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Rocky UF career is near end

March 2, 2010
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

GAINESVILLE (AP) - As the shots kept missing and the boos started coming, Florida's Dan Werner tried to stay positive. It seemed impossible.

He heard every jeer, took in every groan, read every critical comment. Negative thoughts swirled in his head, echoing like a clanged three-pointer in an empty arena.

Werner didn't know what to do. Coach Billy Donovan suggested getting some help. Donovan set Werner up with a sports psychologist in January in hopes of clearing his mind and keeping him focused on other parts of his game.

Werner believes it has been beneficial, although he has made just four of his last 43 shots from three-point range - a mere 9 percent - and is averaging about half as many points (4.7) and rebounds (3.9) as he did two years ago.

Florida fans have been even less kind to Werner than the rims, booing him at home, sighing when he shoots and maybe even counting down the days until his departure. Werner should get a more favorable response Tuesday night against No. 13 Vanderbilt, when he's recognized before his final home game on "Senior Night."

"It's going to be tough, but hopefully it will be a little easier with a win," said the 6-foot-8 Werner.

A victory probably would secure Florida a spot in the NCAA tournament, which the Gators (20-9, 9-5 SEC) missed the last two years. It also would give Werner an opportunity to ease three up-and-down seasons that followed the second of back-to-back national championships.

Werner insists he's more confident than ever shooting, but passed up a game-tying shot at Georgia Saturday. Instead, he tried to get the ball to teammate Vernon Macklin in the waning seconds of a 78-76 loss.

"I've said all along that coming to college, coming here, I would always be in the tournament," Werner said. "Obviously, my freshman year we got to win the national championship and I thought, 'Awe, this is easy,' but the last two years have been a struggle. We definitely want to get back there."



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