Young excited about playing Rider in hometown


Florida's Patric Young looks to pass during the second half against Arizona at the Stephen C. O' Connell Center Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 at 10:08 p.m.

Florida sophomore center Patric Young said he expects to see plenty of family of friends tonight when he plays in his native Jacksonville for the first time in his college career.

Facts

Today's game

Who: No. 12 Florida Gators (6-2) vs. Rider Broncs (1-8)
When: Tonight, 7
Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville
Gainesville TV: CST (Cox Channel 259)
Gainesville radio: 103.7 FM

“I'm going to have the whole arena reserved for myself, actually,” Young said. “It's going to be a nice little homecoming.”

Coming off a career-high 25-point performance against Arizona, Young has reason to feel good about himself heading into Florida's game tonight at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum against Rider. The 6-foot-9, 247-pound Young responded to the challenge of finishing inside, shooting 12-of-15 in UF's 78-72 overtime win over the Wildcats.




“I guess you can view it as a breakthrough game,” Young said. “It was almost double my former career high (14 points), and I had an opportunity to showcase what I can really do and what I'm capable of doing for the team. Whenever my number is called again, hopefully it will be sometime along the line of this season, hopefully I can do the same thing.”

Florida coach Billy Donovan said the homecoming game for Young tonight will test how he responds to success.

“He can't think this is a continuation of Arizona now, and we're moving the game back up to Jacksonville,” Donovan said. “It's a new game, new team, new scouting report, preparation. He's got to go into the game and play the game with an understanding that (Wednesday) night is over.”

Growing up in Jacksonville, Young was a former standout pitcher until a growth spurt in high school shifted his focus to basketball. A lifelong Gator fan, Young committed to Florida in his sophomore year in high school and never wavered.

Young said he's been to arena football games and hockey games at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, but never played basketball there.

“I'm just going to think of it as any other game,” Young said. “I'm going to do the things I can control, like run the floor hard and rebound and finish when the ball comes to me. Hopefully I'll make the right decisions.”

Back to work on FTs

Donovan made one point clear Thursday. The Gators will get back to work on free throw shooting.

“I have never seen 2-for-14, and we're a good shooting team,” Donovan said. “We should be a much better free throw shooting team.”

Florida started 2-of-14 from the free throw line before finishing 15-of-32 (46.9 percent) for the game. It was Florida's worst free throw performance since going 2-for-6 (33 percent) against Kent State last season.

Donovan has tried different drills in practice to simulate pressure situations, including making the whole team run sprints if a player can't make two consecutive free throws. After the Arizona win, Florida dropped to 59.1 percent from the free throw line this season.

“There is a focus that needs to be there and more of a consistency mentally for those guys when they are there,” Donovan said. “I think that's a locked-in tunnel vision of what they need to do when they are at the line.”

Young said the Gators have shot free throws well in practice.

“When it matters and it comes to the games, we're just coming up short,” Young said. “Guys are going to put in work. They don't want to leave those points on the board.”

FREE THROWS: Donovan said that Will Yeguete will remain the starter at power forward, and Erik Murphy will come off the bench. Yeguete came through with several big hustle plays late against Arizona, finishing the game with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. “Will has obviously played well and has given us a great boost in Erik's absence,” Donovan said. “I think from an offensive standpoint, the way Erik can stretch the floor and the way he can shoot the ball, we certainly need to get him back in the rotation and back playing.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Jr. 17.8 ppg, 3.1 apg

G Erving Walker 5-8 Sr. 14.1 ppg, 5.3 apg

G Bradley Beal 6-3 Fr. 14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg

F Will Yeguete 6-7 So. 6.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 So. 11.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg

RIDER PROBABLE STARTERS

G Anthony Myles 6-5 So. 11.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg

G Jonathan Thompson 6-4 Jr. 5.9 ppg, 3.3 apg

G Jeff Jones 6-4 Sr. 13.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg

F Novar Gadson 6-7 Sr. 9.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg

F Daniel Stewart 6-7 So. 14.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg

Notes: Florida is playing its third neutral site game of the season. The Gators are 2-0 in neutral site games, with wins over Wright State in Tampa and Stetson in Orlando. … Florida is coming off a 78-72 overtime win against Arizona, a game in which the Gators were held to a season-low seven 3-pointers. … The Gators are shooting 59.6 percent from the free throw line following a 15-for-32 effort from the line against Arizona. ... Despite its 1-8 start, Rider has shown an ability to play with elite competition. The Broncs led Pittsburgh on Pitt's home floor with under five minutes remaining earlier this season before falling 86-78. Rider also beat USC by 20 points in Los Angeles last season and has posted recent upsets over Mississippi State (2009), Penn State (2007) and Rutgers (2007). … Rider returns three starters and seven players overall from a team that went 23-11 last season and tied for second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

— Kevin Brockway

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top