Some notes following Florida’s first practice of the season:
– Florida coach Billy Donovan was pleased with the effort and intensity his team showed. The Gators went two-and-a-half hours on Friday night. They will have five more practices the next three days (two Saturday, two Sunday, one Monday) before taking Tuesday off. “This time of year, the turnovers, the carelessness, the sloppiness, the fatigue, you know all that stuff goes (on) but I thought their attitude, their effort was good,” Donovan said. “I think if you start off this year, if you start off with no energy and guys aren’t giving a great effort, you’ve got problems.”
– Donovan said he has confidence in junior Scottie Wilbekin coming into the season as the projected starter at point guard. ” I feel good about him,” Donovan said. “He’s a junior in college now. Even though a lot was made when he first came coming out of high school and bypassing his senior year of high school, certainly that was a huge jump for him, but I think he proved he could really handle that as a freshman. He got a chance to back up Erving Walker. So I think Scottie has shown a lot of improvement, he’s gotten better. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him because of the things that he can do.”
– For those who have concerns about Wilbekin’s offense, Donovan pointed about that during the offseason he charted shots and Wilbekin had the second-highest shooting percentage from behind the 3-point line, behind just Erik Murphy. “I have a lot of confidence in him when he’s open shooting the ball,” Donovan said. “I definitely think the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about Scottie is his toughness, his defensive ability, a Justin Hamilton type of guy, but I do think that maybe he’s a better scorer and shooter then Justin was and I want him to be aggressive on offense.”
– Donovan reiterated he wants junior center Patric Young to focus more on rebounding and running the floor consistency rather than honing his offensive moves in the post. “Last year Patric averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds,” Donovan said. “There’s no question that should be up above double-digits, he should be a 12-plus rebound guy a game.” Young actually finished last season averaging 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds, but you get the point. “If Patric runs the floor, gets deep post ups with his size and strength, goes to the offensive glass, he’s putting himself in position to be a scorer,” Donovan said. “But if we’re going to throw the ball to Patric in the low post two steps off the lane line, that’s not probably his strength.”
– Donovan said because of the demands of the point guard position as a freshman, he’s playing guard Braxton Ogbueze some off the ball in practice. “It would be easier for him right now if he was playing along side Scottie, playing alongside Kenny Boynton if he’s off the ball some,” Donovan said. “But I think for his growth, he’s got to do a little bit of both.”
– Donovan said that junior forward Casey Prather suffered a minor tweaked knee and groin following first practice slipping on a wet spot on the floor. But it will be nothing that holds him out of practices the rest of the weekend.