The drive was missing for the Gators.
They wanted to win the game and that was evident, but Donovan wants to see his team play with an increased toughness. Not even two weeks after the season ended when Donovan spoke to the media, he wasn't sure what he was going to do this offseason to change that -- but he knew it was coming.
"We need to be more relentless, be tougher," Billy Donovan said. "We need to be more mentally stronger. A mental will. We have to be better there. When adversity hits, when those things hit, we've got to be tougher. We have to get more competitive. Nastier. We have to have more of that internal drive and will in those moments. I think we displayed some of that."
Florida showed it at times this season, but it wasn't always there. That's why the negative perception about Florida came in close games. The Gators struggled away from the O'Connell Center, especially when games got close. Donovan thinks that added mental toughness could help his team in those situations.
There were times when the Gators showed that intensity, and it paid off, but it didn't happen enough.
"There were games this year where I think we displayed that," Donovan said. "I thought when we got down against Alabama at home we displayed that. I felt we battled and fought in some different games. Even when Minnesota made a run at us -- when they cut the lead down to seven after we were up 20 at the half -- so I think we have the capability. But we have to be more consistent doing that."
This offseason will be focused on pushing that toughness into the minds of players.
"I didn't create Joakim Noah's passion, energy, intensity, heart, toughness," Donovan said. "I didn't create that. That was in there. I think as a coaching staff, we fostered it," Donovan said. "That's an area our guys need to get better."
YOUNG CAN IMPROVE: The return of Patric Young gives the Gators plenty of depth in the frontcourt, and that should help him get better. Young doesn't have to play extended minutes all the time with fewer bodies. The big help will come in practice.South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris was supposed to help push Young in practice this year, but he tore his labrum early this season in practice. The defensive-minded Harris was expected to push Young during the year, but with him sitting out and the Gators banged up in the frontcourt, there wasn't anyone to give Young a challenge in practice.
"One of the things that will help him is I thought when Damontre got hurt this year the level of practice wasn't where it needed to be for him in certain situations," Donovan said. "Because we have a lot more depth now going into the season with our frontcourt, I think he'll be challenged a lot more differently than maybe he has this past season. That is good for his growth and development.
"With Cody (Larson) leaving and Damontre getting hurt, there really wasn't enough size in practice and strength in practice. This year that should help him a little more in practice in terms of just playing against more size, more athleticism and more shot blocking."
The numbers have been pretty similar for Young since he stepped into a starting role as a sophomore. He averaged 10.2 points as a sophomore and 10.1 points as a junior. He was at 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore and then 6.3 rebounds as a junior.
Donovan thinks both of those numbers can go up during his senior year if Young can play with increased energy. That has been the struggle since Young got to campus.
"I feel him playing with a consistent motor would not only help him, it would help our team," Donovan said. "I think he has the capability of doing those things."
YEGUETE COULD HAVE SURGERY: When Will Yeguete had arthroscopic knee surgery in early February, it wasn't viewed as the long-term fix. That's the route Yeguete wanted to go so that he could get back on the court as fast as possible. There were still scary moments after he came back.Yeguete had some more swelling in his knee after the Gators advanced to the Sweet 16 with a win over Michigan. He didn't practice before the Gators faced Florida Gulf Coast that Friday night and the knee was drained.
"There are probably going to be some decisions to make going forward, but I think definitely for him, surgery would be on the table," Donovan said. "That is definitely an option that will be on the table that they're really going to look and consider I think probably very strongly. He was able to play with his knee the way it was. He's going to have to make a decision of what he wants to do."
Donovan called the surgery a "short-term fix" and said that Yeguete would likely undergo an MRI and X-ray of the knee again soon.