Freshmen are Getting Accustomed

Will Yeguete

The blowout of North Carolina A&T was needed for the Florida freshmen. The top four players in minutes for the Gators on Thursday night were freshmen, allowing head coach Billy Donovan to get them valuable time on the court.

The playing time was important for the freshmen to get accustomed to playing against a defense outside of practice. The up-tempo style Florida runs on both sides of the court can only be simulated in practice for so long. The young players need to face another team to experience it fully, and they got their opportunity in Thursday night's 105-55 victory.

"There's no time to be coasting with the way we're trying to play, style-wise," Billy Donovan said. "We're running and trying to press. Those guys warranted minutes. In the Ohio State game, we maybe should've got those guys in the game more. If we just stay with last year's starting five and Murph, I think we're the same team. For us to take the next step as a team, we've got to utilize our depth and our freshmen have to grow and develop."

Will Yeguete has been tabbed as a hustle player for the Gators since he came to campus in the summer. He pulled down 15 rebounds on Thursday night, further increasing the coaches' trust in him.

"It was good for a guy like Will to go grab 15 rebounds and impact the game," Donovan said. "So many times freshmen think the way they impact the game is to score. There are other ways and things they can do within their role."

IMPROVEMENTS FROM OHIO STATE GAME: There was a fear of a letdown. Coming off a blowout loss to Ohio State on Tuesday, Donovan was worried his team could come out sluggish and still thinking about the loss.

Instead, the veterans responded with energy and never gave North Carolina A&T a chance to stay in the game.

"The thing we tried to emphasize coming out of our last game is taking care of the basketball," Donovan said. "I think we did a good job there. We had better rotation in our press. Our execution on offense was pretty good."

The 18 turnovers against Ohio State were a frustration for Donovan, especially since the Buckeyes didn't use a full-court press at all. The number of turnovers decreased to 11, even with freshmen playing a lot in the game.

"Going into the (North Carolina A&T) game, not one of our starters had a positive assist/turnover ratio. We had more turnovers that assists. That was something we wanted to do a better job of."

Walker had seven turnovers alone against Ohio State. Donovan was happier with the way he ran the offense Thursday.

"Erving played more under control," Donovan said. "You didn't see the forced drives down the lane. He kept himself out of harms way there. He distributed when he needed to distribute."

MINIMIZING THE RISK: Donovan did express some worry about his team's discipline on the court. His worry centers around decision making that can take the Gators out of their offense.

"Our team is a high risk-low reward team," Donovan said. "Erving Walker drives the ball, and it's a high-risk play with a low reward. We'll do something in the press that's a high risk, but the reward is low. We have to understand what the risk is. That's where our discipline has to take over. It takes more toughness mentally to say, "I'm not going to make that play, because we're probably not going to get what we want out of it."

MOREHEAD STATE BRINGS CHALLENGE: Morehead State comes to Gainesville on Sunday at 2-1 this season. They start a lineup with four guards that could cause some problems for the Gators, but Donovan doesn't think their unusual lineup will be an issue. Instead, it's the talent on their roster that will cause problems.

"A&T played four guards and it wasn't a problem," Donovan said. "You look at Ohio State, and I think Morehead poses the same kind of problems.

"I'm not concerned about a small lineup as much as I am of them as a team. When you look at them, they're a terrific rebounding team. Their guards are very good."
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