Georgia talking points: Walker on the line


Florida junior point Erving Walker deserves kudos for hitting his second clutch 3-pointer for the Gators in the span of six days.

But the question remains, is Walker currently Florida’s best option on the free-throw line in the closing minutes of the game?

I posed that question to Florida coach Billy Donovan shortly after UF’s double-overtime win at Georgia.

“If I had it to do over again, I’d have Erv at the line,” Donovan said. “I feel good with the ball in his hands. Give him credit for not letting it affect him mentally and making a huge shot for us in overtime.”

Walker missed two of three critical free throws in the final 35.1 seconds of regulation against the Bulldogs, which gave Georgia enough life to tie the game at send it to overtime. Walker had previously missed critical free throws down the stretch in losses to Jacksonville and South Carolina.

After an 8-for-12 day from the line, Walker dropped to third on the Gators in free throw shooting  (75.2 percent) behind Kenny Boynt0n (81.5 percent) and Erik Murphy (81.8 percent). Walker’s 75.2 percent is down from his career average of 80.2 percent.

Of course, the way Walker is shooting from 3-point range down the stretch lately, his best bet might be to take a few steps back from the line.

— Wonder how Chandler Parsons injured his groin in the second half? At first, I thought it may have been a pull. But it turns out, it was a team-inflicted injury.

After Parsons followed Murphy with the second of back-to-back 3s to put the Gators up 53-47, senior center Vernon Macklin celebrated by whipping a towel that landed too far below Parsons’ belt.

“I almost puked,” Parsons said.

But after a brief stint on the bench, Parsons returned to provide quality minutes down the stretch and in overtime. Parsons grabbed 11 rebounds in the final 30 minutes of the game to post his 10th career double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds). Parsons is averaging 13.5 rebounds over his last two games.

— Georgia coach Mark Fox said Florida’s improved rebounding in the second half contributed to his decision not to put Florida on the line up by three points in the closing seconds. Instead, Walker drained a huge 3-pointer that sent the game to a second overtime.

“We have always trusted our defense, and with the way we were rebounding in the second half, I didn’t think we were going to do anything else,” Fox said.

In a similar situation three seasons ago, Donovan fouled South Carolina guard Devan Downey up by three points in the closing seconds of regulation. Downey missed his free throw, then missed the second. South Carolina failed to get a 3-point attempt up at the buzzer and Florida held on for an 85-82 win.


  1. Great win on the road but I strongly disagree with Georgia’s decision not to foul at the end of the first overtime. To me it was a no brainer. Instead, they let Walker get a clean look at a three. I think they should have fouled Walker in the backcourt as soon as he got the ball.

  2. The backcourt was there only shot at a foul. Walker out ran the rest of the team and put the shot up early to avoid the oncoming defenders. The announcers could hear Fox calling for the foul, but they couldn’t get to him. Fox didn’t want to say, “my team wasn’t ready, they were out of position, and they couldn’t catch him once they figured it out.”

    Good Win Guys!! Go Gators!!

  3. Gators showing great toughness of late, both physical and mental. Still, the collapse at the end of regulation is alarming, and you could see it start when Walker tried to dribble the clock down with a 6 point lead and had the ball stolen from him, resulting in Georgia breakaway and free throws. Walker is a terrific player with a lot of heart, but he is not a point guard. A very small shooting guard maybe, but not a point. Boynton should be the guy with the ball at the end f close games.

  4. That game was incredibly frustrating last night. They won b/c GA choked the game away after the Gators had done so in regulation and the first OT. Much of the Gators follies fall on Donovan.

    Macklin’s jump hook inside cannot be stopped by most teams. Why is he not getting fed the ball? Did Macklin even touch the ball during the last few minutes of regulation?

    Last shot of regulation – The whole GA team crashed the boards, yet Boynton and Walker stood at the 3 point line and just watched GA get the put back as time expired. That’s inexcusable.

    Boynton’s decision making is suspect. I saw him miss open looks to Young and Macklin on pick and rolls at least twice.

    If the Gators had played quality competition, they could not have gotten away with all of these terrible decisions and still have come out with a win.

  5. Let me get this straight … we are suggesting the “point” guard shouldn’t have the ball in his hands at the end of games? Of course Donovan responded in that way. He has only one option at this position. Either Walker tightens this up or it continues. Walker really dug a hole for the team at the end of regulation and in the first overtime with missed free throws, bad shot selection, and turnovers. He played pretty well up to that point though. The desperation shot wouldn’t have been necessary with more consistent performance. Thank goodness that Trey Tompkins also missed the front end of key one and one. And he is supposed to be the SEC MVP? Maybe he should be the basketball face of the SEC though. Lots of flash without consistency.

