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. Additional material from Florida’s starting five can also be found below.
TYUS’ COMMITMENT NEVER IN DOUBT
Though senior forward Alex Tyus nearly transferred after his sophomore season and tested NBA Draft waters last year before ultimately deciding to return to the team, Donovan never questioned his commitment to the University of Florida at any time.
“After his sophomore year a lot of it had to do with the position and where he was having to play. I don’t think it was necessarily any ill feelings towards Florida or myself,” Donovan said. “It was probably this thing that was ingrained into him early on in his career by a lot of different people that he had to play this position in order to become this kind of player. It was really the furthest thing from the truth, and it really was not reality.
“I’ve never really questioned his commitment. Alex is a great kid, he wants to win, I think he has a good relationship with his teammates. It was probably a product of him being younger and getting advice and opinions from some people that maybe really didn’t understand what the reality was of some of the situations.”
MACKLIN NEEDS TO STEP UP AS A LEADER
With so many freshmen set to play significant minutes coming off the bench this season, Donovan has been impressed with the leadership shown by two of the team’s seniors – Tyus and Chandler Parsons. However, when it comes to redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, Donovan sees room for improvement and attributes the gap to Macklin never being in a similar situation before.
“Vernon in particular has got do a better job leading this time of year for us. He’s got to understand the big picture in terms of what we’re trying to do. Vernon has got to prove that he can lead under duress, under adversity, under difficult circumstances,” he said. “I’ve tried to create some adversity in practices for him and for our team to see how they will respond. I don’t think Vernon has responded like I would like to see him respond. He’s done a great job up to this point. He’s played well and he’s worked hard. He himself has got to be able to handle and be a calming force in a lot of ways for our team. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can do that.”
Macklin understands what Donovan is looking for and hopes to satisfy his coach’s request. “I’m a vocal person, I just got to not let little things get to me and not have them affect the way I still be vocal in practice,” he said. “If something is not going my way, I still got to be a vocal person.”
WILBEKIN INJURY UPDATE
Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had been impressing Donovan daily in practice, strained his neck in the Gators’ first exhibition game and has not practiced since. He will sit out Florida’s exhibition finale against Georgetown College. “We’re hoping to have him back maybe by the weekend,” Donovan said. “[That’s] maybe a little bit on the positive side, maybe [he’ll practice] a little bit later than that.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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