Disciplined offense dominates the paint

The Gators learned a lesson on Tuesday. At least that's what Florida head coach Billy Donovan hopes that Saturday's outcome showed. The Gators launched three-point attempts without hesitation at Missouri, and in the end, the reliance on the perimeter was the team's undoing. Saturday's conference win over Arkansas showed the Gators can still go inside when they need points in the paint.

"We just tried to learn from the Missouri game," Billy Donovan said. "That was a great thing."

Florida hoisted 33 three-pointers in a loss at Missouri on Tuesday. The Gators took 23 in a win over Arkansas on Saturday. The key points during Florida's 71-54 win over Arkansas came in the paint, where the Gators outscored the Razorbacks 42-18.

The 42 points were a refreshing sight for Donovan after his team scored just 16 in the paint on Tuesday. He was frustrated with his team's offensive decision making against the Tigers, taking too many unnecessary three-pointers when there were lanes to get in the paint.

"We had to get the ball in the paint," Florida forward Erik Murphy said. "When we get the ball in the paint for post ups or drives, our offensive efficiency is better. That's something we've been focusing on."

It was evident from the opening tip on Saturday in the O'Connell Center. When points are being scored in the paint, it's easy to focus on the big men. Patric Young was a big part of that, scoring 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting, but the guards were also involved. Eight of Kenny Boynton's 14 field goals were two-point shots, and he was noticeably more interested on driving into the paint on Saturday.

That wasn't by accident.

The Gators saw film of the Missouri loss and how bad the offense can look when they sit behind the three-point line and launch shot after shot from distance. It's not effective, and it keeps the Florida offense from reaching its potential.

"That was very effective for us," Florida guard Mike Rosario said. "We put our focus towards that. They were putting so much pressure on the perimeter."

Missouri did the same thing. They pressured the Florida guards on the perimeter, but instead of trying to go around them, the Gators were content with threes.

While Young wasn't the only one getting involved in the paint, he was a big key. And after every big game for the junior center, Donovan was again wondering after Saturday's win why Young doesn't do it more often. Arkansas' frontcourt was limited by foul trouble to Marshawn Powell and undersized even before he was out, so that gave Young some help on the inside.

But he was more active and aggressive than normal.

"There are games where he doesn't do that, doesn't run like that and doesn't have a presence," Donovan said. "It is a total choice by him. It's a mentality and a commitment. Every single day — work like that. If he gives effort like that all the time, he's going to have 10 rebounds and 12-14 points.

"As big and strong as he is, there's no reason he shouldn't demand the ball every time he gets down inside."

The Florida players noticed Young more often in the second half.

"We've got a 6-10, 250 guy down there with his guy on his back," Rosario said with a big grin. "We've got to get the ball in the post."

Young wasn't shy to admit wanting the basketball more. He can become visibly frustrated when he doesn't get the ball and is open, but the junior is learning to handle it with a mature approach and continue working to get open.

Missing Young in the post is a rut the Florida guards can get caught in, but he continues to believe he's an important part of the offense.

"Guards lack to understand that being a big man, me getting the ball is predicated on you passing it to me," Young said. "If you're a guard, you get the ball. I can't get frustrated. I just have to keep playing.

"When I've got a guard on me, and you can read Florida and can read the number four (on the front of the jersey), I think the ball has got to go inside."

That will be a bigger part of the plan in the future.


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