Notebook: Frazier II and Wilbekin not fazed by AT&T backdrop

Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II (20) shoots a three during practice for the Final Four at AT&T Stadium on Friday in Arlington, Texas. Florida faces Connecticut in the NCAA national semifinal game.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 4, 2014 at 9:40 p.m.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier II isn't dwelling on the different shooting background at cavernous AT&T Stadium.

“It doesn't really affect me at all,” Frazier said. “It doesn't really bother me. It's still the same distance from the hoop.”

Both Frazier and Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin looked smooth shooting the basketball during UF's open shootaround on Friday. Frazier, shooting a Southeastern Conference-best 44.8 percent from 3-point range, said his routine has been disrupted somewhat due to this week's Final Four activities. The 6-foot-4 guard from Tampa likes to hoist up an average of 350 to 400 shots a day.

“It's a little different because with the rules and everything, there is only a certain amount of time you can touch the ball,” Frazier said. “I'm trying to get up as many shots as I can. My shot feels good, so I'm not concerned.”

Florida had a 90-minute practice at AT&T Stadium on Thursday, followed by a 60-minute open shootaround on Friday. The Gators also have a familiarity with the building, playing here last year in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. In those two games, Frazier shot a combined 2-of-4 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.

“Our team, myself, we feel very confident when he's shooting the basketball,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “But like anything else, it's like a guy hitting a baseball. There are going to be nights when he shoots it at an unbelievable high level and there's going to be some nights where maybe he doesn't shoot it as well.”

Ironically, Frazier patterns his work ethic after current Miami Heat and former Connecticut shooting guard Ray Allen. Frazier could sink Allen's alma mater with some big 3-pointers on Saturday.

Asked why he patterns his game after Allen, Frazier said: “Just his work ethic, how much he invests in his shot, how serious he takes it ... how he takes care of his body. And obviously, he's a great shooter. One of the best of all time.”

Hill ready

Florida played its Dec. 2 matchup with Connecticut without freshman point guard Kasey Hill, who sat out with an ankle sprain.

Hill is looking forward to a chance to contribute against the Huskies this time around as a backup to senior Scottie Wilbekin. In the Dec. 2 matchup with UConn, Wilbekin played 35 of the first 37 minutes against UConn before sitting out the last three minutes with an ankle sprain.

“Just give our team speed, help Scottie out as far as giving him a breather,” Hill said, when asked what he hopes to provide Saturday. “Because he played the whole game, he was tired a little bit and he hurt his ankle. Just give the team speed and energy.”

Hill was at the UConn game and went through a pregame workout to test his ankle. But Florida coaches and trainers didn't want to risk Hill returning too quickly from a high ankle sprain he had suffered two weeks before. Hill returned for UF's next game Dec. 10 against Kansas.

“It was very hard, watching from the bench,” Hill said. “I wanted to play, but I couldn't, so I just had to sit there and watch.”

Lucky play

UConn senior point guard Shabazz Napier admitted his buzzer-beating shot against Florida on Dec. 2 was a “lucky play.”

On the play, Napier was trapped by both senior forward Will Yeguete and Frazier and nearly lost his dribble. When he recovered, Napier hoisted up an off-balance shot on the rim. But on a tip-back from UConn forward DeAndre Daniels, Napier got the rebound and had an open look at a 12-footer, which he hit as time expired.

“I had a second opportunity to make it and that's all you can ask for,” Napier said.

European connection

Yeguete has some familiarity with UConn starting forward Niels Giffey. Yeguete, who is from Bordeaux, France, played against Giffey, who is from Berlin, Germany, in an amateur exhibition game between France and Germany.

“It's fun, to be able to see guys that you compete against again during the college season,” Yeguete said. “It's just good to talk to those guys because it's been a long, fun run. I kind of know who he is so that can help me on the court.”

Giffey is UConn's version of Frazier, shooting 49.1 percent from 3-point range this season. At 6-foot-7, Giffey can present problems shooting over other small forwards.

“He's a really good player, as all of UConn's players are offensively,” Yeguete said.

Strong Gator turnout

It won't be quite Kentucky, but Florida should have a strong turnout for Saturday's game against UConn.

Florida associate athletic director Mike Hill said the Gators sold out their entire allotment of 3,250 tickets, plus 600 student tickets. Two buses filled with more than 80 students made the 14-hour drive from UF's campus to Dallas and arrived Friday morning. The Gator pep band showed up in full force and performed during UF's shootaround.

Capacity at AT&T Stadium is 77,122.


More than 30,000 media credentials have been issued for this year's Final Four. … Of the four remaining Final Four, three are in the top 40 in scoring defense, led by Florida (3), Wisconsin (37) and Connecticut (38). … In an effort to motivate his team, Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie had his team tour AT&T when the Huskies played in Dallas at Southern Methodist on Jan. 4. It worked in the long run, but on that night, SMU beat Connecticut 74-65.

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