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Tuesday November 27, 2012 Rosario still confident as he looks to turn over his game

Updated: 12:24pm, November 27

Mike Ro GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A couple hours after Friday night’s 79-66 win over UCF, Billy Donovan’s cell phone buzzed with a text message from Mike Rosario.

Sorry I played so terrible coach

Donovan wasn’t about to argue. In his post-game news conference, the Florida coach was asked why Rosario played just four minutes in the second half. Donovan proceeded to drive a bus over the senior shooting guard. 

“I’m at the point right now where I can’t deal with the turnovers, I just can’t,” Donovan said. “There are turnovers where you’re trying to make the right play and for whatever reason you don’t quite execute the pass. Then you have what I would consider the high-stepping, one knee up, looking-away, up in the air and ball into the third row pass that we’re not going to tolerate.”

Through five games, Rosario has 13 turnovers, which is tied for the most on the team with forward Will Yeguete. Center Patric Young is right behind them with 12. Make not mistake, Donovan is not happy with Yeguete and Young’s generosity with the ball -- the two combined for no assists and nine turnovers in one game -- but Rosario is a guard, so his giveaways stand out.

“I’m a fifth-year senior. I can’t have three turnovers in a game,” Rosario said after practice Monday night. “I have to take care of the rock better than that. I have to play smarter than that.”

But there’s more.

Rosario is shooting just 41.3 percent from the floor and is really struggling from the 3-point lin: four of 18 for 22.2 percent. Factor in the statistics from the exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney and the first half of the battleship game against Georgetown that was cancelled -- trust me, the UF coachs do -- and those numbers dip to 39.2 percent from the floor and 17.3 from the arc.

A lot of Donovan’s frustrations with Rosario are wrapped in those numbers. The coach, however, is not at the point of making a statement to the former Rutgers star relative to his playing time. Or starting backcourt spot.

Not yet, at least.

In fact, the morning after the game, Rosario and Donovan had a sit-down.

“He told me not to press so much and not beat myself up about my performance,” Rosario said. “I hate when I don’t perform for my teammates. That’s what bothers me more than anything else; when I can’t go out there and do the things my teammates expect me to do. But you have to have confidence.”

Confidence has never been a problem for the former McDonald’s All-American from Jersey City, N.J. And while Rosario often does things on the floor that bewilder -- shot selection and passes being the most pronounced -- his coaches believe his heart is in the right place, especially when it comes to being a good teammate.

Now his head just needs to join him there.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do to conform,” UF assistant coach John Pelphrey said. “Now we’re asking him to play better.”

With Scottie Wilbekin back from his three-game suspension and coming off a career game (17 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists) and wing forward Casey Prather back in the mix after missing four games with a concussion, there now are options if Rosario’s decision-making and lack of production on the floor continue.
“I love Mike. He’s made some great strides. He’s a great kid,” Donovan said. “But he’s not shot the ball well this year. He’s not. He comes out of high school and Rutgers with this huge reputation for scoring and a shooter, but it’s been game after game where he hasn’t shot it well.”

On Monday night, Rosario stayed after practice and worked with Erik Murphy (4-for-14 from 3-point range his lats three games) on some individual shooting drills as the seventh-ranked Gators (5-0) prepared for Thursday night's ESPN2 game against Marquette (5-1), a rematch of their Sweet 16 game in the NCAA Tournament last March.

“I’m not at the point where I’m frustrated yet,” Rosario said of his shot. “I just feel my offense is going to come around. Shooters get in slumps, but you can work your way out of them by finding your rhythm and maybe getting some easy buckets. Once I get that going, I can be a more complete player for my team.”

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