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Sunday February 9, 2014 Sunday 'Basket Blog' - Billy D puts 10-0 in perspective, Team USA, 3-point first halves vs. second, etc.

Updated: 10:13am, February 11

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- His team is 21-2, with a perfect 10-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play and has not lost a game in more than two months, reeling off 15 straight to climb to No. 3 in the national rankings. Casey Prather off the bounce
Billy Donovan, though, refuses to be impressed.

That’s not to say the UF coach is not pleased with the Gators. He is. He likes this team.

But when numbers and streaks and rankings get thrown in his face -- or even if it’s suggested that Florida is flying under the national radar -- Donovan has a way of putting it all in perspective.

Here’s how he did for us Saturday, and more importantly, how he'll frame it for players in the days ahead: 21-2 is merely a snapshot of what’s happened in the past.

And he’s right.

“I talk to our guys about the difference between what really matters and what doesn’t,” Donovan said after UF beat Alabama 78-69 to maintain a two-game lead in the SEC. “People can have an opinion of our team being great or not great. I don’t how how much publicity we get or don’t get. But if that stuff, in any way, could help our team get better, I would put it out in their lockers so they could read it all -- but it really has nothing to do with anything.”

Since last weekend, Donovan has referenced (both publicly and privately) several times the situation at Arizona, which was rolling along unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the nation when it not only lost at Cal, but also lost Brandon Ashley (and his 12 points and six rebounds per game) for the season to a broken foot.

It’s all that fragile.

Which brings us to the task ahead. As good as UF fans may feel about their team right now, no one knows what the snapshot will look like a week from now after Florida plays at Tennessee on Tuesday night and at 18th-ranked Kentucky Saturday night.

As Donovan pointed out postgame, the Gators’ league schedule, as it played out, has been front-loaded mostly with teams in the bottom half of the conference standings. Eight of the 10 games have come against opponents with losing records in SEC play; the two with winning records (Georgia and Tennessee), the Gators played at home.

Think about that when you look at Florida’s schedule the next two weeks. After the Gators go to Knoxville (where the Volunteers are 10-2) and Lexington (where the Wildcats are 14-0), UF gets Auburn at home, then hits the road for two more games at Ole Miss (where the Rebels are 10-3) and then to Vanderbilt (where the Commodores are 9-4).

Home dates with LSU and Kentucky also loom large.

“It’s all going to even out,” Donovan said of the slate. “I’m not overly joyous and feeling great because we’re 10-0. It’s all going to shake out in the end.”

A lot more snapshots are coming.



With news last week that Donovan had again been tabbed to coach one of USA Basketball's squads in FIBA competition this summer, it’s not unrealistic to think the future Hall of Famer is positioning himself for much bigger things on the international hoops stage.

Maybe the biggest of big, relative to intenational play.

The Sporting News ran a story Tuesday speculating that Donovan, now a combined 18-0 after leading U18 and U19 Team USA squads to gold medals the last two summers, could be considered a successor to Mike Krzyzewski for the national team -- you know, the really good one with NBA players -- once the famed Duke coach steps down after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Donovan last week was honored as Team USA’s Co-National Coach of the Year after he guided the Americans to their first gold in U19 play since 1991.


In beating Alabama, Donovan improved to 8-0 against Tide coach Anthony Grant, who worked alongside Donovan as an assistant at both Marshall and Florida for 12 seasons. Donovan is now 14-2 against his former assistants. Who are the two losses against?


Normally this spot is reserved for a UF alum that did something of note, but this week it will acknowledge David Lee for what he did not do. And how special what he’d done up to that point really was.

Lee, the 6-foot-9 Golden State Warriors center, had his streak of consecutive games scoring in double figures snapped last week at 123. A night after missing a game at Utah with a shoulder sprain and hip strain, Lee went 3-for-13 in a home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats to finish with eight points and thus failed to hit doubles for the first time since Nov. 3, 2012.

The only NBA players with longer strings than Lee’s were -- get this -- LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Pretty good company.


Frazier scowling CHARTING THE GATORS 
You may have seen some of this data as I pointed it out during Saturday’s game on Twitter, but the discrepancies of Florida’s 3-point shooting in first halves vs. second halves of SEC player borders on mind-boggling. Here are the numbers broken down.

                                         1st Half                   2nd Half    
UF team                            24-105 (.229)         40-98 (.408)

They’re even more pronounced when playing at the O’Dome when the Gators shoot at the basket on the visitors end vs. the one in front of their own bench.

                                         1st Half                   2nd Half
UF team                           10-59 (.169)             28-64 (.438)

And now, the individuals on the perimeter, broken down, in overall SEC play. As you might expect, one player seems affected by it more than others. Namely, the guy who shoots the most and whose long-distance marksmanship is the team’s best antidote for a zone defense. 

                                         1st Half                    2nd Half
Michael Frazier                 9-37 (.243)               22-49 (.445)
Scottie Wilbekin                7-24 (.292)               11-20 (.555)
Dorian Finney-Smith         6-21 (.286)               4-15 (.266)
Kasey Hill                          0-8 (.000)                 2-6 (.333)

Here's the same guys when playing SEC teams at the O’Dome.

                                         1st Half                   2nd Half
Michael Frazier                 4-20 (.200)              16-35 (.457)
Scottie Wilbekin                4-16 (.250)               8-11 (.727)
Dorian Finney-Smith         1-11 (.100)               3-8 (.375)
Kasey Hill                          0-6 (.090)                1-4 (.250)

Conclusion: Just plain weird.



Gator cage diving


UF’s scoring output against Alabama was the first in seven games when the Gators reached 70 points. The Crimson Tide, though, was the 13th straight Gators opponent that failed to reach 70 in regulation (Note: Arkansas had 66 through 40 minutes in UF’s 84-82 overtime win at Fayetteville). ... Center Patric Young went 4-for-4 from the floor against Bama, giving him 1,124 career points and moving past Al Horford to No. 40 on the school’s all-time scoring list. ... And while on the subject of Young, his two dunks gave him 130 for his career and tied him with Joakim Noah for fifth-most in UF history. Yes, I’m surprised that’s a stat (albeit an official one), also. ... Few will argue that Kasey Hill (pictured right), the freshman point guard, is an exciting player with a knack for getting in the lane and distributing the ball, but he’s really having a tough time putting the ball in the basket -- and not just from the 3-point line as suggested above. He’s at 38.3 percent from the floor, 16.7 from the arc and just 64.9 from the free-throw line. ... Saw that Southern Methodist trounced seventh-ranked Cincinnati. For SMU, it was the program’s first win over a top-10 team since the Mustangs beat the No. 7 Gators (with Vernon Maxwell, Dwayne Schintzius and Clifford Lett) back in 1987. ... The Alabama game (and its convenient noon tipoff) brought a rare appearance from an out-of-town state columnist. Mike Bianchi, of The Orlando Sentinel (and formerly of The Gainesville Sun years ago) weighed in on Billy D and the Gators' senior class here. ... Trivia answer: John Pelphrey was at Arkansas when the Razorbacks beat the Gators at Fayetteville 80-61 on Feb. 2, 2008 and UCF’s Donnie Jones beat UF 57-54 in Orlando on Dec. 1, 2010.

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