Florida Gators ready for Sweet 16 tip-off vs. BYU

With the 2011 NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional Semifinal game between the No. 2-seed Florida Gators (28-7) and No. 3-seed BYU Cougars (32-4) just hours away from getting underway, there are a number of storylines being discussed going into the contest. OGGOA has compiled some of the latest news and notes surrounding the Florida-BYU game airing live on TBS Thursday evening at 7:27 p.m.

WHAT SORE ANKLE?

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton sprained his ankle on Saturday against UCLA, but if you ask him or his teammates how he’s doing, you would never know he hurt it in the first place. “[He’s] fine. You couldn’t even tell that he twisted it,” senior forward Alex Tyus said. Boynton was 100 percent positive he would be playing without any issues on Thursday. “My status is good. I practiced fully [Wednesday],” he said. “I did every drill. I’m going to be good tomorrow. I’m confident.”

Head coach Billy Donovan provided a more substantial update on Boynton’s health and mobility. “He was in a position to practice [Tuesday], and the trainer wanted to hold him out and rest him another day. He went through practice [Tuesday] without any contact. All the running drills, moving drills, shooting drills, he did all those things. [Wednesday] he was full go. He was in full contact,” Donovan said. “He appeared to be moving well, has not said or given me any indication he’s having any issues or any problems with his ankle. We expect him to be fine [Thursday] night and to be able to play. He probably could have gone [Tuesday], but they just wanted to give him that extra time to at least get back in the flow, move, shoot, cut and then see if there was any kind of lasting effect from the injury, and there didn’t seem to be. […] I didn’t notice anything differently with him favoring it, him trying to protect himself at all today in practice. He did everything that everybody else did and was in there the whole entire time.”

REVENGE? WHAT 2010 GAME?

Like Boynton’s ankle, Florida’s loss in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament to BYU never happened if you talk to the Gators starters. Not only is UF not out for “revenge,” they are confident that there are few similarities between the two contests.

“We pretty much put that game in the past,” redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin said. “Coach Donovan told us it happened last year, and it was a great game. […] We’re just going to try to go out there and play defense because it’s a great team. We’re going to put that game in the past and just get ready to play. […] There’s no revenge. It’s just a regular game for us. And for them, also. The game happened last year was a great game. We lost first round of the tournament; they went on and won. But it’s no revenge, we just want to go out there and play against anybody and it happens to be BYU and they’re ready to play and we’re ready to play.”

Tyus and fellow senior F Chandler Parsons echoed Macklin’s sentiments on the subject. “We’re just excited to play tomorrow. No revenge. It could have been anybody we were going to play against, and we’re just ready to play tomorrow,” Tyus said after Parsons provided his own thoughts. “Us going into the game, we’re just worried about their team this year. We can’t be worried about what we did good last year, what we did bad last year,” he said. “We’ve just got to come in. We have a new team; they have a new team, new personnel. So it’s just going to be us against them. We’re playing them right now, so that’s all we can worry about. We can’t worry about the past or the future.”

Donovan remembers that game and notices that the Cougars are much improved from a year ago even though there won’t be any carry over. “They’re better because [their players have improved]. They are a physical team. They’re a very aggressive team. They’re a great steal team,” he said. “We’re not playing the same team we played a year ago; we’re playing a team that’s better than they were a year ago. So for us, and I’ve said to people, unless they’re going to take points from the last time we played them or rebounds or assists, that game has nothing to do with this game tomorrow. What we can take from the game is having a familiarity in terms of their personnel.”

That being said, the Gators have also vastly improved and are entering the contest with a different mindset. ”We’re more focused coming into this game,” Boynton said. “We’re mature. We’re focused more on defense, taking more charges than we did last year. We’re ready to play.” Added Walker, “We’ve been doing a great job all year with scouting. This week has been no different. Coach prepared us very well and we should be ready to go come [Thursday] night.”

