Gators Preparing for Physical Matchup

It is the way the tournament is designed. The farther you progress the tougher it is supposed to be. Florida will take on Butler on Saturday for a chance to make it to the Final Four. Butler is the lowest seeded team (8) that Florida will have faced in three games, but probably the best and definitely the most physical. The Gators know they are in for a grind.

Led by forward Matt Howard and guard Shelvin Mack Florida head coach Billy Donovan believes the Bulldogs of Butler will be the most physical team the Gators will see all year.

"We're playing against a team that is extremely, extremely physical, don't think there's any question about that, a team that has got a lot of players that know about success in this tournament from last year," Donovan said to lead off his press conference on Friday. "You know, I'm really, really impressed with Howard, again, how physical he is, how hard he plays, and just the different ways he impacts the game on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.

"Mack is clearly one of the better point guards in the country, but you know, very, very similar to BYU, and I said this going into the game playing them, is they've got a very good team. Those guys score a lot of points, but you look at Vanzant, what he's been able to do, Smith, just their whole entire team, they do a great job defensively.

They're a hard team to guard offensively, and I think our guys understand that we're playing against a terrific team that is very talented, physical and gifted and playing terrific basketball right now."

Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons, the SEC Player of the Year agrees with Donovan on Howard who scored 20 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in Butler's win Thursday over No. 4 seed Wisconsin.

"I think he's very difficult to guard," Parsons said of Howard. "I think he's one of the most physical players in the country and he plays smart and just relentless and he doesn't stop and he's got a really good motor. So a guy like him, he just battles for 40 minutes and you're not going to get anything easy with him just because his effort is off the charts."

Parsons thinks it is a team thing with the Bulldogs and the Gators need to come to play every second.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "They're a great program and it will be very physical. They are one of the toughest teams in the country. They play really good defense. Howard is just relentless on the glass. We expect a dogfight for forty minutes. Nothing is going to come easy with them."

"They've got experience. They obviously played for the national championship last year and they only lost one guy in Gordon Hayward, so they've got a lot of guys that have been in this situation before and understand what it takes to win… They're a team that's really playing well right now and they're similar to us in some of the actions they play on offense, how physical they play, and they guard really well. They're just going to compete and it's going to be a dog fight for 40 minutes.

Boynton is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against UCLA, something that won't help him guard Mack. The ankle is starting to feel better.

"It feels great," Boynton said of the ankle. "I did some icing last night to help it out a little more, and when we get back to the hotel, I'm going to ice it some more."

"My playing level is good. I think I got tired a little bit last night because I hadn't practiced a lot this week. But I think it's going to come back to me with more running."

The Gator players received their first coaching on Butler early Friday morning. It's a tough turnaround preparation wise in the tournament setting.

"The first that these guys really heard anything in depth about Butler was really this morning because it was a late game by the time we got back from the arena and had those guys get some rest and get up this morning," Donovan said. "Most of what they started to hear in depth and in detail really started this morning and then obviously continued on at practice today."

Regardless, the Gators are pumped and ready for another game and to keep the season going. It is going to take a huge effort from guys like Alex Tyus who scored 19 points and pulled down 17 rebounds Thursday in the Gators win over No. 3 seed BYU.

"I am really thrilled to be here," Tyus said. "I am excited about the way we have been playing. I am really excited to play Butler. We practiced today. We are getting ready for a really tough, physical, disciplined team. Right now, I am just excited to play."

Fightin Gators Top Stories