Notebook: Better ball movement needed

The Gators won games in the non-conference part of the schedule because of a strong defense and bench depth. The offense never seemed to get into a groove for most of the first two months of the season. Point guard play was in question as Scottie Wilbekin was suspended early in the year and Kasey Hill suffered a high ankle sprain. With both back, the offense needs to show better ball movement.

And it hasn't happened to this point in the season. As a team, Florida has 159 assists to 151 turnovers this season. It's not the numbers expected for a team with a senior point guard and a five-star freshman point guard applauded for his passing.

Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin are the only two players on the Florida team with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

"That to me is very, very disappointing, especially when you talk about having some older guys," Billy Donovan said.

The last six games haven't been pretty. The Gators have 66 assists to 79 turnovers since starting its road test at Connecticut on December 2. Kasey Hill suffered a high ankle sprain against Southern on November 18. At that point in the season, Hill's assist-to-turnover ratio was 17-4. Since returning against Kansas on December 10, it's 13-9.

For Donovan, the problem isn't the turnovers. Florida is averaging 11.6 turnovers this season, slightly higher than its total of 11.2 last season but not out of control. The assists are the issue in the ratio, down to 12.2 from 14.6 last season.

"I would like to see our scoring average improve a little bit more than it is right now, and we could do that by getting a few more assists," Donovan said. "I think we've left a lot of points out there by free-throw shooting at times. I think we've missed a lot of shots in around the basket. And then, I think the assist part, you can get somebody an easier shot when we're playing off each other. I think that's an improvement we can make."

CHEMISTRY IS HIGH: As the veteran-laden Gators prepare for the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule, Donovan likes the way his locker room feels at this point in the season. The veterans are leading and preparing the younger players for what's to come as conference play begins against South Carolina on Wednesday.

"We have a group of guys that have some experience," Donovan said. "We have a group of guys who are very, very coachable. They've accepted their roles. They want to play their roles to the best of their abilities. I think we're an unselfish team. I think they care about one another. I think we have chemistry inside of our team. I think those things are healthy, they're good right now."

There's still plenty to focus on in practice, and even with an impressive 11-2 record through a tough non-conference schedule, the veterans are keeping the team on their toes. What happened in the non-conference schedule means nothing as the SEC slate approaches.

"I think the things that make up a good team in terms of the unselfishness and the chemistry, guys getting along, guys playing for each other, wanting to win, a lot of those intangibles that you have a hard time measuring, I feel like our team has those things," Donovan said. "I feel like the season, the team playing and competing, is important to our guys."

FRAZIER IMPROVING: Michael Frazier leads the SEC after making 49.3 percent of his three-point attempts this season, but he wasn't aware of that on Monday morning. The sophomore doesn't keep up with statistics, especially ones that show where he stacks up with the rest of the SEC.

To keep opponents from playing only the three-point line against him, Frazier has tried to be more versatile this season. He was a three-point specialist last season. This year, he's trying to put the ball on the floor and create more shots. Only 66.3 percent of his shots are coming from behind the three-point line this year compared to 80 percent last year.

"I'm able to put the ball on the floor a little more, taking on a different role and just being able to fit myself into the team more and be a bigger part than I was last year," Frazier said. "I think that is the biggest thing."

Frazier already has three games with at least five three-pointers made. No Florida player had more than two games like that last season.

Fightin Gators Top Stories