Mixed reviews for freshmen Chiozza, Robinson

Thursday’s exhibition win over Barry University provided some inconsistent moments for the Florida freshmen.

The best sequence for Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson came late in the second half. Chiozza drove the ball inside the three-point line and spotted Robinson sprinted toward the basket on the opposite side of the floor. The freshman-to-freshman connection started with a lob from the point guard, and Robinson threw it down, bringing the O’Connell Center crowd to its feet with the highlight dunk of the night.

Before Barry could get the ball to midcourt, Chiozza stole a cross-court pass and sprinted to an uncontested layup. As the Buccaneers tried to get the ball up the floor the next time, Chiozza jumped and deflected the ball out of bounds as his momentum took him into the Florida bench.

Every player and coach on the bench got up to pat him on the back and praise the energy Chiozza brought to the floor.

“I thought he played really well,” Donovan said of the backup point guard. “I give Chiozza a lot of credit because at halftime I got on him and he really responded. I thought he was much more in tune, engaged and did some very, very good things.”

The dunk and a late three-pointer were the only two field goals made for Robinson on 10 attempts. He went 1-6 from behind the three-point line, including an air ball. He added one block and one steal in 17 minutes of play, but Donovan was disappointed in the way the freshman handled himself.

“When you are picking up the ball off the floor and shooting it, the first touch of the game is bombing up shots, that is someone that’s totally focused on scoring,” Donovan said. “He needs to change his mentality in terms of what he’s really got to focus on. He played 17 minutes and took 10 shots, and I can’t even say any of them were any good.”

Robinson had a rough opener

Donovan even went out of his way to talk to Robinson before the game about what he would go through. The emotions of a player’s first collegiate game can take over and make them focused on scoring, ignoring what other responsibilities they have on the floor. Donovan wants him to focus on playing good defense and being unselfish with the ball.

Instead, Robinson came out launching shots whenever he had a small amount of space.

“He was focused on, ‘I need to score, I need to score, I need to score’ and he’s shooting air-balls, he’s taking tough shots, he’s driving to the basket in traffic and he’s not making the extra pass,” Donovan said.

His teammates felt for him after the game. They’ve seen Robinson dominate some practices and perform well enough that the coaches expect him to play an important part on this year’s team.

"He's a great offensive player,” Florida guard Eli Carter said. “Just let the game come to him. He'll be fine. Just worry about the defensive side and all the offensive side will come."

Donovan remained optimistic about what Robinson will be able to do this season. Freshmen are always unpredictable in how they’ll handle their first time in front of the home crowd, so now that Robinson got it out of the way on Thursday, Donovan thinks his freshman will be much better for the season opener on November 14 against William & Mary.

“This is good for him,” Donovan said. “I have great expectations for Devin coming here. He’s a great kid, he works hard, he’s coachable. I think he’ll respond and rebound from this, but he’s got to understand what goes into the game. I think he’s got great potential and great ability.”

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