  6. Walker is doing fine but Boynton is a better choice for both the 3s and at the foul line. Love Walker and his grit (Dupay anyone?) though. We may not win the SEC or go far in the NCAAs (hope we do) but this team by far is the most fun to watch since Al, Taurean, Joakim, Lee, Corey and Chris left. Great win over the evil Bulldogs. Good work team and good teamwork.

    BTW Brockway, thanks for your coverage. I know football is king but we have a pretty good BB team that is hopefully gelling. Fun to watch most of the time. Can’t we get more coverage???

  7. The Gators showed a real “we will not lose attitude”. A great game and a great win..My hat is off to the entire team. Everyone played well. I did not understand why Billy pulled Erik, he was doing well and Patrick Young looks bretter and better every game. He was the only big gator that did not get pushed around and did some pushing of his own. We should have played Wilbekin and Prather more early..too many minutes for the two guards at that pace make it hard to shot a jumper at the end. Walker is one tough little SOB!!!

  8. In regards to Macklin having the ball more at the end of tight games, the Gators have the same problem as the Magic with Dwight Howard. As soon as the ball arrives,they will foul him, and you’re sending a 50% free throw shooter to the line. Quite honstly, the guy I’d give the ball to at those times would be Parsons, due to his ball handling and court vision, but he’s as bad if not worse from the line. I reiterate that IMO, Walker is not an ideal point guard, but I have to agree with Donovan when he said that despite Walker’s misses from the line at the end of regulation, he would still have him as his guy on that line.

    Major problem with both Boynton and Walker is too much dribbling, not enough ball movement (passing), especially against a zone like Auburn threw against them.

  9. The guys are playing better as a team. Hope they can avoid a let-down.
    I agree that they need to work on passing more. That was the hallmark of the 2006-07 teams! Opponents simply could not keep up with the ball!
    Young looks fantastic!
    Wilbekin will be an excellent general, but he obviously needs to improve his shooting.
    Walker’s decisions (ill-timed 3-pt. shots and ill-conceived drives into the paint) used to make me tear my hair out (still does sometimes), but he has vastly improved. He needs to have a plan when he drives the lane (he’s gotten better, though), and the “Bigs” need to be ready for a dish-off!
    Tyus’ consistency is wanting; he sometimes looks lackadaisical.
    Looking forward with anticipation to Rosario joining the team!
    The whole team needs to practice more from the Charity Stripe, where points are FREE for the taking!!!!!!! All the great teams make their Free-throws throughout the game (at a high percentage), but ESPECIALLY late!
    [Billy – if not already, how about some extra “suicides” for the ENTIRE team when FT’s missed by a given (rotating) player in practices (w/canned noise)].
    Boynton seems to be progressing nicely.
    Parsons is a bit of an enigma!
    Lastly, Ohio State is proof that a so-called “football school’s” basketball program need NOT take a back seat to the Gridiron! Ours ought not either!!!
    There’s no reason our “Chomp” can’t be a PERENNIAL visage in the ranks of college hoops royalty – like No. Car., or Kansas, or even Duke (to say nothing of Kentucky)!
    Is that too lofty? Okay, then like the Buckeyes!!! (How have they done since our Gatorboyz scorched them? Quite nicely, actually,… and consistently – further back, even!).
    It’s been an uphill struggle for Billy-ball ever since Billy’s blunder, (it’s almost embarrassing that Michael Jordan’s progeny can be wooed from Illinois to play college hoops in Florida, and that wooer not be the future Hall of Famer coach of the state’s flagship university’s championship program), but I believe he’s got us back on track and on the move!
    >PS: Not only would Marcus Jordan be starting for the Gators right now, but he DID HAVE impressive H.S. stats also; certainly enough to be recruited by UF!

  10. Clarification Edit (for the “PS” in my comment above) –
    I said:
    “Not only would Marcus Jordan be starting for the Gators right now, but he DID HAVE impressive H.S. stats also; certainly enough to be recruited by UF!”
    …(but WAS he???).

  11. Also, regarding UF commit, Brad Beal (#2 SG nationally):
    I’m a bit concerned that, while the #1 SG nationally, Austin Rivers, has already signed his LOI with Duke, Beal (Chaminade, St. Louis, MO) has yet to do so with Florida – he’s listed on Rivals as being merely a “solid verbal” and having not even visited yet!
    He “committed” over a year ago on 11/30/09, and the other notable suitors on his list are Duke, Kansas and Ohio State.
    I hope I’m worrying for nothing!
    >PS: As a Red-Shirt Senior, I believe Vernon Macklin has another year of eligibility (though he could leave early). Even so, since Patric Young is his only back-up (listed as F/C), we are in desperate need of a solid recruit at Center!
    Any rumors of prospects?