Gators in search of more passion, emotion in critical game against Vanderbilt
Three days after its upset loss on the road to Georgia this past weekend, the Florida men's basketball team is back on the road tonight in a key game against Vanderbilt.
The Gators are currently second in the SEC, followed by Vanderbilt in third. Florida coach Billy Donovan said what he needs most from his team rignt now is more passion and energy in their play. Afterall, this is the final week of the regular season and tournament play begins next week.
“I don’t know even if we were in the place where I wanted to be mentally even in the (Georgia) game, because we were a step slow, a step late, we missed shots, we had decent looks,'' Donovan said. "I don’t think that we played with the fire and the passion that I would like to see out of our team. I think we’ve shown signs of doing that during the year more often than not, but there’s a maturity that comes with the next day, the next day, the next day, the next day, of being able to get yourself to that place where you can do that all the time and not have these dips, so to speak. And that’s an area that I think that each one of them, internally, needs to look at what they can do energy-wise to bring a better energy level.”
Donovan is encouraging his younger players - freshman guard Bradley Beal and sophomores Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young - to take more of an emotional role in the team's leadership. Senior guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton both have low-key personalities which lend themselves better to leading by example, rather than high emotion, Donovan said.
The Gators will face Vanderbilt today at 9 p.m. in a game which can be seen on ESPN. The Commodores have won four of their last five at home, but Florida has won the last four in the series. The Gators are trying to adjust to life without sophomore forward Will Yeguette, the team's leading rebounder. Yeguete is out for the season with a broken foot, leaving a major hole in the Gators' front court depth.
“I think one of the things that’s happening to our team is we are playing, and having to play because of Will being gone, a smaller lineup in some senses,'' Donovan said. "With that being said, everybody needs to get out of their comfort zone. The things that I’m asking Erving Walker to do or Kenny Boynton to do or even Patric Young or Erik Murphy to do, they’ve never had to do those things their entire career and it’s something that’s probably uncomfortable for them, but they’ve got to go in there and do those things for our team because of a lack of depth in our front court. Patric grabbed 11 rebounds in the Georgia game but we can’t rely on the rebounding of just two guys. We’ve got to get in there, and Beal got in there, and rebound the ball. We need everybody to pick up some of the things we’ve lost with Will being out.”
Hear Young talk about what went wrong at Georgia and what he needs to do against Vanderbilt: