Florida coach Billy Donovan said Tuesday in retrospect sophomore guard Ray Shipman deserved more playing time against Kentucky.
Shipman scored nine points and nine minutes last Sunday against the Wildcats, but did not return to the game until the closing seconds after being forced out of the game when he took a blow to the mouth with 9:16 left in the game.
“He was playing very, very well,” Donovan said. “He got hit in the mouth. He got taken out of the game, and then you know, he really didn’t get back in there.
“Nothing he did. I think Ray, and the thing he has to deal with right now as a player, a lot of people look at him and the fact that he gave us nine points, but Ray has not been a consistent performer. And the one thing I think with a lot of players, and Ray has got to get better at this, when he plays defense, it energizes him and we need him energized.”
Shipman’s issue throughout his UF career has been turnovers. Not a steady balhandler or passer, Shipman threw a near errant pass during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Wildcats. But after committing turnovers in each of his first three SEC games, Shipman has committed just five turnovers in UF’s last 13 contests.
“Maybe Ray should have played a little bit more, but we had him in the game and he got taken back out,” Donovan said. “I think we were fighting our way back in and I think Ray in the first half clearly had a lot to do with us being down 18 and cutting it to 10. And then in the second half with (Erik) Murphy on the floor, with Vernon Macklin we were down by double digits and then cut it down to two with a bigger lineup.”
Donovan said when Kentucky built the lead back to six points with three minutes remaining, it was hard to get Shipman back in the game. But after scoring 14 points off the bench in UF’s last two games, Shipman may serve an important role off the bench heading into this week’s SEC Tournament.
“We needed a little bit more of an offensive team out there with three minutes to go because we needed some scoring there,” Donovan said. “Ray played well, and we need his effort and we need the things that he’s doing.”