Young With a New Attitude

Patric Young has been a new man since returning from Christmas break. His focus and intensity in practice have been different. The most important part of the change has been when he isn't active on the basketball court. It has come by being a better listener and learning from the coaches and older players.

"I've had a complete attitude adjustment," Patric Young said after Monday night's 84-59 victory over Rhode Island. "I've been able to change my attitude to a learning style. I've been able to trust the coaches more instead of listening to people outside telling me what I need to do. Coaches are at our practice every day and people outside are not. They don't know what's going on. I'm fulfilling my role for this team."

Center Vernon Macklin has been fighting a shoulder injury since last Friday's game against Xavier. He was viewed as doubtful for Monday night against Rhode Island. With the backup being Young, head coach Billy Donovan might have been hesitant before the break to trust the freshman to start.

His recent transformation calmed some of Donovan's nerves, but it still wasn't an ideal situation. Rhode Island came into the game with the No. 37 RPI in the country, so Young would be thrown into the fire.

"You always get nervous when you start a freshman because you don't know how they're emotionally going to respond," Donovan said. "I thought Patric played a great game. He was very active."

Young played 22 minutes in his first season, scoring eight points and pulling down five rebounds. On the night, Young didn't miss a shot of any kind, going 2-for-2 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

Monday was full of mental preparation for Young. He was told on Sunday that he would be starting because Donovan wanted to give Macklin a rest with SEC play starting on Saturday against Ole Miss. The preparation and visualization of his play is important to Young before every other game coming off the bench, but it was a big part of work his to get ready for Monday.

"All day I was thinking about it," Young said. "I was visualizing myself performing well and not worrying about being nervous. That worked out just fine. I wasn't nervous at all. I felt like I had been starting this whole time- like I was a vet."

When the lights in the O'Connell Center were dimmed and the music for player introductions was piped in, the adrenaline started to pump through Young. He bounced through a line of teammates as his name was announced, giving a few chest bumps along the way.

As the lights came on and Young began to walk towards midcourt for the opening tipoff, Macklin wouldn't let him get away. The senior pulled Young back, whispered stern words of encouragement into his ear, and sent the freshman towards the court with a pat on the back.

"He has been like an older brother to me this year," Young said. "I've learned a lot from him. We've had a good relationship to talk and communicate about anything. He helps me talk and helps me learn what the coaches want from me. I'm going to miss him."

There was a lot that Young will take from his first career start, but the moment that will stick with him might surprise people. It didn't have anything to do with him.

It was on Florida's final possession of the game when freshman small forward Casey Prather dribbled up the baseline towards the basket and threw down one of Florida's best dunks of the year.

"It was just slow motion," Young said. "I thought I was in a movie watching him just take off from like ten feet from the rim."

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