Donovan reviews scrimmage with Rollins

Florida played a scrimmage against Rollins College over the weekend to prepare for Thursday's exhibition game with Nebraska-Kearney. The teams played three 20-minute periods. Florida head coach Billy Donovan threw his team into the fire without a scouting report to see how it would respond to the defensive work over the last two weeks of practice. There's work to be done before Thursday.

"Their system and the way they play was good for us — we went into the game without any scouting report," Billy Donovan said. "We wanted our guys to just play and try to rely on some of the defensive things we've been working on the last two weeks."

Donovan has preached to the team about being unselfish with the basketball and setting teammates up for the best shot possible. He was happy with the execution and passing against Rollins, but the talent on the court advantage for Florida wasn't close. He wanted the team to dominate, and to their credit, they did.

However, Donovan's biggest concern was still shown.

Mike Rosario started as the Gators went with a three-guard lineup along with Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton. It makes the Gators vulnerable on the glass. The rebounding statistics after the scrimmage didn't show rebounding as an issue, but against a bigger team, that probably wouldn't have been the case.

"There will be points in time in the game where we have three guards on the floor," Donovan said. "The biggest thing will be—how long can we play that way? Right now, my biggest concern is that we don't rebound. We don't — not at the level we need to rebound the ball at."

"Because it was Rollins, clearly there was a size advantage. We out-rebounded them by a pretty large margin. I still didn't think we rebounded the ball well in the game."

If rebounding becomes an issue during the regular season, Donovan could put Rosario on the bench and slide Casey Prather in as the starting small forward. This could also happen if the opposition has a dominant, tall small forward that Prather could match up with defensively.

"I think we have the flexibility, where if we're playing a team where size is a tough matchup at the small forward, I'd have no problem putting Casey in there," Donovan said. "He can play."

There's still room for improvement as the team prepares for Thursday night. The effort and execution has made the Florida coaching staff happy, but there are still things that needed to be installed. Donovan singled out the defense of under the basket inbounds plays as one area that struggled against Rollins.

That wasn't the team's fault. The Gators hadn't spent much time working on it in practice, and Donovan took responsibility for it. It's smaller parts of the game that the Gators continue to work on cleaning up as the season draws near.

The team is now in the portion of practice where Donovan has to fight for their attention at times.

"We're teetering mentally," Donovan said. "The first two weeks, these guys have worked hard. Of the first two weeks, we had one day where I was disappointed with our team on the court. Outside of that, we've been good.

"The excitement of practice has worn off. They're tired, they're sore. They've been going double sessions on the weekends and a 60-minute scrimmage. Every day has been a relentless effort that we've been trying to get them to give. They've done that. Now, we've got to get to that next step where we're pushing over that hump before games start."

It also gives Donovan a chance to be creative. He has spent time working on different lineups in the fall to try fixing the rebounding issues. The three-guard lineup makes the Gators small with three players — Boynton, Rosario and Wilbekin — that haven't been sent to the glass at any point in their careers.

Donovan tried out a lineup with Will Yeguete, Erik Murphy and Patric Young all on the floor at the same time, but that creates offensive issues for the Gators. The creativity allowed with preseason practices is something Donovan has fun with in preparing his team.

"I enjoy doing that stuff," Donovan said. "That stuff is fun and very stimulating. I like it. Every coach is looking at their personnel, and how do you maximize your personnel to the best of your ability? You have a vision of how you see it, and you have to share that vision with your team for them to buy into it as well."

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