Pupil Versus Student Thursday Night

Billy Donovan has sent four assistant coaches on to head coaching jobs, but has faced only one of them, John Pelphrey since they moved on. That changes Thursday night in Tuscaloosa when the Gator mentor faces long time Florida assistant Anthony Grant and the Crimson Tide of Alabama. Donovan has not enjoyed his meetings with Pelphrey, and he's not looking forward to this one either.

"It's not fun. The lead up part of it is not great because you have so a close relationship with somebody and things are so highly competitive at this level. Anthony and I have a great relationship. I have great respect for Anthony and always appreciate all the things he's done for our program."

Both teams come into this one really needing a win after disheartening one point losses on the road. Florida fell at Tennessee when a last second Gator shot bounced off the rim, while Alabama lost at Auburn. After wins over Mississippi State and LSU, the Tide went to Auburn knowing it could play good defense and held The Tigers to 58 points. However Auburn held Alabama without a point in the final 2:22 of the game for a one-point win.

"We have to do a better job with the basketball," said head coach Anthony Grant. "We turned the ball over 19 times, 12 in the second half. No flow. No continuity. You can't do that, especially on the road."

Alabama is led by sophomore forward JaMychal Green (14.6/7.2) and versatile 6-5 guard Mikhail Torrence (15.1, 5.5 assists). Tony Mitchell (8.9/5.3) is a talented forward who might be a difficult matchup for the Gators. Charvez Davis (37-100) gives them a good long range shooter off the bench. When he's on they are much more difficult to defend.

Alabama has been solid defensively, allowing just 62.2 points a game, but they have been offensively challenged, scoring just 68.4. They defend the three-point line well, allowing just 31 percent on the year and just 9-of-53 in the last four games. Florida's three-point shooting could be the key.

If you like looking at common opponents you would have to say advantage Florida. Both teams lost to Vandy and Tennessee while Florida beat LSU and Alabama beat the Tigers twice. However the Gators beat both Arkansas and Florida State and the Crimson Tide lost to both teams.

Donovan said, as you might expect, preparing for Alabama will not be all that complicated for him and his players.

"They do a lot of similar things on offense and defense so in a lot of ways preparation-wise there will be some things our guys will totally understand. The difference will be that their personnel in the concepts is different from our personnel in the concepts. He's doing some different things to try and take advantage of his personnel and we're probably doing some different things to try to take advantage of ours."

This is the start of a Thursday/Saturday quick turnaround sequence for the Gators who will host Mississippi State on Saturday. Florida gets a bit of a break in that the game will be at 7:00 Eastern time.


Billy Donovan talked about Anthony Grant:

"I was really surprised in a lot of ways that earlier on he was not approached more about becoming a head coach. The one thing I've always admired about Anthony is he's always stayed focused on where he was at. He had a couple of opportunities that he wasn't really interested in. I told the Athletic Director at VCU when they hired him that, ‘you got the biggest steal in the country. Everybody in the last five or six years has really missed the boat'."

"I think Anthony, fortunately for me and our program was here probably longer than he should have been here. I almost liken it a little bit to Charlie Strong's situation where Charlie probably should have been a head coach a long time ago. A lot can be said for Anthony in the same respect."

Donovan might want to go ahead and get the rest of his protégé matchups out of the way next season by scheduling Marshall (Donnie Jones) and VCU (Shaka Smart).

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