Aging gracefully, Casey Prather leads Florida to another big win
Namely, for Prather, it's knowing that he is not a jump-shooter from anywhere far outside the paint, and that if he attacks the basket intelligently (in isolation situations with matchup advantages), he will either score or get to the free-throw line. He's generating 9.7 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes this season and converting at a 75.7 percent clip, compared to 3.7 and 58.3 percent as a junior. Staying in or around the paint and increasing free-throw production has made Prather significantly more efficient. He scored the Gators' final eight points on Tuesday on two layups and four free throws, and his overall shot chart looked like this:
Yet, on the Gators' most crucial offensive possession, when they were up 73-70 with 1:20 remaining, and coming out of a timeout, what did Donovan dial up? He is not a coach who messes around when it comes to offensive execution. He called an isolation for Prather, putting him on the three-point line just above the right elbow against Memphis wing Geron Johnson, who is 6-foot-3.
Donovan said that all the suspensions and injuries had "been a real drain on our team, emotionally." Their schedule wasn't easy, and they lost early at Wisconsin and then on a heartbreaking, Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater at UConn. But over the past eight days, Florida has started to flash its top-10, Final Four potential. For an 8-2 team that spent more than a month in flux, there has been just one constant: Casey Prather is good at being old.