After watching the tape of Florida’s 114-57 exhibition win over Catholic, Florida coach Billy Donovan uttered a familiar refrain.
“Shooting like we did last night,” Donovan said, “cures a multitude of sins.”
Beyond UF’s lights out 20-for-40 night from 3-point range, Donovan said he felt his team played reasonably well. His main concern heading into Florida’s season-opener Nov. 11 vs. Jackson State remains rebounding. Florida was outrebounded in the early going before finishing with a 36-31 edge on the boards. Catholic, whose tallest player was 6-foot-7, grabbed nine offensive rebounds.
Donovan said Florida’s problem on the boards at this point is more a byproduct of positioning rather than lack of size. The Gators started a three-guard lineup that included 6-3 Bradley Beal, 6-2 Kenny Boynton and 5-8 Erving Walker.
“Our guys, watching tape, are making an effort to try go block out,” Donovan said. “Our problem rebounding-wise is our guards have got to get in there and do a better job. Brad had only one rebound, (Mike) Rosario had only one rebound, Boynton had four, Walker had three. Erik (Murphy) had two rebounds in the game. We have to get better there.”
Donovan said there also were issues with rotations in the press in which players we caught out of position to rebound. Sophomore center Patric Young had 7 rebounds in 23 minutes, and sophomore forward Casey Prather added 7 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
“There were a couple of possessions where our frontcourt players, they help on a drive and all of the sudden the ball gets kicked back out and they are not getting into the right position,” Donovan said. “So much of our stuff is based on positioning and seeing things before they are getting ready to happen and then what happens in when they happen they are reacting and then, when they get caught reacting, we are in bad positions. Then they are trying to block out, but when they are trying to block out they are in a position of weakness instead of strength.”
“Some of our rebounding issues were coming out of the press we made some poor rotations and we have a guy like Patric running out of the paint because there is nobody there and now all of the sudden we have guards running inside.”
— Donovan said he had no problem with 6-foot-10 freshman forward Walter Pitchford hoisting four 3-point attempts in garbage time. Pitchford missed all four attempts. “He’s a very good shooter,” Donovan said. “He’s got a long way to go, obviously. The one thing I like and respect about him is he’s got a great attitude, he’s got good energy.”
Pitchford didn’t score, but had three rebounds and a blocked shot in six minutes.
“I think he knows how far he’s got to go to get better,” Donovan said. “His attitude has been a real, real pleasant surprise. It’s something that really should be modeled by all of the guys on our team.”
— Senior point guard Erving Walker has been named as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award is for standout college seniors who are completing their full eligibility. Walker is the Southeastern Conference’s active leader in scoring (1,330 points) and second in assists (377).
— Had a chance to run into former Gator standout and current Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who worked out in the UF practice facility this season. He’s been working out here on and off during the NBA lockout. “I would say I’m doing more than surviving,” Noah said, when asked about the lockout. Noah also said he’s high on this season’s Gator team. “They can be explosive,” he said. “Defense and rebounding will be the key.”
— Donovan said sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin would have played Thursday night against Catholic if it were a regular season game. Wilbekin has a broken index finger on his right (shooting) hand, but it didn’t look to bother him during pregame warmups. Donovan said barring any setbacks, he expects Wilbekin to play in UF’s season-opener Nov. 11 against Jackson State.