Gators Need to Get Defensive on Glass

Somewhat lost in all the excitement of Chandler Parsons' game winning miracle shot over North Carolina State was that once again in a close game the Gators repeatedly failed to grab defensive rebounds that could have helped them win a game. N.C. State grabbed three offensive rebounds in the last 90 seconds of regulation and used those extra chances to force overtime.

Florida had similar problems, but overcame them against Michigan State but failure on the defensive glass cost them against Richmond and South Alabama. Against Richmond the Spiders got a key offensive rebound on a missed free throw and turned that extra chance into a three-point basket and a 52-49 lead the Gators couldn't overcome. In the South Alabama game a put back turned the Gators from winners to losers in the closing seconds.

I asked Florida Coach Billy Donovan about the late game problems on the boards giving Florida opponents extra chances to win.

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"I think that's a good point Larry because I think in a lot of situations it's not the first shot that beats you it's the second shot. We got experience with that against South Alabama. We went through that in the NCAA tournament with Brent Wright's team when we lost to Gonzaga on a tip in. What happens in those situations becomes very difficult (to take)."

On the Javier Gonzalez tip in that tied the N.C. State game:

"The Gonzalez tip in was a scramble situation. They missed a shot and the floor was scrambled because we were going for a rebound. We had guys out of position and what happened was you then have to block out a guy that was not your guy. You have to rotationally block out. Vernon (Macklin) got caught on a different spot with a different guy. His guy was being guarded, so he didn't have a guy and the guy that came from his area was Gonzalez. If he blocked him out we probably would have down with that rebound."

On the put back that cost them the game against South Alabama:

"The South Alabama game was the same thing. There was a drive to the basket and Chandler (Parsons) came over and stepped up to take a change. Then the shot went up and the entire floor was rotated in a different way that you have to try to block out.

On the bottom line for making corrections:

"It's less to do with our guys blocking their own man out. It has a lot more to do with rotationally blocking out when you do happen to get two guys on the ball. When there are two guys on the ball your defense is rotating and you're not blocking out the same guy."

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Despite the notable lapses, Florida is actually averaging 1.7 more offensive rebounds a game than its opponents. Overall the Gators are plus-3.2 rebounds per game.

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Florida has also made strides in improving its assist/turnover differential. After hanging around the same number much of the season the Gators now have 24 more assists (14.8/g) than turnovers (13.1/g). Walker (+41) and Boynton (+24) lead the team while Tyus (-17) and Macklin (-8) have the worst numbers.

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Florida has five players averaging in double figures with Boynton (13.6) leading the way. Alex Tyus (11.7) has moved into the second spot followed by Parsons (11.4), Walker (10.7) and Macklin (10.6). Tyus (6.9) is the top rebounder followed by Parsons (6.3) and Macklin (5.8).

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The Gators have the week to prepare for their SEC opener at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Gators follow that up with a home game against Kentucky late Tuesday night, so a split of the first two would be a pretty good start.


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