Billy D faced dilemma


Much of the immediate comments I received following Florida’s 74-71 overtime loss to Butler centered around why Vernon Macklin wasn’t on the court at the end of regulation.

Macklin was 2 of  3 from the free-throw line at that point, but entered the game just a 44.3 percent free throw shooter.

Would Butler have fouled Macklin on purpose with the score tied? It’s debatable, but coaches tend to think in worst-case scenarios. If Macklin was sent to the line before the end of regulation and made just one of two free throws, Butler would have had the ball at the end of regulation with a chance to win the game.

But it is somewhat mystifying that for a team that had three double-digit scorers remaining on the floor, that the best remaining option was for junior point guard Erving Walker to hold the ball for 20 seconds and fire up a 24-footer. Walker missed one at the end of regulation like that against Jacksonville as well. Granted, Walker had hit some big shots late in games during the course of the season, but perhaps at least an attempt to penetrate could have drawn the defense to him.

Where was the ball movement, the player movement at the end of regulation? It’s something that Donovan and the returning players will have to think about for the entire offseason.


  1. The shot at the end of overtime was just as bad. At that point, I felt that Tyus working inside for a shot would have been a better idea. Florida’s big men were having some success and at least it would have been a higher percentage shot. I hate to say it but Billy got out-coached yesterday. But then Butler has out-coached everyone for the last 2 tourneys. I think their coach will be headed somewhere bigger next season. Hopefully not Tennessee.

  2. For all the good coaching that Billy has done(and there is MUCH of it), I have felt for some time that a weakness of his has been coming up with imaginative plays at the end of a half or game. I think you should start moving forward with the ball with about 12 seconds left, to give yourself a great shot opportunity. We seem to start moving the point guard forward with about 8 seconds left, leaving little opportunity for a good look from inside the perimeter, ball screens, etc. Too much pressure on the PG to produce immediately.

  3. Poor decision-making by the Guards hurt us. Guard experience is preferable to post experience in the tournament. They will be a year older and wiser next year. If we can add a decent 3 and 4, we will be alright.

  4. My hat is off to Macklin and Tyus. Walker made 7 terrible decisions in the last 5 minutes and overtime. He played his worst game of the year at the wrong time, and made every mistake he has been told not to make all year. I could not figure out why Billy left him in. Overall Billy did a great job this year. By the way what happened to Chandler he looked brain dead in this game..well wait until next year.

  5. Steve, I appreciate the fact that you feel the freedom to comment – even negatively. However, how may SEC’s have you coached team to? How many Final Four’s have you coached a team too. I am so sick of Gator fans becoming little Mike Bianchi’s when ever a Gator team loses in any sport.

    Billy and team – THANK YOU FOR A GREAT YEAR and Senoirs – good luck in the future. Incoming Freshmen and returning (soon to be) Soph’s, Jr’s and Sr’s – We4 love you and support yuou.

  6. It was not bad coaching by Billy D. He made the wrong decision (like many of us do from time to time). Basically, he had to decide where to go inside to one of the big guys or shoot from outside. Going inside would have given us one or two points (80% to 90% probability), with a possiblity of giving Bulter a chance to take the last shot (50% probability). Shooting from outside would give us 3 points (50%0 probability) with no chance of Butler coming back (~0% probablity). He chose to play it safe. Beside, the players were not playing well (except for Mackin). Some of the calls by the refs were questionable. It was a combinatin of several things that led to the loss. Give the coach a break.

  7. Before we focus on Walker’s last shot in regulation, we should note that Parson was mostly MIA in this game. I think he was playing far too many minutes and his legs were dead. We really don’t have a replacement for him. I know that it is not nice to criticize the officiating, but this game was way over officiated and some of the offensive fouls seem to be nonexistant.. The entire tournament has been poorly officiated and Rick Barnes must see the 4.75 second call in his sleep. It would be nice if the announcers would bust the zebras chops. Wish C. Barkley would do commentary.

  8. Congratulations to the team for a great season.

    But the way the Butler game ended was unexplicable and an opportunity squandered. If one thing can be learned from Charlie Weis, it is that you keep going with the plays that are working—pound the ball inside to Tyus and Macklin and have Boynton curl in for mid-range shots and give the bigs a chance to rebound.

