GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida beat Bradley 81-58 on Sunday here at the O'Connell Center.
Afterward, Billy Donovan asked me what I thought of his team.
What I told him is that I think everything will be fine as long as the Gators make 14-of-32 3-point attempts each game, but that on the nights where they don't approach that number there could be issues against quality opponents because -- as I've mentioned before -- there is no obvious answer in the middle. Granted there are other ways to score in the paint besides throwing it to somebody like Al Horford or Joakim Noah or Chris Richard or Marreese Speights, but it sure is easier when you can do exactly that, and it doesn't appear Florida can this season.
In a perfect world, Alex Tyus would develop, but he looked completely out of it against Bradley while missing his first three shots and then, in the second half, fumbling an easy dunk opportunity only to recover in time to have his reverse layup attempt stick between the rim and backboard. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with five points and five rebounds in 20 minutes, and though he'll certainly have better games because he is an interesting talent the reality is that one of these head-scratching outings always seems possible, which makes it difficult to rely on him.
I like the potential and what he can be, but I'm afraid he might be a year away.
He's still recovering from an injury.
So what that means is that Florida will spend most games relying heavily on a perimeter attack, which is fine except that, as Donovan put it, "shooting comes and goes." In other words, there will be nights when the Gators make 7-of-32 3-point attempts instead of 14-of-32, and on those nights things will get tough against quality SEC opponents.
"We'd love to be able to throw up it up to a guy and let him go get us a two or get fouled," Donovan said. "But that's not the make-up of our team right now."
No, it's not.
But make no mistake, I still like this team.
I don't want anybody to get the wrong message.
The combination of a steady Walter Hodge, a talented group of freshmen and three intelligent and unselfish veterans in Nick Calathes, Dan Werner and Chandler Parsons means Florida will be good enough to compete at the top of the SEC, make the NCAA tournament and advance past the opening weekend, if things break the right way. That's my bottom line opinion. It's just that even while watching the Gators cruise to a 23-point win it was hard not to look out there and come to the conclusion that there is a piece missing, hard not to look out there and wonder how much better this team could be if Speights was still around or if Patrick Patterson had picked Florida over Kentucky two years ago or if Vernon Macklin was eligible right now.
So I suppose that's what I'm really doing here, comparing what these Gators are to what they could've been under different circumstances, which is probably unfair. Because, again, I still like this team and won't be surprised if they beat Syracuse next Monday and then knock-off Kansas to improve to 5-0 and solidify themselves as a legitimate top 15 outfit. But it sure would be nice if there was an anchor in the middle, and right now there doesn't seem to be one who is good and consistent enough to be relied upon.