UF MEN'S BASKETBALL
Freshmen lead charge in win over Nebraska-Kearney
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8:53 p.m.
Led by a team-high 21 points from Michael Frazier II, Florida’s freshman class was the pleasant surprise in the Gators’ 101-71 exhibition win Thursday over Nebraska-Kearney.
But shortly after the game, Florida coach Billy Donovan was more worried about his team’s lackluster defensive effort. The Gators allowed 71 points at home to a Division II school and barely outrebounded (32-29) a Nebraska-Kearney team with no players taller than 6-foot-7.
Florida will need to shore up the defensive letdowns before its season opener Nov. 9 in Jacksonville against Georgetown in the Navy-Marine Corps Classic. UNK finished the game shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent (7-of-17) from 3-point range.
“I was really, really surprised and disappointed and bothered with how we played defensively as a group tonight,” Donovan said. “And I would say I’m extremely alarmed and concerned about our team on that end of the floor and our team’s commitment at that end of the floor.”
That’s why Donovan benched his starters for long stretches in the second half. Florida’s freshmen took advantage of the opportunity. Frazier scored 21 points, going 8-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Point guard Braxton Ogbueze added 16 points, and freshman guard Dillon Graham had 12 points and three assists.
“I think we (the freshmen) played really hard, and that’s all coach Donovan asked, to go out there and give our best effort,” Frazier said. “I think we showed that tonight.”
Frazier downplayed his own big night.
“My teammates, they did a great job of finding me,” he said. “That’s all I can say. The shots just fell tonight.”
Florida also got a strong effort from junior forward Will Yeguete, who wound up with a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds) and two steals. Donovan said he had been on Yeguete before the Rollins scrimmage for being sluggish on the court due to his added weight. But the 240-pound Yeguete was back to his usual active self Thursday night.
“To his credit, I think he really focused on it since the Rollins scrimmage, to get better in those areas,” Donovan said.
The same couldn’t be said for starting frontcourt players Erik Murphy and Patric Young. The duo combined for just six points and seven rebounds in 40 minutes against an undersized UNK frontline.
“That’s not good enough,” Donovan said. “We need more from them.”
It also was a disappointing night for senior guard Mike Rosario, who finished with as many points (four) as turnovers (four). Rosario dribbled the ball off his foot late in the first half, a turnover which led to an easy UNK fast-break layup.
“For some reason, he thinks his foot is part of his hand when he dribbles,” Donovan said. “He kicks it off his foot all the time, and he turns it over way too much and he’s way too careless with the ball.
“I think Michael tried today, but when you turn the ball over like that and we’re getting his liability on defense, I think he tried on defense, but he’s got to get better.”
Donovan was cautious when asked the offensive potential of his freshman class.
“I’ve seen a lot of different guys come out as freshmen in their first game and make a lot of shots,” Donovan said. “It’s a long year. I never try to put anything into a game.”
But Donovan was pleased with the defensive effort the freshmen showed, which should help provide depth during the course of the season.
“They are committed to working hard, they are committed to getting better,” Donovan said. “After coaching those guys for three weeks, they don’t know what they are doing, but they are committed.”
FREE THROWS: Senior Kenny Boynton added 14 points for the Gators, as five UF scorers reached double-figures. …. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin had five points and three assists on 2-of-8 shooting. … Murphy will head to Rhode Island on Friday to attend the funeral of his grandmother, who died earlier this week. … Donovan said junior forward Casey Prather, who sat out the exhibition game with a concussion, is not cleared to return to the floor yet but is improving. “His symptoms are getting better and better for him to go back on the floor,” Donovan said. “Certainly I’m hopeful he’ll be out there next weekend, I don’t know, but I do know he’s improving and getting better.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.