TYUS “SACRIFICING” FOR THE TEAM

Though his numbers may be the worst in his college career, the intangibles Tyus has been bringing to the court night-in and night-out are being overlooked by many – just not his teammates. “Alex is doing a great job right now. We love the way he is playing. He brings a lot of energy from the tip to the end of the game,” Macklin said. “He’s all about winning. I don’t think numbers matter to any of us,” Parsons added. “He’s really bought in to our whole system and what he needs to do. He’s done a great job and brings energy every game, great defense. We wouldn’t be here without him.”

Tyus scoffs at the notion that he is doing any sacrificing, saying he is just doing what is needed to help the team win. “I really wouldn’t think of it much as sacrifice. Those different things of helping the team win, those are easy,” he said. “Trying to get offensive rebounds and trying to do well on defense and trying to bring energy is something that comes natural for me. That helped a lot to get just to this point. A lot of the guys have been doing well, helping me out as far as telling me they need me. We’re doing great, and I’m really happy about it.” Because of those efforts, Tyus feels his performance this year has been as good – if not better – than prior seasons. “It’s been a great year. I’ve grown a lot as a player just trying to do other things to impact the game and impact winning,” he said. “Whenever you make it to the Sweet 16 and you’re starting and helping the team get to this point, it definitely feels like my best year.”

GUARDING FREDETTE

Florida will be guarding BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette as a team, but most of the onus will fall on Boynton’s shoulders. Watching extensive film on his opponent over the last week, he has noticed changes in his game and has decided to adapt his defensive mindset against him. “He’s definitely more aggressive,” Boynton said of Fredette. “Last year he was scoring, but he’s way more aggressive this year. He’s expanded his range – shooting from very deep. Overall he’s gotten better as a player.” How will he combat that? “Last year I didn’t really know too much. I’ve seen him a lot this year. I’m going to try to pick him up at half court this year and make it tough for him – every shot he shoots. That’s the main thing – making him take tough shots.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker, who likes to shoot from well beyond the three-point line as well, noticed that Fredette takes it a step further. “We can’t pick him up at the three-point line, because he’ll shoot it just as he cross half court. That’s a strength of his,” he said.

BIG STAGE FOR THE FRESHMEN

For freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young, Thursday’s tip will be the most important basketball game – on the largest stage – that either has participated in. This is not a fact lost on the youngsters who average over 17 minutes per game off the bench.

“There was a state championship in high school in AAU, but it was nothing like being in the Sweet 16,” Wilbekin noted. “It’s still basketball, so you just got to play your game and play hard.” Young has a similar mindset. “I’m just taking it one step at a time,” he said. “Nothing in my life has been like this – on such a large scale. This is the biggest basketball game I’ve ever been in, but I’m not going to let it affect how I play.”

QUOTES

Parsons on BYU aside from Fredette: “We had so many careless turnovers where it led to easy baskets for them. People always underestimate everyone on their team. And I think we’ve got a good understanding going in there how good they are from playing them last year. And it’s just not Jimmer Fredette, the other guys are very good players and they understand their role, and they don’t get a lot of credit, but we’re not just focused on Jimmer, we’re focused on their entire team.”

Tyus on BYU aside from Fredette: “A lot of people lose sight of how good the other guys are playing off of Jimmer, and I feel like the key to doing a good job on them is to stop the other guys, too.”

Donovan on facing BYU in 2010 compared to 2011: “We realize going into the game that we’re going to have to play a lot better than we did a year ago, and in the game we played a year ago, we didn’t win. I think coming out of that game we can probably at least have a feel of size, athleticism. There’s a little bit of familiarity in terms of style of play, and I do think at this time in the NCAA Tournament where a lot of times there’s not a lot of familiarity because you’re seeing opponents that maybe you see on TV and don’t know a lot about. So we’re playing against a terrific team. We’re excited about the opportunity to play and advance to this point in time, and we’re playing against a team that you win 30-plus games in this day and age in college basketball, they’re very good.


