Vanderbilt notes: Better late than early


Before Saturday’s game at Mississippi State, I asked senior forward Chandler Parsons if I was reading too much into the fact that Florida had lost its previous two games with 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. tip times.

“I think you are,” Parsons said. “We’re going to come out and play with energy no matter when we play.”

But the Gators dropped to 0-3 in tip times before 2 p.m. following Saturday’s 71-64 loss to the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss. Florida coach Billy Donovan even tried a 7 a.m. CT (8 a.m. ET) shoot-around for his team Saturday morning, but it didn’t help. The Gators were a woeful 5-of-21 from 3-point range and 9-of-19 from the free-throw line in the game that started at noon CT (1 p.m. ET).

The common thread of the three losses (Jacksonville 1 p.m., South Carolina, 1:30 p.m., Mississippi State) has been poor starts and poor free throw shooting. The Gators fell behind by double-digits in the first half in two of the three losses and trailed at halftime in all three games. Florida shot a combined 58.6 percent (44-75) from the free-throw line in all three losses.

Overall, Florida is 4-3 in afternoon tip times. The Gators are 12-1 at night (if you consider Ohio State’s 6 p.m. tip time a night tip) and 12-0 in tip times 7 p.m. or later.

Florida has a pair of 9 p.m. tip times this week against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gators have played some of their best basketball that late, going 2-0 in 9 p.m. games with wins over Rhode Island (84-59) and at Tennessee (81-75 in overtime). The Gators shot a combined 16-34 (47.1 percent) from 3-point range in the two wins, but still struggled at the free-throw line (25-41, 61.0 percent).

— Senior center Vernon Macklin said he worked hard on his free-throw shooting in individual drills over the summer. But maybe that was part of the problem. “I got caught up in trying to change my shot too much,” Macklin said. “Getting caught in between trying to keep the ball low or bring it high. It’s kind of getting in my head right now, I’m thinking about it too much and I’m missing a lot of free throws. I’m just going back to relaxing and trying to shoot without thinking about it because once you think about it, it gets worse.” Macklin, who shot 58.8 percent from the free-throw line last year, is at 40 percent (22-55) so far this season.

— More on free-throw shooting, Donovan said Florida’s struggles at the line won’t dictate how he runs the offense late in tie games or one-possession games. “I don’t think you want to say guys aren’t shooting the ball well from the free-throw line therefore we can’t go inside, or we are not going to try to attack the basket,” Donovan said. “I think you still got to play, to be aggressive as you would the first four or five minutes.”

— Florida freshman Patric Young offered some insight as to why Florida has suffered letdowns against unranked opponents during the course of the season. Asked if anything about playing for Donovan has surprised him, Young responded: “This year I can say what’s surprised me is the way we’ve come out to play, we’re not always really focused sometimes. Coach doesn’t know what he’s going to get from us sometimes. Sometimes, it seems like we’re not ready to play. I thought just playing for Coach Donovan, the two national championships, that would just psych us up, that coach, he knows what to do to get to that level.”  Young later added: “Sometimes we just match up with teams like Jacksonville and UCF and we’ll be like ‘oh they are not playing that hard, maybe we can go down to play at their level’ and sometimes we come out against Rhode Island and play the best game, best defensive game, best offensive game of the year, and we’re just unstoppable.”

— Former Gator and Gainesville High standout Orien Greene has resurfaced, signing a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets. Greene, who last played in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings in 2007-08, was averaging 18 points, 5.1 assists, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals with the NBDL’s Utah Flash. A defense-first point guard, Greene has had a hard time sticking in the league. “I ain’t getting no younger,” Greene told True Hoop. “More guys coming out, more athletic. More a lot of stuff. But I don’t think there’s a lot of guys in the league right now who can bring what I bring. I’m 28. Whatever, A lot of guys in the league that I see right now, don’t really play both sides of the ball. Lord willing, lord willing, somebody’s going to call me and I can get back in.”


  1. I love Patric. He reminds me of the oh-fours with the approach he has to the game. Next year once we get rid of all these fair weather seniors (Parsons, Tyus) we can get some young excited ruthless talent going.

    Really excited about the Rutgers PG transfer we have coming in to replace Erving, and Bradley Beal is like a Ray Allen Jr. with his offensive game.

  2. Fair weather? Parsons? You’re an idiot. It’s not your fault though. BD has ripped the guys (and Parsons in particular) in public so often that he’s given the Gator fan base license to stereotype them negatively as well. Meanwhile, coming out of a timeout and with 24 seconds left in regulation, he lets Erving Walker dribble the clock out and jack a 25 footer for the win. What a joke. I guess at some point I should stop being amazed at the level of love BD has for Erv. Clearly he can do no wrong in BD’s eyes.

  3. I am a strong BD supporter, but I must agree with at least one point that B Diddy makes. With a tie score at home and 24 seconds on the clock, we saw no passes, no attempt to get the ball inside where at least we could draw a foul, no effort to penetrate and either draw a foul or dish. What we saw was Walker dribble around for 21 seconds and then launch a long desperation shot. That’s the best the coaches could come up with?

  4. True the ball didn’t go inside, but would you rather the ball go inside to have Vandy insantly foul one of our bigs, maybe go 1 for 2 from the line and get the ball back with time on the clock for the win? I hate that walker took the shot he did but not giving Vandy a chance to get the ball back with time on the clock gave us the chance to win in OT vs lose in regulation.

