Florida coach Billy Donovan didn’t hold back when asked about his expectations for senior guard Mike Rosario.
“I would say the last three weeks for Rosario have been the best three weeks he has had since he’s been at Florida,” Donovan said during UF basketball media day. “His biggest issue and No. 1 issue is inconsistency, and not on the court, everywhere he’s inconsistent.
“He’s not responsible. He doesn’t take care. Last year, the guy missed 25 practices and five games. Just to give you an idea, Erving Walker in four years missed one practice. Kenny Boynton missed one practice in three years. Neither one of those two guys missed a game. This guy missed five games in one year and 25 practices. I think he needs to understand that the responsibility he has is school, class, on-time, doing the things he knows he’s supposed to do, then on the court – practicing and playing the right way. If he does those things then he puts me in a position to allow me to play him more.”
Later in his diatribe, Donovan was exasperated about Rosario missing 10 practices last season with a hip pointer.
“I mean … that is just mind-boggling,” Donovan said. “Ten days for a hip pointer? My daughter could work through that.”
So that goes a long way in explaining Rosario’s diminished role last season. The Jersey City, N.J., high school hoops prodigy and former Rutgers standout was UF’s leading scorer off the bench last season at 6.6 ppg, but couldn’t break through for extended minutes in a guard rotation that included Walker, Boynton and one-and-done freshman Bradley Beal.
“For Mike, it was maybe this expectation of well, ‘I haven’t practiced in 10 days, but I had a really good practice the day before we were playing, so why am I not playing?’,” Donovan said. “Well, there’s 12 other guys practicing every day and the fact is if you’re not practicing, you’re not playing. I told him anytime you’re threatening my credibility as a coach in jeopardy with the other 12 players, you’re going to lose that battle.”
So the question remains, would Rosario accept a similar role off the bench this season? Or will he check out? Rosario was a two-year starter at Rutgers, finishing ninth in the Big East in scoring (16.7 ppg) during his sophomore season. Donovan strongly hinted that Scottie Wilbekin will get the first crack at starting point guard for the Gators. Boynton, we know, will start at shooting guard. So unless the Gators elect to go with a three-guard starting lineup, Rosario appears headed for the bench again.
Rosario was all smiles at Florida basketball media day. He’s encouraged that he’s “110 percent” healthy and said he gained confidence from making Puerto Rico’s national team over the summer. Donovan has said that Rosario has always been a “great teammate” who cares about other players on his team.
Asked how he would embrace the role of sixth man again this season, Rosario responded: “I haven’t talked with coach about any starting five stuff, or am I starting or anything like that. Whatever I can do to help the team, if that’s me starting, if that’s me being sixth man again, then I’m willing to do whatever to help us win and be successful.”