For Gator fans everywhere, seeking to know who their basketball team is right now has been overwhelming.
But when head coach Billy Donovan addressed the media Friday afternoon he was very blunt on how he sees his team and that can shed some light for fans.
“In a lot of ways, we’re not this overly talented team and we lost the core of our team,” Donovan said. “To be honest, from my perspective, there’s not enough around some of the guys that needs to be around. Some of that falls on my shoulders because I’m the one out there responsible for the recruiting part of it. … But I kind of knew going into this year, coaching Kasey and Michael and Chris Walker, that this was going to happen.”
Donovan used the example of having a class like DeVon Walker, Dillion Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and Michael Frazier II. Only one of those players is actually playing right now and that left a void.
As a result, Donovan stated the reality is the Gators are starting over as a program.
Entering the season, the players thought they were a better team than what they are now. That burden has absolutely stunned the players of currently being in this position. Many had thought this Gators team needed a leader, a player that could help the team when they’re struggling and to have a killer instinct to ignite an offense. But no Gator player has possessed that attribute.
“That’s maybe something that can evolve and develop, but I’m not so sure any of our guys are capable right now of taking over that role,” Donovan said. “And really being able to do a good job managing that and also being able to handle themselves on the court and going out and playing,”
These young Gator players have a hard time of just taking care of their own business and to ask a player to take on more of a load is demanding too much.
Donovan has been trying to preach this to the team since last April – after the Final Four – that things would change. He didn’t want the team to go down a road they eventually have and Donovan tried to cut it off, but the Gators are dealing with it now.
Despite a lot of honesty coming out lately, and not on the bright side, Florida has a great opportunity right now to grow and develop as people and understand what competition and being a team is about.
First, the players have to evaluate the problem in order to form a solution.
“One of the problems is because of previous years’ success here, that is not a level of entitlement or right of passage,” Donovan said. “This team has to earn its way just like any other team that has ever come through here.”
Although Florida plays a good team in Ole Miss on Saturday, the tenured coach is more interested in seeing his players grow and develop. He believes once his players can move past the stage of denial and accept the truth, then they can make strides of being great.
If not, Florida won’t put themselves in a position to have a shot tomorrow.