Florida Basketball Preview: #39
Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #6 Southeastern Conference
2008-09: 25-11, 9-7
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Billy Donovan (310-126 at Florida, 345-146 overall)
Florida has spent the last two years in the NIT. That is not what most expected even with the mass exodus following back to back national championships. And this is a group that will have to rely on some youngsters if they want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. Once again the talent is there, but the Gators need to play better defense if they want to make it back to the big stage.
Key Losses: G Nick Calathes, F Allan Chaney, G Walter Hodge
A few newcomers will make an immediate impact on this team. Vernon Macklin, a transfer from Georgetown, will give the team a true post player and that is great news for the rest of the frontcourt who can now spend a majority of their time playing in their natural positions. Incoming freshman Erik Murphy is a versatile 6-10 forward who will give the Gators plenty of depth in the frontcourt. Adam Allen is also back after missing last season and averaging 4.0 points per game as a freshman. Those guys will bolster the frontcourt, but the player who has the program buzzing is Kenny Boynton. The 6-2 guard will score in just about every way possible and should find himself starting from day one.
Boynton will help take some of the burden off of Erving Walker. Walker, a 5-8 sophomore, tallied 10.1 points and 2.4 assists last year and that was mostly off of the bench. Now Walker has to take over the point guard duties from the departed Nick Calathes and turn into a leader. He certainly has the ability to take this team over with his consistent outside shooting and his ability to get to the basket. Ray Shipman is the other returning perimeter player. The 6-5 sophomore showed plenty of potential during the 2008-2009 campaign, but he needs to find some more consistency on his outside shot before he will turn into a quality scorer.
Dan Werner, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus started a majority of the games in the frontcourt last year and all three of them are back. Wener is a tall small forward who, at 6-8, can shoot over most opposing players. Parsons is also a decent outside shooter, but he does most of his damage attacking the basket. And, with the addition of Macklin, Parsons might be the odd man out as far as the starting lineup is concerned. Kenny Kadji is yet another sophomore who had a decent freshman season. He only averaged 12.5 minutes per game, but Kadji is a big body who can grab rebounds and block shots.
Who to Watch:
Tyus had to play the five spot most of last season and he is best suited to be a power forward. Still he averaged 12.5 points per game and led the team in rebounding and blocked shots. If Macklin can make the impact that most Florida fans hope, without getting into too much foul trouble and if Kadji can play about 20 minutes per game, Tyus will be able to spend almost all of his time at the four spot and that means the 6-8 junior will have a great year.
The frontcourt is very underappreciated. If Parsons, who averaged 9.2 points and 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore, is coming off the bench, that is some quality depth at Coach Billy Donovan’s disposal. The rebounding issues of a year ago will be gone and Walker and Boynton will give the backcourt plenty of scoring punch. That leaves it up to the defense as the difference between an NCAA appearance and another disappointing trip to the NIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Erving Walker, Sophomore, Guard 10.1 points per game
Kenny Boynton, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Dan Werner, Senior, Forward, 8.9 points per game
Alex Tyus, Junior, Forward, 12.5 points per game
Vernon Macklin, Junior, Center, DNP last season
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