    30-footers whether from Boynton, Walker or last year Werner are not percentage shots. They are 2 out of 10 at best. Although Coach Donovan did a great coaching job this year the point in the game from being 11 points up on was just not his best. Hopefully lessons have been learned.

  9. Loved watching these guys all season and think Billy’s the best, but I don’t understand why Erving didn’t drive into the lane with 2 seconds to go in regulation. We had the ball. We didn’t need 3 points, just one to win. Coaching error with major consequences. Butler was great, but we had the game. Thanks Chandler, Alex, and Vernon for an exciting season — best of luck to you all.

  10. Thanks, Gators, for a splendid season! You overcame all sorts of expectations hung on you by other people just played your hearts out for your team, your coaches and our school. You formed one of the all-time greatest Gator basketball teams. RE: outcome of the game,
    I thought what Pat Dooley rightfully termed “phantom fouls” when UF had an 11-point lead weighed heavily against our opportunities. At a point when our guys were putting Butler away and dominating, the zebras became a third team on the court. As someone said above, officiating has been loathsome throughout this tourney. The NCAA needs to protect its product by cleaning up the officiating before next year rolls around.

  11. Bad ending to a good year. It’s still great to be a Florida Gator! Heck, we beat UCLA again and avenged last year’s loss to BYU in the tourney. Good job, Gators! Can’t win’em all! Championships, that is!

  12. Ha, I got the answer re our beloved Gators and the demise at the hands of Butler. Have you noticed ( I have ) that Coach Donovan NEVER wears an orange and/or blue tie to the games. Check out the other coaches for other teams – they wear the school colors. If I had his mailing address I would send him two ties – one orange and the other blue. In closing – great season team. You done good!!

  13. All the belly-aching about Macklin not being in at the end – nonsense. He became extremely passive after his 4th foul and would not engage on either side of the floor. He had a target on his back when he had the ball in his hands and we never would have won by trading 3 pointers with 1 for 2 foul shooting.

    But the comments on Boynton and Walker are legitimate concerns – it looked like they were playing keep away. Didn’t mind Walkers shot at the end of regulation – it was a good look. Also I thought the full court press failed and failed miserably. It clearly was not rattling Butler the same way it was when Wisconsin did it – not sure why we continued with it all game – just tired us out. And as far the refs go – poorly called on both sides.

  14. Proud of the Gators. But I agree with one important comment here…..the Gators have trouble finishing off the half or end of a game. Poor choices are made and poor strategies (if you can call them that) developed. Obvious flaw in BD’s coaching, I think. But anyway, great run, Gators, great run. On to next year.

  15. I refuse to believe that Donovan told Walker to dribble around for 25 seconds then jack up a 30-foot jumper. Just can’t believe that was the call. My thought was Boynton on a drive to hit a layup or draw a foul. He had some success getting to the hole and he’s the team’s best free-throw shooter.

  16. I agree with Julie, and want to agree with JerGad.
    I would’ve even preferred Wilbekin driving the lane and dishing it; his vision and court awareness is excellent. Though his shooting needs to improve, he has a very high basketball IQ as well as confidence level. I always feel confident with him on the court. He’s a GREAT point guard (floor general and assist man) and his defense is superlative; would’ve been nice to have him defending Butler’s Mack at the end!
    If I were choosing teammates for a pick-up game downtown at the park (or anywhere else), I’d pick Scotty over “Big-E” (???) for PG every time!
    Oh well. At least Vernon didn’t foul out, thus preserving their record of having no foul out’s all season! [though his foul shooting seemed, to me, to have improved late season, even under late game pressure. Irrespective of this, any foul COULD have been a “plus one,” especially considering it would have been SLIGHTLY too early to start fouling intentionally at the time he was removed].
    Billy’s STILL the “Guru of Gainesville,” though!

  17. …end of regulation shot attempt was not the best case scenario; a miss 3 usually means a long rebound, which can not be a second chance opportunity with no time left….on the other hand, a drive to the basket means the obvious- easier shot attempt, getting fouled, a second chance put back at the basket with a shorter rebound, or even an opportunity to dish. We have all seen how defenses collapse when guys penetrate at the end of close game to contest the shot, why would have this game been any different? That is how Butler advanced to start with against Pitt.

