Contributions from Young, Wilbekin make impact

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

Comparing the 2010-11 version of Florida Gators basketball with the team as it was constituted in 2009-10, it is quite obvious the group as a whole is drastically improved. In addition to playing better defense, something Adam previously touched on, Florida is shooting better and turning the ball over less.

Up 1.6 percent from the field (46-44.4 percent) and 3.3 percent from downtown (34.6-31.3 percent), the Gators are more efficient than they were last year, making approximately the same number of baskets per game in fewer attempts.

Where and why has this slight but integral positive change come from? For one, the returning players are showing a newfound cohesiveness. Then there is the departure of guard Ray Shipman (transferred to Central Florida) and forward Dan Werner (graduated). Sophomore F Erik Murphy and some of the other young reserves have stepped up to replace the minutes previously occupied by Shipman.

Statistics show that the greatest difference is the combination of losing nearly 30 minutes per game from Werner and adding the 35 combined minutes that emerging freshmen Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin have contributed.

Neither Werner last season nor Young and Wilbekin this year shoot the ball often, but the duo’s shot selection and efficiency have made their production markedly different.

Werner Young Wilbekin Young/Wilbekin
3PT 19/73 (26%) N/A 11/37 (30%) 11/37 (30%)
2PT 34/87 (39%) 40/69 (58%) 16/36 (44%) 56/105 (53%)
FG 53/160 (33%) 40/69 (58%) 27/73 (37%) 67/142 (47%)

In 30 games, Young and Wilbekin combined for 64.7 percent more two-point baskets (56) than Werner did (34) in 34 games; the duo has also hit 26.4 percent more overall field goals (67-53). From three-point range, though Werner made eight more than Wilbekin has so far, it took him 36 additional attempts to do so.

In the other aspects of their games, the Young-Wilbekin combo has eerily similar production to Werner’s last year:

Werner Young/Wilbekin
PTS 4.6 5.8
REB 4.1 5.0
AST 2.0 2.1
TO 1.5 1.4
STL 1.3 1.6

Standing out the most is Young’s penchant for blocking shots. He has 26 rejections in 30 games, which easily dwarf’s Werner’s five in 34 contests.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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3/9: Players discuss upcoming SEC Tournament

As the No. 12/12 Florida Gators (24-6, 13-3 SEC) prepare for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament, four of the team’s starters discussed the successful regular season while looking ahead to all of the game action ahead of them. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the media availability.

MOTIVATION TO PLAY AS A TEAM

At the start of the season, head coach Billy Donovan kept repeating that Florida was failing to come together as a cohesive unit and instead consisted of players who were worried about “getting their own.” Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton insists that all changed after UF dropped a tough neutral site game (in Orlando, FL) to Central Florida.

“We had a meeting – players only – we told each other it’s not about the individual. That’s going to come [in time],” he said. “After the UCF game, it made a lot of sense. We played selfish that game. After watching film, we had a meeting and we came together and said we had to play together as a team in order for us to get where we want to be. That was the start. Every game after that we came out and played as a team.”

Now the team is focused on maintaining that edge. “All we can do is stick together as a team and keep practicing hard and just be ready for the games,” junior point guard Erving Walker said. “It’s one and done now. We’re not going to be satisfied with just winning the regular season SEC. We want to do more things.”
Continue Reading » 3/9: Players discuss upcoming SEC Tournament

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Gators add commitment from 2012 PG Ogbueze

Florida Gators basketball’s 2012 recruiting class doubled in size Wednesday as four-star point guard Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) committed to head coach Billy Donovan.

Joining four-star shooting guard Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL), Ogbueze is Donovan’s second backcourt commitment for the 2012 cycle and the University of Florida’s highest-ranked point guard recruit since former five-star Nick Calathes. He is listed as the No. 7 player at his position by Scout and the No. 9 point guard in his class by Rivals.

“When I arrived on campus I was impressed with all the coaches, players and the beautiful campus,” Ogbueze told ESPN about his decision. “I want to learn my position from Coach Donovan, who has had great success with perimeter players and is a proven winner. Winning back-to-back national championships means a lot.”

Always holding the school in high acclaim, Ogbueze decided to attend Florida over offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, Tennessee, Wake Forest and South Carolina. Assistant coach Rob Lanier was heavily involved in his recruitment.

