The guard oriented Gators started off slow from the outside and even so, Donovan felt pretty good going into halftime with the score 26-26.
“I thought we were in pretty good shape going into the half tied with Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton 0-8 from the field and 0-7 from the field,” Donovan told the gator Radio Network. “Patric Young had two fouls and he certainly established himself around the basket. It was a great win on the road and however we can find a way to win is the most important thing.”
Florida started the second half with a tear scoring the half’s first 16 points predicated on tough defense and inside scoring from Young who had eight points during the stretch.
“I thought the zone in the second half helped us,” Donovan said. They did make a couple of three’s at the back of our zone, but overall I think the zone was effective for us defensively. I think what hurt Alabama tonight were their turnovers and the fact they shot 50% from the free throw line.”
Donovan repeated his mantra for the week about his layers really getting after it in practice and preparing the proper way for the game. He attributed the win to some quality practice time.
“It was good,” he said about the win. “I think one thing they have to realize is that when things aren’t going well and you are a young player, sometimes you have to look for the reasons why things aren’t going well. The main reason is you have to get back in the gym and work. I think we have been preoccupied mentally on other things and not locked in on what I have to do.”
“Patric played great tonight because he had two phenomenal days of practice, really worked hard, and prepared for this game. Erving did a great job with his assists because he worked on it in practice, and focused on it. We have to mature and grow up and realize that when things don’t go our way they have t get back to work and get better at those things.”
Donovan and the Gators reached the 20 win plateau for the 14th straight year, the third longest streak in the country. He was happy with the way his team fought to win the game.
“We are happy about that,” he said about the 20th win. “I think as painful as the last week has been, the week before was a special week. Then we had a tough game in Lexington and then at home with Will Yeguete going down against Tennessee. We were at a low point and I give our guys credit we battled through and found a way to win. We played okay, it wasn’t a great performance. Alabama was hurt with their suspensions, but we found a way to win. I was proud of the resiliency.”
Young had 19 points on 9-12 from the field in the contest and despite foul trouble played hard the entire time he was in the game.
“I told him after the game it is a bi-product of how hard he has worked in the last two days in practice, he has been phenomenal,” Donovan said of Young. “His effort and energy and pushing through things, he gave us a huge lift and post presence and opened up some things. I thought we had some pretty good looks from the perimeter and they didn’t shoot very well. But, I think it was a situation where Patric learned where he can be an effective scorer for us.”
Erik Murphy continues to be one of the more improved players in the SEC and had 14 points on the night including 12 from the three-point line. Donovan thinks a little work on loose balls and rebounding could make Murphy a player at another level.
“He had some good looks too in the first half,” Donovan said of his power forward with long distance shooting range. “I think he has a chance to be a terrific player. He can grab so many more rebounds and has so many balls bobble out of his hands, but he can stretch a defense and causes problems. I think one thing that helped us is when Patric got in foul trouble and we put Erik out there, we put them in a bind with their big guys in how they were trying to guard.”
Senior guard Erving Walker finished the night with five points and seven assists. His last two assists have him sitting at the very top of the all-time assist leaders at the University of Florida. He passed Ronnie Montgomery who finished his career in 1988. Donovan loves his overachieving point guard and knows he can be even better.
“It is quite an accomplishment for him,” Donovan said of Walker. “He has over 1600 points in his career and his all-time assist leader. For a guy that is 5-8 he has had a heck of a career. We have to get him going. He isn’t shooting the ball very well. He has to keep his confidence up. He is doing some other things and I think it was a good fight-through game where he kind of battled himself through the game.”