Notebook: Rosario ready for big stage

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 6:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 6:19 p.m.

OMAHA, Neb. — Before the season began, junior guard Mike Rosario said he transferred to Florida for the opportunity to play in big games.

On the eve of his first NCAA Tournament game, Rosario was all smiles, even given his limited role this season.

“I've been itching to get here,” Rosario said. “I'm here now, so it's a great opportunity.”

Rosario is looking to get back on track when Florida opens NCAA Tournament play today against Virginia. A hip injury forced Rosario to sit out three games in February, but the 6-foot-3 Rutgers transfer said he's back to 100 percent.

“The time of the injury, I was a little tentative so I didn't want to push it to the point where it would just keep me out for long,” Rosario said. “I'm just happy to be feeling a lot better.”

Rosario is still Florida's top scorer off the bench, averaging 6.8 points per game. But he's averaged just 2.4 points off the bench in his last nine games. In Florida's last game against Kentucky, Rosario played just two minutes and was pulled from the game after a turnover on an in-bounds pass.

“The injury has set me back, and the little things I could have done on the floor to help the team, I haven't been able to do,” Rosario said. “I was a little bit upset that I couldn't go out there and perform to the best of my ability at the time. I'm just happy to be healthy.”

Rosario described his first season at Florida as “up and down,” but said he definitely wants to come back for his senior season. He's had to adjust to a role off the bench after two seasons starting at Rutgers.

“The main thing that I did was stay focused on getting better and just making my teammates better every day,” Rosario said. “When the opportunity comes, I'm going to be ready and on edge.”

In his sophomore season at Rutgers, Rosario was ninth in the Big East in scoring at 16.7 points per game. But he hasn't scored in double figures for Florida since getting 10 points off the bench against Vanderbilt on Feb. 4. During that span, he's made just one of his last 12 3-point attempts.

“I love Florida and I just can't wait to provide whatever I can for this program and stay a part of this team and do whatever I can to help us win national championships,” Rosario said.

Young coming back

Florida sophomore center Patric Young said in the locker room Thursday that he intends to come back for his junior season.

“That's the first that I heard of that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “So that's always great news. I think Patric has learned a lot this year. I don't think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.”

Consistency has been an issue for Young, who has averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while dealing with ankle tendinitis. Still, many NBA mock draft websites have Young projected as a potential mid first-round draft pick because of his 6-foot-9, 247-pound frame.

Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey has worked closely with Young this season.

“I think the biggest thing with Patric coming into this year was for him to find himself a different role in terms of being counted on,” Pelphrey said. “Last year, for a lack of a better term, he was in a support role. He came in with this tremendous energy, it wasn't going to be for long stretches of time. He was really good at that, physical, didn't have to worry about foul trouble.”

Pelphrey said he thinks Young has made strides in scoring, rebounding and staying out of foul trouble.

“The biggest challenge for all of those guys and for any team is to be consistent,” Pelphrey said. “With that, most of the time it comes through experience.”

Homecoming for Larson, Beal

Florida receiving the No. 7 seed in the West Region in Omaha served as a homecoming of sorts for Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal and redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson.

Beal is from St. Louis, about a six-hour drive from Omaha. Beal said he expects about a dozen family members at the game and some youth league coaches.

“I'm really looking forward to seeing them,” Beal said.

Larson is from Sioux Falls, S.D., about a two- to three-hour drive from Omaha. He said he fielded about 25 ticket requests.

“It's good that my family can come see me, but dealing with the tickets was a little bit of a hassle,” Larson said. “I just want to go out and play.”

Florida sells ticket allotment

Florida will have several hundred fans watching their game against Virginia today — 400, to be exact.

Each NCAA Tournament team receives a distribution of 350 tickets and can ask for another 200.

Florida asked for extras after selling its original allotment of 350 and ended up selling 400.

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