Lighting a fire

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Unless weary Florida regroups in the final three weeks of the season, the Gators face the dim prospects of a third straight NIT appearance.

Which leads to the question, what can be done to salvage the season during a difficult stretch drive?

I asked Florida coach Billy Donovan following UF’s disappointing 76-64 loss to Xavier if there was anything he could try from a motivational standpoint to get the Gators going again. His response: “I don’t know if it’s about that at this point. I think we have a group of experienced guys that know the challenges that are in front of them.”

Donovan said his starting backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton has “given him all that they have.” The Gators did show some fight rallying from down 16 points against Xavier, but  fell into the early hole because of a lack of intensity in the first 15 minutes. Xavier shredded Florida’s press and consistently beat Florida down the floor and on the backboards to build the early 38-22 lead.

A poor free-throw shooting effort for the second straight games also hurt Florida, and Walker showed up late for a pregame meeting, costing him a starting assignment. All suggest that the focus of the players aren’t in the right place at a critical time of the season.

On the same Saturday, following Connecticut’s 60-48 home loss to Cincinnati, coach Jim Calhoun said he was embarrassed about his team’s effort. The Huskies responded with a big road win Monday night at No. 3 Villanova.

Does Donovan need to light a similar fire to save the season? Donovan has locked teams out of the practice facility in the past and broken clipboards to get his message across.

Your thoughts …

12 COMMENTS

  1. If we can beat Vandy & UT at home & either beat UGA or Ole Miss on the road, then I think we can sneak into the tournament. If those things don’t happen, then we need to advance deep into the SEC tourney to make it happen.

  2. Agreed! We need to win three of our remaining regular season games and at least two in the SEC Tourney to make the NCAA or it is another NIT bid. No matter which way this goes, at least we should not have any early departures or transfers and with next year’s recruits, should finally have that needed depth and experience to compete with what is left of Kentucky, after half the team goes to the NBA. Will be even better if we pick up another top recruit during the late signing period this spring, such as Brandon Knight.

  3. We just aren’t a very deep team and the talent is young. This IS the SEC and you must be deep and talented. I am a 40 year GATOR and will always be one, but the truth is that we aren’t where we need to be. Adam Allen out for 2 years hurts. The other big center (forgot his name) out with a bad back. And where did Macklin play to earn All-American in high school. He’s lost most of the time and doesn’t seem to be improving. At 6-10 and 240 he should be a BEAST in the middle. Tyus is playing really good and will carry a lot of the load if we can get him the ball. Not a dought in my mind that each and every one of the guys is playing as hard as they can. Which is all you can ask for. Give 100% of your ability at all times and the Gator Nation will show you a TON of LOVE!

  4. I will continue to say the although Billy D can recruit, he hasn’t shown that he can develop players from year to year. Brett Nelson? Didn’t get better…Matt Walsh and the crew that flopped? Same thing. Now…look at David Lee, Al Horford, Yoakim, etc in the NBA..and you gotta wonder, why werent they even half that great here at florida?

    You can flame on all you want, but i have yet to see a four-year curve where players improved their skills in all aspects of the game. Even the 04’s weren’t the uber-dominant team they could have been.

    My 2 cents!

  5. Forget this year as far as making the Dance. They won’t win any
    remaining road games – not enough heart. Do you see them win-
    ning all their home games?!

    What concerns me is next year. Does Billy think things are going
    to be different with the same frontcourt? Macklin can’t play and
    Parsons and Tyus are over-rated and inconsistent.

    Unless Murphy, Young and Prather get enough minutes and
    mature quickly, it will be a four-year string of missing the tournament.

    By the way, the only thing that can save them now is for Walker and Boynton to get hot – those two should be taking 50% of the
    shots ! Had they been taking this number of shots up until now,
    the Gators wouldn’t be worried about getting in tournament.

    b.f.

  6. I don’t think its fair to say that the players don’t get better with Billy D. Lee, Horford and Noah all improved tremendously while at Florida. I think Calathes hurt Florida in some respects because while he was the team’s best player, he wasn’t the team leader or sparkplug and he wasn’t good in clutch situations. His presence at Florida discouraged the other potential PG’s from coming to Florida. Parson’s has shown great potential only without Nick present. The team has to have players that swagger and get fired up. The player I thought might supply that this year was Werner, but tragically for him and the team his confidence went away and the fight went with it.

  7. Evan,

    You asked why Lee, Horford, and Noah all got better when they went to the NBA? Really?? Maybe because they’re more experienced, older, wiser, and competing against elite players on an everyday basis. If you got out of the basement every once in a while you would have noticed that those guys were rock stars in Gainesville and on a national stage. They all consistently thank Coach Donovan whenever they are asked about Florida. Sounds like Billy has no idea how to develop talent. What about Udonis Haslem? Do you even know who that is? He went from project to elite NBA starter because of the shooting dynamic that Billy added to his game. Lee Humphrey? They little guy with a good shooting touch became a great 3 point threat and one of the most underrated defenders to go through Florida in a while. Shall I continue?? Evan I’m glad you maintained that you are not joking because what you stated is idiotic and makes us all dumber people for reading it. Good thing we went to UF. cheers!

  8. So the 04’s weren’t sufficiently dominant? Really? Their dominance is proven just by virtue of winning back to back championships. Ask the football team how hard that feat is. And that whole starting five improved tremendously during their time at UF. Humphrey, from scared freshman to ice-blooded assasin. Noah, Brewer, and Horford: gangly kids to overpowering men. Green went from green to seasoned and outplayed future NBA players Rondo and Farmar. On past teams, Haslem, Bonner, Miller all got much better, and on this team, Parsons is much improved. It’s true that our guards are bricklayers lately, so I think we need to get the ball inside to Tyus and Macklin every possession and go from there. Win three more games and we’re in the Dance. Even if we lose in the first round, it’s better than another NIT bid.

  9. i think this is a very motivated team. i think they need some help shooting, liking coaching mechanics. in the offseason they need to get fix that. bring in a shooting guru or something. because if they can hit more 3s they probably would already have 20 wins.