  18. I can not believe Coach D. told Walker to dribble the ball for 30 seconds at chuck up a 25 footer. This was unexcuseable on Walker’s part, I have no problem with a kid with confidence to make a shot, but all they needed was one point. Dribble drive and dish, chance for rebound or another shot, No letter I in Team, should have been benched and made to apologize for being selfish

  19. Hey Billy. Last time I checked you don’t win a prize for having a time out left at the end of the game. Please tell me why he has Walker dribble most of the 30 seconds left in regulation and then put a contested 25 footer when he hasn’t made a shot from the field all day.
    Why not a TO with 10 seconds left and set up something to a big down low. Butler hadn’t stopped that all day.
    Donovan’s decision in crunch time has to be questioned. When was the last time we ran an effective play trying to get the last shot off.
    You need a high percentage shot there with a chance for a rebound. Butler had all the momentum and you did not want to settle for OT.
    Walker was awful in regulation, Parsons played like he lead in his shoes and Macklin was in foul trouble. Recipe for a loss.
    This one hurts as I would have really liked our chances given the final 4 teams left.
    Just got out coached and outplayed the final 9 minutes of regulation and OT.

  20. I’m just wondering… How many picked the Gators at the beginning of the season to go this far. Even though we had seniors in the front court this team has overachieved all season. Towards the end they began to jell as a team. Bottom line is Walker is not a true point, Boynton is not what we all expected coming out of high school and the bigs are not dominant. Florida had a great season and for anyone to whine that they made some poor decisions towards the end or question Billy D as a coach must not be True Gators. This was not the 06′-07′ teams out there. This team did a heck of a job givin the talent level. Go Gator!!!!

  21. Just painful to watch. I would have expected a coach the level of Donovan to make better choices to win a game. I think his choices were probably the worst ones aside from just not taking a shot. Man- at least try to win. I have said it for years.. Donovans style is not championship basketball, the only reason they won those titles is because his assistant coaches convinced him to alter the style and they are all gone now.

  22. I agree that this team overachieved this season. All the more reason when you have the chance to survive and move on you capitalize on that opportunity. Walker from 25 feet, who was stone cold, was not the best option.
    I would have given Tyus, Young, Parsons, Murphy or Macklin a chance from 3 feet. This was our year to win it. Will probably be a while before we get another shot like this. Where is the inside scoring going to come from next year?

  23. I have to agree with letting time wind down to about 10 seconds for a play inside. During the title runs of 2006-2007, with the excpetion of hte Georgetown game during the 2006 run, Billy never had to win a close game in those tournaments. The 4 best coacehs are in the tournament, not the 4 best teams. These 4 coaches did the best jobs with their teams and that is why the Gators, Duke, Ohio State, Pitt, and Kansas are at home!

  24. Tryin to blame the game on Erv is simple-minded thinking, you don’t know much about hoops if that’s what ur bitchin about.. KB and CP could neither shoot the entire game either. Yes, I see Macklin was kickin’ tail the entire game but he shoots 44%@the FT Line…we are not talking 10 FTs this guy shot a CRAP load the entire season…and shot %44!!! They would have fouled Macklin right away (Probably TYUS Too). We had(at the moment) and have the deeper team if the game is tied and u can run the entire game clock out and give Erv or KB a last second shot to win or go into OT that is what you do!!!!!!!!!!!!! Erv shooting too much (I don’t think he did) CP and KB not scoring/shooting well is not the reason they lost. They clearly lost because they couldn’t get a Defense rebound the last “like” 5 min’s. Some loser off the bench (K. Marshall) getting 10 points and COUNT THEM 7 Offensive rebounds. That is why we lost, The last 5 mins the entire team was giving up Offensive Rebounds, the Gatas Defensive rebounding left the building, Macklin got called for some BS foul calls too that kept him out the game or we would have ran away with the win due to the fact he probably would have shot at least 5 more short hooks/shots in the latter part of the 2nd half when we had our 11 point lead….BUT the REFs called a bunch of fouls on both teams EARLY in the 2nd half….. then when it got to like ten mins to 2 mins the REF’s clearly swallowed their whistle’s for both side’s but mostly for the Butler Team except Macklin getting called for 2 of his fouls after then 10 min mark those clearly let the Bulldogs back in the game.

