On Friday night, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team played half of a game against the Georgetown Hoyas on an aircraft carrier. The court–temporarily housed on the USS Bataan–became unworthy for use and both teams decided it was in their best interests to call the game at the half. That can happen when you play outside on a court meant to be used inside. You generally don’t find the same sort of condensation problems unless your gym has serious air conditioning issues. In the end, there never was an end and the game was canceled after only 20 minutes of play. The Gators won–if you can call it a win, which you really can’t because it doesn’t count–27-23, so they have that going for them.
We only saw 20 minutes of action, but it was enough to give us a brief glimpse into what the 2012-13 version of the Florida Gators may look like. We didn’t learn a lot–and the entire half could have been an aberration of what the season will really bring–but we were taught a thing or two about what’s ahead.
First of all, this looks to be another team that will live and die by the three-point shot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but keep a lookout for the first time the Gators fall behind by 9-12 points in an important game. How they try to get back into that game will be extremely telling. This team has the talent to win games behind the arc, but also the ability to lose them.
Without a true point guard, the Gators don’t have an assist man. The assists will come, but Florida needs someone to find Kenny Boynton for the open shot. Boynton can’t find himself and works well receiving the ball. He has the ability to play the point guard position, but the Gators would benefit greatly from having a distributor to play alongside him. Braxton Ogbueze will have to grow up quickly.
On that note, so will all of the freshman. It looks like they will be relied upon early and often this season. Billy Donovan likes fresh players on the court and to do so, he’ll have to play the four true freshman. They’ll need to get up to the speed of the college game immediately.
Now, back to Kenny Boynton, the leader in him needs to be present all season–on the court and off of it. It’s his team and he sets the pace. Whether it’s bringing the ball down the court or playing the two, Boynton is the player the rest of the roster feeds off of. He wants to win during his senior season and that will rub off on the others.
While Kenny Boynton is the leader, the most important player may be someone else. Will Yeguete has become more vital to the success of the Gators than anyone could have imagined. He is a 110% player. The energy he plays with propels the Gators when they need it. It’s hard to look past Boynton and Patric Young, but Will Yeguete is the key to a far run this season.
Along with Yeguete and Young, Erik Murphy makes up the trio a big men. The Gators will play teams with more size, but they have the talent and muscle to keep up. Murphy is the only one listed above 6’9″, but all three have to play bigger. Teams will try to out-muscle them under the basket and they must keep up the intensity and hustle up for the entire season.
It was good to see the zone defense in action on Friday night. Florida did work keeping the ball away from Georgetown’s bigs. It won’t be surprising if Donovan goes back to it against other teams with talented big men. It seemed to work for the most part and will return at points this season.
Finally, a point of criticism. The Gators must cut early turnovers. There were times early in the course of the game when Florida had a real chance to open it up, but turnovers kept Georgetown in it. The Gators have to get whatever early jitters they have out of the way and score early and often. Luckily, it didn’t lead to Florida falling behind, but it could in the future. Eliminate those early turnovers before it becomes a real problem.
The Gators have played a full game between Friday and now, so we’ve had a chance to see them in action once again. However, Georgetown was a talented opponent and gave us some insight to what we might see from Florida this season. All told, there was plenty to be happy about. This looks like a well put together team that has the capability to have a very successful season.