By: Jenna Ladd
Despite the Florida Gators basketball teams’ inability to finish games this season, Billy Donovan’s club is still looking forward, refusing to hang their heads on their shortcomings. Florida is set on learning from their mistakes and moving on to play their next game without allowing frustration to plague their practices.
Eli Carter says that what the team is doing now is continuing to believe in themselves despite what they are seeing on the court, saying, “[We need to] continue to get out there everyday and practice and trust in each other. We’re only going to be as good as the next person standing next to us so we just got to continue to believe.”
Even though the Gators have lost their last four games and are now 12-13 (5-7 SEC) overall, they are not a bad team. As we saw in their surprisingly collaborative performance against Kentucky, this team has the capability of playing competitively.
However, we only see this competitive spirit in flashes. All season the Gators have been described as an inconsistent team that plays individually rather than collectively.
Donovan has not lost hope in his team and still has faith in their capabilities.
“They are coachable, they’re good kids,” he said. “There are a lot of things they can learn from this experience, and I’m hopeful they can learn those things. Ultimately, some of them are going to have to make the commitment to the areas on consistency and things that can help them from a consistency standpoint.”
With each of their last four losses being decided by seven points or less, it all comes down to being able to stop their opponents shots or giving up free throws. Florida has shown some improvement in valuing the ball and players have been getting good looks, but as of late they have been falling short.
Donovan suggested that the defense might be what is losing the close games for Florida. When recalling their recent losses he said, “We probably need to do a better job defensively of being able to maybe get stops in those situations, but at some point you have to also give the other team some credit where they’ve been able to make a shot and there’s been a lot of games where we have not made shots.”
While the defense might be causing problems in the final minutes, a stronger offense could prevent the game from being close in the first place. For example, Carter’s last six games he went 21% percent from shooting behind the arc then comes out and carries the team with a 22-point game. Billy said that they’ve “had some inconsistencies, you know, shooting the basketball and scoring the basketball” and that this team does “have a difficult time scoring.”
None of which is news to Gator fans, as we have watched games slip away week by week. However, coach Donovan firmly believes that his team is getting better with each passing game.
“The things we have to address, that we have to get better at, I think they are working on and trying to do better – we’re playing better together as a team” he said. “We’ve (been) competing harder. We’re moving through the adversity. I feel we have gotten better, there have been a couple gamesnow coming out of our last Vanderbilt game where we competed better.”
Hopefully this team has grown since they last fell to Vanderbilt in Nashville and will be able to defeat the Commodores on Wednesday, February 18 at home in the O’Dome at 7 p.m.