Robinson emerging as Gators host Yale

When the Gators returned from the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, freshman Devin Robinson knew he had to make changes. His shot was off, and his game was out of whack.

He spent an afternoon early last week sitting in Billy Donovan’s office, watching every shot he took during Florida’s three games in the Bahamas. They didn’t feel bad when Robinson was taking them, but once the film came on, they didn’t look good.

The freshman forward noticed he was off balance on some shots while others found him leaning backwards. His form was sloppy and had no consistency. Now that the coaches and Robinson were aware of it, they spent all of last week in practice working on it, as Robinson received individual instruction from Donovan and assistant coaches Rashon Burno and John Pelphrey.

“We got in the gym and worked on it every day,” Devin Robinson said. “I’ve definitely improved.”

The results were easy to see on Friday at Kansas. Robinson led the Gators with 13 points, going 4-9 from the field and 2-3 from behind the 3-point line, which previously served as his enemy. Coming into Friday, Robinson was 3-18 from long range with more air balls than made shots.

He was putting too much pressure on himself to score. When that didn’t happen, it impacted the rest of his game. On Friday, he set out to make his presence felt on both sides of the floor and made that happen, chipping in with one block and one steal.

“He made some strides coming out of our last game,” Donovan said. “Watching film with him and working with him helped. He has to continue on that path. Shooting the ball, he was much more disciplined and had his legs under him a lot more. We talked a little about that after the game in the Bahamas. That was encouraging.

“The biggest difference for him is he played with a high level of intensity. That’s what we need him to keep doing.”

He’s finally starting to feel accustomed to college basketball, too. Coaches and players raved about his ability on the floor in practices, but it didn’t translate to the games in the early portion of the season. He got pushed around because he wasn’t strong enough -- he’s up to 190 pounds and wants to be at least 200 pounds -- and struggled to guard bigger players near the basket.

Having that performance on Friday in front of a packed house at Allen Fieldhouse makes him confidence he can keep it up.

“It really raised my confidence,” Robinson said. “Before that game, I was in a drought and my confidence was lower. A game like that can really boost my confidence a lot. Going into that (atmosphere), I feel like I can go into any arena and play my best.”

His next chance to prove that comes Monday when Florida hosts Yale at 7 p.m. (SEC Network). The Bulldogs are 8-2 and upset defending national champion Connecticut in their last game. Yale is a balanced team with four starters between 9.3 and 14.3 points per game.

“They’re a very, very good team,” Donovan said. “They’re experienced, they’re tough. They’ve been seasoned, hardened. A lot of those kids had chances to play as freshmen and sophomores. They’ve grown and gotten better. This is an incredible challenge for us.”

Robinson added, “I know they’re a great team. They don’t have any individuals that will go for themselves. They play together and go strong.”

INJURY REPORT: Florida guard Eli Carter (foot) will miss Monday’s game. He continues to experience pain and isn’t comfortable moving laterally, but he has been cleared to play by the team doctors and trainers.

“When you’re experiencing pain, it’s hard to gauge someone else’s pain as a trainer or doctor,” Donovan said.

Dorian Finney-Smith (hand) didn’t practice on Saturday to let the swelling die down from the fractures in his hand, but he will play on Monday.

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