4-0 aside, UF's growth is key
Published: Monday, January 20, 2014 at 1:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 at 1:54 p.m.
Through the first two weeks of the Southeastern Conference schedule, Florida remains the only unbeaten team left in conference play.
Who: UF (15-2, 4-0) at Alabama (8-9, 2-2)
When: Thursday at 7 p.m.
Radio: 103.7 FM, AM-850
But that doesn't mean much to Florida coach Billy Donovan.
“We're happy in our first four games that we're 4-0, but right now it doesn't really mean a whole lot moving forward,” Donovan said. “I think it's about our team trying to grow and get better and try to improve and try to reach a level where we feel like we're getting to our fullest potential as a team.”
Florida (15-2, 4-0 SEC) has won nine straight overall and moved up one spot to No. 6 in this week's Associated Press men's college basketball poll. The Gators will next play Thursday at Alabama, more than likely once again without freshman McDonald's All-American power forward Chris Walker. Donovan offered no update on Walker's status heading into the Alabama game. Walker has missed eight games since joining the Gators in practice Dec. 16 because he has yet to be fully cleared by the NCAA due to undisclosed issues.
Overall, Florida has won 20 straight January games dating back to a 67-56 loss at Tennessee on Jan. 7, 2012. Of the 20 wins, 18 have come against conference opponents.
Donovan said he feels the recent January success has to do with timing.
“During different points of the year, some teams are playing better than others,” Donovan said. “But we're just trying to get prepared the best we possibly can.”
Going forward, Donovan said he would like to see UF's ball movement continue to improve. The Gators finished with 10 assists to 14 turnovers in their 68-61 win Saturday at Auburn. Florida has finished with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio in five of its last eight games.
“I do think we're an unselfish team and our stats, assist-to-turnover ratio, have not necessarily reflected that,” Donovan said. “I do think we're a team that because of different things, injuries and suspensions and those things, I still think we're getting used to playing with each other.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.