Preparation Produces Three-Game Win Streak

When the Gators lost their SEC opener at Tennessee, Florida head coach Billy Donovan challenged his team's preparation and attitude in practice. The drive to prepare for each game wasn't there. Since that loss, the Gators have ripped off a three-game winning streak that has them in the thick of the conference race.

"Our guys have done a better job preparing in practice," Donovan said. "That has been the difference the last couple weeks. There has been a real focus level that has been good. We had a real good practice Friday going into the LSU game.

"I get that practice this time of year for players can be tedious and long. They're sore and tired. I think mature teams and players understand the value of it as it relates to preparation and scouting, plus our team just getting better. Our guys have gotten better the last couple weeks at embracing that."

Along with an increased sense of preparation, Donovan still thinks his team needs to mature. He has spoke all season about the players that are in new roles this season, but now that the Gators are four games into the conference schedule, the players should have adapted and grown into their roles now.

That maturity is the missing piece for the team right now.

The Gators had a 14-point lead in the second half when LSU guard Ralston Turner missed both free throws. However, the Gators didn't block out and Justin Hamilton had an easy put back after an offensive rebound. It's moments like that Donovan hopes will soon evaporate.

"When you're on a run, don't do things to break your own momentum like quick shots and not blocking out," Donovan said. "It's just a lack of focus. That's what happens sometimes."

Most times that maturity the team is lacking comes from the mental approach. Players struggle to let their failures on the court out of their mind. Donovan even said that the team's greatest strength can produce one of its biggest failures.

Players that make a mistake on one of the end of the court let it bleed into their play on the other.

"The best way I can answer what a mature team looks like is five guys working together and moving in each play together without any of them worrying about what just happened or what's getting ready to happen," Donovan said. "If you have one guy who is upset because he missed two free throws and isn't in tune with what's going on, you're going to break down.

"You have to understand you're not getting that play back. You're better off moving to the next one collectively as a group. That's what I need."

BOYNTON'S OFFENSE IMPROVES: Florida guard Kenny Boynton used to get lost in games when his three-point shot wasn't falling. When he was a freshman, his offense was dependent on the three-point shot. Now a junior, Boynton has added the midrange game and the ability to drive to the basket.

"Kenny has shot the ball very well this year," Donovan said. "I'm really pleased with the progress he has made over the last couple years. His freshman year, I thought he was just a one-dimensional guy as a three-point shooter. He has added different elements to his game in his sophomore and now junior year."

Boynton is making 44.6% of his three-pointers and averaging 3.5 of them a game. That has caused opposing defenses to step out on him and try to take that element of his game away. When his man steps out on him, Boynton has started taking the ball to the basket more often.

"He's driving more to the basket and shooting pull-up jump shots," Donovan said. "He's getting fouled and getting to the free throw line. His shooting percentage is much higher."


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