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December 17, 2010

Parsons doesn't need to score

With every starter except Vernon Macklin averaging fewer points than they did a year ago, Florida has struggled on the offensive end of the floor through its first nine games.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons' scoring has dipped the most, going from 12.4 points per game a year ago to 10.2 this year.

But that's just fine, head coach Billy Donovan said.

"Certainly if he has an open shot or a drive to the basket or whatever it may be, then I want him to do those things," Donovan said. "But we don't need him to score."

Donovan said Parsons is at his best when he's not focused on being a scorer for the Gators. He distributes better and plays better on the defensive end.

Still, Parsons' numbers in almost every statistical category are lower than they were a year ago. His scoring, rebounding, turnovers, free-throw shooting and three-point shooting numbers are worse than last year.

His numbers that have improved from last year?

Assists and steals.

To Donovan, that's an encouraging sign.

"I think the minute Chandler starts thinking about shooting and scoring and focusing on that, I think you lose all the other things that he does well," he said. "We don't need him to score. We need Chandler to make everyone else around him better."

But no matter how you slice it, the Gators need Parsons to break out of his recent slump. He has played well in some phases of the game, but hasn't put it all together yet this year.

For Florida to take the next step, he's going to have to start doing that on a consistent basis.

Parsons is on the floor more than any player except Erving Walker, making him a guy the Gators absolutely need to perform every time he's on the floor.

He's shown the ability to be a go-to guy in the crunch in the past. He's also been a guy that can do the gritty work that doesn't get much recognition. When his confidence is high, he excels in those roles.

Right now, his confidence seems to have taken a hit.

Florida needs him to get it back.

The Gators won't win many games when Parsons has nights like he did against UCF, when he had as many turnovers as points. They won't be able to squeak out wins like they did against Florida State, when Parsons scored two points, pulled down three boards and had four turnovers.

Florida needs the Parsons that was an All-SEC player at the end of last season. It needs the guy who held things together on both ends of the floor.

Donovan is confident he can get back to being that player.

He just needs to start doing what he does best: the gritty work.

Forget about scoring.

"If he gets 15 or 18 points for us, and he's shooting a high percentage, that's great," Donovan said. "But Chandler should be a guy that ... top three in our team rebounding-wise, top three in our team assist-wise. Those are the things that he needs to do. He needs to be a complete player, instead of just a scorer for us."



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