KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ask anyone associated with the Florida basketball team (coaches, players, trainers, managers, whomever) to name the one thing -- other than a victory, of course -- they’d like to see occur Saturday night in the Sprint Center and the answer would be unanimous.
That's for Kenny Boynton to shoot the ball well against Kansas State.
If the Gators are going to be great this season, at the very least, they need Boynton to be good. That encompasses his duties as a point guard, where he’s done pretty much what the coaches have asked of him, but they’ve come at the expense of his scoring.
UF coach Billy Donovan, though, wondered earlier this week if Boynton’s shooting woes weren’t -- in a warped way -- going to work to his advantage.
“You never want to see someone struggle, but I think if you go through those difficulties it forces you to persevere and forces you to get out of yourself and get into a place where [you] realize there are a lot other things to the game of basketball besides making shots,” Donovan said. “For Kenny, a lot of his identity as a player was built around him making shots. Now that the shots aren’t going in, he's still a point guard.”
The No. 5 scorer in school history with more than 1,700 points, Boynton is in the middle of the worst shooting slumps of his career. Over the last three games, the 6-foot-2 senior has made just shot 22.4 percent from the floor (on 9-for-90 shooting) and 11.1 percent from 3-point range (3-for-27).
To Boynton’s credit, he has continued to do a solid job of getting the Gators into their offense, maintained a good assist-turnover ratio (25 to 16), is grabbing more than twice as many rebounds than his (4.2 this season to 2.2 his previous three) and is playing well on defense.
All this in his first season playing the point.
“He’s tried to stay positive,” Donovan said, adding Boynton has been in the gym for extra shots, too. “But I look at it this way: How many minutes did he play [last game vs. Southeastern Louisiana]?”
The answer: 24 minutes.
“Well, he took seven shots, and it takes about a second to shoot the ball, so for the other 23 minutesa and 53 seconds on the floor that he hasn’t shot the ball, ‘What are you doing?’ “ the coach continued. “There’s so much more to the game than shooting the basketball.”
But it sure would make things easier -- and the Gators better -- if some of those shots would fall.