Handling defeat

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 2:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 2:10 p.m.

Florida senior forward Adrian Moss has known loss as a Gator, and he has seen Florida teams react to a loss in different ways.

“I’ve been on teams where one loss has turned into two losses and into three losses, but I don’t see this team doing that,” Moss said. “We have a bunch of fighters and a bunch of warriors and we’re going to go back to ashy knuckles and get it done.”

Players can lose confidence after a loss and Moss said he has been on past teams where players begin to question themselves and how they will be able to win future games.

He has also been on teams that have turned losses into reasons to improve and have sparked streaks going into the SEC and NCAA tournaments.

According to Moss, this team has the confidence to do just that.

“We got a bunch of ‘get it done’ on this team,” Moss said. “I see nothing but the characteristics of the teams that have turned it (a loss) into wins on this team.”

Being the lone senior on this Gator basketball team puts Moss in a unique position. He has been through the losing and winning streaks, and he said using his experience to help his teammates overcome adversity could be his biggest role on the team.

“This is probably where I come through,” Moss said. “All the stuff my teammates are doing now, I’ve already done and I’m glad I got it out of my system.”

Head coach Billy Donovan said the team was extremely disappointed with the loss, but he expects them to be disappointed in losing.

He said the constant throughout the season is the need for this team to get better. Both wins and loses need to be treated the same in the sense that the team uses the games as avenues of improvement.

“You hope that something like that does sting you for a while so you can be able come back with a level of humility and a level of open eyes to see where we need get better and who needs to get better in what areas,” Donovan said.

The other challenge facing the Gators Wednesday night is starting guard Corey Brewer may miss the game because of a sprained ankle suffered in the first half of the Tennessee loss.

The sophomore is the Gators’ second leading scorer with 13.6 points per game and third on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.7 boards per game.

Brewer will travel with the team to South Carolina, but will be a game-time decision. In his absence, Donovan is looking for more production out of freshmen David Huertas and Walter Hodge.

“There is no question that we, without Corey, have depth issues,” Donovan said. “Going into this game, we don’t have any excuses. We’ve got enough to get on the floor and dress. We’re not going to be playing five on four. It will be five on five, and we’ll have to be able to play with some level of intelligence and have different guys step up.”

Sophomore forward Joakim Noah said he was very proud of the way the two freshmen stepped up in Brewer’s absence during the Tennessee game, but maintained the whole team needs to concentrate on improving through the next several games, especially with the absence of one of their top players.

“Right now we’re in a situation where we lost our last game and we’re not sure if we’re going to get our best player (back in time for South Carolina),” Noah said. “Right now we just have to stay hungry and listen to what coach has to say and be ready for every moment, seize the moment and come out with a win.”

For Noah, the loss reaffirms the need for improvements the team has to make in order to be the best it can be.

“Even while we were winning, we saw a lot of areas where we could get better,” Noah said

Despite the team’s assurances they have moved on from Saturday’s loss, how they will react on the court has yet to be seen.

Right now the Gators are still among the elite in Division I basketball with a No. 5 ranking, and they are in a good position to make a strong run for a SEC championship and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament come March.

On the flip side, if the Gators lose a few games, they will drop quickly from the rankings, because they don’t play a ranked team any time soon and already have the weakest schedule rating of the top Division I teams.

Adrian Moss sees one of two things happening.

“We can go two ways with this,” Moss said. “We can learn from it and become the best ball club that we can become, or we can let this loss turn into two losses and into three losses.”

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