Southeastern Conference (23-10, 9-7)
NIT Seed: #1
Big Wins: 11/25 vs Washington (86-84), 1/14 at Auburn (68-65), 2/3 South Carolina (97-93)
Bad Losses: 2/10 at Kentucky (65-68), 2/14 at Georgia (86-88), 3/4 at Mississippi State (71-80)
Coach: Billy Donovan
Walter Hodge, Senior, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 2.3 apg
Nick Calathes, Sophomore, Guard, 17.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 5.4 rpg
Dan Werner, Junior, Forward, 8.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.2 apg
Chandler Parsons, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Alex Tyus, Sophomore, Forward, 12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Kenny Kadji, Freshman, Center, 4.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Ray Shipman, Freshman, Guard, 3.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Erving Walker, Freshman, Guard, 10.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
All the Florida superstars that brought back-to-back national titles to Gainesville are now long gone, but Coach Billy Donovan still has a similar, efficient style of play this season. The Gators shoot over 48 percent from the floor, share the ball extremely well and rarely commit a lot of turnovers. The high field-goal percentage is due in large part to 6-8 forward Alex Tyus. The sophomore does not move away from the basket very often, but he shoots over 58 percent from the floor and averages 12.4 points per game.
The style of play helps keep the turnovers down, but having a relatively experienced junior running the show definitely helps. Walter Hodge is the only piece remaining from the national championship years and he has become the leader on the floor. He is a decent shooter and a decent scorer, but keeping track of all the underclassmen pays the most dividends.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Nick Calathes is the do-it-all superstar of Florida. He averages 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. He hits 39.6 percent of his shots from long range and is the leader of the 2008-2009 Gators in every possible way. The 6-6 wing has the size of a forward and the moves of a guard. He will use his dribbling skills to get around larger defenders and score around the basket or he will simply shoot over smaller defenders. Unfortunately, when Calathes needs a break or is in foul trouble, the Gators are not the same team. It is never a bad thing to have a superstar like Calathes on your team, but it can be an issue when you have to depend on him so much. If he ends up on the bench for whatever reason, the Gators offense could be in trouble.
Who To Watch:
Five players averaged over nine points per game on the season, so there are certainly other scoring options besides Calathes. Tyus is a good scorer in the paint and forwards Chandler Parsons and Dan Werner can stretch out the defense with their outside shooting ability. Those two spend a lot of time on the perimeter, which is why a team that has a lot of size struggles in the rebounding department, but their ability to stretch out the defense gives lots of room to Tyus in the paint and Calathes and Erving Walker to drive the lane. If Parsons and Werner are hitting their shots, the Florida offense is very tough to stop…even if Calathes is not on the floor.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.2 (25th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.2 (184, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.1 (20, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.8 (245, 12)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (21, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.3 (53, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.7 (176, 7)
Rebound Margin: 0.1 (179, 10)
Assists Per Game: 16.9 (10, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.1 (29, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Providence