Gators Look to Rebound, Literally

The Florida basketball team did a number of good things in its 57-55 loss to Florida State Sunday. They'll try to build on the positives and work on the negatives Wednesday night when they return to the O'Dome for a game with Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles come to Gainesville with a 2-5 record; so while winning is not in question, the progress of this basketball team certainly is.

The game in Tallahassee saw the Gators hold FSU to just 31 percent shooting from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. Normally those are numbers that assure victory. However Florida undermined its defensive effort with 4-for-18 shooting from 3-point range, 16 turnovers and getting out rebounded by the taller Seminoles' squad.

Billy Donovan is not one for "moral victories" as you will see in a few paragraphs, but the loss to FSU is something Florida has the potential to build on. That building process starts this evening. The Florida coach talked about tonight's opponent.

"They are a team that can be very dangerous from the three point line. They change up their defenses a lot. We're going to see full court pressure and full scout zone. We'll see a variety of zones. We'll see soft man-to-man and pressure man-to-man. We're going to have to take better care of the basketball. I thought we turned the ball over way too much against UMKC (season high 22) when we played a team that switched up their defenses a lot. I think we definitely have to try to get better on defense and try to build on some of the positive things we did this past Sunday."

But Donovan doesn't see building on some positive aspects of the loss to the Seminoles as anything approaching a moral victory.

"There's a certain standard that we're supposed to play at and I don't think because our team did a good job on defense and maybe got better there. I think they are trying to reach that (standard of play) and with a lack of leadership they are still young and there are things they are going to have to go through and get better at. But I don't look at anything in terms of Tallahassee as any kind of moral victory at all. I look at the things that we did not do well enough during the course of the game and at the end of the game that would have put us in position to win."

One thing the Gators are going to have to learn to do is finish tough games. The game in Tallahassee was the third close game Florida has played and the second they lost. Donovan said his guys have to learn how to finish.

"With maybe five and a half t go in the game we're up by six and we have two turnovers and commit a foul and the score's tied. We had a couple of bad possessions. I thought the last minute of the game we executed pretty well in terms of we did not panic and bomb a three with 26 seconds. We got a good drive to the basket and Ship (Ray Shipman) scored. Nick (Calathes) made two free throws to get it within one. We fouled right away. We got the ball back with 6.5 (seconds to go) and got a good look. We were down by nine and had a 16-point turnaround. Now we've got to find a way to finish the game in a better fashion."

The Gators struggled to get open shots against Florida State and Donovan said there's one thing they can do on the offensive end to improve that situation dramatically.

"We've got to become a better screening team. Outside of Nick we don't have guys who can just get a shot off. But we do have guys who have a high skill level of handling, passing and catching. If they would work with each other and learn how to screen and help each other they can make things a lot easier for themselves. One of the things I was trying to show them is that they have to figure out how they can help each other within the framework of our offense."

Tonight's game will be on FS Florida at 8:00.


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