Sunday February 17, 2013 BasketBlog Notebook: Down they go for Frazier ... and other stuff
Updated: 3:59pm, February 17
Updated: 3:59pm, February 17
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Right now, there may be no better sight for the Florida Gators then when their exquisite ball movement finds Michael Frazier II in open space.
Doesn’t matter where, just that he’s open.
“I’m already looking to run back down the floor,” senior guard Mike Rosario said of the sight of Frazier, arm cocked and rising for his jumper. “That’s how confident I am in him. I just know.”
If opponents didn’t already “just know,” they’re finding out now.
After Frazier, the freshman from Tampa by way of Montverde Academy, nailed six of seven 3-point shots in Saturday’s 83-52 win at Auburn, the kid is shooting 46.7 percent from the arc for the season and a sicko 60 percent in Southeastern Conference play.
“What can I say?” Frazier asked afterward. “My teammates did a great job of finding me. We did a great job of moving the ball and playing together as a team. I was just on the other end of those buckets.”
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard has made as significant a mark on his team as any freshman in the SEC. If that sounds like a stretch for a player averaging just 6.2 points per game, think about the element he’s brought to a veteran squad that already was armed with dangerous 3-point shooters in Erik Murphy (50 percent), Kenny Boynton (34.1) and Rosario (36.5).
Defenses can’t account for all of them out there. When they try to, like Kentucky did Tuesday night, the middle of the floor becomes an inviting avenue to explore.
“I’ve always said, offensively, you have to take what the defense gives you. Against Kentucky, we took 14 or 15 3s. Today, we took 30,” Coach Billy Donovan said after his team made 15 of those 30 in yet another 30-plus-point victory. “We found Frazier at crucial times during the course of the game -- his legs under him, his feet set -- and he’s obviously a terrific shooter when he gets his feet set like that.”
There have been times this season, whether because of injuries or foul trouble in the front court, that Frazier has been asked to play out of position at the forward spots. He’s done an admirable job when called upon in that role -- especially rebounding the ball -- despite getting lost at times defensively and maybe occasionally being out of position on certain offensive sets.
That’s part of the learning curve for a collegiate rookie.
Now, think back to Tuesday night, when Kentucky extended its defense and pressed UF’s 3-point shooters. Frazier had one field-goal attempt. It was an ill-advised 2-pointer that drew some words from Donovan, who has praise Frazier for his willingness to take criticism and be coached hard.
Right now, the Gators don’t want or need Frazier to attack the rim. They want/need him to take open perimeter shots. If his role was much more involved than that -- say he had to start, play 28 or so minutes, with teams marking him at the arc and forcing him to drive the basketball and create scoring opportunities -- Frazier’s impact on the game would be different; as in less. At this point in his young career, that’s not Frazier’s game.
For now, his main responsibility is to catch it and shoot it.
Think about that.
What a life.
“I mean, my teammates and my coaches have confidence in me to shoot it when I’m open,” said Frazier, always the first on the court -- not just warming up, but breaking a sweat -- before each game. “That’s my job: to shoot open shots. I put in a lot of time in the gym, so i expect them to go in.”
Everybody else is starting, also.
SHOUTOUT TO PATRIC IN THE POST
He barely touched the ball during the game.
Patric Young’s line at Auburn showed 1-for-3 from the floor, a season-low two points, three rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. The 6-foot-9 center wasn’t even in foul trouble.
But he figured huge in the outcome.
“I was really, really pleased with Patric,” Donovan said.
That’s because Auburn came into the game determined to lock down the middle and, in essence, dared the Gators to make a bunch of perimeter shots in a building where they shot 29 percent the last time they were here.
Florida shot 57.4 this time.
“They really converged on him,” Donovan said of Young. “They were physical with him around the basket and a lot of times he occupied two and three people to enable guys to get open.”
For Young, it was a different day than UF’s last outing when he pummeled and pounded Kentucky for 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks when the Wildcats were focused on guarding the 3-point line.
Again, this was a case of taking what the defense gave them (as Donovan mentioned above). The Tigers were not giving Young anything easy.
As long as we’re talking about Frazier and Murphy shooting insane long-range numbers, what UF player holds the record for best 3-point percentage over the course of a season (minimum 50 attempts)? Answer below in the “Free Throws” section.
