Donovan Says Gators Struggling with Adversity

Florida head coach Billy Donovan still hasn't seen his team take the step to the elite level. The talent and chemistry are there for his team to justify their top-15 ranking, but the evidence on the court hasn't shown it yet.

"I totally understand the expectation of when you're ranked high," Billy Donovan said. "I totally understood that we're returning five starters. However, we're still a group that in the league the last two years was 8-8 and 9-7. We're a team that's never got to the finals of the SEC Tournament. We're a team that's not won a game in the NCAA Tournament.

"Because of the way college basketball is with early departures, I get the fact that we're picked like we are. I don't know if we've taken that next step to be an elite team. More of it is based on discipline of what we're doing."

Donovan has been preaching to his team since preseason about the ability to handle prosperity. However, they still lack the knockout punch to end the opponent's chances to stay in the game.

"When adversity hits in game, our ability to absorb the adversity and get more intense and fired up," Donovan said. "Adversity now takes and drains our team. There are certain things I thought we would handle better. We haven't been able to respond to it like I would like to see us."

MACKLIN INJURY STATUS: Vernon Macklin continues to deal with pain in his right knee. Donovan said there are bone spurs and "a lot of grinding" behind the kneecap. Surgery has been ruled out.

"He's full go to practice and play, but he's dealing with significant pain," Donovan said. "He doesn't have the same explosion he normally would have."

Donovan will soon sit down with the trainers, team doctor and Macklin to discuss the way they handle the injury. They could decide to sit him down and rest the injury from two weeks to a month, potentially allowing him to be fully healthy for the start of SEC play.

"The decision we're going to have to make is, what do we do with him going forward?" Donovan said. "It's hard to improve a guy when he's not in practice, then you expect him to go out in the game like he probably needs to. It's something he's going to be dealing with. The pain he has, he's going to have to deal with for another month before he's feeling any better."

Donovan saw on film that Macklin doesn't have the same explosion with his knee injury. He isn't running the floor with the same intensity and seems to be favoring the knee.

"(Resting Macklin) could be discussed," Donovan said. "It probably will be discussed. He'll play tomorrow, and going forward from there, we'll make a decision about what we need to do. If we're going to rest him, it won't be for a couple days. That wouldn't cure the problem. (Extended rest) would help him a lot."

Even if they decide to rest Macklin, it wouldn't change the redshirt status of freshman Cody Larson. Donovan said it would take another injury to a post player for Larson's redshirt to be burnt.

PREVIEWING FAU: The Gators will host Florida Atlantic Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Owls come in with a 3-2 record and more athletic scorers at the guard position to challenge the Gators.

"It's a team that's deeper than (Morehead State) on the perimeter," Donovan said. "They're going to play five guards. They've got speed and quickness. They're going to play more conventionally up front, as opposed to (Morehead State) playing four guards. (FAU) will play with two post players. They're a little more athletic with more size."

Sophomore guard Greg Gantt is their leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game. The Gainesville High School graduate will be returning to his hometown to play Florida. Donovan followed his career in high school and knows his game well.

"I thought he was a very good player and a terrific shooter," Donovan said. "He had a very good career at Gainesville High. My son spent a lot of time with him. He's at a perfect situation for himself. He's a great kid."

MOREHEAD STATE REVIEW: The film of Florida's 61-55 win over Morehead State showed Donovan just what he expected to see. There was plenty of room for improvement.

"I felt like the first half, we really lived dangerously. There were some plays in the game where we were on a positive side with luck. We gave up some threes that didn't go in.

"In the second half, it was their ability to drive us off the dribble. They really attacked Chandler (Parsons) off the dribble. They rebounded the ball in key situations and made some shots. Our discipline on the defensive end in the second half was not great."
Follow Cody Jones on

Fightin Gators Top Stories