Donovan looking for better play down stretch
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 12:24 a.m.
Florida coach Billy Donovan isn't worried about his team's poise in late-game situations.
Arkansas at No. 5 Florida
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Stephen C. O'Connell Center
Radio: 103.7 FM
To Donovan, Florida's latest meltdown was a product of correctable mistakes. The No. 5 Gators (22-4, 11-2 SEC) will look to iron out those problems in practice before their next game Saturday at the O'Connell Center against Arkansas.
"When I hear the word ‘poise,' I think calm, relaxed and under control,” Donovan said. “If that's the definition, I don't know if I felt like our guys were out of control or rattled or uptight.
“There are plays you have to make. In those kind of games, there's an internal will you have to have to execute on offense, cover things on defense the correct way, be able to grab loose balls, be able to come down with the rebound — those kind of things. I think our team does have that. That probably was an example that we needed to do a better job of that.”
Florida let a 13-point, second-half lead slip away in the final 11 minutes of its 63-60 loss at Missouri on Tuesday night. That dropped the Gators to 0-2 in games decided by five points or less this season and 2-7 in those games over the last two seasons. Florida has lost its last five games decided by single digits.
“I think we play with poise,” Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin said. “I don't know, we didn't hit some shots, but I didn't think we were rattled or anything.”
Florida missed five of its last six shot attempts against Missouri, including three missed 3-point attempts by senior Kenny Boynton. All five of the misses were perimeter shots taken by UF's three guards (Wilbekin, Boynton and Rosario).
After the Missouri loss, Donovan said Boynton's off-balance, 3-point attempt with 7.9 seconds remaining was “not the shot he wanted.” But Donovan said Thursday that Boynton still has the green light to make a play with the game on the line.
“That's not going to happen for me with him,” Donovan said. “I've got a lot of confidence in him. Kenny is a coachable guy that needs to learn in those situations.”
Specifically, Donovan said Boynton could have tried to drive to the hoop.
“When Kenny caught the ball, (Erik) Murphy was in the right corner,” Donovan said. “The play would have been for him to take it and drive it right, at least towards the basket, to create some help or some penetration to try to get to the rim.”
Heading into the Arkansas matchup, Donovan said he would like to see the Gators get back to working the ball inside out. Of Florida's 54 shots against Missouri, 33 were 3-point attempts.
“We took too many 3s in that game,” Donovan said. “I didn't think we had good enough balance. When we've attacked the paint, whether it's the pass, or the post up or a drive, our offense is a lot better. And I thought we had too many possessions where we didn't really look to do that enough."
That means trying to get Patric Young more involved. The Florida junior center has taken only seven shot attempts the last two games, but Donovan thinks that has been the byproduct of foul trouble, missed free throws and fatigue. He would like to see Young create more of his own opportunities by crashing the offensive boards and running the floor hard. Young also left four points on the table by missing two front-ends of one-and-one free throws.
“At times we've got to do a better job of delivering it to him when he's open,” Donovan said. “Erik sometimes struggles getting him the ball when he's open and when he's got post position, whether we throw the ball away from him or he's broken post position or we don't quite get it in there or it gets deflected. Those are the things we probably need to be better at."
Donovan offered promising news on the progress that junior forward Will Yeguete has made since undergoing surgery Feb. 8 to remove bone chips in his knee.
“Right now, Yeguete is doing some light running, which is a good sign,” Donovan said. “I think he's ahead of schedule from where we first thought it was going to be. The biggest thing is going to be, right now from him, is going to be once he starts getting back into the flow of running, of exercising, of non-contact stuff, what happens to his knee in terms of, 'Does it continue to swell again?' That's what they'll have to take into consideration.”
Donovan said that if Yeguete's rehab continues to progress without setbacks, there's a chance he could be cleared before the end of the regular season.
“I'm not saying it's a guarantee,” Donovan said. “That will depend on how he responds. He's moving quicker than I think the doctors thought. It's going to be totally up to them. It could mean the last three regular season games. It could mean … the SEC Tournament. There's a chance — an outside chance — that he could be back as early as the Vanderbilt game."