Anatomy of a Win: The unsung heroes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida trounced South Carolina on Wednesday night, holding the Gamecocks to their lowest scoring output ever in an SEC game in the 75-36 win.

Billy Donovan watches the action unfold against South Carolina while assistant Matt McCall, who put together the scouting report, sits just behind him.

But the win started long before the game tipped off around 8 p.m. Assistant coach Matt McCall began preparing for the Gamecocks nearly two weeks before the fans crowded into the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

Following Florida's 83-52 win over Missouri, McCall dug in and got to work. He flipped on the tape and started taking notes.

It was his turn to put together the scouting report.

"Those guys do a great job and those guys spend a lot of hours, watch a lot tape," coach Billy Donovan said. "That's their job and they're paid to do that. There is also a level of respect that I think players can have for a coach, like this guy is investing his time 24/7 trying to break things down to give our team, our guys, an advantage in terms of getting them prepared for what's going to come."

And so McCall pored over the tape. Hours and hours of tedious film study, looking for any little advantage that could give Florida a leg up on its SEC opponent.

He studied and studied.

In the meantime, Florida played and beat Georgia. Then the Gators played and beat Mississippi State. All the while, McCall's focus was on South Carolina and that home date circled on the calendar on Jan. 30.

Finally, when the Gators got back from Starkville, it was time to put McCall's plan to work.

Senior guard Kenny Boynton worked the scouting report against South Carolina to go off for 15 points, seven assists and four steals with no turnovers.

He met with Donovan and gave him his notes. Donovan looked them over and the two began putting together a practice plan to implement what they wanted to do against the Gamecocks.

"I thought there was three musts in the game," Donovan said. "We had to win the three-point battle. The second thing we needed to do, we needed to win the transition battle. The third thing we needed to do is win the rebounding battle.

"For the most part, we did that in the game."

The results were obvious. Florida stomped South Carolina.

McCall's fingerprints were all over the gameplan, even if it wasn't obvious to the casual fan.

"He did a really good job because we knew the plays, the motions and everything," forward Will Yeguete said. "We knew how to guard and I think he prepared us really well for this game."

Often overlooked, the scouting and legwork that goes into a game is one of the key ingredients in a win. Blowouts don't just happen in conference play at a snap of the fingers.

"I watch an enormous amount of tape," Donovan said. "Really all morning, all tonight is going to be watching Ole Miss. And then all day tomorrow is the same exact thing."

Center Patric Young helped Florida build a 14-point rebounding edge over South Carolina.

One of the assistant coaches has had his eye on the Rebels for a whole lot longer.

He'll be the one that helps shape the gameplan with Donovan. He's already met with Donovan and has passed along his advice. Today and Friday, they've got to impart all that knowledge to the team.

"It’s a constant progression where we’re meeting," the 17th-year Florida coach said. "We have a lot more information, but then we really try to get to the nuts and bolts with our team. You can get too much information to these guys that they lose sight of what's really important."

So what is the plan against Marshall Henderson and the Rebels?

Donovan and his less-heralded assistants are still working through all that. They've got a lot to look at.

"Once I got through our game against South Carolina, now I start to watch all of the Ole Miss stuff and with the guy that’s watched them for a week we sit down and I write down things, how I want to guard certain actions," he said. "Things that may be a little bit more challenging. Different plays they’re running. How we’re going to guard personnel. How we’re going to guard screening actions.

"And really it gets built up from what they’re running in the half court, what they’re doing in transition. For a team like Ole Miss and even South Carolina how are they rebounding the ball as effectively as they are? Why are they rebounding the ball as effectively? What do we have to do to try to do a really good job on the backboard rebounding the ball against a team like Ole Miss?

"Obviously Henderson is getting a lot of points. How are they coming? Where are they coming? Is it on a zone? Is it off screening action? What kind of action is he in? how do we want to guard certain screening actions? Obviously (Murphy) Holloway is a great driver. What plays are they running to put him in those situations? What plays are they running where those guys can really rebound?"

The answers are in the details.

They're found in the film. The often maddeningly boring, hours and hours of film.

The film that one of Florida's assistants has been studying relentlessly since the Gators gutted the Bulldogs in Athens about a week ago.

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