  5. BD won 2 titles with an unselfish team. He ran Calathes off bc he labeled him a selfish player even though he set and broke assist records. He benched Calathes for Erving. Erving has been the ultimate selfish player. No one at the Gainesville Sun is going to directly call out BD on this fact. However, when the team struggled early, we were told by BD that it was bc Parsons, Tyus, and Macklin were selfishly “playing for the NBA scouts and not the team.” Meanwhile, Walker and Boynton have fired up shots and made poor decisions constantly yet we hear nothing about them from the bench except support. All I’m looking for is equal accountability. BD has clearly lost his way since taking and relenting the Magic job.
    @Robert, no one is saying that you have to throw the ball inside to a poor free throw shooter. However, it is reasonable to expect a coach to have a play for the end of the game situation instead of just having Erv dribble around for 20 seconds and then launch a 25 footer. Look at Ole Miss last night. They at least ball screened for Warren.
    Some of you are blinded by your loyalty and will believe whatever you are told. Parsons and Calathes’ legacies at UF have been tainted by their coach. A coach who has not handled the success of winning two championships.
    I am a Gator through and through but there’s what’s right and there’s what right. Period.

  6. What’s right is Billy D is the 3rd winningest coach in the SEC. He’s one of 4 coaches with 2 NC’s not to mention another trip to the final four. Riddle me this einstein, who would you replace him with? Is that you Sid? Is B Diddy just another troll name for you? I detect a real gaseous odor when you attack the Gators, period.

  7. Wow! How reactionary are you? All I said is I would like to see BD show equal accountability. Do you view the way he’s handing Erv and KB as fair?
    I praised the way he coached the 04’s to 2 titles: through unselfishness. Would you call what we have currently as an unselfish team?
    Sorry Big F, I didn’t know the Gainesville Sun website was a UF fan site.

  8. Patrick Young is a great defender and one powerful guy..a great addition. This treram could make a run if 5 things happened. We would have only lost one game to date if we could hit a foul shot in the last 5 minutes..pretty amazing stat.
    1. hit foul shots
    2. Let Patrick start looking for the ball to score underneath now
    3. If Boyton keeps bombing out as a shooter try Prather or cut loose Wilbekin to shoot..he has a great stroke if he took a few trys.
    4. When Young sets a pick and roll look for him within the first two seconds of his roll he is always free but our guards are not looking for him.
    5. Sit Tyus and his lazy AS_ on the bench and play Yeugette or Murphy.

  9. Donovan continues to say that Macklin and Tyus take themselves out of games if they do not get off to a good start. He insist that they do not do other things to help the team in those instances. The truth of the matter is that Macklin and Tyus are not give the same opportunities to help the team. They average 8 minutes less a game than the other starters. Donovan takes them out of the game if they do not get off to a good start (both physically and mentally).

    Walker, Boynton and Parsons are allowed to stay in games and try to work through their slow starts. Most of the time they stay in games even when the are not getting any better. By contrast, Macklin and Tyus get benched. This is but another example of unequal accountability. This has and will continue to hurt this team. I hope it does not pop up when we really need them, like in the NCAAs.

  10. Macklin is great against physically weak inside people, but he is the most easily pushed around big 245 lb man I have ever witnessed in college. He has a great hook shot if you do not push him out, but my mother could push him out, and you must take him out of the game for the last five minutes because he locks his knees before every foul shot and is a real liability on the line. For the last 5 mins we did not throw the ball inside . Since our guards do not look for Young on the pick and roll every time he is open , he quits fighting for position because they are going to keep throwing it around the perimeter. Young sealed off his man completely for two Walker layup drives and he could easily have done it again if Billy would wake up and call it!!

  11. I like Billy Donovan. He’s a great person and obviously one of the best coaches ever (look what he’s getting out of this motley crew!), but I haven’t seen “Billyball” (ie: relentless, withering passing) since the days of the Gatorboyz (’04’s).
    How does the 3rd winningest coach in SEC history with two recent consecutive (historic) NC’s not sign Austin Rivers this year, Brandon Knight last year and/or Marcus Jordan the year prior?!?!?
    Though he managed to maintain the #1 ranked recruiting class after he returned in ’07 ( – which sometimes can serve to dissuade top prospects in the year(s) immediately following them from committing – no starters (nor even any Seniors, perhaps?) were returning, meaning recruits would have a legitimate chance at starting, and subsequent Blue-chippers could look forward to potentially seeing significant playing time themselves – sooner than later – if not win starting slots outright. Any subsequent Stars would/should not have been dissuaded by such as this, but rather attracted!
    BD’s ’07 season was very similar to the situation John Calipari found himself in last year – having immediately open starting positions available to offer as a carrot to “le creme de le creme!”
    His ’08 prospects would have been (were) looking [forward] to competing with players only one year ahead of them for starting/playing time – and who would likely leave early anyway – so, like Calipari’s class this year, Billy’s ’08 class could reasonably have been expected to be another very high ranking one (top 5, if not #1), BUT… it was only #10; followed by #15 in ’09, #19 last year, and #24 this year (so far).
    Notice a trend??? It would be enigmatic,… if not for his unfortunate Magic trick!!!
    By comparison, Calipari’s ’09 class was #1, his class last year was #1, and is currently #1 this year.
    Oh what could have been; what might have been; what should have been! (that said, BD’s ’03 and ’04 classes were both “merely” #12).
    >PS: Had BD not returned, I’m confident Jeremy Foley would have found an excellent replacement. At least one name comes to mind.
    >PPS: Lee Humphrey was an ’03, ftr.