Billy D defends decisions on transfers

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With Florida off to a 10-9 start, the inevitable question came up whether Florida coach Billy Donovan has been too reliant on bringing in transfers instead of recruiting more four-year players.

Florida’s current active roster includes four transfers. Three are starters, forward Dorian Finney Smith (Virginia Tech), guard Eli Carter (Rutgers) and center Jon Horford (Michigan). UF’s fourth transfer, forward Alex Murphy (Duke), became eligible in December and is coming off the bench.

Florida could have had another key transfer contributing this season, but center Damontre Harris (South Carolina) never made it on the floor for the Gators after being suspended for repeated rules violations.

“Damontre Harris, I was kind of disappointed that didn’t work out,” Donovan said, ” The only reason I say that is because I was familiar with Damontre coming out of high school. I recruited him out of high school. I recruited Dorian out of high school a little bit. Rashon Burno had a personal relationship with Eli Carter. And I think if you look at some of the transfers And I think if you look at some of the transfers now with Alex Murphy and Jon Horford, there’s a deep family relationship there because of their brothers. The transfers have been the ones that have really made sense for us because we know what we’re getting in terms of the kind of kids they are.”

Two more transfers — center John Egbunu (USF) and walk-on center Schuyler Rimmer (Stanford) will be eligible for the Gators next season. There’s high hopes for Egbunu, who is said to be matching up well with current UF centers Chris Walker and Horford in practice. But Donovan admitted that evaluating transfers, like four-year recruits, isn’t an exact science.

“You never really know,” Donovan said. “I think that every coach, it’s no different in a professional draft situation. If they always got it right, there would never be any mistakes.”

— I asked Donovan on Monday, given UF’s breakdowns on defense, whether he considered to simplify some of his schemes. Donovan responded that UF’s breakdowns weren’t about lack of knowledge. “They know what they’re doing,” Donovan said. “The problem is when things start happening quickly.” Donovan gave an example in how the Gators guarding Ole Miss leading scorer Stefan Moody but during a play late in the game , “All of a sudden the ball goes into the post and a guy is supposed to be at help side and he’s over there hugging his man,” Donovan said. “And then the play happens, and they know. I’m not getting as a coach ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ It’s the ability to be able to respond and react in those situations.”

— On the SEC teleconference, Donovan made a comment that he didn’t see the Gators “making a run” for an NCAA Tournament bid at this point. At 10-9, UF current RPI is 82 (according to ESPN.com Daily RPI). The Gators are 0-6 against the RPI Top 50 and 1-8 vs. the RPI top 100. “I’m not going to be one of these guys who’s going to be this optimist and say, ‘Oh yeah.’,” Donovan said, when asked to clarify the statement. “I have to go off of what I’m dealing with today. We’ve shown no signs of consistency. Now, we’re working on those things, but I haven’t seen any signs that makes me say, ‘Yeah, we’re OK, we’re OK.’ We’re not OK. ”

— Donovan said he was pleased with junior guard Michael Frazier II’s disposition of late. Frazier scored a season-high 27 points in the Ole Miss loss. going 6 of 8 from 3-point range. “It’s always a little bit easier, calling it like it is, when your first shot goes down, your second shot goes down and you make the first two,” Donovan said. “It’s easy to stay engaged in the game. Michael’s challenge is going to be when he misses some, can he still stay engaged in the game? I was happy with his approach. His approach to me has gotten better over the last week or so. That’s been pleasing. I’m not so sure his approach was that when the season started.” Frazier was asked Monday if he felt like he was becoming a better leader. “Hopefully getting a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season,” Frazier said. ” ‘Cause that’s something that I was really invested into, really trying to invest in my teammates and trying to help them anyway that I can on and off the court.”