Joining ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive for the 2010-11 basketball season is new correspondent Malik Grady. An OGGOA reader since the very beginning and Florida Gators basketball observer for two decades, Malik will be contributing his unique views and educated takes on head coach Billy Donovan’s squad throughout the season. Please do us a favor and welcome him into the fold after reading his first offering, a review of Florida’s two preaseason games this year.
By Malik Grady – OGGOA Correspondent
Observers only had five minutes to evaluate freshman Scottie Wilbekin before he was injured, during which time he managed a pair of assists and two steals. He has good size for the point and looked quick with the ball, though he seemed to get a little “high school cute” with it. Last year, after the preseason, then-freshman Nimrod Tishman rarely played again, but Wilbekin seems to be much more in Donovan’s plans considering the three-guard lineup the Gators have practiced with at times.
Junior Erving Walker, last year’s starter at the point, showed a bit of the good news/bad news he did at times last season. He led the team in assists (13 in the two games) but also had six turnovers while simultaneously forcing shots at times. Donovan said he’s seen improvement overall in Walker’s decision making, and he is improving defensively in the press where his stature is actually a benefit.
Fellow junior Kyle McClanahan saw a total of 17 minutes in the preseason but showed some limitations after managing four turnovers in six minutes in his first game and no assists in either. Donovan has expressed confidence in him at times though, so it’s possible he could work himself into emergency duty.
Read the rest of Malik’s preseason wrap-up and prepare for OGGOA‘s 2010-11 season preview (published Thursday)…after the break!
Shooting guard is the position that Florida fans will certainly hope carries over from the preseason to the regular season, as sophomore Kenny Boynton once again proved how efficient he can be. As many have noted, he’s now gone over 20 points in all four preseason games he’s played in. In two performances this year, he posted 46 points on 30 shots in 55 minutes. Last year he was a high-volume but not very efficient scorer, so anything approaching those numbers in the regular season would be very welcome.
Senior Chandler Parsons showed exactly what you can hope for from your best player and All-SEC candidate. He scored, distributed, rebounded and even got into some thievery with seven steals. The confidence that grew throughout last year and continued to emerge at the LeBron James Skills Camp this summer was palpable in his play.
Continuing Donovan’s trend in training new players at only one position, freshmen Casey Prather and Will Yeguete made the most of their minutes on the court at shooting guard and small forward, respectively. Each debuted as box score stuffers with Prather getting 10 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, two assists and two blocks, and Yeguete posting six points, eight rebounds and three steals. Sporting height and athleticism, each should be factors in the press with a high ceiling certainly possible. Yeguete’s willingness to set picks for his teammates, an underrated skill, was also impressive for someone who has been playing for such a short time (three years).
The Gators’ starting frontcourt of senior power forward Alex Tyus and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin played limited minutes in the preseason as Donovan often tried out other combinations inside. Tyus was efficient as a finisher and scorer, and Macklin showed flashes of the impressive post offense he’s evidenced at times, but neither distinguished themselves much on the boards.
After an injury-marred season where he was pushed around at center and played at or under 217 pounds all year, sophomore Erik Murphy muscled up to 229 and will play much more at the four this year. His offensive game is more guileful and efficient than bruising, and his apparently improved range (including hitting shots from beyond the arc) could be simply a taste of things to come.
Freshman Cody Larson seemed to play his few minutes of the preseason at the center position behind Macklin and fellow frosh Patric Young. Although he hasn’t gotten a chance to show much yet, at 6’9” and 230 lbs., he’s at least in a better place physically than Murphy was inside last year.
Last but certainly not least, the much-talked-about Young brought the advertised physicality in his time on the floor. Although he surprised a bit by not rebounding a great deal, his defensive fundamentals were obvious in numerous charges taken and the three blocks he achieved in 37 combined minutes. His tendency to foul often was evident, but Donovan believes that can be corrected as time goes on.
Even without Wilbekin available for most of the preseason, Donovan was able to get 11 players double figure minutes the first exhibition game and nine to that level in the second. With guards like Boynton and Walker, who are much more effective in full-court match-ups, on the floor, playing a lot of people and getting up-and-down should be a large part of the identity of this year’s team.
However, to do that effectively, the freshmen (and Murphy) will have to contribute quickly enough to gain Donovan’s confidence. In early season big games – like the one against Ohio State on Nov. 16 – a rotation of only eight or nine is more likely, though a true 10-man rotation would be a welcome sight for those who pine for the full “line changes” and depth once experienced by the Mike Miller era Final Four team.