For the Florida Gators basketball team, its do or die at the moment. Win against Alabama on Tuesday or lose and start looking ahead to next year.
At a 10-9 record and being 3-3 in the SEC, Florida wasn’t ready to endure hardships this year and their season has been a product of it.
Despite this lopsided turnout, head coach Billy Donovan hasn’t shown any signs of frustration when looking at his team and it’s evident on why.
“To me probably my frustration level with them is not high because I’m not surprised by any of this,” Donovan said.
With last year’s squad, Donovan never coached a team that won 30 straight games, never been a part of not losing for more than 120 days, never gone through a conference and tournament schedule undefeated and going to the Final Four all in one year.
Entering this season, Donovan knew this was coming. He mentally prepared himself for what could come and that’s why he isn’t as frustrated, as fans would probably think he would be. He tried preparing the players on this Gators team for what would happen, but they didn’t listen.
“I mean, coach told us before the year what we had to do. Me included,” guard Michael Frazier II said. “We didn’t really listen to him. We are where we are right now because we chose not to listen to him, and the only thing we can do is move forward.”
Moving ahead is obviously what the Gators desperately need to do, as Florida is riding a three-game skid – their worst losing streak of the season.
Florida’s inconsistency has shown the most this season during this stretch. Losing to Georgia and LSU by double-digits and recording great offensive numbers versus Ole Miss, but still was out played.
The Gators loss consecutive SEC games (Georgia, LSU) for the first time since closing the 2012 regular season and have had series winning-streaks snapped against Florida State, LSU and Auburn.
But that’s not all that has gone into the inconsistency the team has shown. It’s also a reflection of their discipline. That is what Donovan is working on with the team moving forward.
“Really more than anything else I think to be a really, really good team there has to be a high level of discipline and consistency,” Donovan said. “It’s not just one thing. It’s showing them where they’re inconsistent and the amount of attention and detail and focus they have to have to even put themselves in position to win.”
Donovan told the players after the Ole Miss game, where the team made a season-high 12 3-pointers, held a great lead and shutdown the Rebels’ leading scorer in Stefan Moody, they still loss because of breakdowns over a period of time.
The message being, you can perform great in certain areas, but not playing a complete game still had the Gators on the losing end. If the team doesn’t turn it over 13 times and converts a couple more free throws, the result is different.
That is where the Gators find it hard to win and that inconsistency has shown over the course of the season.
Looking at another road test in Alabama before heading back home, Florida can look to add another victory against the Crimson Tide that they’ve won nine straight against. But if there are no signs of consistency for 40 minutes, the season can continue down the negative route.
“Do I see these guys turning it around? I’m not going to be one of these guys who’s going to be this optimist and say, ‘Oh yeah.’” Donovan said. “I have to go off of what I’m dealing with today. We’ve shown no signs of consistency.”