gators’ offensive breakout, the Dolphins countered with an 8-0 run to reduce their deficit to 10 points. However, UF kept the pressure on and used an 11-0 run including two baskets by sophomore center Patric Young to go up to go up 22 points.

Florida increased that advantage to 24 points but ended the first half with a 20-point lead after JU’s Russell Powell hit an off-balance three-pointer at the buzzer.

The teams traded deuces to open the second half, but the Gators scored 11-straight points and held a 31-point lead with 17 minutes to play. Young scored five-straight points during the run, which was capped off with a trey from sophomore PG Scottie Wilbekin.

Florida maintained its big lead for the remainder of the contest and wound up winning by 45 points, their largest margin of the evening.

All 10 Gators scored and five reached double figures. Joining Boynton and Walker were Young (14), freshman G Brad Beal (15) and redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (12).

Young, Beal and sophomore forward Will Yeguete each registered nine rebounds with Yeguete, who started in place of injured junior F Erik Murphy (right knee), also scored a career-high eight points.

Florida notched double-digit threes for the fifth straight game, and Boynton improved to 19-for-35 (54.2 percent) from downtown this season.

The Gators outrebounded the Dolphins 42-30, dished 11 more dimes (19-8) and hit 63 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe (22-for-35). UF held JU to 38 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers on the evening.

Florida only committed seven turnovers Friday with Beal coughing it up five times. Young added three blocks on the evening and three Gators registered two steals.

UF will travel to Orlando, FL on Monday to take on Stetson in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout as head coach Billy Donovan goes for his 400th career victory. The game will tip at 7 p.m. and air live on Sun Sports.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

11/21: Florida vs. Wright State post-game notes

The No. 9/10 Florida Gators defeated the Wright State Raiders 78-65 in a neutral site game to close the Global Sports Shootout Monday night in Tampa, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan provided his thoughts on the contest his team just played.

FAILING TO CAPITALIZE AND RECOGNIZE OPPORTUNITIES

Florida had numerous opportunities to step on the collective throats of Wright State on Monday but never did so, allowing their game-high 16-point lead to be reduced to single digits before pulling it back up and closing out the game. Donovan said that, going forward, the Gators are going to have to change their mentality and recognize some opportunities they have in certain matchups.

“Believe me, I’m all for the three-point shot, but our team awareness of what has [gone on during the game is poor],” he said. Donovan wants Florida to put the ball on the floor more when the three isn’t following and, when up double-digits, add to it with high-percentage shots and free throws rather than taking long ones from downtown.

Speaking of free throws, Donovan noted that the Gators were in the bonus/double bonus early in each half, but UF failed to capitalize on either opportunity.

“There was not really an understanding of how do we put this team away,” he said. “Part of the way we needed to do that was understanding that we were shooting the double bonus with about 12 minutes to go. Getting stops in key situations, not fouling in key situations, not breaking down like we did. We could have put the team away.”

Though not as big of an issue as the past few games, Florida’s foul shooting (20-of-30, 66.7 percent) remains a bit of a concern. “It’s something we’re going to get better at. I think we have a chance to be a good free throw shooting team; we just haven’t showed it up to this point in time. Certainly 67 percent is a lot better than 55, so maybe we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan said that sophomore center Patric Young had “pretty significant blurred vision in the locker room” after being poked in the eye late in the first half. The doctors cleared him to play once his vision was 100 percent clear, which happened approximately nine minutes into the second half.

» On freshman guard Brad Beal’s versatility: “Brad was the one guy I thought – he was 1/6 from the three-point line – but you would really have never noticed it with the way he was playing because he had some drives to the basket, he got to the free throw line, he did some different things.”

» On Beal and junior G Kenny Boynton working through shooting woes: “The encouraging thing about some of our three-point shooting now is that Erving [Walker] and Brad Beal did not shoot the ball particularly well from behind the line. Those two guys combined were 2-for-11. Kenny at least making some of those shots has kept him in the game mentally, but he’s got to work himself through when he’s having one of those nights when he’s not shooting it well. Brad did a pretty good job tonight working through that. Going 1-for-5, he worked himself through it. Kenny’s done that.”

