It’s edition 2 of my Coach Potato series, and though my first piece did not result in a job offer from Coach Donovan — I like to think my sofa-side suggestions played a role in our opening conference wins.
So, putting my delusions of grandeur aside, I am back to offer more!
Break out the beakers and bunson burners:
To date, and often out of necessity, Donovan has tinkered and toiled with lineups and rotations like a mad scientist swirling potions. But has he found the right formula? I submit to you there is no magical mixture for this team — no set lineup or rotation that serves as key ingredient. At times, Florida is best with its fastest grouping — placing both Hill and Chiozza in the backcourt. Other times, the cerebral though undersized pairing of Dorian Finney-Smith and Jacob Kurtz is most potent. Often Frazier is the key ingredient and Carter is a lethal additive. Sometimes vice-versa. Frequently the length of Robinson and athleticism of Walker create the needed concoction.
The possible formulations go on and on. Heck, to date Donovan has started 10 different lineups. And though his roster is finally healing and his possible ingredients solidifying – - – there remains no clear-cut answer to the frequent forum debate: “Who should start?”. There is no answer. And there shouldn’t be – - -not with this team. Not now. Donovan must continue managing and mixing — stirring his lineups and rotations based on the matchups and circumstances of the moment. Kinda like a mad scientist — a genius mad-scientist.
Read ‘The Book On Eli”
Some have suggested there is no single player more important to this Gator squad than the newly ‘healthy’ Eli Carter. And following his 20-point outing versus Mississippi State this may be an increasingly common sentiment. But the ‘Book on Eli’ is complex one — including many highs, lows and plot twists. While that latter has frustratingly included a parade of injuries and ailments, the peaks and valleys are often self-induced. “Eli Carter’s shot chart over his career looks like an EKG,” Donovan said. “I mean that from the standpoint that, I think Eli is one of those guys, when his shot is not falling, there have been other parts of his game that have fallen.”
This is an issue the coach has seen and conquered in past players. And he has begun doing so again. Carter was struggling to find the basket during Florida’s conference-opener in South Carolina, but late in a tight contest Donovan turned to the veteran transfer. The decision paid off with a timely basket, critical assist and game-securing free-throws.
As the season progresses hopefully so too will Carter’s recovery. But Donovan must manage a psyche rattled by injury and mentality previously too tied to scoring. “He’s another guy that I think, in a lot of ways, was really into himself. And for good reason,” Donovan conceded while recounting Carter’s hurt history.
As a constantly rehabbing Carter continues to work on physical health, his coach remains a master of the mental component. The success of each may indeed prove a key to the Gators’ season.
Coach, call me!
As mentioned at the onset, I have yet to receive a phone call from Coach Donovan. And though I have twin one-year-old daughters and a 5-year-old son, I am available for consult or hire. Heck, watching and travelling to Gator games would become far more explainable to my wife if it were my job. C’mon, Coach! Call me!