“Braxton Ogbueze approaches everything with excellence in mind,” his high school head coach Sean Wiseman told ESPN. “From the court to the classroom as well as his character, he tries to be the best at what he does. That’s what makes him special.”

The Gators already have five-star SG Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and three-star forward Walter Pitchford (East Lansing, MI) on board as members of their 2011 signing class.

Scout.com first reported Ogbueze’s decision.

Photo Credit: NY2LA

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Parsons, Walker recognized with more honors

Fresh of winning the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award from the league’s coaches, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons earned additional recognition on Wednesday.

SportingNews tabbed Parsons as it’s SEC Player of the Year and selected him as one of the five member of its 2011 All-SEC First Team. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Parsons to their 2011 All-District 21 First Team.

Also honored Tuesday was Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, who was given 2011 All-SEC Second Team honors by SportingNews and 2011 All-District 21 Second Team recognition by the NABC.

SportingNews chose former Florida assistant and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant as the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year, an award the conference coaches presented to Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

The NABC’s District 21 is an area that covers the states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Grant on Donovan, track & field

1 » Like his former boss and close friend did for him a few days ago, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant expressed plenty of positive thoughts and warm wishes toward Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan upon learning he was voted 2011 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. “It’s a great honor – 15 years in the league and the success that he’s enjoyed,” Grant told The Birmingham News. “It’s really, really hard – the expectations were extremely high for his team this year. They may have surpassed those expectations with what they’ve done. […] There is not a more deserving recipient because of the way he approaches what he does and the passion that he has. I’m really happy for him and their program.”

2 » As OGGOA tweeted about Monday, Florida basketball was not the only sport to pull in high praise from the SEC. Gators track and field head coach Mike Holloway was named the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year for his sport on Monday, and junior jumper Christian Taylor earned 2011 SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year honors. Also awarded by the conference were hurdler Eddie Lovett and Cory McGee, who were each named 2011 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year for their respective gender.

3 » The 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships begin on Friday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, TX, and Florida track and field will be represented by 15 student-athletes (13 men, two women) at the event. The Gators men’s team is looking to defend its title after claiming the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship. Sophomore sprinter and defending champion Jeff Demps will compete in the 60-meter dash, while defending champion Taylor will try to once again win the triple jump. Junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock will also compete in the triple jump. Other Florida athletes participating in the NCAA Indoors include Clay (long jump), junior runner Dumisani Hlaselo (mile), junior Gray Horn (heptathlon), Lovett (60-meter hurdles), McGee (mile), sophomore Tony McQuay (200-meter dash, 400-meter dash), senior Kemal Mesic (shot put), senior Terrell Wilks (60-meter dash). The Gators will also field men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay teams.

4 » Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka, speaking with Chicago Sun-Times, provided his opinion on the future of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Ditka only had good things to convey about the second-year pro. “People talk about the combine, about body fat, 40 times, bench presses, how high you can jump. That’s great, but how do you measure heart?” he said. “People talk about Tim Tebow like he can’t do this or he doesn’t have this throwing skill. But all that matters is can he lead you from Point A to Point B. I like him. You cannot coach character. You cannot coach leadership.”

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FOUR BITS: Johnson, Pitino, Joyer, Dunker

1 » It is quite obvious that former Florida Gators guard Carl Johnson is a large man. Florida fans have known this for quite some time and NFL folks got to see it for themselves during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine when he weighed in at an event-high 361 lbs. However, Johnson’s size is not solely due to eating habits or not working out but rather the medicine he takes to combat his Crohn’s Disease. “[It’s] like arthritis in your intestines,” he told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “Crohn’s patients are known for dropping massive amounts of weight, like 20 pounds in a week. So [the medicine] makes me gain weight. It makes me retain water. But it also keeps me alive, so it’s a double-edged sword.” Luckily for Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard (who also has the disease) has been there for him from the beginning. Read more about his struggles with the disease and preparation for the 2011 NFL Draft.

2 » He may be a bit biased due to his son being an assistant on the team and the fact that he coached Florida head coach Billy Donovan while both were at Providence, but Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino tabbed the Gators as his dark horse candidate for a national title during a recent appearance on the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN Radio. “Everybody overlooks Florida,” he said. “Obviously Billy Donovan played for me, but I think Florida’s the type of team with three seniors in the front court with a very quick backcourt. They’re a team that could beat anyone on a given night. I look at Florida. Although they are ranked [12th] in the nation, nobody talks about them as a potential national champion. But they have the experience in their head coach, they have the experience in the frontcourt, the returning backcourt.”