» On what he is the most pleased about with Florida: “I can’t tell you there was one thing that I was really pleased with from start to finish. I thought we were ok. I thought we showed signs at rebounding the ball, shooting the ball well. If there’s one thing I would say I was really pleased with – that I maintained a level of pleasure with – I really think they’re trying to move and pass the ball. That part of it I’ve been very pleased with.

» On the team’s chemistry/cohesiveness: “I do think there’s a lot of room for improvement, and I do think we can get better.”

» On redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson’s rough showing: “I put him in a tough spot tonight. It’s more me. He didn’t really get in the first half. I throw him in there with 10-12 minutes. The guy has been sitting on the bench. It’s freezing in there. There’s ice on the floor. Who knows what he’s doing right now? I think he had a heating blanket on and he’s trying to get out there and play. It was not his fault. I noticed that he looked like me running up and down the floor getting out of bed in the morning. That was more my fault. I have confidence in Cody, and I do think he can help us. He can be a good player and a solid player for us.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Florida tops Wright State 78-65 in Tampa

Meeting in Tampa, FL for their fourth Global Sports Shootout game, the No. 9/10 Florida Gators (3-1) took down the Wright State Raiders (2-2) 78-65 behind a season-high 22 points from guards junior Kenny Boynton and freshman Brad Beal.

Boynton’s hot shooting from the start of season continued Monday as he made 7-of-11 attempts from the field and 6-of-9 shots from downtown. Beal, who also grabbed five rebounds, was 6-for-11 from the floor but just 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Florida maintained a double-digit lead on Wright State through most of the first half and increased their advantage to 15 points just before the break.

Gators sophomore center Patric Young was poked in his right eye while going up for a rebound just before the break and sat out for the first nine minutes of the second half while holding ice to his head on the bench.

By the time he returned, Florida led 58-43 following an 8-2 run including a three-pointer and dunk by Boynton within a minute of each other. The Gators held a 16-point advantage twice in the second half but never expanded their lead, allowing the Raiders to continuously cut down their deficit.

A deep three by Wright State G Julius Mays concluded an 8-2 run that reduced Florida’s lead to nine points with just five minutes to play, and WSU also found itself down just 10 points with 2:23 left in the game.

However, the Gators kept up with the Raiders shot-for-shot down the stretch and held on for the 13-point victory.

Florida outrebounded Wright State 35-23 and dished 11 more assists (17-6) but turned the ball over four more times (15-11). The Gators shot 45 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc but continued to struggle at the charity stripe, hitting just 20-of-31 shots (64 percent).

Mays led the Raiders with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting (3-for-4 from downtown).

UF redshirt junior G Mike Rosario scored 11 points while hitting on 4-of-5 shots and added seven boards. Five Florida players notched five or more rebounds on the evening including senior point guard Erving Walker (nine points, seven assists, five turnovers) and junior forward Erik Murphy (seven points, four turnovers).

The Gators return home to Gainesville, FL to host Jacksonville on Friday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on Sun Sports (check your local listings).

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

Tags: , , , , , , ,

11/17: Florida vs. North Florida post-game

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators returned home after being defeated by Ohio State and upended the North Florida Ospreys 91-55 Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some Florida players discussed the contest they just played.

CHARITY STRIPE NOT BEING VERY CHARITABLE

The Gators have shot well as a team through the first three games of the 2011-12 season, but the squad has noticeably continued to struggle from the free throw line. Florida is shooting 56.9 percent from the charity stripe this year, which is about 20 percent lower than the level the team should be at, according to Donovan.

“It irritates me because we’ve got a good shooting team. I see it more as a mechanical problem right now. I don’t think our guys are using their legs like they need to,” he said. “A lot of our free throws are short. They got to dip into their legs a little bit more. We’re in the mid-50s for the year and that should not be the case. We’ve spent some time shooting them, but we’ve got to do a better job. There has to be more focus and discipline there.”

