Notebook: Challenging Wilbekin

Notebook: Challenging Wilbekin

Billy Donovan didn't like the way the first half was going for his senior point guard. The Florida offense lacked ball movement, falling on the shoulders of Scottie Wilbekin. When the Gators got back into the locker room at halftime, Donovan didn't hold back with his frustrations. He challenged Wilbekin to play better in the second half, and the senior delivered.

The statistics didn't show all of it. Scottie Wilbekin ended the game with 10 points of 4-13 shooting from the field with just two assists. However, he was 1-9 in the first half and 3-4 in the second half. Eight of his 10 total points came in the second half while the Florida offense showed better balance and ball movement as the senior locked in.

"In the second half, we did a better job," Billy Donovan said. "We made some great passes. It's simple basketball plays. We miss each other too much."

The first half was ugly. Wilbekin didn't move much with or without the ball. The shot clock would get low, and the senior would put his head down and try to beat his defender. When Wilbekin gets into that mode, Donovan has noticed a trend of other Florida players standing around and watching, instead of trying to get open. It happened again in the first half on Saturday.

"I was really disappointed there in the first half," Donovan said. "We became a one-on-one team. We started driving the ball with no purpose with no awareness of what's going on. I put a lot on Scottie's plate. He had one assist (in the first half). He's not getting anybody involved.

"He needs to do a better job. It's the same scenario again as it's been. It's four assists, six turnovers (for the team). We're not doing a good enough job of utilizing our personnel."

ANCHORING THE GLASS: Dorian Finney-Smith hasn't always had his offensive game going this year. Whether it is or not, it doesn't change his effort in rebounding. Finney-Smith had just five points on four attempted field goals against Richmond, but he chipped in with 13 rebounds, including five offensive rebounds.

"Even though my shots wasn't falling and I missed some easy layups, coach told me to stay on the glass," Finney-Smith said. "I made sure that happened."

The redshirt sophomore dominating the glass has been a recurring theme this year. He leads the team with 7.7 rebounds, almost two full rebounds more than the second most with Patric Young at 5.9. Those numbers are even happening despite Finney-Smith coming off the bench for Florida this year.

"He is a problem on the backboard," Donovan said. "He's as good of a rebounder as I've been around. He can really go up and rebound. He's got long arms and can rebound out of his area. He holds onto it with good vision and can see. You can count on him."

VERSATILITY IN SCHEDULE: The Gators exit the non-conference portion of the schedule with an 11-2 record and a healthy rotation of players. They've also seen plenty of different looks on the other end of the floor.

Donovan knew he had a veteran roster this season and wanted to challenge them. The out of conference schedule did that, but it also prepared Florida for what it will see during the Southeastern Conference schedule and the postseason.

"I don't think that we're going to see anything in our league that we haven't already seen up to this point in time," Donovan said. "If we play a really athletic, physically talented team, well we've played Kansas. If we've got to go into a difficult place to play, well Wisconsin was pretty darn difficult. If we're playing against a great backcourt player, well Shabazz Napier is as good as there is in the country. There's no experience we haven't had.

"We won't be taken by surprise where our team will say, "geez, we haven't been in this situation before." Environment, talent – we've seen all that. We can build off that."

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