ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
59°
Few Clouds
H 68° L 61°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    59°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 68° L 61°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    72°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 68° L 61°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    70°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 74° L 61°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

With Florida struggling going into SEC tournament, coach wants more ‘fire and passion’

The alarm is going off for Florida coach Billy Donovan, but he isn’t sure if his players hear it.

The Gators are stuck in a three-week slump, going 3-3 during that span, and bear little resemblance to the team they were during the first three months of the season. They have fallen from No. 2 to No. 13 in the Associated Press poll and are coming off an exasperating loss to Kentucky in which they went scoreless for the final 7:36.

After one lackluster minute to open that game, Donovan screamed for a timeout and tried to jump-start his players.

It’s the worst possible time to slip. Florida starts the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday against Georgia or LSU (1 p.m., ESPNU) with the NCAA tournament the following week.

“I’m disappointed, to be honest with you, in our team’s fire,” Donovan said. “I don’t see it. I don’t see it. … With the way we’re playing right now, I don’t like our fire. I don’t like our intensity right now.

“I’m trying to help our team become great. I’m not interested in just going through the motions. We’re not playing with fire and passion right now. Our perseverance or resiliency needs to get better. They’ve got to enjoy the struggle a lot more.”

The Gators, now 24-6, opened the season with seven straight wins and were 18-2 in early February. The majority of those first 18 victories were blowouts.

Over the past three weeks, even the wins frustrated Donovan. He was displeased with most of his team after the Gators came back late in the second half to beat Alabama 64-52 at the O’Connell Center, and after a 26-point win over Vanderbilt last week he questioned his players’ hunger.

“We should do a better job just coming out and being excited and being ready to play,” forward Will Yeguete said. “We’ve been missing that.

“I feel like you should always be ready to go, no matter what. We haven’t had that fire the past couple games. Hopefully we can get it back soon.”

The Gators will make the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens at Bridgestone Arena this week, but their seeding and viability hinge on how quickly they make corrections. Previously a leading candidate for a No. 1 seed, Florida now is a No. 3 seed in projections by ESPN and CBS.

One constant has been defense, which is the biggest reason UF has a shot at the national title. Even in the past six games, the Gators are holding opponents to 38.1 percent field-goal shooting.

Injuries have been part of the problem, and the Gators are still transitioning back to their original lineup. The three main subs — Yeguete, Michael Frazier and Casey Prather — missed time due to various issues, though the starting five has been together most of the year.

Florida’s ball movement also has been troublesome. Donovan wants the team to reach at least 17 assists, something it hasn’t done in the past six games. The Gators had more turnovers than assists in recent games against Missouri, Alabama and Kentucky.

Rebounding is another issue. UF held an advantage in that area just twice in the past 10 games.

“That’s a major problem,” Donovan said. “Having a fire and a passion — to me that’s it: on the glass. When you’re doing that, when you’re hitting and going and chasing balls … in these situations, you have to be willing to do things that are very, very uncomfortable and people don’t get a lot of enjoyment from doing.”