  25. oh yeah and there was no out coaching CP KB and ERV couldn’t shoot if any one of the 3 makes 1 more shot in regulation we would have won we were up 11 with almost ZERO 3pt shooting UR an Idiot if u think Billy D was out coached!!!!!!!!!

  26. STEVE the game was tied (Shot Clock was off) u don’t give the other team a chance to shoot the ball u shoot the ball with a good look and you leave no time on the clock (Erv clearly had a great look and the shot rolled on and grabbed a lot of rim it just didn’t go in…….. OUR BIG MAN CAN’T SHOOT FT’s WAKE UP ALL OF U!!!!! We were not going to give the ball to Tyus or Mack they would have been fouled early and Butler would of had minimum 5 seconds left!!!!

  27. Billy coached it perfectly it was KB curling around and Erv LOOKING at the Rim remember he is 5’8″ if he penetrates he probably gets blocked so they ran the Curl and KB was clearly cut off so Erv was there to take his time and get a GREAT look (which he did) without letting any time remain on the clock.

  28. I am positive ERV had a choice to drive in (with very little time left) and dish or shoot the jumper leaving zero time on the clock. I thought he made a great decision he had a strong defender on him and if he would have drove I think the stronger defender would have bumped ERV off his shot or off the ball. HE LEFT NO TIME ON THE CLOCK THEY WE’RE TIED!!!!!!

  29. At the end of games, it usually is in the hands of the guards. I have speculated why but usually that’s the case, look at all the games that go down to the wire in the tourney.

    I agree with Sambizle. The game is not just one play at the end. I think Donovan and his staff summed it up pretty well in post game. They (Butler) got some stops but were able to convert with better rebounding, loose balls (got some breaks).

    Congrats to the Gators for an Awesome season! I’ve watched them for the last 2-3 years and their growth as a team has been great to watch.

  30. First of all, I want to congradulate the GATORS for their efforts. STEVE, I support your opinion. BUDDYD, its his opinion, I know at some point in all your blogging days you have had an opinion that you felt the one of the coaches could have made a better decision. Its just an opinion and it will not change the outcome. GO GATORS!!!

  31. If u agree with Steve then u don’t know anything about sports they were TIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! U DON’T GIVE THE BALL TO THE OTHER TEAM with time on the CLOCK!!!

  32. I would rather be up by one point with 8 secs left and playing defense (the Macklin gets fouled scenario) instead of jacking up a 3 pointer by a guy who hadn’t hit anything all day and taking my chances in overtime. That’s just me. And I wouldn’t want my guys jacking up threes late in OT either when they could drive and dish (or even kick out for a wide open 3). A tough loss with questionable end of game decisions, but overall a great season for an over-achieving Gators squad. Bring on Brad Beal and Dawson next year! Go Gators!

  33. even if we score 2 u give them a chance to take the lead with a 3 or u shoot a long (in the air shot) last second shot with a great look that leaves no time on the clock!!!!!!!! THEY LET BIG SHOT ERV TAKE THE LAST LOOK? No Freakin S.H.I.T THEY DID THAT, THAT IS WHAT YOU DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. IF CP or KB had a great shooting day and ERV played the way he did then Billy D would have gave it to KB (really good free throw shooter) CP very tall with handles…..but none were shooting good so they let ERV create or take a good look… HE CHOOSE TO TAKE A GREAT LOOK!

  35. Sambizle, glad you know where the exclamation point is on your keyboard. I understand the approach behind going conservative and playing for (most likely) OT–but you do realize that the Gators LOST in overtime, don’t you? At some point you have to be aggressive and win the game; Macklin was in foul trouble, Erv and Parsons couldn’t hit crap–it’s perfectly legit to try and win the game in regulation by going inside to Macklin or Tyus (one point gives you the lead) w/ about ten seconds left and then trusting your defense to make one stop and get a rebound. Butler shot 40 percent FGs for the game, they were missing free throws, too–I would have played for the win, not OT. And yes, Erv was Big Shot most of the year, and we wouldn’t be where we were without him, but he was having a HORRIBLE day–you don’t need to replay the whole John Starks versus the Rockets scenario, Gators have other guys who can score, too.

  36. We weren’t getting stops at the specific time u are talking. U really want them to have time on the clock when you can run the clock out due to the SHOT CLOCK being turned off? if u have a brain then u see this is the absloute thing you do the game was tied!!!!

