With Florida dropping yet another close game after holding a late lead on Saturday, Billy Donovan spoke at length about his team and their issues on Monday.
The Gators don’t play again until Friday, where they will matchup against one of two teams that beat soundly earlier in the season — Georgia or LSU.
With five days until the next game, Florida will have plenty to work on, but Donovan pointed to one particular miscue which has cost the Gators late in games.
“I felt like even going back to the Arizona game, I thought our difficulties were turnovers, press offense-wise,” Donovan said. “I thought the Missouri game, it was that we settled too much and didn’t get enough action towards the basket.
“I thought the Kentucky game we did, but the common thing in all three of those games is turnovers. That’s a problem. We’ve got to do a better job taking care of the basketball and getting shots up to the basket.”
Donovan said the team works on taking care of the ball often at practice, and it’s not an issue of the Gators turning the ball over “20 times in a game.” Rather, Florida has been careless with the ball late in games, which has cost the team.
The Gators haven’t been tensing up in close games according to Donovan, but he does feel that Florida’s practice habits and intensity haven’t been up to snuff lately.
“Obviously in an 18-game schedule, we had some bad games,” Donovan said. “I am more disappointed than anything is the way our before the Kentucky game, the way we have practiced and the way we have played with so much on the line. That for me is much more alarming.
“We did not practice well at all going into Lexington … I am disappointed in our team’s fire. I don’t see it … I don’t like our intensity right now.”
Donovan agreed with a statement saying his senior players lack fiery personalities, but he doesn’t believe he has a team full of chokers.
“When you use that word (choke), to me, it means, in the moment, you are afraid, don’t want it or shy away from it,” Donovan said. “If anything I see, maybe, an overconfidence … I don’t see guys running and hiding … That to me is what I would say is choking. The guy in that moment, the moment of truth, doesn’t want the ball, doesn’t want to make the play.
“The only two games I was disappointed in our performance, one wasn’t their fault, was probably Arkansas because Arkansas got off to a great start, (Will) Yeguete goes down, we were trying to throw Prather in there after having a high ankle sprain. He probably wasn’t ready to play … We weren’t ready for that moment for everything that happened inside the game.
“That game and the Kansas State game, those two games I don’t think we can talk about having the right to win those games with the way we performed.”
Prepping for Nashville
With the Gators afforded a small break before their next game due to a first round bye in the SEC Tournament, Donovan says he has only one regret about this week:
“The only thing that I regret is that this is not spring break this week because there is no time frame. There’s no 20-hour rule (during spring break). We had that last week.”
Although Florida will have a limit on the time it will be able to practice, Donovan has a good idea of the areas his team will address.
“We’re going to get into another close situation, again,” Donovan said. “There’s no question about it. How will we respond? I don’t know. What happened in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again … I’d like to see us get to the free throw line more. I don’t think we’re getting to the free throw line enough.”
Another area the Gators have struggled in recently is rebounding — an issue Donovan said has more to do with effort than anything.
“It’s been a problem, and we have a full complement of players,” Donovan said. “If there’s one thing, like I was saying a little bit before about a fire, a passion, to me that’s it on the glass … When you see our starting center with two rebounds in 24 minutes of play that clearly, to me, is an effort issue.
“We’re going to get back to it this week. We’re putting a bubble up on the basket. That will be one of the things we do. They’ll have to be able to block out, they’ll be no shots going in … you have to be willing to do things that are very, very uncomfortable that a lot of people don’t enjoy doing in order to move on, advance, and win games.”
Gators Move Down Again in Polls
After Saturday’s loss, the Gators dropped two spots in both polls on Monday. Florida moved from No. 11 to No. 13 in the Associated Press Poll and from No. 9 to No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The Gators are No. 6 in the RPI rankings.