Charity Stripe Plaguing the Gators

It's frustrating for any team to lose one game because of free throw shooting. The Gators could argue that three of their four losses have come because of issues at the free throw line. The bad news is that it's not easily correctable. The mental aspect from the free throw line could be the most difficult to overcome.

No one has any answers. Each player on the team put up 100 free throws on Tuesday and Donovan estimated they would take 500 a piece by tip off Thursday night at Auburn. It's not fundamentals for most of the players. Instead, it just comes down to clear their mind.

"It's almost confusing," senior forward Chandler Parsons said. "I'm a good shooter. I'm shooting the ball well for three and well in games, but I just can't make a free throw. It's something I have to fix and take ownership of. It's obviously in my head."

If the 18-point loss to Ohio State is taken out, the Gators could be looking at having only one loss this season. In a three-point loss to UCF, Florida shot 10-for-18 from the free throw line. In a three-point loss, the Gators went 23-for-34 from the three line. In Saturday's three-point loss to South Carolina, the Gators were 12-for-22 from the free throw line.

The problem has plagued the team all season, even in wins.

"It's a mentality and a confidence," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "It's wanting to be up there on the line in big time situations. It's the same thing with shooting (from the field) when we were struggling with it. There was so much made with the shooting. You fix it by getting in the gym and constantly working on it. It also comes down to a competitive substance that I'm going up there to knock down two free throws."

Donovan has done his best to create pressure situations for the players to shoot free throws during practice. At random times, Donovan will throw the ball to a Florida player and tell him to step to the free throw line. If he makes both, the team serves no punishment. However, if he misses one or both, the entire team is put through "running drills that they don't enjoy doing."

The pressure isn't the same as shooting in front of a packed gym with the game on the line, but it's the best that the coaching staff can simulate in the confines of the practice facility.

"As you miss free throws, it's the same shot, but there are different circumstances," Donovan said. "That's why I try to create as close to a game-like atmosphere in practice shooting free throws as I can. We can never simulate the crowd or home court, but you try as close as you can.

"So much is an understanding and maturity that if you're shooting a free throw in the gym or in the game, it's the same shot. What happens is mentally, young guys create drama in their head, like "I better make this or we won't win." They're never thinking that when they're practicing free throws. A free throw in the first five minutes of a game is the same shot except you're creating this element around you. How you talk to yourself is important."

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