Donovan's expectations different
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Florida coach Billy Donovan is excited about the prospects of a deeper roster heading into the 2013-14 season.
But Donovan said he doesn't want to set expectations too high on his newcomers, which include transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris.
“I have expectations on these guys in terms of what they need to do,” Donovan said. “But I think sometimes peoples' expectations are based on points, dominating in a game, doing those kinds of things and my expectations as a coach are a lot different.”
Finney-Smith, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound sophomore forward, averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in his lone season at Virginia Tech. He's considered versatile enough to play and guard multiple positions.
“He was a McDonald's All-American,” Donovan said. “We recruited him out of high school. I think he's got great potential, great ability."
The 6-foot-10, 228-pound Harris, meanwhile, should provide more of a defensive presence inside with his shot-blocking ability. A two-year starting center at South Carolina, Harris was second in the SEC behind Anthony Davis in blocked shots in 2012 with 2.3 per game.
A fourth-year junior next season, Harris missed more than four months of practice after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in October. But he returned in March to push Florida's big guys in practice.
“He is a very good shot blocker,” Donovan said. “Those guys add depth. They add experience. At least it's not a situation where you have incoming freshmen that have to learn a whole entire new system. These guys have been here for a while. They understand practice. They understand what is going on.”
Whether Finney-Smith steps in at small forward or power forward remains to be seen, though Donovan made some comparisons between Finney-Smith and outgoing power forward Erik Murphy during Wednesday's news conference.
“(Finney-Smith) brings a different element and is totally different than Erik,” Donovan said. “There is things that he does better than Erik and there are things that Erik does better than him.I just think there's different elements of a team. I don't know if that makes us better. But I think that's what I kind of ponder.”
In reflecting on UF's 79-59 Elite Eight loss to national runner-up Michigan, Donovan said he wished his team could have risen to the occasion and played better. He confirmed Murphy and freshman Michael Frazier II were sick earlier in the week and missed two practices before UF's Sweet 16 win over Florida Gulf Coast. Murphy went just 2 of 7 from the floor vs. FGCU and 0 of 11 against Michigan.
Florida finished the season 29-8 and allowed just 54.4 points per game, the fewest by any Gator team since 1948-49. But offensively, Florida scored just 71.2 points per game, down from the 75.9 points the Gators averaged in 2011-12.
“We did make some really good strides this year on the defensive end of the floor,” Donovan said. “I think that proved out for our team for most of the year. I thought we had some rebounding issues this year when we got caught having to play small when Will (Yeguete) was out. I think I'm hopeful some of that will get better with the guys that are coming back and some of the guys that are going to be coming in.
“We didn't score the ball as well as I think we're capable of for whatever reason. We have to continue to try to get better there in that area.”
Donovan said he also would like to see the Gators handle adversity better next season. The Gators were 0-6 in games decided by six points or less and let double-digit leads slip away in three of those losses.
“I didn't create Joakim Noah's passion, energy, intensity, heart, toughness,” Donovan said. “I didn't create that. That was in there. I think as a coaching staff we fostered it. That's an area our guys need to get better. We need to be more relentless, be tougher. We need to be more mentally stronger. A mental will. We have to be better there. When adversity hits, when those things hit, we've got to be tougher. We have to get more competitive. Nastier. We have to have more of that internal drive and will in those moments.”
-- Donovan said there is a possibility Yeguete could have more offseason knee surgery. The 6-foot-7 Yeguete missed six games after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his right knee. “That's still up in the air right now,” Donovan said. “There's still a chance that that could happen right now. His knee did hold up pretty well. He did have a situation right in between the Minnesota game and the Florida Gulf Coast game where he did have some swelling again. I think that was just kind of alarming. They drained it. He didn't have any problems in the Florida Gulf Coast game or the Michigan game.” But Donovan described the surgery in February as a “short-term fix” because Yeguete wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament after missing postseason play as a sophomore with a broken foot. “They'll have to look at sitting him down and looking at the long-term,” Donovan said. “And I think what they'll probably end up doing, my guess would be, haven't done it yet, would be to X-ray him again. MRI, see where it's at. How has the surgery held up?”
-- Donovan said he's happy to have Patric Young back for his senior season and thinks he will benefit with more big bodies to push him in practice. “If you look at him when he was a sophomore, he averaged 10 (points) and six (rebounds),” Donovan said. “This year he averaged 10 and six. I really felt that Patric has the potential and ability to rebound more. I still think, people wanted to look at his offense, that he has gotten better offensively. But I feel him playing with a consistent motor would not only help him, it would help our team. I think he has the capability of doing those things.”
-- Donovan said he thinks incoming freshman McDonald's All-American point guard Kasey Hill and rising senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin could play together in the same backcourt next season. “The one thing I love about Scottie Wilbekin, is Scottie's first and foremost, his identity has always been defense,” Donovan said. “He loves playing defense. And you can play Scottie anywhere. When he's out there, he can function.”
-- Asked about eligibility concerns surrounding incoming freshman McDonald's All-American power forward Chris Walker, Donovan said: “All those guys right now, you always worry about until they graduate, clearing house, all of those things. So you know until those guys finish their senior year of high school, we're never going to ever know until they get actually qualified and cleared. I think in looking at our incoming freshmen, certainly they are in the right courses, taking the right classes and doing all of that stuff, but I think that stuff will end up playing itself out whenever he graduates.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.