Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the key news and notes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional quotes after the break.
POST PRESENCE SHOULD HELP SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
A lot of factors contributed to the backcourt’s inefficiency shooting the ball last season. Looking back on the 2009-10 team, junior point guard Erving Walker and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton were basically on an island without any depth behind them. This led to the duo being fatigued and forced to shoot lower percentage shots earlier than preferred. Donovan believes that will no longer be an issue this year. He expects Walker, Boynton and senior forward Chandler Parsons to get “better and cleaner looks” than they had previously as Florida will be making it a point to establish a scoring presence inside early and often.
“[The players] have shot the ball pretty well in practice. Right now our defense is probably ahead of our offense. Chandler even made a comment to me that he thought in practice it was a lot more difficult to get to the rim, it was a lot more difficult to rebound, things that maybe he was able to do the last couple of years he sees as more difficult,” Donovan said. “The shooting part of it, I think Kenny and Erving and even Chandler will be better shooting the ball just with having a better understanding of shot selection. Both Erving and Kenny, part of their struggles percentage-wise, was a lot of minutes fatigue wise, we really needed them to score, and probably were in situations where they had to take some more difficult shots. Those guys, up to this point, have shot the ball better – maybe because they’re older.”
LEADERSHIP MAKING AN IMPACT
For the first time since the Oh-Fours left for the NBA and the remnants of the back-to-back National Championship teams graduated, the Gators have strong leadership in the form of upperclassmen who can do so both with their words and by example. “In terms of our older guys, they’ve been very good leadership-wise, they’ve practiced well,” Donovan said. “They’ve done a good job trying to lead. We went some tough physical practice here Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So far up to this point in time I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
Donovan also spoke about how important it is to have a team with some depth experience-wise. “Any time you have leaders and older guys that have been through it there’s no question it’s helpful. They can set a standard or measuring stick for your younger guys to understand where they got to get to,” he said. “Any coach would always want some upperclassmen and older guys on their team. That’s always a positive.”
PATRIC YOUNG “PLAYS LIKE TARZAN”
The entire freshman class has impressed Donovan with their energy, enthusiasm and effort through his team’s first three practices. And while all of the freshmen stand out in different ways, physically no one commands attention like four-star power forward Patric Young. Listed at 6’9” (though he will argue 6’10”) and 245 lbs., Young looks as if he was chiseled from stone and plays as if no one can hurt him.
“He’s been really, really blessed physically,” Donovan said of Young. “You can see guys that look great physically, but they don’t’ play well physically. It’s the old, ‘Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.’ He plays like Tarzan. Physically he goes after it. He enjoys contact, he wants physical confrontation – he likes that. There [are] a lot of guys that don’t want any part of that.”
One of Young’s most promising characteristics is his love for defense and shot blocking, something Donovan realizes is a major positive but must be corralled and used appropriately. “We are definitely a better shot-blocking team [with Young] and have more of a presence at the rim,” he said. “When you’re constantly leaving your feet to block shots, there [are] two things that really end up becoming a problem. One is fouls of guys being out of position and getting fouls. The second thing is, when they leave the floor, you can break block-out situations and you can give up a lot of offensive rebounds. So as much as Patric Young, energy-wise, just wants to jump around the lane and try to block shots all the time, for every shot he blocks he’s given up two or three offensive rebounds when he doesn’t block-out. And the decision of, ‘When do I go chase a shot and try to block it or when do I have to go back and try to block-out,’ those are things experience-wise that take a lot of time to figure out.”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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