Shooting an issue for UF men's basketball

Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 11:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 11:03 p.m.

Florida entered the 2009-2010 season concerned about improving a defense that ranked tied for last in field goal percentage allowed the previous year.

Who knew last October that UF's projected strength, perimeter shooting, would turn south.

The Gators enter Southeastern Conference play Saturday at Vanderbilt last in the league in 3-point shooting (29.3 percent), and 10th in field goal percentage (44.1 percent). Overall, the Gators rank 312th out of 347 Division I teams in 3-point shooting accuracy.

Florida (11-3) survived a 3-for-24 3-point shooting performance in its 62-61 overtime win Sunday at North Carolina State. The Gators missed their first 13 3-point attempts and were 1-for-22 before making two straight 3-pointers in overtime. One came on a desperation 75-foot heave from junior Chandler Parsons at the buzzer.

“Going back and charting games where we've shot the ball very well and games where we haven't shot the ball well, I think it's guys continuing to understand shots that they are making for a higher percentage and shots they are not,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

Florida's lowest 3-point shooting percentage in its previous 13 seasons under Donovan was 35.3 in 2001-02. Donovan's teams have traditionally been near the top of the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage behind sharpshooters like Teddy Dupay, Brett Nelson, Matt Bonner, Matt Walsh, Anthony Roberson and Lee Humphrey.

Parsons leads the Gators in 3-point shooting this season at 38.8 percent. But UF's starting backcourt of freshman Kenny Boynton and sophomore Erving Walker have struggled from the perimeter. Boynton is at 25.5 percent (26-102) from 3-point range. Walker, who led UF last season shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range, is 29.1 percent from beyond the arc.

“Coaching two young backcourt players that for most of their careers have always been able to knock down shots or make shots, (it's) getting them to understand where they are most effective,” Donovan said. “Hopefully with a week here to prepare for Vanderbilt we'll get an opportunity to address some of those things further and start to continue to try to help those guys.”

Boynton and Walker are both averaging 32.1 minutes per game. Donovan has relied on both guards at the front of the press and acknowledged that fatigue could be impacting their shooting.

“With the way we play, trying to press, it is maybe a little more fatiguing on our team than other teams that don't,” Donovan said. “I'd like to try to keep Boynton and Walker below 35 minutes per game. If I can keep those guys from 28 to 31, 32, I think that's probably a good range for them.”

The return to Vanderbilt could provide Florida some confidence as well. Last season at Memorial Gym, the Gators shot a season-best 15-for-25 from 3-point range in a 94-69 rout of the Commodores. Parsons went 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the game and Walker went 3-for-5.

Donovan said he will continue to give his shooters the green light in an effort to work out of their season-long slumps. Florida has shot 30 percent or less from 3-point range in eight of its 14 games this season.

“It's easy to instill confidence in guys when you are dealing with guys that really care and it bothers them,” Donovan said. “I know it bothers Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker when they are open and they don't knock down shots. And that's a good thing.

“But the last thing they need to hear is me to tell them I want them to stop shooting, don't shoot, it's a bad shot, that's not a good shot, and they are over-thinking. There are certain things they need to be coached but for the most part I think I have to try to give them confidence.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5053 or at

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