Murphy, Yeguete look to fill Florida’s frontcourt

By Adam Silverstein
November 3, 2011

With the departure of three senior starters from their frontcourt due to graduation, the Florida Gators are hoping to support what is being called one of the best backcourts in the country by solidifying the area around the hoop.

That task falls primarily into the hands sophomore center Patric Young, who showed flashes of dominance in 2010-11 while averaging 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game. Young will be a major presence in the paint for UF all season, but the Gators also need some players to compliment Young down low.

Junior forward Erik Murphy has earned a spot in the starting five and hopes to do what he can to ensure Florida goes far this year.

“I’m just going to try to play my role, do what coach asks and do whatever I can for the team to help us win,” he said on Wednesday.

At 6’10” and 230 lbs., Murphy has added some much-needed weight in the offseason in order to be more physical down low and stay healthy for the duration of the season.

“A couple times both seasons I got banged up a little bit. The weight [gain] has definitely helped me,” he said. “I’m in the best shape of my life. It feels good, and I feel comfortable right now.”

Sophomore F Will Yeguete may have only played 7.1 minutes per game last year, but his average of 2.6 rebounds was second-best off the bench only to Young (3.8).

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]Yeguete has been told by head coach Billy Donovan that he is being counted on to be a rebounding machine, a role he embraces tremendously. “I know that’s my first thing – defensively getting rebounds,” he said.

Though he is comfortable with that assignment, Yeguete has also been trying to improve his offense in order to stay on the floor longer and contribute even more to the team.

“I’ve tried to be more aggressive offensively. I can’t just play defense,” he said. “Coach D wants me to be a fixture on offense and not turn the ball over. I’ve been working on it a lot lately and the whole summer, so I think it’s coming along pretty good.”

Both Murphy and Yeguete are excited for Thursday’s exhibition game at home against Catholic University. The former believes it will be a great tune-up before regular season action begins next Thursday.

“Coach is really focusing on defense, playing well together, which we’ve been doing in practice every day,” Murphy said. “We’re just trying to come together and fine tune a little bit before the season starts.”

Yeguete is ready and raring to go. “We’re really excited to start the season,” he said. “It has been a long way since last year. We worked hard during the summer and the conditioning has come a long way. We’re really excited about the season and have high expectations, so it’s going to be fun.”

Florida hosts Catholic in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. The game will air live on GatorVision.tv only, but OGGOA will have live coverage of the game on Twitter.[/EXPAND]

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