 

3/23: Florida’s Sweet 16 press conference quotes

Arriving in New Orleans, LA for their Sweet 16 match-up against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan along with senior Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin met with the media to discuss a number of topics. OGGOA has compiled most of those quotes for you below (click the link below) with the rest coming in a post Thursday afternoon.

Continue Reading » 3/23: Florida’s Sweet 16 press conference quotes

Tebow’s memoir “Through My Eyes” gets a cover

Publishing house HarperCollins announced in November that it will release Through My Eyes, “an inspirational memoir by one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time: the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and current Denver Broncos first round draft pick, Tim Tebow.”

On Wednesday, the publisher officially released the cover image of the book:

Companies like Amazon.com have begun taking pre-orders with a release date of May 24. HarperCollins will initially print 200,000 copies of the memoir, which Tebow will promote via appearances/signings in Denver, CO, New York, NY, and various cities in the state of Florida. An audio book will also be available, and Through My Eyes will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well. You can pre-order it by Clicking Here.

Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

Overseas in Spain starting every game for C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 of the ACB, former Florida Gators two-time National Championship-winning point guard Taurean Green took some nearly 45 minutes out of his busy schedule to sit down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview late Tuesday evening.

Green, one of the four members of the Oh Fours and an integral part to the team’s success from 2005-07, discussed at length his college career and continuing relationship with his Gators teammates and coaches. He also provided some insight into what the current team is going through during their 2011 NCAA Tournament run and how they can improve going forward and make the most out of their opportunity.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With your father being a former NBA player and college coach as your adviser, what was it about Florida and Billy Donovan that had you winding up playing for the Gators out of high school?
TAUREAN GREEN: “Obviously Coach Donovan was a huge factor, the style of play, Coach [Anthony] Grant was a huge factor, too. It was just basically the style of play, how they get up-and-down [the court], and he’s a guard’s coach. I knew that he played for a great coach in Rick Pitino at Providence, and then he played some years in the NBA. Just from what everybody told me and from what I heard, he’s a guard’s coach and you’ll definitely get better [playing for him]. He’ll give you freedom out there but along with the freedom comes responsibility in running the team.”

AS: Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of upperclassmen holding starting roles on the team. How was it walking into a team with established guys like David Lee, Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson already comfortable with each other and running the show?
TG: “That was good for me. Some guys can adapt – you see freshmen get thrown into the fire right away nowadays. I felt like I needed that year to go against Anthony Roberson and all those guys just to get my feet wet. At the same time, I knew that I was going to be getting better going against Peep every day in practice. They led the way, and we just tried to contribute in whatever way we could.”

AS: You won the SEC Tournament that season and were a No. 4-seed going into the NCAA Tournament. What was it like playing at such a big stage so early in your career?
TG: “It was fun! When I was at Florida, the main thing was we just lived in the moment. We took it game-by-game. We wanted to do stuff that no other team really had done at Florida. We knew that we had David, Matt and Anthony, and we just wanted to contribute in any way we could. The main thing was just going out and playing hard, doing whatever it took to win.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Taurean Green…after the break!
Continue Reading » Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

Lineup choices may decide Florida-BYU game

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

In October 2005, the Villanova Wildcats received depressing news. Forward Curtis Sumpter, who had torn his ACL that April, had reinjured himself and would likely miss the entire upcoming season. At the time, head coach Jay Wright made the unconventional decision not to replace Sumpter with a forward; instead he decided to use a four-guard lineup as his team’s base set rather than just a change of pace.

Villanova began the year ranked No. 4, lost only three regular season games and advanced to the Elite Eight, losing to the eventual champion Florida Gators.

In a bit of a parallel, BYU Cougars head coach Dave Rose has also chosen to take a somewhat unconventional route to replace suspended sophomore F Brandon Davies. Blessed with a senior backcourt of all-time BYU steals leader Jackson Emery and All-American Jimmer Fredette, Rose has chosen to the duo play all 40 minutes while going with four guards and 6’8” F Noah Hartsock to round out the starting five.

