Florida coach Billy Donovan said that the Gators responded well after he called them out for a lack of intensity to start the second half in UF’s preseason finale against Georgetown College.
“I think we had better practices from that,” Donovan said. “The thing I think all of the time and I’ve talked about this, it’s not so much the handling of expectations as it is the handling of prosperity, when you get recognized, when people talk favorably about you, positively about you.”
Florida comes into its season-opener Friday against UNC-Wilmington ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP men’s basketball poll and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Donovan pointed out that while Florida held teams to 33 percent from the field and 24 percent from the 3-point line in the first half of its two preseason games, those percentages on defense dipped to 54 percent and 42 percent in the second half.
“It’s a mentality you have to have where the first four minutes starts in the second half and you send a message to that team where you know what, we’re not letting you back in the game,” Donovan said.
“I think it’s something they have to address. I think they are aware of it. I think they are trying to deal with it. But a lot of it is they have to change their mentality and their perspective, so to speak. There is kind of that killer mentality where you want to close it. We have to get to that, we don’t have it at the level I would like for us to have it.”
— Freshman 245-pound center Patric Young averaged 2.5 rebounds in the preseason. In last April’s McDonald’s All-American game, Young led all players with nine rebounds. “There were a few instances where they were doubling me and they just probably beat me and had me boxed out pretty well,” Young said. “But that opened up a lot of opportunities for my other teammates, like Casey (Prather) who had a double-double the first game. I think it was a little bit of nerves, too, those two games. But I expect to have more than two rebounds per game this coming year.”
— Donovan’s scouting report on UNC-Wilmington, coached by former Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson: “They are going to be a team that plays to about 19 feet defensively. They are a team that’s gonna be pretty physical in an around the basket. They’re not going to overly extend. They are going to play some 1-3-1 zone, they’ll play 1-3-1 zone underneath, out-of-bounds, they’ll run and jump the first pass. They’ll run some Princeton style offense where they will get the floor raised, a lot of back cuts, a lot of stagger screens. (There are) a lot of things we’ll have to be prepared for.”