  37. Tyus with a wind up jumper or Macklin who can’t make a free throw you really wanna go down low with 25 seconds on the clock to these two I love Tyus but I also know his game…and Macklin would have been fouled way early.

  38. Mack or Tyus makes MAYBE ONE FT….then Butler gets the ball back for another offensive rebound put back for the GATAS to lose by 1. Then anyone with a brain would have said why didn’t they let ERV or KB run out the clock and not give the ball back to Butler!!!

  39. Billy already said that the play before OT was for Walker to drive and dish the ball to one of the bigs. If you watch the play again Tyus is really mad after Walker misses the shot….it’s not what Billy called.

  40. The player selection for the last shot has little to due with the brutal coaching decision.

    You miss the point. Out of a time out, down by one, there is only one choice- running the clock down and going to the basket and getting fouled.

    The coach has to give their TEAM the best chance to win. Erv and Parson made no shots in the 2nd half..

  41. Everyone keeps going on about Walker shooting the 3 at the end of regulation and debating whether that was a good decision or not. No matter how you try to justify that one, forget about it. What about the launch from Boynton (sp?) during overtime when down by 1 with 19 seconds left and the shot clock off??! NO WAY anyone can justify that rididulous shot. Even if he makes it, Butler gets the ball back, down by 2, with a chance to tie or win it. So much for justifying the shot by Walker by saying you never give the other team the ball back at the end. Maybe they were going for a rebound? Come on, what’s the percentage on that happening. Certainly they weren’t (and didn’t) going to get a tie-up because Butler had the possesion arrow. The launch ball with 19 seconds left was the dumbest of all…and took place right in front of Donovan.

  42. This game wasnt lost because of any last shot or poor officiating. It was lost when we got up by 11 points and set up for full court pressure. Only we didnt press. We never tried to trap them or steal the ball and did not get them to turn the ball over once in the 3-4 minutes we set up our press, in fact this allowed them to beat us down the court and get open looks that they were not getting earlier in the half when we were in our half court defense. i have not seen anyone mention it but it was mind boggling why you would have your defenders in the back court but not put pressure on the ball handlers, That was the time to really put the game away but instead it allowed them back in the game. And now is not the time to talk about what a great season it was. When you lose in the elite 8 to an inferior team, with an 11 seed awaiting you for the right to get into the championship game, its devastating. Name a worse basketball loss than this the Gators have suffered? I doubt you can.

  43. IMO Walker was the most important player on this years team. That said, in a discussion on this forum around January, about Walker and Boynton being selfish players, I talked of my concern for end of game plays and how Donovan allows Walker to play selfish and dribble the clock out. I can’t remember my exact words but I do recall saying it could hurt the Gators at the worst possible time (like the NCAA Tournament). That is exactly what happened. Hard to believe that at this level that No correction were made before tournament time.

  44. Lost in Walker’s decision making and self-serving display at the end of regulation, was the fact Butler made virtually every shot from the perimeter down the stretch to get back in the game over Walker. He is a huge liability defensively at 5-7. In this game since he was not scoring and we had a comfortable lead, Butler could not have tied the game up if William decided to play Wilbikin down the stretch. The final shot in regulation would not have been an issue. William historically recruiting and who he plays has been offensive oriented. He had a dilemma the last few minutes of regulation, play the 5-7 defensive liability who gives him offensive potential, or play the much taller Wilbikin who offers little offensive potential but a significant upgrade defensively? We had a nice lead, we needed to hold it in my opinion. Wilbikin is an easy call. I am not sure Butler or VCUs coaches would have felt it was a dilemma to choose defense over offensive potential of a guy who was 0 for 9.

    • Some good points Sid but you need Walker in at the end of the game because he’s Florida’s best ball-handler. Wilbekin would have turned the ball over too much in the last nine minutes when Butler amped up its defensive pressure. Ditto Boynton. But Walker is a huge defensive liability, teams attack him every game. Kinda like Jimmer w/BYU.

    • My problem w/Billy D’s strategy was sitting Macklin as long as he did w/4 fouls (from 9-3 min stretch). Especially if you are not going to play him the last 1:30 due to ft shooting. You were up 11 at the time and needed a few more buckets to stall Butler’s momentum. Gators only scored 6 points during that 6 min stretch.