The players who have seen their minutes increase the most in Davies’ absence have been the guards and wing players rather than the two taller players on the roster: 6’8” Stephen Rogers and 6’10” James Anderson. It’s interesting to compare the Cougars’ rotation and bench compared with their Sweet 16 opponent Gators, especially when you look at how the minutes have been distributed over the last seven games:

FLORIDA (minutes per game)
5’8” G Erving Walker (32.5) – 6’2” G Scottie Wilbekin (17.1)
6’2” G Kenny Boynton (32.5) – 6’6” G/F Casey Prather (6.7)
6’9” F Chandler Parsons (33.7) – 6’7” F Will Yeguete (7.1)
6’8” F Alex Tyus (24.4) – 6’9” F Erik Murphy (11.1)
6’10” C Vernon Macklin (24.3) – 6’9” F/C Patric Young (17.9)

BYU (minutes per game – season)
6’3” G Jackson Emery (32.5) – 6’0” G Nick Martineau (4.8)
6’2” G Jimmer Fredette (35.5) – 6’6” G/F Brock Zylstra (4.8)
6’6” G Kyle Collinsworth (25.4) – 6’6” F Logan Magnusson (11.4)
6’5” G/F Charles Abouo (20.7) – 6’8” F Stephen Rogers (10.0)
6’8” F Noah Hartsock (29.4) – 6’10” F/C James Anderson (7.8)

BYU (minutes per game – since suspension)
Fredette (38.7, + 3.2) – Emery (35.4, +2.9)
Hartsock (30.9, +1.4) – Collinsworth (30.1, +4.7)
Abouo (27.7, +7.0) – Magnusson (15.7, +4.3)
Rogers (8.3, -3.1) – Anderson (8.7, -0.9)
Zylstra (3.7, -1.1) -Martineau (1.5, -3.3)

The Sweet 16 match-up between the Cougars and Gators may come down to which team blinks first. Florida has three players that normally play double-figure minutes off the bench. Since Davies’ departure, BYU has only one that does so: Magnusson.

If the young men from Provo are able to maintain the top-10 national offensive efficiency and top-20 tempo going with the 6’5” Abouo and 6’6” Collinsworth, they may force UF head coach Billy Donovan to go with a smaller lineup. Conversely, if the comparatively huge front line of Florida (starters and reserves) are able to punish BYU’s smaller lineup, Rose may be have to play Rogers and Anderson more than he’d like.

The other question that immediately comes to mind is whether Emery and Fredette can continue to play effectively without being substituted. Considering their conditioning playing in high altitude, there should not be any doubt they can do so physically. No, the question is whether the 5’8” Walker and 6’2” Boynton can manage to cause any foul trouble for the BYU backcourt at all.

Fredette is notoriously uninterested in playing defense (managing, for example, to escape without being called for a single foul vs. Gonzaga), but Emery’s reputation as a defensive standout will at least be tested by the often unpredictable decisions of Walker in the lane and on the break.

3/22: Muschamp’s thoughts from spring practice

With the Florida Gators spring practice for the 2011 season underway, head coach Will Muschamp met the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss how individual players are performing, the injury statuses of others, the team’s health and how players are responding to so much information being thrown at them. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his availability.

DEBOSE’s POTENTIAL TALENT IS UNDENIABLE

From injuries and ailments to what former head coach Urban Meyer called an inability to learn the entire playbook, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose has yet to live up to the five-star billing he came out of high school with. However, when Debose did see the field in 2010, he often made electric plays including two fantastic kickoff return touchdowns in clutch situations. Muschamp explained how Debose is progressing and what he needs to do to succeed in offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s system.

“I’ve been pleased with his athleticism in the offseason,” he said. “Being a consistent worker all the time, he’s got to understand it’s a day-to-day thing. It’s not just one day here, one day the next. His consistency in his performance is what I’m stressing on, but athletically, he’s what we want at the wideout position.”

