Gators' Mike Rosario still trying to find where he belongs
He knew it wouldn't be easy transitioning back into the game after sitting out nearly 1 1/2 years as a transfer from Rutgers, but it appears junior Mike Rosario is having a tougher time than even he may have expected.
Rosario played just six minutes in last week's loss at Syracuse, going 0-for-2 from the field. He has previously acknowledged that coming off the bench is much different than the starting role he's used to, but his frustration got the best of him last week.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Rosario is "in a better place mentally" heading into Wednesday night's game against Arizona.
"He’s fine,'' Donovan said. "One of the things for him right now is mentally, I just feel like he’s trying to figure out, and this is all different for him. He’s a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. He pretty much has always been a starter. And it’s not even necessarily about starting or not starting, that’s not the problem. I think the bigger challenge for him is coming off the bench and that being somewhat new to him. I think he’s fine with whatever is best for our team, he understands. But I think it’s been somewhat of a mental drain on him a little bit trying to figure out how he can carve his niche in something he’s never done before. I think it’s my responsibility to try to help him through some of that. And clearly I don’t think the last couple of days he’s probably been himself because I think he’s probably been a little bit frustrated, not with his role, but probably a little bit more frustrated with himself that he can’t provide more than he can. And I think he feels like he can, and knows he can, and I believe he can too. But I think just mentally he just did not seem like he was very eager to be in the first half (against Syracuse) when we threw him in there. . . . I would imagine that he’s in a better place mentally now than he probably was back then. And I think like anything else, when you sit out for a whole year, you want to come in and you want to find a way to help - whatever way you can do.''
Rosario is averaging 10.6 ppg and is third in the SEC in 3-point field goals made (17), but his defense remains a struggle - at least the way Donovan needs him to play for the Gators.
"He’s done some really good things and he’s shown the ability to make shots,'' Donovan said. "But he’s also got to make a commitment defensively so when he’s on the floor we’re not playing with a weak link out there defensively. And I think for him trying to figure that out has been something that he’s struggled with right now that I need to help him with.''
Senior guard Erving Walker said he has no doubt Rosario will be fine.
"Mike is a tough kid, and he’s smart, so he’ll figure it out,'' Walker said.