Gators Promoting Continuity on Offense

The Gators didn't play any games this week because of exams, but head coach Billy Donovan used the practice time to help the team gain a better understanding of what he wants on offense. Florida made strides last Friday in a win over Rider, but Donovan was still upset about the Florida guards ignoring the post in the win over Arizona.

Using the post players is a key aspect to the offense Donovan wants the team to run.

"It's spacing out the floor more," Brad Beal said Thursday before practice. "We're all so spaced out sometimes that it's hard for someone to put the ball on the floor and create something. We all just have to space out and give someone else room to create."

Against Arizona, that someone was Patric Young. The sophomore center was 12-for-15 from the field and scored 25 points, but Donovan was still upset that the guards didn't give him more chances. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton struggled from the field but continued to throw up shots while Young didn't get the ball enough.

The Gators made adjustments against Rider. Young got enough shots after playing well in the paint and the Florida guards shot the ball better.

"Patric's game (against Arizona) helped because our guys were able to see that when Patric gets the ball with angles, he can score," Donovan said. "Our guys understand how and when to find him is important. Patric understanding when and where to throw it out of the post is important.

"Spacing when there's penetration helps the cohesiveness of us playing together and making the game easy for each other."

Donovan has seen progress through this week of practice. He wants his guards, specifically Boynton and Walker, to play smart and understand the flow of the game. If Young is scoring at will, the ball needs to go inside. Even when the guards are shooting the ball well, there still needs to be an inside presence to keep the defense from suffocating the perimeter.

"We just have to be patient in the half court set," Boynton said. "If the person has a shot, but the person next to you has a better shot, it's about being unselfish. In the Arizona game, we did a bad job of getting Pat the ball when he needed it. From now on, that won't be a problem. When Pat's feeling it, he will get the ball more."

FREE THROW FOCUS: Going into Thursday's games, the Gators were third in the country, averaging 8 points per game. That number should be even higher. Florida ranks 317 out of 338 teams in the country with its 59.6% free throw percentage.

"It's something we've got to get better at," Donovan said. "We've spent time on it. It's an area we've underachieved because we have guys who are better shooters than what we've displayed to this point."

The Gators have spent plenty of practice time this week working on free throws. Donovan is limited in the ways to create pressure on players during practice that is similar to what they feel during the games. If players miss free throws in practice, the team runs. Boynton said each player has shot 50-100 free throws after practice.

"Everybody focuses in because nobody wants to run," Beal said. "You get tired down the stretch, so it's a good thing for us to shoot when we're tired and focus to knock them down."

The only teams from BCS conferences that have been worse at free throw shooting this season are Auburn, Ole Miss and USC. It's the focus that has been lacking. For a team that has plenty of guards who can shoot, Donovan wants to see a better effort.

"Guys have to go up there with more confidence and a better focus," Donovan said. "You have to work on it but there's nothing you can do. If there was something you could do as a coach, every team would shoot great from the free throw line. It's something they've got to focus in on and understand the importance of."

INJURY UPDATE: Erik Murphy has been back for two games from a bone bruise in his knee, and the break from games has given him a chance to get in a better groove. Donovan was happy with his practices before the Arizona game, but in the days after, he struggled in practice because his conditioning wasn't where it needed to be after the injury.

The break has allowed him to spend extra time getting back in shape.

"This week was great for him to get extra work in and more confident and comfortable," Donovan said. "He got in the weight room and extra shots up."


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