Michael Frazier's breakout game a long time in the making
Michael Frazier II's breakout 37-point performance against South Carolina Tuesday night was a product of a long struggle between the sophomore and coach Billy Donovan over Frazier's hesitance to shoot when he's struggling.
The Tampa native is a prolific shooter, but Donovan has said he's also a dedicated team player. And for Frazier, if his shot wasn't falling early, he generally stopped shooting.
Afterall, he didn't want to hurt his team.
But it was his experience with Donovan and the USA 19-under basketball team this past summer that went a long way in helping Frazier gain more confidence - and the courage to keep shooting.
"I do think that experienced helped him," Donovan said.
But it wasn't easy - for Frazier or Donovan.
"Believe it or not it was much, much worse in the summer for him than it is now," Donovan said about Frazier's ability to move past early shooting woes. "He’s actually gotten better. What happened with Michael over there (during championships in Prague) is it would linger for two or three games. And now, he’s done a better job of understanding, and I think our team has encouraged him and given him confidence that if he does miss a shot, ‘Hey, you keep on shooting. We need you shooting. We need you doing that.’
"They have tried to lift him up and give him confidence. I think it’s been something for Michael because he has put so much time and energy into the game that when it’s not going like he wants it to he’s leaving with that. He’s kind of beating himself over it. It would just linger with him. He would get into one of these funks. And to be honest with you, it drove me nuts with USA because we really needed him to shoot the basketball, but he was so much living in the previous game and the previous shot. It took him until we got into the medal rounds where he shot the ball better. I think he’s done a better job here, where he’s had some halves where he hasn’t shot the ball well, but he’s kind of come back in the second half and he’s bounced back after coming out of the locker room, which I think is encouraging to me to see that he’s getting better at some of that stuff.”
Frazier acknowledged just last week it's something he still struggles with, but believes he's getting much better.
"Just having a short memory, continuing to play the game, not let shots affect me, understanding I can affect the game more than just shooting the ball," he said. "So I think that's really helped me focus on other parts of my game, mostly on the defensive end and being locked in on that end and taking good shots, taking open shots and shooting with confidence."