Beal Fighting Through Freshman Struggles

Billy Donovan knew this was coming for his star freshman. After Brad Beal started his college career on fire, it was only a matter of time before the freshman hit a wall and his production slowed. The toughest moment for Beal came Tuesday when he went 2-for-15 from the field and scored just five points against UAB. Donovan knew this down moment would come for Beal at some point in his first year.

"I'm not saying I want to see anybody play poorly, but I do believe when you're a freshman and as talented as he is, throughout most of your high school career, there are very few times that you struggle," Donovan said after Thursday's practice. "When you stepped on the floor, you were the best player. When you get to this level, playing at Ohio State and Syracuse, it's a different level of talent he's dealing with."

It's similar to what Donovan watched Mike Miller go through during his freshman year. Miller had 25 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Georgia Southern during the first game of the 1998-99 season. For Miller, the wall came quicker, during his second game at Florida State. He scored just eight points and turned the ball over seven times.

Beal's rough patch has happened as the Gators end non-conference play and open SEC play at Tennessee Saturday at 11 a.m.

"I don't think he's any different than any real talented freshman," Donovan said about Beal. "He is going through this process, but I have confidence in him. The thing that I keep explaining to him is that he's got to focus on what he can control. I was really pleased with him last game because I felt like in previous games he'd get down on himself and hold himself to too high of a standard. He needs to be easier on himself."

Donovan was most disappointed about Beal slacking with rebounding. The freshman is third on the team with 5.9 rebounds a game, but that was lowered by the zero he pulled down against UAB. The lack of size in Florida's frontcourt has forced Beal to rebound from the small forward position. Even when he isn't scoring, Donovan expects him to be active on the glass.

"What I was more disappointed (against UAB) was his lack of rebounding," Donovan said. "He has been such a good rebounder. I was really proud that he was working through missing layups, and when you go through those things, it makes you look at how to get better. The main goal right now is to do other things to help the team win."

INJURY UPDATE: Erik Murphy was hit in the eye by Patric Young while going for a rebound during Thursday's practice. The hit drew blood from above his right eye, and he needed "4-5 stitches." Donovan said he wasn't showing signs of a concussion, and as long as those didn't appear, Murphy should practice Friday and be okay to play Saturday at Tennessee.

Mike Rosario's status for Saturday is more in doubt. He injured his ankle during the end of the Yale game and was held out against UAB. He didn't practice on Thursday, and if he doesn't on Friday, he won't play against Tennessee.

"We're trying to get him looked at by a doctor and maybe an X-ray to see if there's something more to it than what we think it is," Donovan said.

Casey Prather did practice on Thursday after a stomach issue kept him out against UAB on Tuesday.

YOUNG'S OFFENSE IMPROVING: After coming off the bench and providing energy on the defensive end as a freshman last season, Young has asserted himself on the offensive end more this season. He's fourth on the team with 12.1 points per game and has developed a wide range of offensive moves in the post.

"Patric has gotten better," Donovan said. "There's a combination of our guys finding him in good spots on the floor and also him working to get to those spots on the floor. He has been a lot more efficiently offensively because when he has gotten deep post position, we have found him in the right areas of the floor. Patric is probably not as effective when he catches it a couple steps off the lane line. Then guys on the perimeter can sink in and help.

"When he catches it close to the basket, it eliminates all that help because he's pinned in the lane and it's hard to help there. That's a work in progress that has gotten better."

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