Donovan: Gators' D can improve


Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 1:56 a.m.
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Billy Donovan wants better defensive effort from his top-ranked Gators.

ALEXANDER COHN/The Gainesville Sun
Although Florida entered the week ranked No. 1 and is undefeated in conference play, coach Billy Donovan is still seeking improvement on the defensive end of the floor.
"We can still get better defensively," Donovan said.
Florida leads the Southeastern Conference in fewest points allowed at 57.3 per game, though it takes into account a non-conference schedule that included blowouts against offensively-challenged North Florida, Southern and Prairie View A&M. In SEC games, Florida is second behind Kentucky, allowing 57.7 points per game.
Donovan pointed out the inability to contain South Carolina senior point guard Tre Kelley as an example of an area for defensive improvement. Kelley consistently beat Florida defenders off the dribble early in the game, scoring 20 of his team-high 24 points in the first half.
"I saw defensive breakdowns in the South Carolina game," Donovan said. "Although we were up by big margins in the first half, there were reasons why Tre Kelley was penetrating our defense and getting inside. There's a reason he scored 20 against us in the first half."
The bye week entering Saturday's game against Ole Miss should also benefit Florida's freshmen, who are still adapting to the intensity of SEC play. Of the four, center Marreese Speights has been the most statistically productive (5.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg), though forward Dan Werner has been the first freshman to come off the bench in most games.
"It's hard to know a level of progression with them because you have so many experienced guys in front of them," Donovan said. "But their attitude has been good. They've worked hard."
Freshman guard Brandon Powell provided a solution off the bench in helping defend Kelley in the second half.
"Their role is going to come and go," Donovan said. "I wish we could get into a more consistent role with them but the way the South Carolina game went, they weren't playing a lot of subs, the game wasn't going up-and-down. It was a pretty much halfcourt game. I didn't think our guys needed a lot of rest in that game."
Kevin Brockway can be reached at (352) 374-5054 or by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com.

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