Perhaps I need to re-title this series, as Coach Potato hardly applies. I am rarely watching Gator games from the sofa, but more often standing, pacing, yelling and cursing.
But I can’t give up on this season, this team – - – or this column.
And so, reluctantly, I return with weary words of wisdom.
LIVE —Errr —COACH IN THE MOMENT
This is a lousy pressing team. Ok — ‘lousy’ is too strong. But it is wildly inconsistent in press, and too often inept. Florida employs the press for obvious reasons— primarily to create transition opportunities and dictate tempo. But too often the former is gift-wrapped for the opposition, and the latter is rendered moot. The LSU Tigers repeatedly tore through Florida’s pressure Tuesday night, either beating the Gators down the court or exploiting poor execution. And though this Gator offense desperately needs transition chances, those are tough to come by when waiting for the ball to slip through the net.
The perplexing aspect of all this is that Florida seemingly has the personnel to press – - – the length, speed, athleticism and depth. But it lacks discipline.
“When we rotated up in the press we forced turnovers,” Donovan said after the LSU loss. A hint of exasperation was evident. “If I said one time, I said a hundred times on the sideline to get the guy to rotate up. But our guys are just standing there next to their man,” he continued — no longer hinting.
Florida is deep into its season, and in deep trouble. No longer can the learning curve be considered a viable excuse — certainly not with the fundamentals of a press. So, what’s the problem?
“For whatever reason, there is stuff they can’t process — or whatever it is — and apply on the court there sometimes,” Donovan explained.
And therein lies the rub.
Donovan must do a better job of recognizing when his team is in one of those ‘sometimes’ times. AND STOP PRESSING. Too often Donovan has remained steadfast — imploring his team to execute while the opponent runs layup drills.
Donovan’s favorite mantra is to ‘live in the moment’. And with this team, he must coach the same way. There are times he has coached this squad like he has past teams, or how he hopes it will play in the future. Instead, he needs to coach ‘em based on how they are playing in the moment. And if in that moment they are not ‘applying’ or ‘processing’ the press — stop pressing.
LET ‘EM FLY
No, I am not rehashing the infamous bus-gate, nor even referring to Florida’s flight options. Nope. This is about the Gators shooting, or lack thereof.
Donovan’s teams have always been predicated on unselfish, team-basketball. Previous squads have frequently been lauded for the ‘extra pass’ and resulting basket.
But this group seems to prefer the extra, extra pass — and the resulting pass.
So, I am asking Donovan to give his team the green light. Yup, the entire team (even you, Jake) gets a green light to SHOOT THE BALL. Now, I am not suggesting we simply bomb away, or that suddenly there is no-such thing as a ‘bad shot’. Instead, I am imploring the recognition of a good shot. And for a team that struggles in the half court, the criteria for such should dialed down a bit from that of past, more proficient squads.
For Michael Frazier, the equation is simple: If you can shoot it, please do so.
For the others, recognize that your first good look may prove the best one of the possession. Take it. (I’m looking at you, Cheese!)
I’ll defer to coach’s criteria for what may be considered a good shot, but I do know that we have passed on far too many — literally and figuratively. These guys sometimes seem intent on running through the motions of the offense, hesitant to make a mistake. And hesitant to make or take a shot.
Donovan must lift this burden and Go Green!
COACH, WHATEVER YOU DO . . .
Don’t read the message boards! If you do, you may get a very warped view of our fan base. But the reality is, nearly all Gator fans have an incredible level of respect, appreciation and admiration for what you have created and sustained here at the University of Florida. The elevation of this program to such heights and expectations is something I once considered impossible. But here we are! And to think, I’m part of it all with my tremendous insights and suggestions.
On second thought, steer clear of my columns as well.