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.”
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.”