Donovan wants improvement at Wisconsin

Minutes after his team finished its eight-point win over North Florida in the season opener, Florida head coach Billy Donovan wanted to make sure his team understood that the effort wouldn't cut it on Tuesday night. The Gators travel to Madison on Tuesday to face No. 20 Wisconsin with a shortened roster, and Donovan sees no margin for error.

The Gators had chance to put North Florida away on Friday. They had two 18-point leads but let the Ospreys back into the game on both occasions. Florida didn't defend well, got outrebounded and became stagnant on the offensive end of the floor.

Donovan's postgame rant got the attention of his players, but the tone didn't change on Tuesday. If the Gators play with the some effort against the Badgers on Tuesday, they'll get blown out.

"If we play that way like we did on Friday, we have no shot to win the game," Donovan said.

The players are feeling it in practice, too. The team got back to film study on Saturday, trying to find the defensive breakdowns. There were plenty of occasions where they just didn't play with the effort necessary.

"He's really been harping on us getting as a team defensively," Michael Frazier said. "I think we made that change (Sunday) in practice with our intensity level and our level of focus to come in and get better. Instead of just saying that it's going to happen, we actually went out there and approached it as if it was our last practice.

"Every possession is a championship possession. That's what the coaches really have been talking about. Just playing every possession like it's our last and having that focus and edge every play."

With questions all over the roster -- even the healthy part of it -- for the Gators, Donovan put the emphasis on his seniors. He wants big games from Casey Prather, Will Yeguete and Patric Young to help the younger, less experienced players settle into the game.

It will be the first road game for freshman point guard Kasey Hill. Sophomores DeVon Walker and Dillon Graham didn't play much when the Gators were on the road last season. Eli Carter continues to deal with his leg injury, and Frazier is still playing less than 100 percent as he recovers from mono.

There are questions all over the roster, and that's where the seniors need to fill in the gaps.

"We're going to have to perform a lot better than we did, and I think it starts really with our three older guys: Patric, Casey and Will," Donovan said. "Those guys have got to be kind of the anchor and the foundation.

Prather posted a career-high 28 points against North Florida, but Yeguete and Young were quiet. The two combined for 42 minutes and only four points and seven rebounds.

"I'm anxious to see how we respond from coming off the North Florida game," Donovan said. "Have we gotten better? Have we made any improvements? Have there been any strides? That's going to be important to me."

The Badgers pose multiple challenges for Florida. They'll start a lineup with five players that can all shot three-pointers, a problem for the Florida defense this year. In Friday's season opener against UNF, the Gators allowed the Owls to shoot 37.5 percent (9-24) from behind the three-point line.

Wisconsin went 11-23 from behind the three-point line in an 11-point win over St. John's. Sam Dekker will have the attention of the Florida defense on Tuesday. The 6-7 sophomore had 16 points and seven rebounds in the season-opening win and is a difficult matchup for opposing teams. Donovan coached him with Team USA two years ago and knows the energy that Dekker brings to the court.

"He's got constant movement, great energy," Donovan said. "I do think early in his career he's probably been hobbled, has deal with some ankle injuries, but he appears to be pretty healthy right now. But it's not going to be one guy, it's going to be our team collectively."?

The tape from Wisconsin's first game of the season has Florida's attention. The Gators pulled out an 18-point win in Gainesville last year, but in front of a sold out crowd at the Kohl Center on Tuesday, it won't be that easy.

"They're a really good, hard, driving team and they shoot threes," Donovan said. "You've got to certainly have a great level of awareness. You've got to be in the right position and you've got to know what they're doing with their movement. They're very, very efficient and very effective.

"Any time you've got that kind of shooting space on the floor, it always provides good space for your offense with an open lane for either post feed or drive."

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