By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – With the likes of Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Bradely Beal, Mike Rosario was relegated to a reserve role at Florida. After two years averaging over 30 minutes a game as a starter at Rutgers, Rosario averaged just 14.4 minutes per game off the bench.
When Rosario went to play for the Puerto Rican National Team this summer, he once again had a diminished role. The former McDonald’s High School All-American was stuck behind NBA talent, playing just seven minutes a game.
“I think it was a humbling experience with [J.J.] Barrea and Carlos Arryo and having to back those guys up and maybe not getting a lot of minutes,” Florida head coach Billy Donovan said at the coaches clinic for “In Brayden’s Eye’s, the Braden Carr Foundation” at Rutgers. “I know he was really disappointed that they were really close to making it to the Olympics. I think that would have been an exciting experience.”
Now headed into his senior season, Rosario has something else to be excited about. Increased playing time. With the graduation of Walker and Beal jumping to the NBA, Jersey City, NJ native will see and increased role with the Gators.
Between Rosario and Boyton, Donovan thins the duo can to fill the void that the third overall pick in the NBA draft in Beal leaves.
“They’re different. Mike’s more of a craftier offensive player. Boynton got more explosion and more athleticism than Mike. Mike’s a crafty kind of player. He’s got all the tricks. He can flip it up. He’s very interesting.”
The backcourts issue will be on the glass.
“Brad was such a great rebounder. The one thing I was really worried about last year was losing [Chandler] Parsons who was 6-foot-9 at the small forward spot we really didn’t lose too much with Beal there,” Donovan said. “Mike’s not a rebounder. Neither is Boynton So if we play those two guys together we’re playing with three guards. We don’t rebound the ball nearly like we did when Beal was there so that’s going to be something that’s going to be an issue when we address the team.”
As for Rosario individually, he needs to take more of self responsibility, both on and off the court.
“Mike’s whole thing for us this year is the accountability part. Just being accountable to do the things he needs to do. And it’s not necessarily him as a player — what he can and can’t do — it’s him just taking care of the things he needs to take care of,” Donovan said. “And he’s a great kid. I’ve really enjoyed being around him. I think he can help our basketball team. I think he can be a big part of our team, but I think there’s certain things that he has to take care of on his end and if he can do that I think he’ll have a really great senior year.”