Searching for Consistency

The unpredictability of the Gators has driven the fan base crazy this season. It's even starting to wear on the head coach. Billy Donovan referred to the team as "mystifying" after their 32-point win over Arkansas Saturday, and there is now a nervous energy every time the team takes the floor.

Even the players in the locker room sometimes wonder which Florida team will take the floor that night. That thought and wondering has gone through their minds a few times already this season.

"It happens sometimes," freshman center Patric Young said. "I feel like we haven't come mentally prepared sometimes, and it hurts us. Sometimes we come out like we did against Jacksonville, and other times we come out like we did against Arkansas."

Sometimes there is energy missing. If the Gators aren't playing a team perceived as better than them and it's happening on national television, there are plenty of times this year where the team has come out flat.

"Our guys work hard and give a great effort, but sometimes there's a competitive spirit that you want to see with a fire and passion when things aren't going as well," Donovan said. "When you don't (compete), it can be disappointing."

The players don't understand it. It's a plague that a team can struggle with for an entire season, however this group has struggled with it for multiple seasons. They have played to the level of the competition all year and struggled to put teams away when they have an opportunity.

"It's tough to explain," senior forward Chandler Parsons said. "I think we need to focus on coming out with energy and fire every night to play the game, no matter who we're playing against. We need to play our best game."

The Gators have a chance to prove they can handle prosperity Tuesday night as they face Georgia. It comes on the heels of a big win over Arkansas on Saturday, and Florida has struggled to put two consistent games together. The UCF loss happened after a road win at Florida State, while the Gators lost to Jacksonville after beating Kansas State. The recent South Carolina loss also came after a road win over Tennessee.

Tuesday night will give the team a chance to handle prosperity for the first time this season.

"We're the same team that beat Kansas State and Tennessee on the road," Donovan said. "We're the same team that lost to Jacksonville and had nothing but a lackluster performance against South Carolina. You want to see if your team can build off the next game and the result may not be what you want, but you want to move in that direction."

Vernon Macklin said the lack of intensity was evident during the South Carolina game, and Donovan made it clear after the game that the intensity needed to be raised. The Gators grew accustomed to playing sloppy against teams they should beat.

"Sometimes we get into these games and I can just feel that we aren't competing like we should compete," Donovan said. "The great part of it is in the struggle of battling through. We all want to be a comfort zone, but can you prepare the same way regardless of who you're playing or what happened last game? That's what I want us to find."

The solution was simple. Donovan raised the intensity in practice. He required players give full effort at all times, where he might have trusted the veteran team earlier in the year to get work done on their own.

"I think we need to prepare better in practice," Macklin said. "Coach Donovan always says games aren't won the day of the game, it's the days before and in shoot around. We've got to do a better job of practicing."


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