Make some shots.
The actual implementation of a plan to make that happen is a bit more complicated.
The Gators have played 13 games thus far and under most circumstances a record of 11-2 for a totally rebuilt roster would be cause for celebration. However, when you consider that only three of Florida's opponents have RPI rankings in the top 100, it's a bit of a concern. That concern grows with the realization that against the three "top 100" opponents the Gators have averaged just 50.7 points, while they have fattened up on the weaker teams to the tune of 88.8 points a night.
Nowhere is the discrepancy more pronounced than with freshman Nick Calathes. Florida's uber-talented rookie leads the team in points (14.8), assists (5.5), and steals (1.8) and is third in rebounds (4.6). However against the three best teams on the Florida schedule, Calathes has had trouble "throwing it in the ocean" so to speak. In the games with FSU, Georgia Southern and Ohio State, Calathes has shot just 19 percent (6-for-32) from the field while missing all 12 shots from beyond the arc.
With two games to go before SEC play begins, the Gators have to try and make some progress in getting the ball to go in the basket against a higher level of competition. The key to the progress is in a couple of areas.
Confidence --- Florida needs to walk with a swagger and maintain that swagger when things start out poorly. The boy language on this team speaks volumes and you can see the confidence fade when they miss a few shots. Once that happens some guys get tentative and won't shoot it, while others "short arm" the ball and try to aim the ball instead of letting the shot go normally.
Patience --- These young Gators need to understand not only that they won't be instant contenders at this level, but they won't be great shooters in the first ten minutes of every game. There's a reason why the game is 40 minutes long. Just because you are way off in the first ten minutes is no reason to expect it to continue. One bad half doesn't have to ruin a game any more than one great half guarantees the second 20 minutes will be just as productive. Focus on the possession at hand, not the results overall.
Amnesia --- While Billy Donovan wants his players to "learn" something from every situation and every confrontation there's no law that says they have to remember everything. The last thing these young guys need to do is keep track of some of the stats I have pointed out there. Every game has to be viewed as a new adventure and an opportunity to apply lessons learned in an effort to generate better results. The mindset you don't want to have is "here's another chance to finally make some shots against a good team".
Saturday, the Gators face a 6-5 Temple team down in South Florida. Like most Gator opponents, the Owls have faced a tougher schedule than Florida has and their record reflects that fact. Temple features one really talented player in 6-5 swingman Dionte Christmas. Just the guy to face over the Holidays, huh?
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel
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