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UF hopes experience solves woes at the line
Florida is hitting 69 percent from the line in conference games, 70 percent in all games.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published January 22, 2008
GAINESVILLE - Freshman forward Chandler Parsons asked coachBilly Donovan on Monday morning how he and the team could improve their free-throw shooting.
"We've definitely been struggling," Parsons said. "He said to come in every day about 20 minutes early before practice and just shoot 50 to 100 extra."
Florida (16-3, 3-1 SEC) is hitting 69 percent from the line in conference games, 70 percent in all games. On Saturday against Kentucky, Florida was 12-of-21 in the second half before going 12-of-12 to seal the win in overtime.
"I really believe we should be better than 69 percent," Donovan said.
Donovan said two key problems are too much movement in some players' shots and, because his players are young, lack of experience hitting those shots in critical and late-game situations. Simulating that in practice is nearly impossible, Donovan said.
"I'm sure (freshman) Jai Lucas has never been to the free-throw line and had someone call three timeouts," Donovan said. "There are different situations they are getting thrown into, but the more they get thrown into those situations, the better they are going to be. ... That's an area we've got to get better at."
Donovan has a practice rule that requires the team to run the length of the court in eight to 10 seconds if a player misses during free-throw drills, but freshman guard Nick Calathes, who was 10-of-10 from the line in overtime Saturday, said he now realizes that sometimes, it's much more mental than physical.
"My dad said to me when he called me on the phone after the game, he said just don't think about it," Calathes said. "You shot too many free throws to be thinking about if I'm going to make it or miss it and what people are thinking. He said just go out and shoot it. But it's easier said than done sometimes."
A MEASURING STICK: When the No. 12 Georgia women's basketball team comes to town Thursday night, the game will have big implications for both teams. Andy Landers will be going for milestone win No.700 with the Bulldogs. And for the Gators, how well they perform against one of the league's perennial powers will be a strong measure of just how far they've come under first-year coach Amanda Butler.
Florida is 13-5 and coming off a road win over Arkansas on Sunday. The Gators are on an eight-game home winning streak, but the last time Florida had that long a streak, Georgia ended it (in 2003). Georgia leads the series 40-10, and Florida has lost 11 consecutive games to ranked teams.
"I think it's going to be a great indication of where we are," Butler said Monday morning. "I think every SEC matchup is. You can't underestimate anyone in this league, but someone like Georgia with a coach like Andy Landers, who just every year is one of the nation's best, almost every year in the top 10, it'll be a great indicator for us and for what the rest of our SEC season is going to look like."
LUCAS QUESTIONABLE:Lucas is questionable for Wednesday's game at South Carolina, still nursing the knee injury he suffered with 4:51 remaining in Saturday's game. He did not practice Monday and Donovan said his status will be determined today.
"I think he's considerably better," Donovan said. "They were worried a little bit about maybe a tear in his meniscus, but they don't think that's the case. He didn't have any swelling, but he probably has some bruising on his bone. He hyperextended his knee."
That leaves the Gators with just eight players, which Donovan said is a hindrance for Wednesday's game preparation.