Florida’s Rosario: ‘I’m a shooter’
Florida coach Billy Donovan sensed his team had “bounced back” from its defeat at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats after a Sunday practice session, the Tucson hangover seemed to be affecting the Gators early in Wedneday’s 82-43 win against Southeastern Louisiana at the O’Connell Center.
The No. 7 Gators (8-1) struggled offensively to open up the game despite building an early lead against the Lions (1-8).
However, once they settled into their friendly home confines, the Gators were able to find a spark offensively in the form of Mike Rosario.
After Southeastern Louisiana’s Jamaal James sank two free throws to cut the Gators’ lead to eight with just under seven minutes to play, Rosario went to work.
The redshirt senior sank a three to push the Gators’ lead back to double digits, and on the next possession he nailed another triple. Two scores later, and Rosario had officially made it 10 straight points scored in a span of two minutes to pace the Gators going into halftime.
After ending the game with a 20-point performance, Rosario had a simple explanation for his play on Wednesday night.
“I’m a shooter, I’m a scorer,” Rosario said. “Shoot ‘til you’re cold, shoot ‘til you’re hot … if you have open shots take them.”
Upon his transfer to UF from Rutgers, where Rosario scored 1,000 points in just two seasons, the player who showed up tonight is the one fans have been expecting since his arrival. According to Donovan, getting Rosario to be reliable was his biggest issue last season, but he’s started to see a change in his veteran guard.
“I think for him it’s been, as a coach just not bending,” Donovan said. “I think he’s really conformed, he’s worked, and it shows in his play … I feel like I know what I’m getting from him from day to day … and to his credit, I think he’s kind of put it together we’re he’s become more responsible, more reliable, and because of it, I think he’s playing very well.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum however, was senior guard Kenny Boynton, who, for the second consecutive outing, seemed rather invisible on the floor. With Boynton currently holding the title as the SEC’s active all-time leading scorer, his slump has been rather shocking to fans and certainly to Boynton himself. For Donovan though, he stated that Boynton’s cold-streak may actually wind up to be the best thing that could happen to the guard this season.
“This is great for him,” Donovan said in regards to Boynton. “And not that I want him going through a difficult time, but he’s gotta fight through this. Anytime anything comes easy to you … I think you lose a sense of how hard it is to make shots, to be a good player … at the end, this could be really good for him.”
While the Gators may be both hot and cold offensively as individuals, as a team, they again displayed how much of a nuisance they can be to opposing teams defensively.
Scoring sparingly coming out of the halftime break, the Gators turned on the defensive pressure, holding the Lions to just 2 points for the first 10 minutes of the half.
The defensive output wasn’t surprising considering the Gators currently rank inside the top-15 in the nation in three different defensive categories. According to Donovan, while personnel has been one of the biggest contributors to the Gators’ defensive success this season, it’s also been a commitment as a team to stress defensive play.
“I think the last couple of years, playing with Ervin Walker — as a great of a career as he had, as much as I love coaching him — at 5-foot 6, it was hard to play zone sometimes … I think that we needed to make a commitment to get much better defensively because I felt like we had the personnel to get better there, we’ve got good pieces to be a good defensive team.”
While the Lions would show signs of life late in the half, the Gators came alive as well, with Patric Young and Casey Prather both throwing down thunderous dunks back-to-back to ignite the small, but energetic O’Connell Center crowd.
Eventually, the Lions would fade away into the night with the Gators notching their eighth win of the year ahead of their anticipated trip to Kansas City (Mo.) on Saturday to take on Kansas State.
The Wildcats currently sit at 8-2 with their two losses coming to No.4 Michigan and No.14 Gonzaga. According to Casey Prather and Rosario, the Gators will undoubtedly have a challenge on their hands in Missouri.
“We expect a hard team to go against,” Prather said. “We need to be ready to go from the tip.”
Rosario echoed his teammates sentiments, but also stated the Gators will need to be extra focused considering the fact that despite the game being at a neutral site, it’s essentially a road contest for the Gators.
“I feel like (the team’s) momentum is high. It’s going to be a crazy environment as always — it’s on the road. That’s the one thing we try to get our guys to focus on, and we gotta get back to work tomorrow at practice.
If the Gators can get a similar performance out of Rosario — whose 20 points on Wednesday came on 8-13 shooting including four three-pointers — they will certainly have a chance to again impress on the national stage, after briefly falling from grace in Arizona last weekend.
Offensively, Florida was able to spread the wealth on Wednesday with freshman Michael Frazier II — who showed no signs of the flu-bug which limited him last Saturday — scoring 12 points with six coming from behind the arc. Center Patric Young also made his presence felt down low by adding 10.
The Gators will return to the O-Dome on Jan. 9 when they host Georgia to open SEC play.
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2014 Football Commits
|Davidson (NC) Day|
|Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County|
|Jacksonville (Fla). Raines|
|Deland (Fla.) High|
|New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine|
|Miami (Fla.) Central|
|Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas|
|Northridge (Al.) Tuscaloosa|
|Immokalee (Fla.) High|
|Casper (Wy.) Natrona County|
2013 Basketball Commits
|Clermont (Fla.) Montverde Academy|
|Bonifay (Fla) Holmes County|
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