Notebook: Defensive issues limiting Florida

The Gators stumbled through their non-conference schedule because of offensive struggles, but the defense always stood strong.

Now that’s not even happening for a Florida basketball team that appears to be in a free fall after losing three straight conference games.

In the first 16 games of the season, the Gators allowed an opponent to score 72 or more points just one time. It came in the Bahamas as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament when Florida allowed North Carolina to score 75 points. That game was Florida’s third in three days.

Florida has now allowed 72 or more points in its last three games.

“Pretty much everywhere,” Billy Donovan said about the areas for improvement on defense. “There’s not necessarily one thing. It’s the consistency and the discipline to do it for 40 minutes. We do it sometimes, but we don’t do it enough. Over the course of 40 minutes, those kind of breakdowns inevitably (hurt when) you’re in a really, really tight game like we were.”

NEEDING MORE AT POINT GUARD: Donovan likely won’t make a change at the point guard position when Florida faces Alabama on Tuesday at 9 p.m. (TV: ESPN). He has made other changes to the starting lineup throughout the season, but he said on Monday that those have been because of a player having the wrong mentality. That’s not a problem with Hill.

Donovan has raved about his point guard’s ability to be coached and take coaching. The sophomore’s attitude has been consistent. However, the Gators need more production from him. The two positions Donovan emphasizes the most have been letdowns this year.

“I think in order to be a really, really good team you have to have two anchors,” Donovan said. “You got to have an anchor out top at the point guard position, and you have to have an anchor at the rim. I would say of late those two spots have been challenging for us, and have been inconsistent for us on both ends of the floor.”

It would be different for Donovan if freshman Chris Chiozza were playing well enough to take over the starting duties. He has also been inconsistent and hasn’t proven capable of starting.

“I think if Chris Chiozza had made a huge jump or was just head and shoulders above Kasey or was giving us more of what we needed maybe I would do that,” Donovan said. “But right now, I cannot say that.”

FIXING FLAWS: Throughout the year, the same flaws are showing up. Donovan said they were still there last season, but the four seniors played well enough to carry the load. Now, the flaws are still there without leaders to overcome them. For Hill, the inconsistency is still there. Chris Walker’s undisciplined play is being exposed by other teams. Even Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier have struggled with consistency.

Donovan has said throughout the year that this hasn’t been a surprise and a large part of that are the flaws of the players on the team.

“It's not a quick fix,” Donovan said. “These guys have lived and played a certain way their whole entire life and now you're talking about totally changing. What gets you in college, doesn't keep you in college. It doesn't make you a great player in college. But it got them to this point and now the process is can they actually change and evolve into what they need to be -- to reach their full potential and that just doesn't happen overnight.”

Fightin Gators Top Stories