Asked if he saw Debose’s potential, Muschamp dismissed the notion. “Potential is a bad word. It means you haven’t done it,” he said. “He’s got to continue to progress to be the football player he needs to be. God’s blessed him with an awful lot of ability, but he’s got to use that ability. He’s worked hard in the offseason. He had a really good offseason program, and I’m proud of the progress he’s made up to this point. Now it’s time to be productive on the field. That’s what I’m looking for, consistent production on the field.”

OFFENSIVE LINE STEPPING UP

One of Muschamp and Weis’s immediate knocks on Florida’s returning roster was the lack of depth on both the offense and defensive lines. Though that is certainly the case, the unit performed quite well on Tuesday and showed signs of promise.

“We have some guys that can be very productive, but also we’re throwing a lot at them on their side of the ball coupled with what we’re doing defensively,” Muschamp said. “So you’ve got a lot of thinking going on right now. I’ve seen some productive things. We had some good creases in the run game today, as far as running the football. Chris [Rainey] got loose a couple times; Mack [Brown] made a couple nice runs. We’re getting a hat on a hat in the running game, and a lot of that goes to the offensive line.”

He also took a moment out to compliment the offensive line coach Weis brought with him to the Gators. “Frank Verducci is an outstanding teacher. He does a really good job coaching the players,” he said.

QUARTERBACKS STILL ADJUSTING

For redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, Weis and his pro-style offense was a godsend. Now that everything is in place, all that is left is for him to go out and win that starting job outright by setting himself apart from everyone else. There is no doubt he has the upper hand as of press time.

“John’s done some nice things throwing the ball,” Muschamp said. “We’re kind of re-learning everything as far as playing under center more. [He] threw some nice balls today. He’s been the most consistent, and [the other QBs have] been kind of spotty from that point forward – behind him.

“John’s a mature player. He’s ahead of the other guys simply because of experience and he’s very talented. We just need to continue to progress at that position.”

INJURY UPDATES / POSITION CHANGES

INJURIES
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle): “We went ahead and did a scope on Jaye Howard Monday, to clean up some things in his ankle that have kind of been an issue for the last couple of months. His timetable is uncertain, it was just a scope.”

Redshirt junior DT Earl Okine (wrist): “He had a medical procedure, and he’s going to be fine. Could have probably gone today, but we held him for precautionary reasons.”

POSITION CHANGES
Sophomore F-position/fullback Trey Burton: “He’s doing a nice job. He’s adjusting well in what he’s doing as far as the blocking and the things. Slipping him out of the backfield, Charlie’s using him in a lot of different ways. He fits well in what we do. He’s a smart, productive football player.”

Sophomore linebacker/tight end Gerald Christian: “He’s done fine. We’ve worked some bigger personnel sets [Tuesday on] offense, and he repped at tight end as well, which we said we were going to do that from the beginning. He’s a tough, physical football player. He likes the game; he likes contact. We just need to have more guys that can be productive at that position.”

QUOTES

On the players’ weights: “Every player has got a prescribed weight. It’s [decided] through myself, the position coach and Mickey [Marotti]. Every player has a certain weight that they should meet. We have a very fit football team right now. We have very few guys that have weight issues as far as being overweight. You can probably count them on one hand, which is unusual. Most of the guys are in shape. We had a good five-week offseason program, and those guys did an outstanding job of running. They’re in good condition at this point.”

On the team’s aptitude: “It’s all new for everybody. Everybody’s a freshman a little bit, on both sides of the ball.”

