Originally created 12/15/03

Donovan: Bad week will help Gators in long run



LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan knows his team's two losses this week will help the Gators in the long run.

"Everybody may think it's terrible that we lost two games. No, this is the type of thing these guys need to go through in order to get better," Donovan said after top-ranked Florida's 73-65 loss to Louisville on Saturday.

The Gators (5-2) became No. 1 for the second time in school history last week. Their first game as a top-ranked team this season was an overtime home loss to Maryland, and that was followed by the loss at Louisville.

The other trip to No. 1 was a quick one as well as Kentucky beat the Gators 70-55 the day after they moved to the top spot.

Donovan doesn't think his team deserves a lofty ranking right now anyway.

"I don't want to make excuses, but they haven't had much practice time," he said. "Our guys have been in a situation when you are going from one game to the next. There is no flow or continuity right now."

David Lee, who went 1-for-12 from the field in Wednesday's 69-68 loss to Maryland, scored a career-high 24 points against the Cardinals (4-1).

But Matt Walsh, Florida's second-leading scorer, went 0-for-8 from the field on Saturday, and Anthony Roberson, who scored 20 against Maryland, had just nine against the Cardinals on 3-for-7 shooting.

Donovan said three are still adjusting to more demanding offensive roles this season.

"They are dealing with different defensive focus than they were last year," Donovan said. "They were four, five and six on the defensive scouting report. Now, they are one, two and three."

Donovan is also concerned about Florida's sloppiness. The Gators often looked flustered against Louisville's swarming pressure defense and finished with 18 turnovers.

Florida also had 18 turnovers against Maryland and hasn't had fewer than 15 in any game this season.

"We're just not a very cohesive team from an offensive standpoint right now," Donovan said. "We have great chemistry off the floor, but we don't have great chemistry playing on the floor."

Despite the offensive dysfunction, the Gators had Saturday's game within reach. They trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, but Adrian Moss' layup with 1:07 left capped a 12-3 run that made it 69-63.

The Cardinals went only 4-for-9 from the free throw line in the final minute, but the Gators stalled their own comeback by missing their last four shots.

Donovan blamed impatience.

"When we got it to six, we got a little overanxious," Donovan said. "I didn't think we capitalized as well as I would have liked when they missed some free throws."

The capacity crowd taunted Florida with the "Overrated!" chant as the last seconds ticked away. Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who earned his 400th career win, waved his arms and shook his head in disgust in an effort to silence the fans.

"They are an excellent ball club," Pitino said. "This is a very good offensive team, as good as any in the game."

The Gators play West Virginia on Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami.

Pitino, who coached Donovan at Providence and hired him as an assistant at Kentucky, doesn't think Florida will struggle much longer.

"These losses will propel Florida into a great season," Pitino said. "When you have outstanding talent, these guys will soon realize it's all about the little things. Billy will have their attention. I have more confidence in him than anybody I know."