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • It led to road closures, right around rush hour Thursday afternoon.   The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating after a triple shooting in the Magnolia Gardens neighborhood in Northwest Jacksonville.   Police say they were called about multiple people shot at the intersection of New Kings Road and Edgewood Avenue and when they arrived they found three victims with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.   According to JSO, it's believed the suspect(s) pulled up next to the vehicle the victims were in and fired several shots into the car.   At this time, there's no information or description of the suspect(s). 
  • Prior to Monday’s premiere of “Dancing with the Stars” Season 24, former figure skater and “DWTS” champion Kristi Yamaguchi took to Twitter to wish fellow former figure skater Nancy Kerrigan good luck in the worst way possible. >> Read more trending news Hours before Kerrigan took the stage, Yamaguchi tweeted, “So excited for you @NancyAKerrigan ! Can’t wait to see you grace that ballroom floor, break a leg!” Yes, that’s right. She told Kerrigan, victim of the famous 1994 attack, in which she was assaulted with a police-style baton to the knee, to “break a leg.” Just before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit that year, a man, who had been paid by Kerrigan rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, struck her on the right knee, injuring her leg. While it wasn’t broken, Kerrigan did suffer cuts, bruises and swelling and walked with a limp. Twitter responded with generally surprised reactions. Of course, Yamaguchi was just employing a common -- if ill-fitting, considering Kerrigan’s history -- phrase, but that didn’t stop the internet from freaking out over it. Yamaguchi has not clarified her comment, nor has she deleted the tweet. Kerrigan took the joke in stride, tweeting, “Thank you @kristiyamaguchi for the advise (sic)! It definitely is helping!”
  • For two years, Mitch Comer’s mother and stepfather, Sheila Comer and Paul Comer, kept him locked inside a bedroom in his family’s rental home in Georgia. He was shut off from the outside world and even his two younger sisters until September 2012. By then, Comer, who was 18 at the time, was loaded on a bus and sent to Los Angeles with some cash and pamphlets from a homeless shelter. He was spotted by a former security guard, st the Los Angeles bus station, who called police. When he was returned to Georgia, Comer was severely malnourished with translucent skin — evidence of his ordeal. The story made national headlines. >> Read more trending news Nearly five years after his mother and stepfather were sentenced to 15 years in prison as part of a plea deal, the two could be up for parole, according to the Paulding County District Attorney. In his first public interview since his ordeal, Comer said Thursday he doesn’t want that to happen. “I don’t think that’s right,” he said. “I don’t like it at all.” Mitch Comer, who now goes by Mitt, said Paul and Sheila Comer should serve more prison time, and DA Dick Donovan agrees. “Letting them out after just five years just doesn’t … it offends me as a prosecutor and I’m sure it would offend the people of Paulding County if they knew about it,” Donovan said. Despite the two years of his life that was taken from him, Comer has flourished, completing high school and now studying at Kennesaw State University. His passion is electronics, and one day, he’d like to be inventor. Until then, he’s like any other college student, he says. He’s managed to put his abuse behind him. “A long time ago, I heard about a dude that was left in a closet and he came out happy, and I said I’m going to be that dude, too,” Comer said.
  • An inmate in a Pennsylvania jail the Allegheny County Jail is accused of plotting the murders of five juveniles who accused him of sexual assault. Michael Scherbanic, 29, a prisoner in the Allegheny County Jail and is now charged with 27 new criminal counts, including solicitation to commit criminal homicide.  >> Read more trending news Allegheny County police said they uncovered an elaborate criminal plot to intimidate victims, recruit witnesses to perjure themselves and to try to prevent the trial against Scherbanic on sexual-assault charges.  According to a criminal complaint, Scherbanic told his cellmate he’d pay him as much as $1 million to carry out the plan.   The five targets of the alleged murder plot were five separate victims of sexual assault cases filed against Scherbanic in 2016, police said.  Those cases involve juvenile male students of Scherbanic’s karate dojo, the “Tang Soo Do Karate College' in North Versailles. The complaint said Scherbanic drew diagrams of one of the target’s homes to show his cellmate where a propane tank was that could “be exploded to kill multiple residents.” >> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here  Scherbanic also identified people that his cellmate could recruit to help carry out the plot as well as hide the bodies, the complaint said. There were also plans to destroy the creditability of someone who was going to testify against Scherbanic in the sex-assault trial. Sherbanic told his cellmate to “plant drugs, or a gun or possibly child porn,” the complaint said.  Scherbanic was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and indecent assault in those cases. The complaint also alleged Scherbanic had been stashing ground up pain pills in his cell in case the plan did not work, so he could commit suicide.  The investigation was conducted with the assistance of the Jail Administrative Investigators and detectives from the district attorney’s office.
  • More than 100 structures were saved by fire crews in Nassau County, while two homes were destroyed by the wildfire near Bryceville this week. Fire officials maintain this destruction could have been avoided.  “The two (homes) that were destroyed didn’t have any defensible space; they had woods and flammable brush very close to the home,” said Annaleasa Winter, a wildfire mitigation specialist for the Florida Forest Service. “The homes that were saved had a good, clear defensible space where it’s drivable all the way around the structure.” Simply clearing dry brush and wood from around your home, trimming tree limbs and keeping the lawn mowed and irrigated, can alleviate much of the fire risk for your home. By installing metal or fiberglass shingled roofs, you can take additional steps to protect your home structurally from fires.  Winter suggests keeping dry materials and brush, at least, 30 feet from the home. If that’s not possible, because of challenges with space, work out a plan with your neighbor or the business you live next to.  The Florida Forest Service also offers many free services to home owners, like mechanical fuel reduction and the mowing, mulching and chopping of brush around a property. For more tips, visit the Florida Forest Service website here. 

The Latest News Videos