Gators Remember Jacksonville

Jacksonville forced the Gators to increase their focus last season. With Florida coming off a win over No. 6 Kansas State, Jacksonville came to Gainesville and shocked the Gators with a three-point overtime win. Both teams are different this season, but Billy Donovan is hoping his team doesn't need a loss to the Dolphins to help them focus.

"It was a huge wakeup call," Florida guard Erving Walker said. "When we lost, coach said our backs were against a wall. We had just beaten Kansas State, and we didn't handle success well. I think we learned from that last year and don't want it to happen again."

The inability to handle success was a pattern for the Gators last season. It was a veteran team that had been through ups and downs at Florida, but the success experienced in the out of conference schedule last season caught the Gators off guard. They'd never won at that level before in the previous three years.

After the Jacksonville game, Florida won 14 of its next 16 games.

"With the way practice was after that, we didn't have time to let it linger," Walker recalled. "It was tough. Coach wasn't playing no games with us."

Donovan has used the week of practice to focus on the areas Florida needs to improve, like the defensive end of the floor. He hasn't spent much time reminding his team of what happened last season, but he hopes it sticks in the back of the team's mind to remind them that Jacksonville is able of winning the game.

"I'm not a revenge guy," Donovan said. "We're not getting that game back. In the history books, Jacksonville will have always beat us on that day. It is an understanding that this is a basketball team that's more than capable of beating us."

Three of the top four scorers in the game last season return for Jacksonville. Keith McDougald, who is now just a sophomore, led the Dolphins with 18 points last season. Russell Powell (13 points) and Delwan Graham (10 points) are also both back and in the starting lineup.

Junior forward Glenn Powell leads the Dolphins in scoring this season with 12.3 a game. He had just four points and six rebounds against Florida last season.

"If there's anything for returning guys to understand is that there are a lot of Jacksonville players that were on that team and a part of them coming in here and winning," Donovan said. "Our guys have a respect level for their talent and team. I would think this is a team that has our guys' attention.

"They have enough pieces back from their team last year and guys who played a lot of minutes."

Fightin Gators Top Stories