Donovan Looking for more Defense

Following Saturday's win against Georgia, Florida head coach Billy Donovan was quite critical of his team's defensive effort this season.

The Gators held the Bulldogs to 41 percent shooting, including 38.7 percent in the second half, but Donovan believed that stat was more indicative of Georgia's shooting woes than anything his team did on the defensive end.

All season long, the Gators have relied on their offensive accomplishments to win games. Only against Tennessee did Florida shoot better than 50 percent from the floor in a losing effort, and in three of their five loses, Florida has shot less than 40 percent from the floor.

There are very few games that the Gators are winning because of their defense, and Donovan said that needs to change if they are going to become a championship caliber team in the next few years.

"We've won more so with our offense than we have with our defense," Donovan said on Saturday night. "The weaknesses of this team are being exposed and they are out there in broad daylight. Do they address those things or do they avoid them because either they don't want to or because it's too difficult, too challenging and too hard?"

Donovan's comments about Florida's defensive efforts came after Chandler Parsons scored 18 points against Georgia. It was Parsons' first double-digit scoring effort in the last six games and only his second in ten games. Because the team is so young, Donovan said they only feel like they are contributing if they are scoring points and don't realize that there are other ways to impact games.

"I told them they can draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper," Donovan said. "They can put winning over here and on the other side you put all the other stuff – points, assists, personal recognition, whatever they want to put. They've got to make a decision of what's more important. Do they really want to win and is that what's important? Or are they playing for the other stuff?"

If there is one thing this group has learned from the Gators' national championship teams of the last two seasons, it's the effort and chemistry that was evident from the last two squads.

"I think those guys will tell you that the last two teams were so successful because they were unselfish and they played together as a team," Donovan said. "If there's anything that our team models from our team last year it's that. They believe that's why Florida was so special over the last two years. I don't think they believe that they were this great defensive team. They viewed them as an unselfish team that had great chemistry."

But the last two Florida teams were far better defensively than this year's squad. Through 24 games, the Gator teams of the last two years beat out this year's Gators in almost every defensive category.


Some of Florida's defensive struggles Donovan chalks up to youth and inexperience.

"Older, more experienced teams can see stuff as it's getting ready to develop and they can anticipate," he said. "We're always reacting to what some is doing. We're always one step late. They say the right things. They say defense is important, but I don't know if they internally believe it. They can talk about it, but I go by their actions and how they look doing it."

In order for Florida to advance when the postseason rolls around, the defense will have to improve.

"Their idea of what affects winning at this level is so far gone that they don't even know it," Donovan said. "They've got to start to understand. I don't think we'll be this team that is a lockdown defense and holds people to under 50 points, but we've got to do a better job. We've got to do better than 10th in the league in field goal percentage defense. We don't need to be number one, but we've got to be better."

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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