Donovan unhappy with Gators' determination


Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 10:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 11, 2013 at 10:56 p.m.

Another late-game meltdown was tough for Florida players, coaches and fans to stomach.

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Florida's Mike Rosario had four costly turnovers against Kentucky on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer

Facts

UF in the SEC Tournament

When: Friday at 1 p.m. vs. the winner of Thursday's LSU-Georgia game
TV: ESPNU
On Radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850/900

But Florida coach Billy Donovan said he viewed UF's scoreless stretch in the final 7:36 of its 61-57 loss to Kentucky as part of a bigger issue.

“I'm disappointed, to be honest with you, in our team's fire,” Donovan said. “I don't see it.”

Getting that determination back will be important for the Gators heading into the SEC Tournament. Florida (24-6, 14-4 SEC), which dropped two spots to No. 13 in this week's AP poll, is 3-3 in its last six games. The Kentucky loss was the third this season in which the Gators failed to hold a lead of seven or more points in the second half. The loss also dropped Florida to 0-5 in games decided by six points or less.

Donovan said his team hasn't practiced well “for the last three weeks” and didn't practice well heading into the Kentucky game.




“I'm trying to help our team become great,” Donovan said. “I'm not interested in just us kind of going through the motions here … I just think that our perseverance or resiliency needs to get better. They've got to enjoy the struggle a lot more. They've got to enjoy the struggle in practice and those kinds of things. I probably need to do some things changing up practice.”

Florida junior forward Will Yeguete agreed with his coach's blunt assessment.

“As a player, I mean, I feel like you should always be ready to go, no matter what,” Yeguete said. “We haven't had that fire the past couple games. Hopefully we can get it back soon.”

Looking back at the Kentucky film, Donovan said he felt the biggest issue was turnovers. Florida had five in the final 7:36, including a Mike Rosario cross-court pass attempt that resulted in a Archie Goodwin dunk and a lefty-scoop alley-oop pass by Scottie Wilbekin that sailed over Casey Prather. Donovan said he felt a more fundamental pass on the lob would have resulted in an easy basket.

Florida allowed 14 points off turnovers against Kentucky. Had the Gators managed to cut those points off turnovers in half, they would have won the game by three points.

“Even going back to the Arizona game, our difficulties were turnovers, press offense-wise,” Donovan said. “We struggled there and that certainly came back and undid us. I thought in the Missouri game, being up 13, turnovers hurt us in terms of we had three out of four possessions, we turned the ball over and they went on a 12-0 run to cut it to one. Then we're going back and forth in a dogfight and probably at least at the end settled for too many 3s.”

Another area troubling to Donovan — rebounding. Florida has allowed opposing teams to average 13.2 offensive rebounds over its last six games. During that stretch, the Gators have been outrebounded five of six games.

Donovan described UF's recent rebounding woes as a “major problem” and said he plans to put bubbles over the baskets again this week to emphasize banging on the boards.

“When you see our starting center (Patric Young) with two rebounds in 24 minutes of play, that clearly to me is an effort issue,” Donovan said. “I don't think we're a bad rebounding team, but we had been a (better) rebounding team. In these situations, you have to be willing to do things that are very, very uncomfortable and people don't get a lot of enjoyment from doing.”

Said Yeguete: “We were a better rebounding team before. I think we'll go back to working on it in practice. We'll use the bubble. Just going back to basics.”

Missed shots were another issue for Florida in crunch time, though Donovan said he felt like the Gators had quality shots late in Kentucky. He doesn't think the solution is to designate a “go-to guy” down the stretch.

“We don't have a player who you can just throw the ball to and say, ‘Go get one,'” Donovan said. “Erik Murphy needs someone to get it to him in a good spot. They have to rely to each other.”

Florida will have four practice days to iron out its problems before facing the winner of Georgia and LSU in Friday's SEC Tournament quarterfinals. As the top overall seed, Florida is one of four teams with a double-bye in the tournament. UF's first game will tip at 1 p.m. and air on ESPNU.

“We have a whole week before our next game to think about what we have to do and how to come out and be ready,” Yeguete said. “Just going back to basics. I think we're going to need a couple days off not playing. It'll get us right for the tournament.”

FREE THROWS: Young was named to the SEC's community service team on Monday. The 6-foot-9 Young visits patients at Shands Hospital and speaks with children at local schools. A member of the Goodwill Gators, Young also has helped with holiday gift drives to provide gifts for less fortunate citizens.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at GatorSports.com.

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