"We have to have a better offensive recognition of what's going on in the game," Billy Donovan said before the Gators practiced on Wednesday. "I don't think we really had that at all."
The guards failed to get the big men involved early. Erik Murphy started the game on a tear from the outside, hitting a trio of three-pointers in the first 5:41 of the game. He hit another one in the second half to end the game with four from behind the arc, but Donovan was upset with the guards inability to get Murphy more shots when he felt good from long range.
"Murphy had it going, and there were a few opportunities where Erving drove it too deep before he could get it to Murphy after he screened," Donovan said about Murphy, whose shot the head coach compared to former Florida player Matt Bonner.
Patric Young ended the first half with one shot attempt. The Gators didn't have a presence in the paint during the first half of the game, so when the three-pointers stopped falling, the offense became stagnant.
"That hurt us," Donovan said about the Gators inability to score early in the paint. "Our recognition on a lot of plays, but it's not unfamiliar at this time of year."
In the second half, Florida force fed Young early, and the sophomore went 5-for-9 from the field in the second half on the way to recording his second straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"I was really pleased with him," Donovan said. "The one thing that he did was keep himself in the game even though he wasn't an offensive threat for the first 20 minutes. I was just encouraged with his activity and how hard he played. It was good to see he didn't get frustrated and did good things around the basket."
While the interior scoring didn't come along until the second half, Donovan was happy about the Gators' ability to rebound. UCF outrebounded Florida in a scrimmage, and the Gators were outrebounded in the exhibition game against Catholic University.
Florida outrebounded Ohio State by nine on Tuesday.
"In the last week or two, that was really something we focused on," Donovan said. "That was an area we did a good job on last night. We got 13 offensive rebounds. We didn't really get hurt on the backboard, which was encouraging. Not only (the Florida big men), but I also thought our guards got back in there. We need that kind of group effort on the glass."
Young also held Jared Sullinger to just eight shot from the field. He scored 16 points but wasn't able to take over the game like he did in Gainesville last season.
The challenge is now for Donovan to make sure his team doesn't think they have arrived with rebounding and defense in the paint.
"If we have an attitude that we have it figured out and know what we're doing… that was to be a point of emphasis every day for us," Donovan said.
Freshman Brad Beal led the Gators with 17 points, but it wasn't a pretty game for him. The guard went 6-for-16 from the field and turned the ball over a team-high five times. Donovan expected some regression from the first game of the season as Florida faced a team with more speed and athleticism, but the head coach thinks it will be a positive learning experience.
"He turned it over a few times," Donovan said. "For him going through as a freshman, it was a good experience. I still think he has a lot of growth to make in terms of physicality and speed of the game. The one thing with him is he doesn't seem to get bothered by much. I didn't think he shot it like he's capable of."