Donovan said he tries to create pressure situations in practice but no matter how well the Gators shoot in the gym, he knows it does not always translate equally to the court.

“They start missing them and then they’re all thinking about it right now. We’ve got to get enough reps in right now where they get more comfortable there,” he said.

YOUNG NEEDS TO GET INVOLVED

Unlike two days prior, Florida really concentrated on moving the ball and making the extra pass against North Florida. Part of that concentration was supposed to be ensuring that sophomore center Patric Young got more touches around the basket.

“We felt like in the Ohio State game, in the first half, Pat didn’t get touches. In the second half we felt like when he got the ball good things happened. Overall we just wanted to work on moving the ball and team chemistry,” junior guard Kenny Boynton said.

As it turned out, Young scored a season-low seven points and took just seven shots. Donovan was obviously displeased with his big man getting so few looks.

“We got to find ways, when we’re spaced out like that and the defense has to come out, we got a pretty big, physical guy isolated in the post one-on-one. We got to find ways to incorporate him more into what we’re doing,” he said.

BOYNTON NO LONGER RELYING ON THE THREE

A scoring machine coming out of high school, Boynton spent most of his first two years with Florida standing beyond the arc hoping to get the ball so he could jack up three-pointers. Donovan has been trying to get Boynton to work on his penetration for a while now and may have finally seen it come full circle on Thursday.

”I’m really pleased with him. He’s really made some great steps, and I’ve seen improvement every year since he’s been here,” Donovan said of Boynton. “He came in as a prolific scorer and that’s what he knew. Last year he had a better understanding of shot selection and extra passing. Right now he’s really done a nice job of assist-to-turnover ratio, driving it and not just relying on a three, getting in the lane, mid-range jumpers. He’s starting to add some different things to his game.

“He’s just got to understand that there’s going to be a night where he doesn’t shoot typically well, but his game has evolved as such that he can still have a great impact on it because he’s just not relying so much on the three. That’s been the biggest thing – he’s driven, pulled up, made extra passes and done a lot of different things. And clearly he’s one of our better perimeter defenders.”

Boynton agreed with Donovan’s assessment after the game Thursday. Just 2-of-8 from downtown, Boynton began taking it to the hole and finished 7-of-14 from the field for a game-high 20 points.

“I felt like I was relying on my outside shot a lot. It was falling [in the first two games], but I definitely want to work on everything,” he said. “It was the reverse tonight. My outside shot wasn’t falling, so I started going to the hole.”

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Senior point guard Erving Walker (and his recent struggles): “The thing that bothered me with Walker at Ohio State and a little bit [against North Florida] is I think you can get into a little bit of senioritis where you’re a senior and you kind of want everything to go well and you want it to be a real good year. You’ve paid your dues and you’ve worked hard and then when it’s not going well there’s almost this, ‘Why me.’ Erving Walker, his whole entire life, has been a fighter. I don’t think that because he’s a senior he can stop fighting. I really challenged him in the second half in the locker room, and I thought in the second half he competed and went back to having that fight in him. We need him to have that fight because it impacts the rest of our team.”

Freshman G Brad Beal (and his basketball IQ): “NBA players are not only the most talented and gifted, they’re the smartest. Sometimes that gets lost when you see some of these guys play and they’ve played so many games. The basketball intellect is really high. The ones up at that level, the really good ones have it. Brad’s got that. He understands it; he gets it. I’m actually trying to extract more out of him verbally because I think he can lead. He knows he’s a competitor. He can shift it into a different gear. But he also doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes or come across as selfish. That’s a good thing, too; it’s a good quality for him to have.

