Walker Trying to Carry Momentum

Erving Walker wasn't the only one waiting for a performance like the one he had on Saturday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan was, too. The Gators have watched Walker get off to a slow start this season while trying to turn himself into a facilitating point guard, but the senior's 31-point effort in a win over Arkansas showed signs that he might be starting to figure out his role.

"With him being our only senior and the ball in his hands, I do think that he is trying, without question, to please me," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. " He hasn't shot the ball well, he's trying to run our team, he's trying to do a lot of things that over the past couple of years he really hasn't had to do."

Those things are the leadership aspects. Walker has always been the point guard on teams that were laden with upperclassmen who led. Last year, it was the three seniors on the frontcourt in Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus that led the team while Walker got to play his game with the ball in his hands. When things didn't go well, one of those three would address the team.

Now it's Walker's responsibility.

He's quiet and keeps to himself in the huddle and locker room. Some of that came from Walker being a little overwhelmed at times this year while trying to figure out exactly what his role on the team is.

He showed glimpses of what it can be on Saturday.

"I thought in the game, he's done a better job of managing and handling all that and I also try to take him to a different level in terms of his thought process," Donovan said. "I also take him to a different level to what it really means to be a point guard. Some of those things are not natural for him. There is a balance between what I do put on him and what I do take away from him, but I do feel like in the game he played with a free mind and really focused. I think anytime the ball goes in the basket for you that always creates and feeds to your confidence."

The things that don't come naturally to Walker include the type of player he is. The senior is forced to play point guard because of his size, but he's not a facilitator that excels at creating shots for his teammates.

Walker is a scorer. In games like Saturday's, that is obvious. He hasn't been afraid to score or take the big shot since coming to campus. Walker went 9-12 from the field and 5-6 from behind the three-point line in Saturday's 30-point win at Arkansas.

When the shots are falling, he's tough to stop. The balance comes in Walker trying to find his role as the point guard and a scorer. Donovan has pushed all season for Walker to lead the SEC in assists, and he's currently second at 4.9 and only 0.1 behind Mississippi State's Dee Bost.

"It's just a balance of me being myself and listening to (Donovan)," Erving Walker said. "I know he has my best interest at heart. It's just about being the player I can be and playing freely."

Sometimes what Donovan has put into Walker's head can slow him down. The senior is trying to change the way he played at Florida over the past three years. That can sometimes cause him to slow down and hurt his play.

"I do think sometimes because he's trying to please me, he can think too much. I don't want to do that to him. There are also things that he has to do and has recognize and try to see out there, and I think he's trying to do that but let's be honest, in the game (against Arkansas) he got freed up and was able to knock down some shots and that opens some things up for himself and our team. He played a very good game.

"Besides him making shots, the game he played was a really good floor game. He was really good getting us in our offense, handling the pressure, getting the ball where it needed to go, getting guys in the right spot so for him, I thought it was a complete game – not only shooting the ball – but everything else that he did."


Fightin Gators Top Stories