The No. 7/8 Florida Gators played their first road game of the 2011-12 season on Tuesday evening, falling 81-74 to the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus, OH. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some Florida players discussed the contest they just played.
DISPARITY OF TURNOVERS, FREE THROWS DOOM GATORS
A lot can be said about Tuesday’s clash between Florida and Ohio State, but two areas in which the Gators were noticeably deficient were in hanging onto ball and taking advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe. UF coughed the ball up nine times in the first half and on seven more occasions after the break. OSU, on the other hand, only turned the ball over seven times the whole game.
“That allowed them to really get back in the game,” Donovan said of the miscues. “We had a stretch where [Mike] Rosario turned it over twice and our backcourt, I thought, turned it over way too much. Any time you turn the ball over, that’s not good playing on the road against a good offensive team. The turnovers on the road certainly hurt you. It’s going to be good for our guys to watch the film.”
Freshman guard Brad Beal was the worst offender with a game-high five turnovers, but senior point guard Erving Walker gave the ball up three times (officially), as did sophomore G Kenny Boynton. Walker and Boynton also combined to go just 4-for-9 from the free throw line, something Donovan blamed on himself.
“We have not shot enough – as much as we need to,” he said about free throw drills during practice. Donovan noted that more time had not been spent on those shots because the team had been doing too much preparation early in the season with installations and trying to perfect other areas of their game.
Florida missed eight free throws and shot just 61.9 percent from the line.
POOR SHOT SELECTION HURT MOMENTUM
“As the game wore on in the first half, we were taking too many shots too quick,” Donovan said. “We didn’t make good decisions of what was open and what was available to take advantage of. We got into some quick shooting, certainly in the second half we did, which allowed them to open up the game.
“When we moved the ball side-to-side and really got it popping around there – the ball was moving and we were getting penetration, kick-outs, inside and out, we were very effective scoring. When the first guy tried to make a play, it usually resulted in something bad.”
Though others were also to blame, Walker certainly took some bad shots early in the game. He finished 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown with just four points.
“Erv got off to a tough night shooting. One of the things that he can learn from and grow from is an understanding…for Erving when things are not going great for him, there’s still so many other things he can do for our team,” Donovan insisted. “He’s such a good, solid player. He’s made a lot of big shots, and he’s done a lot of great things for us.
“But he’s got to understand that as a catalyst back there, he’s got to almost show a disposition and attitude of great mental toughness that is not going to break or wilt at all. As a senior, he has such high expectations for himself that he probably at times puts too much on his shoulders. He’s got to understand that he’s got a bunch of guys with him that can help.”
YOUNG PLAYED WELL BY NOT STANDING UP TO SULLINGER
Apparently a conversation with former Gators star Joakim Noah helped Young prepare for the task of defending 2010 Freshman of the Year Jared Sullinger. Young said the two spoke before the game and Noah communicated to him that he had to change his shape in order to play better defense against such a talented player.
“A lot of guys lull themselves to sleep and just stand and give him opportunities to duck them in. I had the mindset, I talked to Joakim Noah earlier, [he told me] ‘Pat, you stand up too much on defense. You stand straight up. If you stand up like that, any post player in the country will duck you in,’” Young recalled. “Coach Donovan has really been emphasizing position on me as well. So this game I really focused on staying low. Every time he came on offense he was going to feel my presence. I was going to let him know I was there and not give him anything easy.”
Sullinger scored 16 points on Tuesday but only hit 50 percent of his shots (half of his points came from the free throw line though Young only committed two fouls in the game). Donovan noted that Young defended him quite well.
“Overall I thought Pat’s size and strength against him was a big help. [Sullinger] never really got deep, deep post position where he could just catch, turn and score,” he said. “I got a lot of respect and admiration for [Young] as a frontcourt player to play and battle against Sullinger and only really get one shot off and play with that energy. I was proud that he never got frustrated in the game and just kept playing.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on how Ohio State got separation in the second half: “We got off to a really good start, which I think you want to do on the road, and then it went back-and-forth. Our defense in the first half was really good. We let Sullinger get to the free throw line a little too much, but I thought we did a nice job on him as a team and I thought Pat did a good job. We, for a period of time there, shots were not going in for us and we needed to have a better resiliency in terms of that we need to go back and play defense. When you play good teams and go on the road, you got to have something to fall back on when shots aren’t going. Maybe the first eight minutes we were shooting 29 percent and they were up around 60 [percent] that enabled them to get it around 8-10-12 and we were trying to fight back.”
» Donovan on OSU PG Aaron Craft: “Clearly he dominated the game from start to finish. He was the whole key to me in the game. More importantly, he really did it defensively. He physically beat up our guards. I’m not saying that our guards got fouled – it was totally within the context of the rules of the game. He physically manhandled our guards I thought, and he did it against everybody. Steals, strips, loose balls, drives – he’s as good as any guard there is out there. I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for him because he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid who probably does not get the respect in my opinion that he deserves.”
» Beal on the Buckeyes: “We were caught off guard at times where we weren’t guarding the ball well enough. They really just played better than our guards.”