Donovan hopes young Gators learn from losing Print
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Monday, 26 November 2007 13:47
NCAAB Headline News


 GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Florida coach Billy Donovan isn't sure how his team will respond to its first loss of the season.
The Gators (5-1) were physically dominated by Florida State, losing 65-51 Friday and then dropping out of The Associated Press college basketball poll three days later.
``I'd prefer as a coach to learn through winning,'' Donovan said Monday. ``This is the first time I've experienced this with them. I haven't seen this team respond yet to a loss and how they come back.
``That's going to be another learning process for me as a coach with these guys. ... I don't know if I necessarily have a feel for them right now because it's my first time (losing) with them.''
The two-time defending national champions lost for the first time since Feb. 27 at Tennessee and dropped a home game for the first time since Feb. 22, 2006, also against the Volunteers.
Donovan hopes the experience will benefit his inexperienced squad that includes a junior, three sophomores and five freshmen. Florida hosts Stetson (2-4) on Tuesday.
``It's OK to be a confident basketball team, but I don't like when there's not a level of humility,'' Donovan said. ``We need to have a level of humility of how hard we have to play and how well we have to play and have a respect for winning. I don't know if we respected winning being 5-0.
``I'm hoping after what happened Friday there will be a level of respect of what winning is and how hard it is to win.''
The Gators were outrebounded 39-28, outmuscled in the post and outhustled all over the court. They gave up 11 offensive boards, 36 points in the paint, 14 second-chance points and 15 fast-break points.
Donovan called his team ``soft'' Monday, a word he never used when big men Joakim Noah and Al Horford were around.
Forward Dan Werner agreed with Donovan's criticism, saying he planned to use it as motivation.
``They were bigger and stronger than any team we played, so it was kind of a wake-up call,'' Werner said. ``I don't like being called soft, but you've got to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.''
The Gators immediately started working on their biggest weakness in practice Saturday. Donovan attached a plastic bubble to the rim that stopped shots from falling and created countless rebounding opportunities.
``We have to go out and play tough,'' guard Nick Calathes said. ``We let them push us around, and I don't think that'll happen again this season.''
Donovan isn't as certain.
He knew his team would have to camouflage its lack of size with solid defense, up-tempo offense, perimeter shooting and unselfish shot selections.
The Gators did none of that against FSU, shooting 39 percent from the field and finishing 4-of-23 from 3-point range.
``When our shots are falling, we can beat any team in the country,'' Calathes said. ``But that's what we've got to learn: when our shots aren't falling, we've got to get some stops on the defensive end.
``It humbled our team. Our team was probably a little cocky out there, 5-0 and in the top 25.''
 

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