It was a rocky week for the Florida Gators between two games, but they were able to pull off a much-needed victory.
Picking up the second win of the season went through a lot of ups and downs, but allow each game to be a teaching point to this team.
Here are the 5 Takeaways from the Florida-Louisiana-Monroe game:
The Gators were pushed into overtime after failing to close out yet another game this week. After allowing Miami to come back and then eventually win, Louisiana-Monroe battled back and everyone in the O’Dome was most likely saying “here we go again.” It was Florida’s first OT game since Jan. 11 of last season when they faced Arkansas and won that game. This young squad was going into their first OT of the season just three games in, but it proved to help them want the victory then settle and fall again. Four players combined to make eight free throws in the extra time, which was more than the Warhawks had the entire game with five. Before heading into the overtime period, head coach Billy Donovan yelled at his players saying that they couldn’t continue playing the way they were and come out with a win. The Gators D’d up, found and earned a OT victory.
Chiozza’s Take: “The breakdowns were on defensive rotation and transitions. We allowed open threes, and we didn’t stop ball during penetration. When it happened, we got a flashback of the Miami game and we weren’t going to let that happen gain, and we just had to battle back, get it into overtime and fight from there.”
Out of Ammo
Unfortunately Florida lost another offensive weapon. Guard Eli Carter hurt his foot on Thursday toward the end of practice and was wearing a walking boot on the court Friday night. With Dorian Finney-Smith already being out and not even in attendance for Friday’s game, Carter has also been sidelined and two of the Gators scorers have been halted for the time being. Finney-Smith only got to play one game this season and scored 15 points and Carter was averaging 14.5 points before Friday. As a result, the Gators lost a ton of points off the scoreboard. Those two players are at least going to give you eight to 10 points a game if not more and Michael Frazier II is the only one capable of putting up double figures without a doubt every game for Florida. He had 21 Friday and seems to be the guy that will have to deliver come the tournament in the Bahamas against top tier teams.
Donovan’s Take: “I knew tonight we were going to struggle scoring. You can’t take our two leading scorers off the floor and expect to put up a lot of points.”
The Return of Skywalker
Chris Walker finally made his way back to the court and during a time when Florida will need it the most. With missing the first three games Florida has played thus far, Walker when entered looked brand new. Brand new in the sense of he was out there for the first time in Florida’s three-guard, transition offense that made him wander a lot. Donovan mentioned since Carter got injured late on Thursday the team didn’t have enough time to reconfigure the offensive game as they would’ve liked and it showed for Walker in the beginning. But 6-foot-10 forward who is comfortable playing the center position began to implement his strengths some. Walker grabbed six rebounds, and put in four points, but the Gators will need him to collect even more rebounds for future games and put in more points. Overall, he stuck to his game and didn’t overdo anything in his first appearance back.
Donovan’s Take: “I thought Chris did a really good job today. I thought he played hard and played with energy. He wouldn’t have looked like that last year. He’s really come a long way and done a great job.”
No Pain, No Gain
That is what Donovan believes this team will have to endure in order to understand the concept of winning games. Right now they carry an arrogance that keeps them believing they are really good, but in reality they aren’t. Florida finished the game shooting 33 percent from the field, only made 3 of 15 threes and allowed ULM to make nine threes that kept them in the game. The team trailed at the half for the first time this season and played catch up all the way to about three minutes in the second half. They never looked back after that, but slow starts will kill this team moving forward. Also they will need someone else now to step up for them due to the star offensive players being out. Chris Chiozza was the only other player in double figures with 11 points, which was his career high and he’s shown improvement in each game thus far, but he’s a freshman and you can’t expect him to show big every game. And so, the team will have to go through these experiences in order to feel the desperation to win.
Donovan’s Take: “I think pain, being uncomfortable. Michael is a perfect example of that. He made a comment to me the other day that this is by far the most challenging thing he’s had to go through and we are three games into this. And I tried to explain this to him in April and May. We need a little bit more desperation. We need to be a little more desperate and we are not desperate right now.”
A Cold Stature for the PG
Kasey Hill is struggling. Badly. He’s coming into his new role this season and just hasn’t found it yet offensively. With that said, he’s 3-of-24 this season from the field. That is a staggering 12 percent shooting. Ouch. Hill simply is just missing shots and it’s getting worse. It got to a point against ULM that when he would go up to take a jumper you could here fans and even reporters say “no” hoping he would give it to someone else to shoot. It’s gotten to that point already and Donovan wants to find a way to help him out.
Donovan’s Take: “He’s in a different role and he needs help. I have to find a way to help Kasey Hill. He’s really got to make better choices and better decisions.”