One last non-conference test for Florida

The Southeastern Conference schedule beings on Wednesday, but Florida still has a home challenge left before that happens. Richmond brings a 10-4 record to Gainesville with wins in seven of its last nine games. Those two losses both came in overtime. The Spiders also hold a 1-2 advantage in the series against Florida.

Two of those three games between Florida and Richmond don't mean much. Only one happened with Billy Donovan as the head coach at Florida, but it has the team's attention. Shortly after Florida completed a 42-point win over Savannah State last weekend, Florida center Patric Young was talking about Richmond beating the Gators 56-53 in 2009.

The current seniors were still in high school when it happened, but they still know all about the game. It was in Sunrise, Fla., on December 19, the final game before Christmas. Donovan hopes the last week of practice helped eliminate any external distractions or any chances the team could overlook Richmond.

"I think we've had a good week of practice," Billy Donovan said. "We've been able to do a lot of things at practice. I think that anytime you don't have school going on and they are basically focused in on the basketball piece of it you have a chance to really grow and develop. For the last two weeks as we've gotten a little bit more healthy we've been able to work on different things in practice and I think it's gone well for us."

The challenge comes in preparation for the Princeton offense that Richmond will employ on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. The challenge comes in that it's a different style than what Florida has seen so far this season.

"It's a different, unique style of play," Donovan said. "They spread you out, they drive it very, very well. They put you in some binds in some situations because of their personnel."

The Princeton offense usually gets perceived as a slow offense that milks the shot clock. You won't see that from Richmond on Saturday.

"That's not what they do," Donovan said. "They really play fast, they get out in transition, they're looking to fast-break, they have two guards that are really quick and explosive and can score. They've got frontcourt players that can put it down, and can play in the post and can shoot the ball from behind the three-point line."

The Spiders will mix defenses, trying to get out on fast breaks and score points in transition. It likely won't be a game scored in the 50s as some Princeton offenses can usually be.

"It'll be a great test for our team in terms of playing a team like this," Donovan said. "I think there's a lot of things that go into playing a game against a team that plays this style."

The Gators do have plenty of work to do at the free throw line and will have an opportunity to show it on Saturday. It has been a focus during practice this week, forcing players to shoot free throws in situations with as much pressure as possible.

Florida is 10th in the SEC with a 66.6 free throw percentage so far this season.

"We're always going to work on it, nothing's really changed," Donovan said. "We try to put our guys in pressure situations. We try to put them at the free throw line in special situations where you've got to make free throws. We try to do a lot of that stuff. That's going to be a constant all the time."


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