11/16: Donovan talks UNF, evaluates players

By Adam Silverstein
November 17, 2011

With No. 7/8 Florida Gators basketball set to take on the North Florida Ospreys Thursday evening in Gainesville, FL, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Wednesday to discuss what preparations have been made for his team’s second home game of the season.


Rather than have a full day to prepare for North Florida, Florida was forced into a rough situation when the team was unable to takeoff and had to stay overnight in Columbus, OH following its loss to Ohio State. Donovan, which called UNF “a physical, hard-playing, competitive team” on Wednesday, called Thursday’s clash a “real high-level character game” for the Gators, one that will determine both how they bounce back from a loss and short preparation time.

“When you’re competing, you’re dealing with a win and feeling really good about yourself, or you’re dealing with a loss and somewhat licking your wounds and woe is me,” he said. “I think this is an opportunity to see what kind of resolve we have and what our character and our makeup is.”

Donovan said he hopes Florida took their loss to OSU tough because that is one factor that can determine the mental makeup of a team.

“I find that the guys that take losses the hardest are more often than not your better teams because there is that level of care,” he said. “We have a competitive group. They care and they were hurt. How much we feel sorry for ourselves today and how much we get back to work and try to improve we’ll see here this afternoon.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Heading into Tuesday’s game, Donovan was most worried about the Gators’ rebounding and if they would be able to step up to a team with a size advantage. To that end, he was quite pleased with Florida’s performance.

“We really made it, the last week or two, something that we really focused on. It was an area we did a pretty good job,” he said. “We got 13 offensive rebounds and, collectively in the first half, we did a pretty good job and didn’t get hurt on the backboard, which was encouraging.”

He was also happy that his team held Jared Sullinger to just eight shots and was able to press on defense without giving up “a lot of back end layups and dunks to him.”

However, the defeat also exposed some of UF’s problems, which Donovan laid out one-by-one. The first was offensive recognition, knowing where the ball needs to go on each possession depending on the flow of the game and defense the team is facing.

“We didn’t have that at all,” he said. “Pat plays the whole entire first half and took one shot. I respect the fact that he kept himself in the game. In the second half we did a better job getting it to him in and around the basket. He was 5-for-9 from the field in the second half. There was times where Murphy was wide open and our guards drove it, just didn’t see him, and they have to recognize.”

He also noted that the Gators (obviously) have to work on their foul shooting and penchant for turning the ball over. Both facets of the game were worked on during practice on Wednesday, and Florida hopes to show improvement in both areas against North Florida.


Senior point guard Erving Walker (and his turnovers vs. OSU): “That hurt us. Our recognition on a lot of plays – this is not unfamiliar this time of year. We struggled with this a little last year. [Erik] Murphy’s got it going and there were a couple opportunities where Erving drove it too deep and could have before he got there thrown it to Murphy, and we missed him. Being up by eight points there, I really thought we had a couple stops in a row that we could have extended it to a bigger lead.”

Freshman guard Brad Beal: “He turned it over a few times, and Ohio State tried to deny some things out of bounds. […] For him as a freshman, going through this was a good experience. I still think he has a lot of growth to make in terms of the physicality, speed and quickness of the game – just how competitive it is in that kind of environment. He plays and doesn’t seem to get bothered by too much. There were times last night he tried to kick it into a different gear; knowing when and how to is something he’s probably going to have to learn a little bit. I didn’t think he shot it particularly well like he is capable of.”

Sophomore center Patric Young: “I was really pleased with him. One, he played the game without being in a lot of foul trouble. He played with great energy and a really good motor. He kept himself in the game even though he really was not an offensive threat for the first 20 minutes. We missed him a few times. A few times he needed to post up where he didn’t post up in certain situations. Coming out of the half we made a focus to try and get him the ball a little bit. I was just encouraged with his activity and how hard he played. I’ve seen a lot of front court guys – when they’re playing and they’re battling and banging and physically rebounding and outletting and running the floor and they don’t get it – they get really frustrated. It was good to see that he didn’t, kept playing through it, and eventually the ball came to him and found him and he did some good things around the basket. There are still a lot of things he needs to get better at, but the one thing I was pleased with was how hard he played and competed in the game physically.”

Sophomore forward Will Yeguete: “The playing in France probably was a good thing. The one thing I probably would have liked to have seen is see his body change a bit more from the summer. He’s done a good job here with preseason conditioning in the six weeks we had. The one thing with Will is I think he has a pretty good identity of who he is – a lot of times players can not really understand and want to be something they’re not. I don’t think you’re going to see him take a lot of crazy shots. He is what he is. He’s a really good defender who can guard four different positions. He’s a terrific rebounder who can get to the offensive glass.”

Junior F Erik Murphy: “He is one of our better shooters. He got off to a good start there. We found him a few time and he knocked down a couple shots. He gives us a different look because now you have four guys spaced behind the three-point line, which is a different look for us and definitely helps us. We’ve got to utilize him a little bit more when he is open and there is triple penetration, making those decisions. That’s a hard thing for a guard – when you’re driving the ball down the lane, looking for holes and gaps, what’s open is now closed and what was closed now reopens and you got to make those split second decisions – ad I think we struggled with that in a lot of ways.”

“He’s always shot like that. He’s always been a good shooter. Even when he came in here as a freshman, I always felt like he was a good shooter. He’s gaining more and more confidence with that. He’s shot the ball very well in practice. […] He shoots it like [Matt] Bonner. Bonner probably was a little bit better off the dribble, putting it down. He can ball fake one or two dribbles, make a play, pass or shot. I think Murph has got to get better at that, but I do think he’s a high-level three-point shooters. I think he’s one of our better three-point shooters when his feet are set.”[/EXPAND]

One Comment

  1. Basshole says:

    I was happy with the effort last week, and glad we didn’t get run out of the gym against a pretty good team. Also, I am ecstatic to have Donovan as our coach. I love the way he gets the game, recruits so well and really coaches up his kids. I hope he sticks around for another 10-15 years.

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