Donovan believes Florida should be seeded higher

Beal, Boynton named to All-SEC

Freshman guard Bradley Beal (23) and junior guard Kenny Boynton (1) were both named to the Associated Press All-SEC second team on Monday. The selections were made based on votes by sports writers throughout the conference.

Matt Stamey/ Staff photographer/ FILE
Published: Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:49 p.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said he felt the Gators deserved a higher seed heading into the NCAA Tournament.

“I felt going into it, five, maybe six (seed), going into that range,” Donovan said.

Instead, the No. 7 seeded Gators will open play in the West Region on Friday at 2:10 p.m. against No. 10 seed Virginia at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

No seven seed has reached the Final Four since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. But Donovan wants Florida's focus squarely on Virginia.

“Whenever a seed is handed out, I've always believe you've got to move on, move forward and you're not going to change anything,” Donovan said. “I think the (NCAA Tournament Selection) committee spends an enormous amount of time. They are very, very diligent.

“I guess paired up, matched up with everyone else in the field they gave us a seed that they thought was fair. I don't have a problem with it. I'm fine.”

Projected by some analysts as high as a No. 5 seed, Florida (23-10) fell to a No. 7 seed, in large part, because of its 4-6 record in its last 10 games. The Gators have dropped four of their last five games, though two of those losses have come against No. 1 Kentucky.

“The only game that I was really disappointed with our performance with was Georgia,” Donovan said. “I've said that before. I thought we played a very good game against (Vanderbilt) on the road. I thought we played pretty well against Kentucky at home.I thought we played a good game against Alabama. We had a stretch there where we got up 12 and we let them get back in the game.”

Florida is coming off a 74-71 loss to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals. The Gators led by as many as five points in the second half before going scoreless for a six-plus minute stretch.

“Our end of schedule has been really playing against all NCAA Tournament teams, playing Kentucky twice, playing Vanderbilt, playing Alabama,” Donovan said. “It's been all NCAA Tournament teams so we've seen good quality opponents.”

Added Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal: “The last couple of games we have played real strong. I'm confident.”

Two keys for the Gators against Virginia will be pushing the tempo and containing senior forward Mike Scott. Donovan compared the 6-foot-8 Scott to Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie because of his ability to score in a variety of ways. Scott, an All-ACC first team selection, is averaging 18.1 points per game.

“He clearly would be one of the better players in the SEC, clearly one of the best players in the ACC,” Donovan said. “He's an older guy. He can do it in a lot of different ways.

“He is the full consummate scorer because he can do it on the offensive glass, he can do it in the post, he can do it stepping away and shooting it and he can also do it off the dribble. So he is really a handful.”

Under third-year coach Tony Bennett, Virginia also leads the ACC in scoring defense, allowing just 53.7 points per game. Florida senior point guard Erving Walker said it will be important to the Gators to get the game going up and down the floor to create easy scoring chances.

“Sometimes it can be difficult when a team is real disciplined with the ball and doesn't turn the ball over,” Walker said. “Hopefully, you know, we want to press and keep pushing the pace and getting the game going our way.”

Beal still unsure of future

Beal said Monday he still doesn't know whether he will return to Florida for his sophomore season or declare for the NBA draft. The website has the 6-foot-3 Beal projected as the eighth overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks should he decide to leave early.

Beal said he intends to meet with Donovan following the season before making any decision.

“Either way it goes, if I leave, I still played a great year of college, I enjoyed it,” Beal said. “If I stay, it's only going to make me get better. Either way it goes, I'm gaining something positive out of it.”

Beal, Boynton All-SEC

Beal and junior guard Kenny Boynton were both named to the Associated Press All-SEC second team on Monday. The selections were made based on votes by sports writers throughout the conference.

Walker was an honorable mention selection. Kentucky center Anthony Davis was named both SEC player of the year and SEC newcomer of the year. Kentucky coach John Calipari was named SEC coach of the year.

Poll drop

Just barely, Florida remained in both major college basketball polls. The Gators fell three spots to No. 25 in the final AP men's basketball poll. In the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, Florida also fell three spots to No. 22.

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