The Gators managed to overcome inconsistent play during the regular season and are starting to put things together in the NCAA Tournament. Florida (25-10) is playing better defense, having held its first two NCAA
Tournament opponents to an average of 47.5 points per game. Donovan said he thinks the team has learned to adjust with the absence of sophomore forward Will Yeguete, who could defend multiple positions and was a difference-maker in the front of UF's press. Yeguete has been out since Feb. 21 with a broken foot.
"The one thing about these guys is they listen and try to implement what you ask them to," Donovan said. "There was a period of time where there was definitely an adjustment that had to go on."
Florida Guard Erving Walker
Florida has eight players on the roster, including two starters (guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton) that made a run to the Elite Eight before falling to Butler in overtime. But the road will get tougher in Phoenix. Florida is facing a higher seed for the time in the tournament, taking on a Marquette team that shares the ball well. Marquette averages 16.7 assists per game.
Florida's Kenny Boynton
Florida sophomore center Patric Young said the Gators aren't satisfied just to reach the Sweet 16.
"We're here to win," Young said. "We're here to cut down nets, not just make it to the tournament. We've gotten here as a seven seed, that means we've had a pretty good season. We're coming here to finish it strong, the best way we can."
--Florida coach Billy Donovan is 17-2 in NCAA Tournament games since 2006. Donovan acknowledged that he's grown and developed as a coach since starting his career 10-7 in the NCAA Tournament from 1998-2005. "There are so many things out of your control," Donovan said. "One thing you try to do is get your team in the right mindset in terms of how they have to approach every game."
--Florida has posted an average margin of victory of 30.5 points in its first two NCAA Tournament games, the highest average margin of victory of any remaining team in the Sweet 16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We play with a tremendous amount of confidence and we don't back down to anybody. Just because they're tough, we're going to come out and play and compete hard and play the way coach wants us to play," Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal, on UF's approach heading into the Marquette game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SCOUTING REPORT: Florida relies heavily on 3-point shooting, mixing defenses, ball movement and player movement to make up for its lack of size and physicality. The Gators have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 22 of 35 games this season. Florida will sprinkle in the press during points to speed the tempo of the game. The Gators are at their best in transition because of their ability to knock down open 3-pointers and finish at the basket.
FUTURES WATCH: Florida sophomore center Patric Young said he will be back for his junior season. The 6-foot-9, 247-pound big man had a solid weekend, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in NCAA Tournament wins over Virginia and Norfolk State. Though Young didn't score much against Norfolk State (six points) he contributed with solid defense against Norfolk State senior center Kyle O'Quinn. O'Quinn, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds in Norfolk State's upset win over Missouri, was held to just 4 points and 3 rebounds against Florida. Young was able to draw O'Quinn's second first-half foul, which made him ineffective the remainder of the game.
REGULAR SEASON REVIEW: Florida closed the regular season with three straight losses and lost four of five heading into the NCAA Tournament. But Florida coach Billy Donovan said he thinks is starting to mature and figure things out since key reserve forward Will Yeguete went down with a broken foot Feb. 21 against Auburn. The Gators have been forced to rely on more four-guard lineups since Yeguete's injury but have done a better job maintaining their intensity on defense and rebounding.
--Junior guard Kenny Boynton led five Florida players in double figures with 20 points against Norfolk State. Boynton also had 4 assists and a career-high eight rebounds. Boynton, who leads Florida in scoring at 16 points per game, has scored 20 or more points in 13 games this season.
--Junior guard Mike Rosario scored 12 points off the bench against Norfolk State. It was Rosario's first double-figure scoring game since scoring 10 points off the bench Feb. 4 vs. Vanderbilt.
--Sophomore forward Casey Prather couldn't duplicate his career-high 14-point performance against Virginia on March 18 against Norfolk State. But there was a good reason. Prather was dealing with a 101-degree fever that forced him to sit out Saturday's practice. Prather still contributed with two points, one rebound and two blocked shots in nine minutes off the bench. And for the second straight game, Prather had not turnovers.