It wasn’t quite Frost-Nixon, but ESPN cameras caught a verbal altercation between Nick Calathes and Erving Walker late in Florida’s 81-75 loss to LSU.
Both insisted Thursday it wasn’t a big deal, but for a team that has been unraveling late in games, it makes you wonder whether the chemistry that Florida coach Billy Donovan is seeking remains a work in progress.
“We were just in the heat of the moment,” Calathes said. “Me and Erv are as cool as can be.”
Later, Calathes added: “I wouldn’t say it was an argument to be honest. I think we were both mixed up. I went in the wrong place and then he obviously was in my position. I don’t think it was that big of a deal.”
Likewise, Walker described the heated exchange as “minor.” “It just happened right then and there,” Walker said. “It was over right then and there. It was just a little disagreement, a little miscommunication.”
Donovan has turned to playing Walker and Calathes together late in games, because of Walker’s ability to make shots and free throws down the stretch. Having Walker handle the ball in certain late situations also takes some pressure off Calathes, who has averaged 33.1 minutes per game this season.
But does Walker need to defer to Calathes in certain situations, as ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes suggested during Tuesday night’s broadcast?
“It’s whoever coach wants to handle the ball,” Calathes said, when asked about who takes charge at the point down the stretch. “We both can. I think we work better with each other.”
Donovan, meanwhile, put a positive spin on the verbal altercation.
“That’s just two guys wanting to win,” Donovan said. “You’re always going to have those type of things. I don’t think there’s ever on a team, a family situation where two guys aren’t trying to get on the same page. I thought if anything it was a sign that both of those guys care. I didn’t think much of it.”