Billy D reflects on Louisville loss


Florida coach Billy Donovan said it was tough to review the final 10 minutes of UF’s loss against Louisville.

For the second straight season, the Gators were unable to hold an 11-point lead in the second half of an Elite Eight game. In UF’s overtime Elite Eight loss to Butler, Donovan blamed it on hustle plays. In the Louisville loss, Donovan blamed it on defensive breakdowns and a lack of ability to make big plays down the stretch.

“We had some defensive breakdowns in some crucial situations as they started to make a run back at us and then we had some plays that we did not make,” Donovan said.

In particular, Donovan pointed out freshman Bradley Beal’s travel and Erving Walker’s inability to make an extra pass to an open Erik Murphy on the wing in the closing minutes.

“Walker had a decent look in the lane but Murphy was open and probably would have been a little better,” Donovan said. “I thought Brad had a great drive to the basket and just didn’t finish. We had some shots and some plays that we didn’t make and I thought that was a difference.”

For Florida, it was another frustrating finish to a close game. The Gators finished 2011-12 2-5 in games decided by five points or less, including a double-overtime loss to Rutgers in which the Gators had the ball with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. In 16 seasons coaching Florida, Donovan is 58-73 in gamed decided by five points or less.

“You are always worried about that as a coach,” Donovan said, when asked about his team’s performance in tight games. “I don’t think there’s any question because you are always going to be in those kind of games … in practice, you are always working on those kind of things. You are always trying to make sure that your team is prepared when they happen.”

Other notes:

— While Florida remains in the running for 2012 McDonald’s All-American big man Anthony Bennett, the Gators also are pursuing an in-state fallback option. According to’s Adam Zagoria, Bradley Hayes, a 6-foot-11, 245-pound center from Jacksonville (Sandalwood High) has Florida is in his final four college choices with Connecticut, Georgetown and Texas A&M. Hayes is considered more of a late bloomer in the 2012 class, but runs the floor well and has some shot-blocking ability. Donovan will be watching Hayes this weekend in Pittsburgh, according to the SNY report.

— Another in-state prospect to watch is 2013 power forward Chris Walker. The 6-10 Walker, from Bonifay, is the fifth-rated overall prospect (and third rated power forward) in ESPNUs 2013 rankings. Walker says he has a close relationship with Donovan and mentioned Florida among six schools with Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Syracuse and Ohio State.

— Division I college basketball will be undergoing more NCAA-proposed academic reforms in 2015 which will include a required 2.3 GPA in 16 high school core courses (up from 2.0) and a required 2.5 GPA for junior college transfers (up from 2.0).












  1. Bennett will be an impact player and probably go pro after his freshman year. Then again he may be a tweener as far as the NBA goes which would hurt his draft stock. The only problem is that Bennett and Yeguette are much the same player although Bennett has better offensive skills. Hayes looks like he could be a long term replacement for Young. Maybe they should put the Graham kid on an academic skolly and sign both.

  2. Donovan failed to mentioned his team looked tired at the end of the game. He trashed the idea of rotating players in the 2nd half like he did in the first half, and it cost us dearly! I think several missed shots and mistakes don’t happen there if the players legs were a little fresher.
    I find the record listed there, very interesting. Not surprised at all b/c I’ve been frustrated many times by late game flaws.
    But I’ll take that record to go along with 2 NC trophies!!
    Keep working hard and Go Gators!!

  3. John S your comments are spot on! Donvan made the same mistake in both games with Butler and Louisville the last two NCAA’s. His team was just physicaly worn down in the second half. He was out coached and he knows it.

  4. I would remind everyone that our bench was Wilbekin, Rosario and Prather. Only Rosario had the skills to jump start the offense. I suspect it would have been different if Yeguette had been available to shut down either Smith or the 6-7 guy but we will never know. Billy can’t shoot or dribble (Beal’s walk) for them. They did the best the could.

  5. The weakness in a Donovan coached team with the exception of a couple of years, including the 04s two year run and the 1999-2000 team, is his offense is so three point oriented. Billy Ball is so ingrained in the perimeter players, that when things get tight they fall back on muscle/practice memory, which is to shoot perimeter shots.

    His quote in this blog speaks to his and by an extension of him, his team’s mentality. He points out the fact that Walker should have made the “extra pass,” instead of taking it into the paint. William always stresses the extra pass for open jumpers. Making the extra pass is a strong foundation for any good offense, however in an era of ever increasing defensive prowess deep in the NCAA, the extra pass is not going to always get it.

    Other teams deep in the NCAAs, including Louisville and UK, closed out down the stretch going to the rack. At the end of the day you get back in games and close out games the same way, attacking the rim. 5 things can happen and 4 of them are good:

    1. Miss easy high percentage shot.
    2. Get fouled and shot free throws.
    3. Hang fouls on the opponent.
    4. make the shot.
    5. Make shot, get fouled, get an extra point, and hang a foul on the opponent.

    Three point shot is: Hit or miss and the odds are not 4 out of 5. More like 3 out of 10.

    How many times did we see our guys on a 2 on 1 fast break during the tourney get in the paint, only to kick it to a 3 point shooter? That is Billy Ball. They can’t help but always look for the 3 point shot. They have not been schooled on the heart and basketball character of attacking a team’s the moment the opportunity presents. If their is daylight a player should push the ball to the rim until they meet resistance.

    In the case of the Louisville game, they were in all kinds of foul trouble and we didn’t attack the men in trouble. They had bigs that were about to foul out. Those guys were not in a position to guard the basket.

    Walker is not a closeout player. He shouldn’t have been on the floor down the stretch. Was always a defensive liability. Moreover, he can’t finish in the paint. Never has, never will. Too small. Gets his shot blocked or gets hung up. Rosario was the X factor Donovan didn’t engage. He has more size and the mentality to take the ball to rack. Along with just about every other player on the floor. We have the skills and ability to get to the rim for high percentage shots.

    William as usual puts as much distance between himself and a big loss by putting as many players as he can between him and the loss. For his entire career never once has he stated what he could have done differently with strategy or tactics. Per usual he will point out individuals and what they could have done differently.

    We were better than BYU and even better than Louisville. Billy Ball allows teams to get back into a game. 3 point shooting is going to be tough in big dome arenas, and in our case we shot miserably. So for Donovan to say Walker not making the extra pass for the 3 point shot was a factor down the stretch, shows he either doesn’t get it, or he is not going to take any heat for those big loses in the NCAAs. I hope it is the former. He eventually will get it if he doesn’t. If he gets you have to close teams out in the paint, but just would rather go down playing Billy Ball down the stretch and push the players under the bus after losing, I think that speaks poorly of him.