Of of all the things the Florida Gators basketball team has been through this season, the one thing that the team has found that will propel them forward is the culture surrounding the program.
Every athletic program around the nation possesses a culture that is implemented by the coaches who’ve been around it or by the reputation the program is built upon.
For Florida, culture is what will help this team win and head coach Billy Donovan believes by bringing that to his players understanding, they’ll buy in to the concept.
“The elements would be, to me, when I look at the best teams I’ve coached, the first thing that comes to mind is an enormous amount of love and care and acceptance for each other,” Donovan said. “So I would say that’s the foundation currently right now. We’ve got to really care about each other. And when you’re playing a team sport, you’re always as good as the guy standing next to you.”
The Gators were able to execute that culture in their previous game against South Carolina on the road. As Florida played connected and cautiously through the final stretches of the game, their performance stood behind the program’s culture.
Donovan said another thing that’s big for him is being unselfish. Thinking about others first, investing and when you take a look at the greatest players in the world, to him, they’re the guys who make the players around them better. Also, going through competitive struggles together will test if your team is really collective or not.
For freshman guard Chris Chiozza and forward Devin Robinson, culture has opened their eyes to how they can indulge themselves as players in Florida’s program.
“Different roles this year I think some people might of got the wrong idea and coach Donovan really was trying to focus on that before the year started and I think the way we started off we helped people notice that and I think every body is getting that to that ‘we’ stage instead of the ‘me’,” Chiozza said.
“It means a lot. I don’t want to be the guy to come in here and lets the school down because this school is know for winning,” Robinson said. “Coach Donovan obviously knows what goes into winning, so we do what he tells us to do.”
Both Chiozza and Robinson shared about a time after the Florida State game the players had a player’s only meeting. The guys shared their disappointment of losing and that they needed to do something about it. Robinson said this is not how we play at the University of Florida and by talking to each other it helped picked the players up and get the ball rolling.
Moving toward playing Mississippi State on Saturday at 7 p.m. to continue conference play, Donovan isn’t selling out for winning.
“I’m not doing that because inevitably you sell out for one win,” Donovan said. “It’s gonna come back and get you. You’ve gotta sell out for your culture and what you stand for and what our program stands for. And our guys understand that this is what it is.”
** Guard Michael Frazier II won’t start Saturday battling upper respiratory infection. Center Jon Horford’s suspension lifted. Walk-on Zach Hodskins remains suspended **
Donovan announced Friday that walk-on Zach Hodskins remains suspended and hopes for that to finish soon. Michigan transfer Jon Horford is no longer suspended, but he will not play on Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
For Horford, his collegiate career has been an up and down cycle and Donovan describes how both have sat down and talked about his mental struggles.
“He and I have sat down and we’ve spoken. For him, he really has taken this time and really has mentally and emotionally wants to be totally invested in our team and doing the things necessary to help our team. For me, the suspension for him has been lifted. He really wants some time to try to come back to our team where he’s really is emotionally, mentally and physically really, really ready to go and to contribute to the best he can. He felt like and I agree with him _ it’s probably a mutual decision for both _ for him to get there to that point, I think he needed a little bit of time, and we’re going to give him that.”