Henderson's antics not the worry
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:57 p.m.
The Marshall Henderson show is coming to the O'Connell Center on Saturday when Florida hosts Ole Miss.
Who: Ole Miss at UF
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
On TV: ESPNU
But Florida coach Billy Donovan isn't concerned about Henderson's quirky, attention-grabbing antics. Instead, he's worried about finding ways to stop the chest-pounding Ole Miss junior guard who has come out of nowhere to become the SEC's leading scorer at 19.1 points per game.
“I look at it more of what we have to do in terms of his talent level, his ability, what he brings to their team,” Donovan said. “Our guys need to get prepared for the game and they need to get ready to play. And our guys need to understand how they try to utilize him.”
Donovan said that the 6-foot-2 Henderson is dangerous coming around screens because of his speed and footwork.
“He's got the ability to kind of get himself squared up pretty quickly,” Donovan said. “He can make tough shots. He can make challenged shots. He gets to the free-throw line quite a bit. He's got the ability to put the ball on the floor. He's a good player. He's an all-around very, very good offensive player.”
But the Gators (17-2, 7-0 SEC) have more than held their own against big-time scorers this season. Florida moved up to second in the nation in scoring defense at 50.4 points per game following its 75-36 win over South Carolina. The 36 points were the fewest that UF has allowed in an SEC game in more than 60 years. That last time the Gators allowed just 36 points was in a 38-36 win over Auburn on Jan. 5, 1948.
“Our guys understand through scouting, preparation, those things, there is an advantage that can be gained.” Donovan said. “If you're focused in, if you're locked in, if you pay attention and you understand things that are going to happen on the floor and you can almost read when they're going to happen and kind of sniff them out and be ahead of the play a little bit. I think our guys have done a pretty good job of that.”
Florida has a few options to throw at Henderson throughout the game. Earlier this season, Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin held Texas A&M guard Elston Turner to just 4 points after Turner scored 40 points the game before against Kentucky. Of late, Kenny Boynton held Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele scoreless and South Carolina junior guard Bruce Ellington to 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting.
“It starts with the guards,” Florida junior forward Will Yeguete said. “Scottie puts a lot of pressure on the point guards, K.B. does a really good job.”
While Florida has blown the doors off its opponents in getting off to a 7-0 SEC start, Henderson has gained more national attention because of his ability to play to the cameras. In a recent Ole Miss win at Auburn, Henderson taunted Auburn's student section after hitting a pair of free throws late that clinched the game.
“Every player is different,” Wilbekin said. “I don't like to be like that. That's just not my style. But every player can have his own style.”
Said Yeguete: “Players are just different. We play with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion in the game and sometimes you do things that you don't realize you do until after. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.”
Wilbekin said Henderson's on-court antics won't provide any extra motivation when defending him on Saturday.
“I want to shut everyone down that I'm playing,” Wilbekin said. “I'm just focused on playing the best defense I can.”