A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball program under head coach Billy Donovan, former forward Adam Allen – a four-star recruit coming out of Milton High School – was forced to retire due to multiple knee surgeries. No longer with the team, he has joined OGGOA as a basketball columnist and will provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2011-12 season.
Friday night Florida was hoping to snag a big road win at the undefeated No. 3 Syracuse Orange without junior starting forward Erik Murphy but fell short in two primary areas – turnovers and rebounding.
Turnovers have doomed the Gators in recent memory and proved to once again be a factor in their latest big game. The fact is: It’s nearly impossible to go on the road against a top 10 team and expect to win when you cough the ball up 20 or more times.
Murphy’s absence and sophomore center Patric Young only being able to play 25 minutes (mostly in the second half) because of foul trouble had a large impact on the game in the rebounding and low post scoring departments.
Sophomore F Will Yeguete played well but, despite his great effort and energy, could only do so much standing 6’6” against the length and size of the Orange’s front line.
Syracuse’s zone caused problems for Florida all night. The whole idea of SU’s patented 2-3 is to get teams out of their comfort zone and bait them into settling for shots that may appear to be the best available. Even when UF did hit tough treys, it simply gave the team false hope because the Orange know teams won’t be able to make enough challenged threes over the course of 40 minutes to beat them.
Additionally, with Murphy being out, the Gators didn’t have a true threat in the high post and a big man who can space the floor and knock down shots. When UF stopped getting the ball to the high post and baseline on offense, the team got stagnant.
Florida settled for setting ball screens on the guard at the top of the zone and kicking to the wings, which did not force Syracuse’s back end to work at all. Even as out of rhythm as the Gators may have seemed on offense, UF would have been in a great position to win the game if the players simply took better care of the ball.
Read the rest of this edition of Allen’s Alley…after the break!
Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario, the team’s sixth man, barely had any effect on the game after playing just six minutes in the first half. Though head coach Billy Donovan made the tough decision to sit him, I would not look too much into that choice long-term. Rosario is a competitor and should be good to go against Arizona on Wednesday.
Despite all the negatives, you have to give the Orange’s zone credit. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has been running the same defense for years and continues to cause his opponents the same headaches that Florida suffered Friday night.
Donovan is one of the best coaches in the business at helping his team understand what they do wrong one game and helping them correct it in the following contest. Look for the Gators to take a big step forward in their preparations and come out ready to play against Arizona on Wednesday.
» Without Murphy playing, I wouldn’t put too much stock into the loss, considering the team was also without Young for one half and Rosario for another. Murphy’s impact on the game is bigger than his numbers may show.
» The Gators battled once again despite losing to their second top-three team on the road. That never-quit mentality will win Florida a few tough games this year.
» The turnovers continue to plague UF. If the Gators want to be an elite team, they will have to take better care of the ball and the guards must penetrate with a purpose. Most of the time the simplest play is the right play.
» Reliance on outside shooting. Even some of the threes Florida made were tough shots (off the dribble, heavily contested), but some of that had to do with the lack of scoring inside with Murphy out and Young in foul trouble.
» The bench needs to be more effective especially in the frontcourt.
» Coming out of the half, UF needed to be more focused about imposing their will on the other team. Lapses on defense early in the second half and some poor shot selection doomed the Gators.
» Scoop Jardine was able to expose the defense with his penetration and shot making in the second half. If one player is hurting you that much, you need to adjust defensively and slow him down.