Notebook: Yeguete shows improved production

Will Yeguete knows his limitations. He won't ever be an elite scorer for the Gators or a go-to option on offense, but that didn't look like the case on Thursday in a 101-71 win over Nebraska-Kearney. The junior's knack for the ball on the offensive glass helped him post 20 points and 11 rebounds for Florida. Yeguete knows his strengths and improved them in the offseason.

"It's normal for any player to want to evolve their game basketball-wise," Billy Donovan said. "Will has gotten better scoring the ball and around the basket. Where he has carved a niche is where he can't slip. It makes him a really unique player for us when he's defending, at the front of the press, deflecting, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding and tip ins. He's doing all these things you don't see in the stat sheet."

They did show up in the stat sheet on Thursday. Yeguete was second on the team with 20 points and added 11 rebounds. He was also tied for the team lead with two steals and added one assist. He is efficient on offense, shooting 8-10 from the field and going 4-5 from the free throw line.

The free throw line was an issue last season. He shot 35.9% from the line last season. Of players who averaged at least ten minutes last year, Patric Young was the second worst at 59.3%. It was an issue in the offseason for Yeguete, and he put in a lot of time to work on it. It's only one exhibition game and five attempts, but he's more confident with where his shot is at to start this season.

"I'm a little more confident than last year," Will Yeguete said. "I have more experience and I'm a year older. That helps a lot to know what to do sometimes."

Thursday's effort came after a challenge from Donovan. The head coach wasn't happy with Yeguete's effort when the Gators scrimmaged Rollins College last Saturday. He wasn't the same player that energized the team last season.

Part of that is because of the 15 pounds Yeguete added in the offseason. It's all muscle and good weight, as he starts this season with a lower body fat percentage than last year, but the junior is still learning to play at his new weight.

"He was a guy that looked like he had a hard time changing ends and wasn't as active defensively as he normally is," Donovan said of Yeguete in the Rollins scrimmage. "He was playing straight up and down and always trying to rest. This week, he has pushed himself to get in better shape.

"When you carry a little weight, that's a little bit different."

With Cody Larson electing to leave the team, the Gators are down to three bodies to play in the paint. With Erik Murphy and Patric Young starting, Florida needs a consistent effort from Yeguete. He's also the key in the Florida press defense.

His active hands create tough passing lanes for the opposition, and his defense creates steals.

"His arms are so long that when you go against him in practice and cross over in front of him, it's a steal," Kenny Boynton said. "It's crazy. His arms are so long that he's got great length."

ROSARIO DISAPPOINTS: Donovan gave Mike Rosario a chance to start on Thursday because of the improved consistency on and off the court. During the game, he didn't show much of it. Rosario went 2-5 from the field and turned the ball over a team-high four times, including one where he just dribbled the ball off his foot.

"I don't think he really played well at all," Donovan said. "For some reason he thinks his foot is a part of his hand when he dribbles. He kicks it off his foot all the time and turns it over way too much. He's way too careless with the ball."

When the offensive production isn't coming from Rosario, it's tough for Donovan to keep him on the floor. He doesn't play enough defense to justify it. When the shots aren't falling for Kenny Boynton, he can still play tight defense and take away an opponent's best perimeter player.

Rosario is a fifth-year senior, and Donovan's biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball is still about his effort.

"Mike tried today," Donovan said. "When he's turning the ball over like that, and we're getting his liability on defense… now I thought he tried on defense, but he has got to get better there. He's giving me much better effort than he has."

PRATHER UPDATE: Casey Prather was held out of Thursday's game because of a concussion he suffered in the scrimmage with Rollins. He hasn't passed the concussion tests that will allow him to return, but Prather was on the bench on Thursday in warm up clothes.

Donovan still isn't sure about his status for the season opener against Georgetown on November 9.

"He has progressed," Donovan said. "There's a series of tests he has to go through before he can be cleared to go back on the floor. Every day they perform these tests, the symptoms are getting better for him to get back on the floor. He's improving and getting better."

POST GAME NOT A FACTOR: Young went 0-2 from the field and had two points and four rebounds. He added one block and one assist. Erik Murphy wasn't much better. He went 2-4 from the field and missed both three-point attempts while pulling down three rebounds and blocking three shots.

Against a Nebraska-Kearney team that doesn't have anyone over 6-7 on the roster, Donovan wanted to see Murphy and Young dominate in the paint. That didn't happen.

"You've got your two veteran frontcourt guys, and basically in 40 minutes combined they grab seven rebounds—not good enough," Donovan said. "We need more from them out of that."

Young didn't have the touches to be a force on the offensive end. The Florida offense was run mostly through the perimeter, and Donovan took responsibility for the timing issues, saying he would work on it in practice with the team.

"Our timing was off in terms of finding Patric," Donovan said. "There were times when guys were reaching around Patric and knocking balls away. There were times when Patric could've got on the offensive glass and done more around the basket. The timing was off in terms of identifying those guys."

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