Donovan: Dan Werner Still Helps

It has not exactly been a dream senior season for Dan Werner. The only player finishing up his eligibility on the Florida roster has seen his last year in Orange and Blue start to self destruct after a good start.

Dan Werner was averaging eight points and 4.5 rebounds after the first eight games of the season, all Gator wins. However in the last nine games the senior forward has scored produced far less (4.7/4.3). After making 14-of-27 three pointers to start the season (.519) he has made just 2-of-23 (.087) since.

Werner is the kind of guy whose game is going to be viewed better by coaches than fans. They see the picks he sets, the charges he takes and the post defense that has always been unusually good for someone his size. He's the only front court player on the team who has a positive assist/turnover differential (plus-8). He's also second on the team with 27 steals.

Werner has never been a major scorer for the Gators, but he did average 9.1 as a sophomore and 8.9 as a junior. Last year he made almost 36 percent of his three point shots. As a senior he was probably expecting this to be his best season, but his productivity has been well below that of each of the last two seasons.

  2007-08 2008-09 2009-10
Scoring 9.1 8.9 6.2
Rebounds 6.4 4.9 4.4
FG Pct. .440 .426 .374


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Florida coach Billy Donovan continues to rely on the veteran from New Jersey and says Werner still does a lot of things that the Gators need.

"Sometimes I don't think people understand Dan and what he brings to the team. He's never been a stat-sheet guy for our team. That's not who he is. He's an incredible help defender. He's very smart, (and) you can put him in any position on the floor and he knows what's going on. You know what you're getting. He's so smart and conscientious and we need him. People tend to focus on his shooting, but there are so many things that he can do."

Donovan points out that Werner was brought in to be a small forward but personnel shortcomings have forced the Gators to use him inside much of his career.

"When we were recruiting Dan we had Joakim Noah, we had Corey Brewer and Marreese Speights. We had a lot of size and with those guys leaving, we thought he would be a great compliment. He's had to endure a lot through our team to get to this level. I always appreciate, respect and admire his attitude, the way he works and the way he tries."

Donovan was also asked for his thoughts on the amount of criticism Werner seems to take, particularly from the student section in the O'Dome.

"As a young kid, everyone wants to hear good things about themselves. When you're in a team setting, or in a situation where people aren't privy to what you contribute, people are only looking at results. I'm sure Dan wishes he shot the ball better sometimes, but it's not like he's going out there saying he's going to shoot to miss. Dan's offense helps our team. I try to get him to understand that shooting the basketball is only part of something he does. He does a lot for our team other than that. There are times when Dan doesn't shoot the ball well, not by fault to him, but by the amount of effort he puts out on the other end of the floor."

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For his career Werner has scored 823 points, grabbed 530 rebounds and dished out 240 assists. Florida has at least 15 more games to play so Werner would have to really step up his game to have a shot at reaching the 1,000 point mark.

The Gators return to action Thursday night in Fayetteville against the Arkansas Razorbacks.


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