From being on a conference championship and Final Four team to becoming the lone-returning starter on a new unit, Michael Frazier II has faced adversity this season.
The junior guard wasn’t expecting it to be this difficult and by being one of the leaders on a 7-6 team he feels like he owns responsibility for their discouraging start.
Head coach Billy Donovan mentored Frazier before the season started telling him this will be one of the hardest things he would have to overcome as a player and as Frazier took it one game at a time he now realizes the struggles.
“It has forced me to look in the mirror. Still doing that,” Frazier said. “It has forced us to look in the mirror as a team and see what we’re really about and what we want to stand for as a group, as a unit. Like I said, once we get bought in, we’ll start to win.”
Self-assessing his style of play or how he can find a way at helping his team win, was Frazier’s mission since the beginning of this season. But what he implied to do wasn’t the exact mission he was sent out to do.
“I don’t think he’s handled that well at all. And I don’t say it from the standpoint of him coming from bad intentions. I think it’s only normal,” Donovan said. “Michael, I think is a very, very competitive guy. He’s a guy that wants to win. But I’m not so sure his approach going into that was the best thing in terms of what he was trying to do.”
“And to me, great players have always been the guys that can impact the group as a whole. And I think Michael’s approach was the things that I need to do, how am I going to help this team?”
Entering this season Frazier was in that role of doing what he can to be that ‘go to’ guy.
He has done a lot for this Gators team with being the leader in points scored, the only player to start and play 13 games and has made and attempted the most field goals. He’s been everything as an individual, but Florida isn’t just a one-man team.
With Frazier’s abilities he can expand his teammates roles with the talent he possesses.
“By your ability, as Michael has tremendous ability, your abilities actually open up things for other people. And I think Michael’s approach coming in the offseason was a lot about you know, ‘I kind of want to be the leader of this team’, ‘I want to help carry the team,’” Donovan said. “And that to me, I told him, was the wrong approach. I told him that back in the summer. You’re missing what this is about.”
The approach his coach wanted him to take as a leader was opening up other chances for the teammates around him and other things can be opened up for them on the court.
An example Donovan used was the opening round of the NCAA Tournament when facing Albany. Albany decided to go triangle and two against Scottie Wilbekin and Mike got a little bit frustrated with that, but what it did was open the lane and help Dorian Finney-Smith provide a lot coming off the bench. Lesson learned, even if you’re not scoring your presence has an incredible way to impact the people around you.
That is what Donovan hopes and believes his third-year guard can get to and Frazier is changing his approach in doing so.
“Just buying in, just buying into the team. I feel like I’m one of the leaders on this team so guys are gonna look at me first so if I’m not doing my job then how can I expect the guy next to me to do his job,” Frazier said. “So like I said I’m not doing what I need to do right now and you know I’m trying to make steps towards the right way to try and change that.”