Rosario continues to earn trust

Billy Donovan's honesty is always refreshing. When the Florida coach talks about senior guard Mike Rosario, there's nothing but honesty. Regardless of the headaches and frustration that Rosario has caused Donovan since transferring to Florida, the Florida coach claimed on Wednesday night that he loves causing the redshirt senior. It just doesn't always sound that way.

"I love dealing with him," Billy Donovan said. "It's complete confrontation and chaotic. It's great with him."

The confrontation happened more frequently last season the practice court. It was rare that Mike Rosario would be corrected on the practice court and not have a comeback for what happened. There was always an excuse. There was a reason why his way was actually correct.

Until Donovan informed Rosario that he was, still, wrong.

He didn't take coaching well. He handled criticism even worse. It took one year as a player at Florida and one year while sitting out because of his transfer for Rosario to learn.

"A year ago, when you corrected him, he had all the answers and solutions to what was going o. Everything – the world, politics, what was going on — he had all the solutions," Donovan said. "Now, he's listening. He's coachable. He's in a good place right now. I'm proud of him.

"He finally knows that ‘you're not getting your way.' That, last year, sent him into a tailspin that he's not getting his way."

Donovan's criticisms of Rosario last year and before this season's start are well documented. He didn't fight through injuries. He didn't take coaching well. He didn't work hard enough off the court to deserve any playing time.

"I've just been disappointed when last year, he provided nothing for our team because he was never responsible, accountable and wasn't reliable," Donovan said.

That wasn't the case on Wednesday. Mike Rosario saved his best game of the young season for the biggest one. He even went a step further, calling it his best game since coming to Gainesville — posting 15 points, four rebounds and four assists while playing 39 minutes.

It came from aggression. Rosario handled the ball with confidence against Wisconsin. He penetrated and didn't sit back to wait for open three-pointers. He attacked, and when the Badgers defended him in the paint, Rosario found the open man.

His aggressiveness around the basket made the Florida offense tougher to guard.

"Me being aggressive off the dribble, I was just attacking the basket well," Rosario said. "I was waiting for an open lane and driving. That's what happened tonight."

He still turned the ball over four times on Wednesday night. It's the glaring negative of what Rosario brings to the court. He brings instant offense to a starting lineup that needs it at times, but his up-tempo tendencies can sometimes border on being out of control.

Those aren't going away anytime soon.

"He makes some wacky plays that drive me nuts," said Donovan, shaking his head. "Overall, he played well offensively. He's focused and bought in. He's trying to do all the things I'm asking him to do."

The understanding between Donovan and Rosario is now better. They now understand each other's point of view. It took into the third season for that to happen between the two, but it has come to a point where Donovan is finally confident putting Rosario on the floor.

He still got playing time last year, but it was at times out of necessity. Donovan wasn't sure what was going to happen. Truth is, he's still not always sure. There are still times when Rosario can try too hard to make something happen and turn it over, but he's still a player that Donovan looks forward to being around.

"I really enjoy coaching him," Donovan said. "I like Mike. He's a great kid and a great teammate. He's about the guys. He's a touchy, feely kind of guy. He high fives, he hugs. He cares for the guys on his team. But, he's one of those guys where, if you give him an inch, he's trying to take it to a yard. It's a battle everyday."

POST FEEDS NEED HELP: Patric Young scored eight points on five shots on Wednesday. It wasn't because of a lack of trying. The Gators tried to get Young involved in the offseason early in the season, but it didn't work.

The timing of the post feeds to Young have become an issue. The Wisconsin frontcourt players were physical with him and tried to take him out of the game, but the Gators missed him multiple times or just threw passes away.

"We've got to do a better job," Donovan said. "I've got to do a better job in practice. We've got to work on that. There are times when Patric has got great post position and we are not getting him the ball. When we do throw it, we turn it over. Patric didn't get enough shots tonight. He should've had more. We missed him way too much."

The Florida players realized early in the game that the Badgers wanted to take Young out of the game. As a result, Erik Murphy tied a career high with 24 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the field.

"They were doing a good job of pressuring the passer and pressuring (Young)," Florida forward Will Yeguete said. "We tried to force some passes, but Murph was more open than Pat."

The general consensus amount Florida players is that Wisconsin simply took Young out of the game. Some of them were surprised by it because of Murphy's success over the last year. It's what the Badgers wanted to do, and while it threw off the timing of Florida's post offense through Young, it showcased plenty of other scoring options.

That won't always be the case. The Gators know it's important to get Young more touches and make him involved in the offense.

"We've got to get Pat the ball more down low," Murphy said. "When he gets position, we've got to stop moving the ball and get it to him. That's something we've got to get better at."


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