Florida basketball really a top 10 team in 2010-11?

By Adam Silverstein
May 12, 2010

All five starters are returning for the first time since the Florida Gators back-to-back National Championship seasons, head coach Billy Donovan has a much-needed deep and talented recruiting class coming in and not a single player declared for the NBA Draft for the first time in years. With all of these factors taken into consideration, three college basketball analysts have already declared Florida basketball to be a top 10 team going into the 2010-11 season.

ESPN‘s Andy Katz and Pat Forde and CBS SportsGary Parrish have given the Gators this distinction. But the question is: Do they deserve the love?

See what the experts and OGGOA have to say…after the break!

Let’s first take a look at what they think in brief paragraph form:

KATZ – 10. Florida: I’m back on board with the Gators. This is hardly 2005-06 or 2006-07, but Florida does return all five starters from an NCAA tournament team. This will be a group that has experience, understands how to play for Billy Donovan and will find ways to win. Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin aren’t going as a group to the NBA. Who knows if any of them will even make the league? But this is a solid college squad that can win the SEC East. A quality recruiting class will add much-needed depth and having Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario working out with them every day will help push them.

FORDE – 9. Florida: The Gators were well behind Kentucky and Tennessee in the SEC East pecking order last season, but they return an entire starting five of double-figure scorers while the Wildcats and Volunteers have experienced significant personnel losses. It might be time for Billy Donovan to reassert himself after three lean seasons.

PARRISH – 10. Florida: All five starters are back thanks to Alex Tyus’ decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft. Freshmen Casey Prather and Patric Young will add depth and should help the Gators not only make the NCAA tournament again, but perhaps win an SEC title on their way.

Four reasons why they might be right:
» There is something to be said about continuity. Having five guys who played the vast majority of game minutes together (mostly due to a lack of bench players) and are all simultaneously honing their games over the summer should bring some added familiarity and confidence to the court – something the team has desperately needed since it had its top six players depart in 2007.

» Sophomore forward Erik Murphy showed flashes throughout the season and could become a major factor for the team in 2010-11. Though he will not be sharing minutes with Dan Werner (graduation) any more, Murphy will have freshman Patric Young (perhaps already the team’s most physical player) battling for time on the floor.

» Senior forward Alex Tyus will be motivated. Not only does he want to prove he is more talented than people give him credit for, Tyus desires to gain experience playing small forward. While the Gators are giving minutes to Murphy and Young in the post, Tyus may get an opportunity to shift to the 3 when fellow senior Chandler Parsons needs a rest.

» Redshirt sophomore center Kenny Kadji will be healthy. Now, when redshirt senior Vernon Macklin comes out of the game, the team will not have to “go small” and can continue running the offense with a true center in the middle. Kadji developed nicely as a freshman and should continue his growth getting plenty of minutes behind Macklin.

Four reasons why they might be wrong:
» Roster depth is important and with five (or six) new players coming in, it is assumed to be a strength next season. However, as it pertains to 2010-11, almost all of that depth is coming in the frontcourt – where the Gators were already strong. That being said…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker, as we have contended for quite some time, is neither talented enough nor physical enough to be a legitimate starting ball handler. He does not finish inside, lets defenders shoot right over him (due to his size) and seemingly has a shoot-first mindset when he should be concentrating on distribution. This is where roster depth comes into play. One could feel comfortable with Walker if there was a point guard capable of effectively spelling him on the court; unfortunately, the only option (if he is ends up being signed) would be 17-year-old Scottie Wilbekin. Then again, Wilbekin does bring size and a vast amount of potential to the position.

» Nobody will know what to expect from Kentucky until they take the court with their bevy of brand new five-star recruits, but Tennessee and Vanderbilt are two other SEC East teams playing at a consistently high level. Some are projecting Florida to win the division and perhaps even the conference, but in order to be a top preseason team, at least the first distinction should be a sure thing – and it’s not.

» They may have ended up as a No. 10-seed, but the Gators were on the NCAA Tournament bubble for most of the season even after posting 20 wins. Whether or not you agree that they barely got in (and many don’t because of their position in the bracket), a three overtime first-round loss to Brigham Young (who fell to Kansas State by 12 in the next round) was not awe-inspiring. That being said, a deep bench and more experience should easily take them over that hump – but this is not about making the tournament – it is about whether or not Florida is a top 10 team going into the season.

5 Comments

  1. John Shanks says:

    If we have more depth from our guards we should be able to make shots in the final 5 minutes of play. We were in every game last season except Xavier, I’m pretty sure we within 4 points or leading in all of our other losses last year. We did play a tough and grueling schedule.

    I’m optimistic, we certainly know more about our team next year than most other schools do.

  2. JW says:

    At times last year Parsons looked like the best ball handler on the court. With all the depth in the frontcourt, it would be nice to see someone with his size see some time at the point.

  3. g8ter27 says:

    “Florida basketball really a top 10 team in 2010-11?” Ummmm No….but I will keep hoping.

  4. MattJ says:

    I’d buy on to a top 20 team, but 10 seems like a best case senario

  5. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    We should be a top 10 team unless there are major injuries or chemistry problems

Top