Blog Entry

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

Posted on: November 16, 2008 7:55 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2008 12:33 am

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.

Kenny Kadji?

I like the potential and what he can be, but I'm afraid he might be a year away.

Eloy Vargas?

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.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Florida

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2008 1:16 am

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

I am absolutely looking forward to a UF/KU match-up in the Sprint Center.  It is true that the Gators need to shore-up some of their front-court woes and the Hawks are right there in the same boat with Aldrich and his early foul trouble as of late.  A game against a legitimate talent this early would be a great barometer for exactly how good these guys are going to be later on down the road.  Make no mistake, there's loads of talent on each team, much of it untested and unrealized...I'm personally hoping that we can see all of it on one court next week.

p.s. Congrats to UF on that Bradley beating, no complaints there!

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 3:51 pm

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

people under estimate florida every year, dont forget last year they went to the wire with tennessee late in the year, plus i am not worried at all anymore about kentucky............ can you say overrated

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2008 1:39 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: November 17, 2008 1:26 am

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

Hey don't be too hard on yourself. I don't have to remind you and everyone else that Kentucky made the tournament last year after losing their first game to Gardner-Webb while we started 18-3 and missed the tournament. I think this blog is very accurate. I think that the best way that our bigs are going to generate points in the paint is getting themselves in great position for offensive rebounds. I realize that this is in no way a substitution for set offense in the paint but we are going to chuck up 35 three pointers a game and we will live and die by the three but I also think that Chaney and Tyus and Parsons when he plays inside are athletic enough to position themselves for bunnies off our misses and if they can grab five or six misses and turn them into lay-ups that will at least negate some of the problems that we have inside and also make defenses respect that and collapse helping to limit the opposing teams transition game off missed three's. I don't know what you guys think about that but just sort of an optimistic twist that I put on the situation. Go Gators!

Since: Feb 8, 2007
Posted on: November 17, 2008 12:34 am

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

I'm reconsidering my Alabama position as I type.

Man, what a terrible way to start, huh?

Since: Oct 19, 2008
Posted on: November 17, 2008 12:29 am

What do I think of Florida? Glad you asked

Shouldn't be too hard for Florida to get wins in the SEC this year.  Vandy and Georgia are rebuilding, Kentucky is not good, Alabama lost to Mercer in their opener (maybe you shouldn't have included the Tide as one of your surprise teams, Gary!), LSU lost their best player off of a bad team & lost their top recruit to UCLA, Mississippi lost their entire frontcourt off of last year's team whose strength was their rebounding, Mississippi State and Arkansas both lost a lot off of their teams from last year ... hard to find any top-25-type teams beyond Tennessee and Florida (and even Florida might struggle, as you mentioned).

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