Gators seeking answers from FT line


Free throws have been anything but free for the Gators this season.

Florida enters Southeastern Conference play against South Carolina on Wednesday night an abysmal 64.3 percent from the line. Missed free throws doomed Florida in last week’s back-to-back losses to FSU and Connecticut. The Gators shot 53.8 percent (7-13) from the line against the Seminoles and 40 percent (8-20) against UConn.

“I’ve got to figure something out, because I’ll tell you one thing: over the holidays, coming out of Florida State, I’m going to say each guy probably got up 500,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

The Gators rank 12th in the SEC in free throw shooting, which has contributed to the team’s overall offensive doldrums. Florida ranks 11th in the SEC in scoring offense at 66.9 percent.

“When the lights are on it’s a little bit different,” Donovan said.  “Actually creating a game a game-situation in practice from the free-throw line is a little bit more challenging, where everybody gets a chance to do it.

“But we probably have to continue to do some stuff. We’re taking them. We’re taking them. But those are things, with your team, that you can clearly look at and say we need to shoot them better. But that’s a mindset, a mentality, a confidence, where’s your focus? When you go to the free-throw line you have to narrow your focus.

Other notes:

— As if Florida hasn’t found enough things to blame Will Muschamp for, Donovan revealed that he had the departed Florida football coach speak to his team before the season: “I likened our situation to the exact situation he was going through when they were coming off an 11-2 season and they went 4-8 … and the thing Will talked to our guys about was – to me I think hopefully I don’t know how much it did or it did but it resonated with me – you just don’t plug guys in and have the same level of success that you’ve had in the past. That’s what’s happened right now to our team, this idea that, ‘Well, OK, well Patric (Young), this guy’s gone.’ Well, Frazier, ‘Well, I’m going to step up and do this.’ And Kasey Hill, ‘Well, I’m going to step in now. I’m the point guard.’ And Dorian Finney-Smith, ‘Well, I’m going to move from the sixth man. Now I’m the power forward.’ Chris Walker, ‘I played behind and now … ‘ What happens is they just think that it’s just going to go well. It’s just going to go well. I’m a good player, it’s just going to go well. And it doesn’t work like that.”

— Former Florida and South Carolina center Damontre Harris has resurfaced at NAIA Campbellsville (Ky.) Univeristy, where he had 18 points and 15 rebounds in a recent with over Nazarene College. Harris was let go by the Gators last spring after transferring from South Carolina and never played a minute UF due to multiple violations of team rules. Had the 6-foot-10 Harris kept his head on straight, he could have been the missing piece inside the Gators have lacked this season. To date, senior center Jon Horford and sophomore center Chris Walker have not consistently filled that role.