Notebook: Young better from the stripe

Patric Young took the criticism seriously last season. He was one of the few members of the 2012-13 Florida team that struggled from the free throw line. With new NCAA rules expected to cause more free throws, there was even more incentive for Young to improve at the free throw line before heading into his senior season. And he made sure that it happened.

Last Friday's exhibition win over Florida Southern showcased the improvement. It was only one game -- and Young is the first person to point that out -- but it was easy to see a more confident stroke from the free throw line, as he went 7-10 from the stripe.

"I've got what 30, 35 games left to see if I really have improved? Just going to keep working on it every day as I've been doing all summer," Patric Young said. "We'll see if that pays off."

He didn't change anything in the offseason with his shooting form. He just decided to trust it more. Young got in the gym and took more free throws than in the past and worked on ways to clear his mind when he's at the free throw line. In the past, thoughts would crowd his mind, whether it was about a previous miss or about how badly he wanted to make it.

The improvement caught the eye of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, too.

"He's focused on that," Donovan said. "I think his free throw shooting last year was such a point of contention for him that he wanted to get better at it. He's shooting them every day, and we're trying to work on it and trying to help him get better. With the new rules, there's going to be a lot more free throws.

"And generally the two positions on the floor that would shoot the most free throws are if you have a penetrating point guard that has the ball in his hands a lot that gets fouled and frontcourt players, whether it be offensive rebounder or post-up."

Young struggled last season. He shot 48.9 percent (68-139), the lowest percentage of his career from the stripe. In all three years, that percentage has dropped. As a freshman, he shot 70.3 percent before it dropped to 59.3 percent during his sophomore year in increased playing time. The 48.9 percent isn't a number he's proud of, and that's why he set his mind to fixing it.

"With a guy like Patric with his size, he's going to get to the line a lot," Donovan said. "If we can get him to shoot 70 percent like he did (in the exhibition) game, that'd be good for us."

YEGUETE KNEE IMPROVING: Will Yeguete came off the bench against Florida Southern in last week's exhibition. He wasn't sure if he would play, but Donovan thought it would be a good idea for him to see how the knee reacted to game action.

The exhibition went well, and Yeguete is expected to start in Friday's season opener against North Florida.

"I'm feeling good," Yeguete said. "I'm really focused this week on walking on my legs in the weight room with Preston and just take one at a time. I'm coming off pretty good."

He's still not to 100 percent healthy, but it feels good enough for the senior forward to get on the court and play for a Florida team desperately searching for healthy, non-suspended bodies.

"I think it's going to take me a few games," Yeguete said about being 100 percent. "I'm not really worrying about that. I'm just trying to go out there and play like I'm 100 percent. I think it's going to take me a few games, but I'm excited."

Yeguete and Young came to Gainesville together and quickly developed a close bond. Now heading into their senior seasons, Young is happy to see Yeguete done with the knee surgery and healthy enough to start with him on Friday.

"It's very satisfying, because I've been with him all summer, so I've seen the ups and downs from him -- not even being able to walk to him finally being able to dunk for the first time in a really long time," Young said. "I think it's just a matter of everyone that has an injury faces that little mental barrier, like 'Am I going to be as explosive? Am I going to be able to jump as high?' I think he's just dealing with that right now."

HILL/WILBEKIN BACKCOURT: Donovan hasn't announced the length of Scottie Wilbekin's suspension, but when he returns to the court, the Gators will have to find ways to get him on the court at the same time as freshman guard Kasey Hill.

According to Young, it will happen.

"They'll definitely both be on the floor," Young said. "It will be exciting having both of them on the floor because if Kasey or Scottie get it, both of those guys can push the floor up really well. Kasey is probably better just because he's very elusive and a really good finisher. Scottie is a really good finisher as well, but Kasey, that's just one of his high points of his game."

Fightin Gators Top Stories