3 » You have to be strong in order to play fullback and linebacker. You have to be even stronger to carry your family on your back when your mother suffers a cerebral aneurysm, undergoes multiple surgeries and has years of recovery ahead of her. Florida freshman FB Hunter Joyer is both after helping his family survive the frightening near-loss of his mom. “To have her there to be able to share in that moment was amazing,” Hunter said of his mom joining him on National Signing Day. “I couldn’t imagine how upset I would be if she wasn’t there. Signing with Florida was one of my lifelong dreams, and she was there to share it and take pictures with me.”

4 » Four-star tackle Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL) looks to be one of the top offensive lineman available in the 2012 recruiting class, and the Gators are already making a strong push for him. Having visited Florida for Junior Day already, Dunker was impressed with head coach Will Muschamp, the campus and town; he hopes to learn more about the school as he goes through the recruiting process. “I had a good time while they were showing me around,” Dunker told the Post. “I was driving through [Gainesville] and it seems like a place I could live.”

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Parsons named 2011 SEC Player of the Year

A double-digit point scorer and team leader in rebounding and assists, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons was named the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

He is the first University of Florida student-athlete to ever win the award.

“I’m honored to be named the SEC Player of the Year,’’ Parsons said in a statement. “It’s really not something I ever spent a lot of energy on and in time I may be able to process winning the award, but right now I’m focused on staying grounded and helping our team understand what we have to do to get better everyday. Obviously this award is handed out to a single player, but I share it proudly with my teammates and coaching staff.”

The straw that has stirred the drink for Florida all season, Parsons is one of only two active Division I college basketball players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (805), No. 3 in points (1377) and assists (307), and No. 4 in steals (123).

Parsons has accounted for seven double-doubles on the season including three-straight to start the month of February and five in SEC play. He is also the only player in the country 6’9” or taller dishing more than 3.0 assists per game.

Averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Parsons was also named to the 2011 All-SEC First Team alongside Alabama F JaMychal Green, Georgia F Trey Thompkins, Kentucky F Terrence Jones, Kentucky G Brandon Knight, Ole Miss G Chris Warren, Tennessee G Scotty Hopson and Vanderbilt G John Jenkins.

His Gators teammates – sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker – earned nominations to the All-SEC Second Team, and center Patric Young was honored on the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team.

OGGOA RELATED: Billy Donovan named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Billy Donovan named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year

In 15 seasons with the Florida Gators, head coach Billy Donovan has won two NCAA National Championships, coached in three national title games, been victorious in three Southeastern Conference Tournaments and captured four SEC regular season championships. He was even presented the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2010 to honor his many accomplishments.

On Tuesday, Donovan received an award that has escaped him his entire Florida career as he was finally selected as 2011 SEC Coach of the Year by his peers.

This season, Donovan took a team that was projected to win the conference but saw themselves unranked when SEC action began to a 13-3 record, No. 12 ranking and their first East division and SEC regular season championships since 2007.

“I am extremely humbled to be named SEC Coach of the Year by my peers. This league has outstanding coaches and a number of deserving candidates to win the award,’’ he said in a statement. “I’m fortunate and blessed to have a great group of players, assistant coaches and staff – this honor is more a reflection of their work and effort than anything that I have done.’’

His main competition for the award, former Gators assistant and current Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant, also completed a fantastic year. With Alabama projected to finish third in the SEC West during the preseason, Grant fueled his team to a 12-4 conference record and their first division title since 2005.

“When there is a team that maybe exceeds expectations or maybe a team that comes out of nowhere or nobody thought they would be what they end up being, immediately that’s the Coach of the Year,” Donovan said last week. “If you’re asking me, Anthony Grant’s the Coach of the Year.”

Always complimentary of his fellow coaches and former assistants, Donovan in many ways would have been just as happy to see Grant take home the award. In fact, individual honors are not in Donovan’s wheelhouse, he prefers to win championships.

When Donovan eventually hangs it up, he will likely be ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in all major SEC coaching categories to Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp. Tuesday he lost his lead in one category – being the longest-tenured and most successful head coach in the conference who had not previously earned a SEC Coach of the Year award.

OGGOA RELATED: Chandler Parsons named 2011 SEC Player of the Year

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