South Carolina talking points: Billy D’s strategy


Florida coach Billy Donovan said it wasn’t his intention to have no one in position in the free-throw lane to try to attempt to rebound Erving Walker’s missed one-on-one attempt in the closing minutes against South Carolina.

Instead, it was another case of Florida’s lack of court awareness.

With 1:07 left and Florida trailing 63-62, Walker stepped to the free throw to try to give the Gators the lead. But Walker’s attempt clanged off the back iron.

The rebound caromed long but with no one in the lane to try for the offensive rebound, South Carolina grabbed it. Center Sam Muldrow came down on the next possession and drained a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to put the Gamecocks ahead to stay 66-62.

“There should have been someone on the free-throw line,”  Donovan said, “Our guys sometimes want to take the easy way, just to go down the floor and not have to worry about going in rebounding and running back, Erv will make them. And then what happens is we need to do a better job from the bench, looking at substitutions, or time/score situations.”

Donovan said he was distracted because he was talking with one of the officials after Walker got into a shoving match with South Carolina freshman guard Bruce Ellington. But he acknowledged someone from the bench should have reminded at least one player to get in the lane in rebounding position. Walker, a 75.3 percent free-throw shooter, had missed his previous free-throw, but Alex Tyus was able to get a big putback rebound to tie the score at 59.

In a one-and-one free-throw, no player can make their way to the lane once the whistle is blown and the shooter is handed the ball.

“It wasn’t a mis-communication,” Donovan said. ” It was really a situation where no one went up there and they should be taking it upon themselves to say, you know what, let’s get to the free throw line in case there’s a missed free-throw here. I think we probably as a coaching staff have to do a better job emphasizing that.”

— Despite the South Carolina loss, Florida’s current NCAA Tournament resume remains in good shape. Florida is at No. 17 nationally according to, with a strength of schedule of 8. The Gators are 2-2 against teams in the RPI Top 50 and 8-3 against teams in the RPI Top 100. That strength of schedule will take a hit Thursday when the Gators play at Auburn. Auburn’s RPI is at 319, lower than Radford (305) or North Carolina A&T (201).

— While Florida’s free-throw percentage (65.1 percent) ranks 11th in the SEC, it is somewhat on par with the rest of the league. Nine of 12 SEC teams are shooting less than 70 percent from the free-throw line this season. Ole Miss is the best free-throw shooting team in the league at 74.1 percent, followed by Vanderbilt (72.7 percent) and Alabama (70.5 percent).


  1. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t we play a lot of zone defense in the first half of the SC game. My take is that when we play zone, our players appear tentative, unsure of what they’re supposed to do which lends itself to a lack of intensity. We played man to man in the second half, with a lot more intensity and success.

  2. The bottom line is we need to either send Walker or Parsons to the second unit (read: bench) to boost scoring there, and to give Scotty minutes at the starting PG spot because he is our only true point guard.

  3. that comment by Donovan sounds like Meyer this year: not knowing what’s going on in the game. have the coaches become content with their past success that they aren’t as detailed oriented any more? Why does Donovan continue to start the same players when we’ve heard the same story for 3 yrs about the same players: they can’t handle prosperity and don’t play with intensity all the time. If they can’t/don’t, then why the heck do they continue to start?

  4. Time for Donovan to go. Has anyone watched Big East BB recently. We’d be lucky to win 4 conference games. That’s big boy basketball folks. This team is horribly inconsistant (AGAIN) and I’m tired of the excuses. Players don’t develop. Team looks the same this year as it did last year and the year before that and ………. Heck, half the time they don’t look like they care if they win or lose. No leadership. Everyone has passive personalities. Lack of emotion. I mean seriously -just make a free throw!! And tell me if any of the underclassmen make the future look bright. Can we get ONE elite player in here sometime soon? Donovan is to BB what Spurier was to FB. I so appreciate what you did but you’re not reinventing yourself. Everyone has caught up and passed you … We need change, because from what I’ve seen, nothing has since the back to backs.

