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 …