Boynton's Defense Needed at Vanderbilt

Every time Billy Donovan saw Kenny Boynton play in high school, there was always one part of his game the Florida head coach was drawn to. The junior guard always brings his defensive effort. Whether he made shots at will or struggled to score, it never changed the way Boynton attacked on the defensive end. That hasn't changed since Boynton has made the transition to college basketball.

He will face one of his toughest tasks of the season when he goes up against Vanderbilt's John Jenkins Tuesday night.

"The one thing that I've always admired about him as a player is when you're a scorer like he is, a guy who scored a lot in high school and in college, a lot of times guys really take rest on the defensive end of the floor so they can conserve energy for offense," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "Kenny's not like that at all. He really tries to guard.

"I think the one thing that we need to get Kenny to maybe understand, and do a bit more, is being a help defender - putting his body in plays, being a little bit more physical off the ball, trying to take a charge, trying to get in there and rebound more."

The test for Kenny Boynton in Memorial Gymnasium on Tuesday night is one he has already faced this year. It came in Gainesville earlier this season when Jenkins scored 15 points on 6-13 shooting from the field and 3-8 shooting from behind the three-point line.

Jenkins averaged 18.5 points in two games against the Gators last season, with his best output of the two games coming when he scored 22 during the matchup in Gainesville.

The challenge for Boynton, or any player that guards Jenkins during a game, is the endurance. He runs off multiple screens each possession, trying to wear down his opponent. Even if the shot doesn't go in, it can take a toll later in the game in clutch situations when the opponent has less energy.

The Florida defense got Vanderbilt out of rhythm in the first matchup between the teams become of its press defense. The Commodores turned the ball over 17 times during that matchup, but the Gators might not have the same chances on Tuesday.

The linchpin for the Florida press was Will Yeguete. He was credited with three steals in that game and deflected plenty of other balls. He is out for the season with a broken left foot, but Donovan also expects Vanderbilt to handle the press more effectively in Nashville.

"I think most teams handle pressure a lot better at home than they do on the road," Donovan said. "The press was really, really good here but, make no mistake about it, the press in a lot of ways started with Will. He had a huge impact in the game in the press. Whether or not we can get the same result out of the press in Nashville as we did here in Gainesville, I don't know.

"It will be something we will definitely look at and definitely do, but I'd imagine that would be something that Vanderbilt would be obviously working on and focused on. Like I said earlier, most teams do a better job of handling the press at home than they do on the road."


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