  5. Dave, you’re an idiot! I have watched Big East ball and I see a lot of Offense and no Defense. That’s why SEC teams are beating teams like Pitt, Villanova & Marquette. The Eastern SEC Division is the toughest top to bottom Division in college basketball according to RPI.

    Billy is still a winner, because he knows what it takes to win. He can only show the way, he can’t push them down the path. The players have to do the work on their own. The 06s were in the gym morning, noon, and night. The players at UF today don’t take it seriously enough. That fact is obvious by the way they approach free throws. The importance of free throw shooting shouldn’t have just dawned on these seniors. Practice time is not when you work on free throws. You do that on your time, which should be spent in a gym.

    BTW, for all the mistakes Walker makes, he does come through for the team most of the time. I remember him as a freshman, coming off the bench as a firecracker, disrupting the other team and making steals. He doesn’t have that intensity anymore, but he’s playing a lot more minutes and that could be why.

    If this years team can pull it together soon, they can make a run at the championship. They have the potential, but they have to start doing the work now.

  6. Brent, you are uninformed. The players do work on free throws. This is simply a case of BD feeling a little entitled after winning two championships. Who’s fault is it that the players were not on the line? Billy Donovan’s! Just like it was at South Carolina when Parson’s missed his one and one free throw a couple year’s ago. They had no one on the line then either.
    Sadly, it is everyone else’s fault except the head coach. He begrudgingly admits they “need to a better job working on that in practice.” Give me a break. It’s called game management.
    Regardless, that situation was not what lost the game for the Gators but it is another example of a coach who no longer accepts responsibility for his team…unless they’re winning. Then, it’s because the player’s have bought in to what the coaches are preaching.

  7. Kevin,

    I’m mighty relieved to see that the team has now grasped the importance of foul shots. With a starting line up of 3 seniors and a junior, I guess it would have been too much to expect that thay may have come to this conclusion some tima back, say in 8th grade maybe. Come on, really????

  8. Diddy, I’m not misinformed. I know free throws are worked on extensively in practice. The point I’m making is, a coach only has so much time with a team and he’s wasting that time if he has to work on free throws. The players should be in the gym, at every free moment, working on fundamentals. The announcers at the Auburn game summed up what I was trying to say, the 06s had an “edge” that this team doesn’t have. During our championship run, the media would cover how the team would stay after practice, sometimes till the morning hours, working on their game. You don’t hear that now. This team doesn’t have championship drive. Coaches can only do so much, the team has to take it upon itself to lead one another and work together to get better, not just in practice.

  9. IMO playing 3 freshman at the same time(especially in the first half) has hurt this team. Donovan himself admits that his freshman have difficulty scoring. This is a coaching blunder we’ve seen all season (with the exception of the 5 game winning streak) which has allowed lesser teams to keep scores close, stay in games and gain confidence.
    No other coach in the country, at any level would do such a thing unless he has no other options (only freshman) or his freshman names are John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe.
    We saw his again in the first half of the SC game. SC gained confidence, took control and never looked back. The freshman have a roll, but you should never see three of them in at once until the second half and the game is in hand.

  10. WTF! It is not the Coach. I promise you, Billy is the best coach in the SEC. He’s the 3rd winningest coach in SEC history. After the 5 starters, how many solid players off the bench do we have that aren’t freshman, 1? So if Macklin is dinged, Parsons is in foul trouble, and Walker needs a blow, your going to see 3 freshman on the floor and it’s the right coaching move.
    I don’t know if the team read my comments or heard the announcers at Auburn, but what a turn around at home vs Arkansas. They played with passion, I just hope they can play with that kind of intensity even when they miss shots and get down. If they can stay healthy and play like that, they are a final four team, but the ball must go through the paint (specifically Macklin) and they have to hit shots against the zone. A good zone D can’t be our kryptonite.