Gators Working on More than Just Scoring

The Florida offense is finally starting to turn the corner. After struggling to break 60 points earlier this season, the Gators have gone over 70 in their past three games. However, just because the ball is starting to go in the basket, head coach Billy Donovan wants to make sure his team doesn't get lazy on other parts of the floor.

"When the ball goes in the basket, it gives the appearance that you're playing better," Donovan said. "If you think about it, shooting the ball takes about one second. After we shoot the ball, we're going to have to screen, run offense and work on our transition defense."

Billy Donovan has pounded into his players' minds that they cannot control the basketball when it leaves their hands and heads towards the rim. Instead of watching it and wishing the ball into the basket, the head coach wants them thinking about their next move.

Whether it's heading to the basket for an offensive rebound or getting back to play defense and stop an easy fast break, it's the parts that happen when they aren't shooting the basketball that Donovan is stressing the most.

"If we're shooting the ball well, it bleeds into the other things we're doing on the floor," Donovan said. "If Kenny Boynton takes 12 shots and plays 33 minutes, for 32:48, he's not shooting the ball. If those shots not going in start to affect the other 32:48 he is playing, that bleeds into effecting our team. We can't be a team where if the ball isn't going in the basket it effects the minutes we aren't shooting the ball."

The human element of basketball is always a challenge for Donovan to handle. When things are going well, it's easy for the team to think they are unbeatable and start to lose focus. When things are going bad, it has been a struggle to get this team to pick itself up and keep fighting.

The reason is simple. Basketball can become a sport that defines good players by the amount of points they score. It has been Donovan's goal this year to break his players out of that mindset.

"I don't see on ESPN them showing great blockouts or a guy taking a charge," Donovan said. "They show high flying dunks and a guy scored 40. Instinctively, people will ask how many points you scored. That's why I made the comment last year about Dan Werner. He had a very difficult time shooting the ball. He just did so many things to help our team that wasn't in the stat sheet."

OFFENSE BUILDING MOMENTUM: The progression of the offense has come through players buying into the team concept. With three seniors in the starting lineup, it's easy for them to get caught up in scoring points and aiding their draft status to help their future.

However, since players have stopped forcing shots, the offense has a much better flow.

"Our guys are always willing to make the extra pass," Donovan said. "When plays happen very quickly and you have to react, we weren't taking advantage of each other's strengths and talents earlier in the year. It's nothing more than a lack of understanding for what they should be looking at. As time has gone on, they've gotten better at seeing those things."

Instead of playing one-on-one, the Florida players are starting to utilize each other better. The Gators have put the ball in Chandler Parsons' hands more often recently and allowed his to create as their point forward. Now that players are being used in their correct spots, the offense has gotten into a rhythm.

The current streak of three games over 70 points for the Gators comes after not hitting that mark in the previous seven contests.

"There's a better understanding for skill sets," Donovan said. "It's important we realize that because as we keep playing, teams will take things away and we'll have to adjust to counters and things like scouting."

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES AGAINST OLE MISS: While the offense hit its stride against Ole Miss, the defense took a step back. The Rebels shot 47.3% from the field after the Gators have held opponents in the low 40s all season. The result was multiple open three-point shots for Ole Miss that allowed them to make a late run and almost win the game.

"We weren't aggressive enough," Donovan said. "Ole Miss drove us hard. We got caught several times below the three-point line, which let Warren and Gaskins to knock down threes. One of the things we didn't want to do was pressure at half court because of their speed in the backcourt, which would have allowed them to create penetration in the lane."

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