GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Mike Rosario has always been able to score. He scored more than 1,000 points before he ever got to Florida.
Mike Rosario has averaged 16.0 points per game in his last six outings.
But for much of last season, he couldn't find his way consistently onto the floor.
It was because of Billy Donovan's demands at the other end of the floor. Play consistently, play defense at a high level and play smart.
None were exactly Rosario's forte in his first year of eligibility for the Gators.
"There’s a part of Mike where he can drift over here and may not be as effective and may not be doing the things he’s capable of doing," Donovan said. "For me as a coach, it’s a constant, daily challenge to him to be better than he was yesterday and go out and be great."
That challenge -- and it's no small one -- might be quickly turning into the biggest individual success story in Donovan's impressive coaching career.
Rosario has transformed into the player Florida has hoped he'd be since he transferred from Rutgers a few years ago. His offense is now close to the level it was it when he was the lone offensive star on an otherwise average Rutgers team.
In the past six games, Rosario has averaged 16.0 points per game. He's shooting 55.2 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range, while dishing out 2.5 assists to just 1.2 turnovers per game in the same span.
"I’m sure his confidence is sky high. It was sky high last year. That doesn’t waver too much with him," Donovan said. "Part of the reason I challenged him so much was when he’s focused on and locked in, he seems to play his best basketball. When he’s loose, relaxed and not on edge or really ready, he gets a little carefree."
With Rosario playing well, Florida has rebounded well from its lone conference loss to Arkansas two weeks ago.
Those lapses have been few and far between for Rosario in the last three weeks, a major reason Florida sits at No. 5 nationally and is, more importantly, potentially poised to pick up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in a few more weeks.
"Right now with my game, I'm just happy because I put in a lot of work and I'm still putting in a lot of work," Rosario said. "I feel like when I bring my positive energy to the table for the team it feeds off a lot of success to everyone else."
It has all boiled down to staying focused on a day-to-day basis.
"By me having that mindset every day of taking care of my business on and off the court, it just gives me a clear mind," he said. "I just feel like I've been playing to my full potential and I want to continue to do that."
A year ago, it didn't look like that full potential would ever be realized. Now, Rosario is averaging 12.9 points per game -- just one tenth of a point shy of Kenny Boynton's team lead at 13.0.
He's been a weapon for the Gators lately.
And Billy Donovan couldn't be happier for him.
"I’m proud of Mike," Donovan said. "I think he has come a long way from where he was a year ago. I’ve got confidence in Mike and belief in Mike. When he’s out there playing the right way and doing the right things, he’s a very effective player for us."
Billy Donovan on Mike Rosario's play
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