The last time the Florida Gators basketball team had a quick turnaround between games was during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and hopefully it prepared them for what is to come. Starting Saturday the team will play three games over the next seven days.
A bus ride to Athens, Georgia, a trip back home for a Tuesday matchup versus LSU and then to Oxford, Mississippi next Saturday. The Gators upcoming schedule is full and this busy stretch will show what kind of team they are.
Florida and Auburn were the only conference teams to play on Thursday as the rest of the league got a day off. Having to play Georgia at 2 p.m. tomorrow after traveling on Friday, doesn’t seem to bother head coach Billy Donovan.
“Yeah, I think there’s things that anybody’s job that there are challenges you look forward to,” Donovan said. “It’s no different than going into the SEC Tournament and playing three games in a row. It’s no different than going to the Bahamas and playing three games in a row. After a game, everybody would like a few days of practice to clean up and get better and improve going into the next game. Sometimes the schedule doesn’t work like that.”
What can be a bigger issue for Florida is the fact that Georgia is top five in the country in fouls drawn per game and the Gators have committed an average of 19.6 fouls in the last three games.
Donovan said fouling hasn’t been brought up for a while because his team has done a good job of defending without having to foul. But recently it has appeared for the Gators, and it’s predicated on discipline, positioning and being in the right spots.
A big part of the Bulldogs offense is getting themselves in positions to get fouled. Georgia is a physical team and they do a great job of driving to the hoop, getting offensive rebounds and being able to post up.
Although Georgia just earned their first conference victory against Vanderbilt on Wednesday — and hold a 1-2 record — the Bulldogs ran a solid non-conference slate, finishing 9-3 and UGA head coach Mark Fox has implemented a system that his team is executing well.
“This is a really experienced and veteran basketball team. For us with the SEC being the way it is now, it’s a little bit of a different thing,” Donovan said. “We haven’t played them in over a year. Sometimes when your team has a familiarity from teams when you kind of play each other, but this is really unique with the expansion where sometimes you don’t see people for a while.”
There’s no margin of error for this Gators squad and if they commit to doing things correctly for the majority of a game, they’ll be able to extend their second winning streak of the season.
Between giving up fouls and blowing leads, every aspect of Florida’s game pertains to specifics. There’s not a player to carry the team. The Gators really have to play as one.
“We’ve had to deal with this before in the past and we’ve handled it pretty well,” Donovan said. “The solution is doing what we’re doing more intensely, more aggressively and with better focus paying attention to detail.”