“[Al] Horford had it. [Udonis] Haslem had it. Corey Brewer had it. Mike Miller had it. There’s certain guys that learn as the game evolves. Erving Walker had it as a freshman. There’s certain guys that come into a game as a freshman, and it doesn’t look like they’re a freshman. They can play inside the flow of the game because they understand little things or can think ahead. Certain guys got to go thorough experiences to go through it to figure out what not to do. Do they all have it? No. Is it rare? It’s probably somewhat rare, but the really good players eventually get that.”

Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (and his lack of defense): “He has proven that he can score. Again he comes out and gets 15 points in 20 minutes. The thing he’s losing sight of sometimes [is] that he needs to get better at is that he’s not defending like he needs to defend. He was in the wrong spots in the press. It’s all a little bit different for him and moving faster. He’s probably coming from a situation at Rutgers where everything was built around him and getting him shots. Now he’s incorporating himself where there’s a lot of different pieces. ‘How do I now get involved?’ The biggest thing he needs to do is be much more of a consistent defender. He’s capable, he just needs to be committed to it.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan said sophomore forward Will Yeguete saw the doctor Thursday after beginning to experience some post-concussion symptoms. He was set to take tests on Friday and will hopefully be back Saturday if everything checks out OK. “In the Ohio State game, he felt comfortable to go back in there and he went back in there. The next day he was complaining of some headaches and didn’t feel great. It was probably some concussion-like symptoms,” Donovan said.

» Rosario on the team’s quick turnaround: “It was tough. We went out there and lost to a good team. A lot of praise to those guys; those guys did a great job out there at Ohio State. We told ourselves we had to come back, do a one day turnover and be ready to go.”

» Beal on some of his miscues: “I’m a freshman so I still have a long way to go. I’m going to make mistakes but at the same time I know that I can learn from them and just try to improve them down the road.”

» Beal on his turnovers: “It’s just being careless, thinking too much instead of just playing basketball.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Gators ground Ospreys in 91-55 blowout

The game may not have started at the pace that No. 7/8 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan may have preferred, but his team pulled away early in the second half and cruised to an easy victory in a Global Sports Shootout game.

Florida (2-1) routed the North Florida Ospreys (1-2) 91-55 Thursday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL behind a 20-point performance on 7-of-14 shooting by junior guard Kenny Boynton.

Five Gators scored in double figures, including freshman G Brad Beal, who registered his first career double-double with 12 points (5-for-10) and 10 rebounds.

UF began and ended the first half moving a bit on the slow side. In between, the Gators used a pair of 8-0 runs as well as a 10-2 run to take a 28-11 lead. Florida stretched their advantage out to 20 before missing their final four shots of the half and heading to the back locker room up 39-22.

The Gators opened the second half with an impressive and game-changing 21-6 run that included a pair of threes by senior point guard Erving Walker, another from junior forward Erik Murphy, a dunk by Boynton and a crowd-pleasing alley-oop from Walker to sophomore center Patric Young.

Florida continued to put the pressure on from there, jumping ahead 37 points with about nine minutes to play and hanging on for the impressive victory.

Outrebounding their opponent in all three games so far this season, the Gators had a 36-31 advantage Thursday night. Florida turned the ball over 10 times (compared to 16 at Ohio State) but registered 11 steals and dished 18 assists.

UF shot 49.2 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from downtown but only hit 16-of-29 attempts (55.2 percent) from the charity stripe. The Gators were an unimpressive 5-for-13 from the line at the end of the first half but went 11-for-16 to end the game.

North Florida G Parker Smith scored a team-high 17 points and hit all seven of his tries from the charity stripe. As a team, the Ospreys made 13-of-16 shots from the line.

Walker scored 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-for-7 from beyond the arc) with six boards, four dimes and a team-high three turnovers. Boynton added four rebounds and five assists to his 20 points and also hit all four of his free throws.

Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario chimed in with 15 points while hitting 4-of-6 attempts from three, Murphy was 5-for-8 for 13 points and four boards, and Young finished with just seven points and four rebounds.

Florida will play its fourth and final GSS game in a neutral-site game against Wright State on Monday in Tampa, FL. The contest will air live at 8 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida (check your local listings).

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 7  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »