Florida helping Robinson rebound

Devin Robinson had one thing on his mind when he stepped on the floor of the O’Connell Center during last Thursday’s exhibition game.

The freshman wanted to score.

Billy Donovan knows what a freshman goes through when he steps on the court for the first time. Emotions are always high. There are nerves and anxiousness, not wanting to disappoint a fan base that has heard about them throughout their high school career. Donovan and Robinson spoke about it before the game, trying to prepare the former five-star recruit for what he would go through.

None of it worked. Robinson scored five points while shooting 2-10 from the field and 1-6 from behind the 3-point line.

“I think (he was) not focusing on doing his job because what ending up happening was he’s missing shots,” Donovan said about Devin Robinson. “He’s not really focused on defense because he thinks he’s going to make shots to play well.”

After the game was over, Donovan spoke to the team as a group before they broke up to do their media obligations. Players talked first, and after Donovan returned to the locker room following his press conference, he found Robinson waiting for him. The freshman wanted to talk about what happened and what he needed to do to put it behind him.

Donovan felt like Robinson didn’t listen to their conversation before the game. He was frustrated because the freshman didn’t ease himself into the game and take the open shots that were available. Instead, he started chucking up bad shots and the stats showed that. When Robinson was on the floor, the Gators had a negative point differential in the exhibition game.

It opened Robinson’s eyes to how seriously he needs to take advice from the coaching staff, no matter what it’s about. The freshman admitted that the college game and expectations are different from anything he ever faced at the high school level. The improvement has shown over the last week on the practice court, as Florida prepares for its season opener against William & Mary on Friday at 6 p.m.

“I think he has gotten better and has improved,” Donovan said. “I think offensively he’s playing with a better pace and tempo and a better mindset. (We’re) trying to get him out of the fact that he’s got to score points to get on the floor. It’s my job to help him and teach him what really goes into winning and how to go about winning.

“I think first and foremost, it starts with what kind of mindset you’re in, and he’s a freshman. But I really appreciated from that moment how well he responded.”

Donovan wasn’t the only person Robinson spoke with. When the game ended, the freshman was seen talking to assistant coach Rashon Burno for an extended period of time. Junior Michael Frazier, one of the team leaders, spoke to Robinson after the game, too.

Frazier knew it was an uncharacteristic game after watching Robinson in practice, and he let the freshman know that the team will need him going forward.

“I just told him to settle down mentally, and I think he put a lot of pressure on himself going into the game and he did some uncharacteristic things, but he's gotten better since we've been practicing,” Frazier said. “That's very promising and I'm very encouraged by that. We're encouraged as a team to see him grow every day as well as (Chris) Chiozza.”

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