EX-GATOR OF THE WEEK
We could have gone with any of the five Gators invited to participate in NBA All-Star Weekend, but a development out of Houston (before LeBron, Kobe and the rest even showed up) was too juicy to pass on.
Two weeks ago, the Rockets went wild from the 3-point line in a win against Golden State, making 23 bombs in a 140-109 demo job of the Warriors. After the game, Chandler Parsons, who had 16 points and four treys in the game, took to Twitter to commend his team’s performance from the arc and throw in a little dig.
“Hand down, man down.”
That was a catch phrase of Mark Jackson’s during his time as color analyst for NBA games on NBC. Jackson is now the coach of the Warriors.
Anyway, the Rockets had to go to Golden State last week (before breaking for the all-star game) and the pre-game buzz focused on Parsons’ Twitter tweak at Jackson.
Surely, the Warriors would mark the former Gator, right?
Parsons line in the rematch: 21 points (3-for-6 from 3), eight rebounds and nine assists in a 116-107 Rockets win.
A RARE KENTUCKY FOIL
With the win over Kentucky Tuesday night, Donovan became the third-winningest coach against the Wildcats with 14 victories. As such, The Lexington Herald-Leader listed Billy D as one of the five coaches to most antagonize the Wildcats over the years. Here’s that list of five, with some numbers further flushed out.
James Harrison “Babe” McCarthy (Mississippi State, 1959-63)
Record vs. UK: 2-2
Thorn in Cats side: Won or shared four SEC titles in his five seasons
Ray Mears (Tennessee, 1963-77 -- pictured above)
Record vs. UK: 14-14
Thorn in Cats side: 3 SEC titles (plus the “Bernie & Ernie Show”)
Dale Brown (LSU, 1972-97)
Record vs. UK: 18-32
Thorn in Cats side: Author of the “Freak” defense is winningest coach against Kentucky and went to two Final Fours in the 1980s.
Nolan Richardson (Arkansas, 1985-2002)
Record vs. UK: 7-12
Thorn in Cats side: Razorbacks were instant league contender upon joining SEC in 1991, winning regular season conference titles in ’92 and ’94, including the latter season when Hogs became first SEC team besides UK to win NCAA championship. Also upset Cats early in conference tournament in 2000.
Billy Donovan (Florida, 1996-present)
Record vs. UK: 14-22
Thorn in Cats side: Four SEC titles, three tournament crowns, two national championships -- and turned down Kentucky job twice.
SILLY GATOR PHOTO VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Anyone remember this from those vintage Hanna-Barbera days?
Just a thought: Should Michael Frazier II be Michael Frazier II+I? ... May not have seemed likely after Alabama went to Auburn and scored 12 points in the second half and lost 49-37 three games ago, but the Crimson Tide (17-8, 9-3) are now alone in second place in the SEC, one game up on crumbling Kentucky (17-8, 8-4) and up-and-down Ole Miss (19-6, 8-4). Should Florida win its remaining three home games, including a March 2 showdown with ‘Bama at the O’Connell Center, the Gators will win the SEC regular-season title outright. UF is unbeaten in 11-0 at the O’Dome this season. ... Speaking of unbeaten at home, so is Missouri, which happens to be UF’s next opponent. The Tigers are 14-0 at Mizzou Arena. That should make for a crazy environment Tuesday night when the Gators come calling on ESPN. Of course, UF beat Missouri by 31 at Gainesville last month, but clearly the Tigers are a different team in Columbia, and this time will have forward and leading scorer Laurence Bowers (14.1 ppg, 6 rpg), who missed the first meeting with a sprained knee. ... With the Auburn win, Florida is 7-3 on the road this season, losing at Arizona, Kansas State and Arkansas. The K-State game was in Kansas City, but has been ruled by the NCAA Selection Committee as a true “road” game because K-State controlled the ticket sales. ... Casey Prather had one of his signature slams at Auburn (on a nice alley-oop toss from Rosario) and went 3-for-3 from the floor. He’s now 44-for-64 this season. That’s 68.4 percent. ... Trivia answer: Guard Kenyan Weaks (pictured left with Teddy Dupay) was a sophomore guard when he nailed 50.8 percent of his 3-point shots (61 of 120) in 1997-98. Weaks went on to be MVP of the 2000 NCAA East Region, helping lead Donovan to his first Final Four. ... Finally, how about the great shot below of Rosario's hanging, acrobatic reverse layup on pass from Scottie Wilbekin? It was the shot of the game.