Gators search for consistency


Said Chandler Parsons: “There’s definitely a lot of things we need to work on.”

Brad McClenny/Special to Gatorsports.com
Published: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 5:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 5:55 p.m.

Here’s the kind of season it’s been so far for Florida.

The Gators had eight assists to 12 turnovers in the first half of its final non-conference tuneup against Longwood, struggling to build a 44-34 halftime lead.

In the final 20 minutes, Florida scored 51 points to cruise to a 95-69 win.

Against Ole Miss, Florida made eight of its first 10 3-point attempts to jump ahead 49-28. But Florida finished the game 3-of-19 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 46-22 in a 78-68 win against the Rebels.

Florida (14-2, 1-0 SEC) takes an eight-game winning streak into its first Southeastern Conference road game of the season Wednesday at Auburn. Yet UF’s lack of consistency from game-to-game and half-to-half have some leery of a late-season collapse similar to last season.

“We’re going to have to stop playing so inconsistent like that,” Florida sophomore forward Chandler Parsons said. “When we get up, we’re going to have to learn how to keep our foot on their neck and just keep it up, keep our press going, keep playing physical. We can’t let up on teams because as we saw any team in the SEC can come back really fast and make it a game.”

Florida’s rebounding woes in its win against the Rebels caused coach Billy Donovan to openly question the competitiveness of his team. Donovan also singled out incoming Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound center who is sitting out this season due to Division I transfer rules, for not setting a more physical tone in practice.

“I think we’ve got a whole bunch of competitive guys,” Parsons said. “We definitely go hard every day in practice. It’s not like we’re not competing out there but I think we still have more in the tank and we can do a little bit more. I think we’re going to have to do that to be the team that we want to be.”

Florida is shooting 35.7 percent from 3-point range the season, but its perimeter game has been as volatile at the stock market. The Gators have shot under 30 percent from 3-point range in three games this season. Two of the games have come against ACC opponents Florida State and North Carolina State.

“Shooting the ball, we’ve had some great shooting halves and some woeful shooting halves,” Donovan said. “I think sometimes that’s part of the game but I think finding ways to generate energy when the ball is not going in the basket is important.”

Donovan said he’s searching for more consistency from upperclassmen Dan Werner and Walter Hodge. Both have struggled on and off with foul trouble for much of the season. Sophomore point guard Nick Calathes, who earned SEC player of week honors Monday, has been Florida’s most consistent player this season, leading Florida in scoring in nine of its first 16 games.

“We have shoot the ball more consistent, we have to block out more consistent, we have to defend better,” Parsons said. “There’s definitely a lot of things we need to work on.”

FREE THROWS: Donovan will be going for his 300th coaching win at Florida on Wednesday against the Tigers. “In today’s day and age of coaching, it is really hard to stay at a place for a long period of time,” Donovan said. “I appreciate everyone in the administration for the opportunity they provided for me. In 13 years here going back to Greg Stolt and Eddie Shannon to Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem to Matt Walsh, David Lee and Anthony Roberson, and then to this last group, I have been very fortunate to have had some really good players to coach.” ... Donovan passed Norm Sloan (235) for Florida’s all-time leader in coaching wins three seasons ago.

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