Rosario OK with benching

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Senior guard Mike Rosario understood why he sat most of the final 12 minutes of the second half in Florida’s 64-52 comeback win over Alabama.

“I wasn’t playing the way my team needed me to play,” Rosario said. “I wasn’t playing what coach would say is the right way. Sometimes you’ve got to look at it as it not being about an individual. It’s about the team. That game, I wasn’t playing the right way, so I had to give our team what we needed.”

That included a pass into press row early in the second half that Florida coach Billy Donovan compared to a fastball from Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. After that, Rosario was given a quick hook from Donovan following a wild baseline drive that resulted in no points.

From star scorer, though, the 6-foot-3 Rosario transformed to star cheerleader off the bench. He didn’t pout. Instead, he acted as another coach, pointing out weaknesses in Alabama’s defense.

“Everyone was asking, ‘why does coach have you on the bench in the second half?’,” Rosario said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the team. I felt that with me being on the bench, I still have a lot of things to say and things to do from the bench, as far as me telling those guys to clap for our guys. It’s a part of the process. The process was, we’ve got to win this game.”

Donovan noticed Rosario’s contributions while he was on the bench.

“He was absolutely phenomenal on the bench,” Donovan said, “He was great. He was up cheering, he was talking, he was trying to encourage guys. He was fine.”

Rosario admitted a couple of years ago he “probably wouldn’t have handled it the same way.” It’s been part of the maturation of the Jersey City, N.J., playground prodigy. Rosario had scored in double figures in nine straight games before his six-point, three-turnover day against Alabama. But on a day when Rosario struggled with his scoring and decision-making, he found another way to contribute.

“I’ve really got a lot of respect for Mike in that part of it,” Donovan said. “I think winning is important to him. He wasn’t playing well, we moved Casey (Prather) over to the small forward spot, it just happened to work out well for us. I can’t sit there and say it was going to happen or I knew it was going to happen. Casey stepped up and played well when he needed to. Mike, provided Monday and Tuesday here he works hard and has a good attitude, he’s going to start against Vanderbilt.”

Prather has averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds off the bench over the last seven games and provided a size boost inside rebounding against Alabama’s physical front.

“I’m proud of Casey because Casey has been through some ups and downs, too,” Rosario said. “For him to go out there and perform the way he did when we needed him to perform, it really meant a lot to me.”

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. I noticed Mike being very supportive and animated on the bench during the decisive late game run and couldn’t have been more impressed! 90% of “Star” players would have been a distraction or simply sat on the bench and pouted. But he contributed to the win from the bench. I even saw him “coaching up” Casey during the run. It wasn’t his night, but he cared more about the team than himself. Kudos! Very mature attitude.

  2. I have enjoyed watching Mike Rosario play for UF, even though he can be a bit erratic at times. That’s part of the fun, as long as we win. Hopefully the benching pressed his reset button and he can bring us down the stretch to a phenomenal finish to the season. That doesn’t have to mean a national championship, but it definitely means beating Vandy for the SEC regular season championship and going deep into the two upcoming tourneys with some great basketball that is befitting the coach leading this team.

  3. I expect to see a lot out of Rosario this week. When Donovan benched Young, he came out the next game and had an outstanding performance. When Wilbekin had to ride the pine, he came alive his next time out as well. I think this team hit a low after the injuries to Yugette and Frazier. As they get better, I believe this team will build back their synergy and they’ll hit their stride right as the tourney starts. That’s assuming no more injuries. Fingers crossed.

  4. This guy has quickly become one of my all-time favorite Gators. Not only has he provided the bulk of consistent scoring that this team desperately needs when the 3s aren’t raining down like usual, but he’s an outstanding for this group of Gators from a motivational and encouragement standpoint. His transformation has been a tremendous example of what great coaching, humility, & hard work can do. Love all my Gators, but I’m most proud to have my alma mater represented by a young man who may not have had it going in, but is showing that he definitely has it on the way out.

  5. I love watching this team . Team is the word . I even call them all by first name when on TV like they’re friends .
    Mike is great to watch imo . Cutting to the hoop with guts and determination . He loves this team and Coach Donovan also . It shows . Your a great Gator Mike . Keep it up . Team needs you !

  6. Great move!!! Maybe this will motivate him to play better. I actually would not start him and have him come off the bench as it just might be the way to get the best play out of him. He is wild at times with lazy passes and air balls etc. and in the NCAA tournament that could cost us a game. Billy D is a great coach and we are lucky to have him.

  7. I absolutely love watching Mike play. I’m going to miss him once he moves on. Is he a senior this year? He & PY are fun to watch. It just seems that right when they get it going on the court & in the rankings they get a trap game on the road & always stumble. They have to win at UK to get any kind of respect come tournament seedings. GO GATORS!!

  8. When Rosario first got here you could see his talent, and also his immaturity. Now you see his talent and his leadership. I wish him nothing but the best. It’s been fun watching him grow. Hope after UF he has a long career in the NBA. It wil take some growing on his part, and maybe some time in Europe, who knows, but he’s proven he as the ability to grow.

  9. I am impressed with Rosario’s transformation and most in awe of Prather’s perseverance. Here is a guy who KNEW he could play but wasn’t given the opportunity. Fortunately it’s not too late to realize what we have in Casey. He could have considered transferring or actually left but he stuck it out. Many, if not most, would have been gone.

  10. Maybe some day we will actually learn why Prather seemed to be in that famous “Dog house.” He certainly did not manifest any obvious signs of being a malcontent. Maybe it was that “famous” practice attitude. Wonder how many very good or great players did not practice well and I also contemplate how many bad players really practiced well? Fortunately–know that sounds crazy—Will finally had to get the surgery OR we probably still don’t know what Prather can do. Now Prather and Will are BOTH there and we now have a chance to go a long way. Beat Kentucky!!!

  11. WOW, I’m really impressed with Rosario, reading this article, I saw very little of this game. I am sure NBA scouts also will notice this on film or by word of mouth. His maturity definitely help him at the next level. Go Gators.

  12. Lou,

    Everytime he touched the ball last year he would travel. He has not been in the “DOG HOUSE” this year or what ever year u are writing about. He had two different concussions and another injury that’s why he hasn’t played a much
    .