Basketball reviews weekend scrimmage

The Gators went through a team scrimmage on Sunday after a long week of practice. Florida coach Billy Donovan wanted to see the effort with his team already tired from the week. He was happy with what he saw. The team's performance wasn't flawless and had plenty of room to grow, but the effort was where Donovan wanted to be. The Gators have room to improve with the first exhibition on November 1.

"Our guys gave great effort," Billy Donovan said. "The execution was not great, which I really did not expect it to be. The things that we really tried to focus on defensively, you could tell they were at least trying to make a commitment to do those things. We were unselfish. We moved and passed the basketball. Our guys tried to play the right way.

"I thought it was effective. Now, getting a chance to watch a little bit more of film to see where we need to get better as a team and individually."

The depth on the frontcourt was lacking with Damontre Harris out after tearing his labrum. The Gators will have to find ways to make the depth acceptable since Harris will be held back from contact drills over the next 4-6 months.

The effort passed the test, but some of the older players still saw areas that need to improve. It's all schematic issues that will be cleaned up before Florida opens the season against Georgetown on November 9.

"It went well, but there are things to clean up a little bit," senior forward Erik Murphy said. "The effort was there, especially after the week of just killing us. We were all tired but pushed through it."

There are inconsistencies the team still has to fix, but Donovan wasn't worried with ten days left until the team hosts Nebraska-Kearney in an exhibition game. If the issues are still present in the week of practice after that, there could be issues since the Gators start fast by playing Georgetown and Wisconsin in two of their first three games this season.

"There were times (Sunday) where we were really good in transition defense and times when we were really bad," Donovan said. "There were times where we blocked out and rebounded, and there were times where we didn't block out anybody. There's just no consistency right now in doing the things that are going to have a huge baring on the outcome of any game."

The players and coaches continue to try easing the freshmen into their roles. It's still undecided how much the four — Michael Frazier, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker — will play this season. But Donovan wants them as ready as possible.

With the loss of Erving Walker after last season, Scottie Wilbekin will start at point guard with Kenny Boynton also sliding over to play the spot. Freshman Braxton Ogbueze will also have a role in the offense, but he played as the point guard and shooting guard during the scrimmage.

"It's a big difference between high school and college," Ogbueze said. "It's the game speed. It's a lot faster with stronger guys."

PRATHER STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS: Donovan said last week that forward Casey Prather has struggled with turnovers in the early portion of practice. It's the same issue that kept him off the floor last season. He wasn't careful with the ball and often gave up easy transition points to the opposition.

"He's got an awareness of it," Donovan said. "The biggest thing for him is he puts himself in situations sometimes where he can eliminate and prevent those turnovers."

There's still a temptation to throw Prather on the floor and expect him to improve it. His defense and rebounding ability from the small forward position make him an ideal candidate to start and allow the Florida coaches to draw up plays for him.

"Casey played well defensively," Donovan said about the scrimmage. "We're trying to do some things offensively for him to take advantage of his size and athleticism close to the basket."

With Prather off the floor in the scrimmage, rebounding was an issue. The Gators will most likely go to three guards in that situation, with Mike Rosario taking his spot on the floor. It makes the Gators small at the basket.

In that situation, Donovan said they'll likely send Wilbekin to the basket to offensive rebound because of his talent at getting loose balls. However, it's still an issue since it's different than anything he has been taught in his life.

"It's not a habit for him," Donovan said. "He's so conditioned the last two years to get back that when he's out there with those guys, he forgets. It's not his fault. He's never done it before or been asked to do that. It has to be rehearsed."

There's thought of playing Will Yeguete at the small forward when Erik Murphy is playing the power forward and Patric Young is at center, but the offensive side is a worry. The Gators would only have two ball handlers on the court in that situation, and that's not ideal for Donovan's offense.

"We haven't done a whole lot of that," Donovan said of the Murphy, Yeguete and Young lineup. "It may be something we experiment with later on. Will can defend a lot of positions, so I wouldn't be concerned with him guarding the small forward. There's a possibility, but you've got to be able to manufacture offense to score."

Fightin Gators Top Stories