On slowing down the installations: “As a staff, we need to sit down and make sure that we’re not doing so much right now that it’s slowing us down in how we’re playing and [with] the physicality we need to play with on both sides of the ball. […] We’ve got a lot of guys swimming right now. We’ve thrown an awful lot at them – on both sides of the ball. They’re seeing a lot of looks right now. Just an awful lot is going on in their mind right now. We’ve thrown a bunch at them. They won’t see as many looks throughout the season as they’ve probably seen the last four days.“

FOUR BITS: Black, Horford, Brewer, SEC b-ball

1 » Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black wishes Brian Billick was still a head coach in the NFL. Why? Because Billick, unlike some other scouts and coaches, understands exactly what Black can bring to the table at the next level. Writing a column for WNST AM1570, Billick had this to say about him:

Many NFL scouts and talent evaluator will tell you that Ahmad Black is undersized and doesn’t have elite speed or quickness. […] But what I will tell you, is that despite his lack of size and speed, Black always seems to be around the football. On the field, he plays faster than his 40-time suggests by playing smart and instinctive. You will rarely find him out of position in zone schemes and he reads WRs well in man coverage. […] He displays a smooth and fluid backpedal with an efficient transition into his break on the ball. He is a reliable tackler, but gets in trouble when he leaves his feet in an effort to make a lunging hit. While Ahmad Black may not be physically intimidating, he shows up on the field and makes big plays against the best of competition. […] Black may not be the most gifted athlete, but he is an exceptional football player.

2 » Two former Gators will be squaring off on the hardwood for the third time already in March as the Chicago Bulls travel south to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Atlanta forward/center Al Horford relishes the occasions he gets to take on former teammate and now Chicago center Joakim Noah, something Horford told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “It’s going to be a battle, but we’re looking forward to it,” he said. The paper also spoke to Hawks forward Marvin Williams, who said the team can tell that Horford is extra enthusiastic when he gets to face Noah.

3 » Former Florida F Corey Brewer made headlines after the NBA trade deadline came to a close. After being sent from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the New York Knicks, he was waived by the latter team and was quickly snatched up by the Dallas Mavericks as a defensive specialist who is athletic and can play significant minutes. However, as ESPN Dallas’ Jeff Caplan points out, Brewer has had some difficulties in his short tenure with the Mavericks. Caplan reports that Brewer has acquired 19 fouls in 62 minutes of game action (one per 3.26 minutes), much higher than his 2.5 fouls-per-game average with the Timberwolves. The likely reason? He is pressing as he tries to fit in to a new situation and do whatever he can to succeed.

“I felt good about [signing with Dallas], but at the same time I knew it was going to be tough,” Brewer told ESPN. “These guys were playing really good basketball before I got here, one of the best records in the league. I knew coach was comfortable with the guys he already has so I’m just trying to earn some minutes any way I can right now. […] I’m not discouraged. This is a different situation. These guys have been here. They’ve been playing well. I’m just trying to find my way and just trying to get in line, whatever I can do to help right now. I’m not trying to push the issue of ‘I want to play, I need to play.'”

4 » With the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament finalized over the weekend, there has been plenty of talk about the Big East being overrated while the ACC has been somewhat disrespected – simply because of the number of teams who have advanced to this stage. Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive heard the rumblings and wanted to make sure his league was not overlooked either. Speaking with USA Today, Slive propped up the SEC’s accomplishments in the NCAAs. “For 22 straight years, we have had at least one of our teams make it to the Sweet 16,” noted Slive, “and for the sixth time in the last 10 years, we have had multiple teams in the Sweet 16. With two teams in the Sweet 16 again this year, the SEC’s success in basketball does not take a back seat to anyone.”

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, Fredette, Larson

1 » With Kyle Orton as a veteran “starter,” and Tim Tebow as a second-year up-and-comer and Brady Quinn as an emergency safety valve, the Denver Broncos will not be drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…or will they? Denver has been taking a very close look at a number of athletic rookie QBs including Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick…even though they already have one in Tebow on their roster. Asked why they are paying so much attention to the position, Broncos president John Elway said the following to the Denver Post: “We’re always looking for that guy. We may already have the guy who can pull the trigger and win us a championship someday. We may have him. We don’t know. We believe in Tim, but he’s not there yet.” Elway and Denver are also taking a look at defensive tackle, a position they will likely end up drafting – or so Tebow should hope.

2 » Speaking with Chris Dortch for an article posted on NBA.com, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons praised the game of former Boston Celtics star F Larry Bird, someone who the writer brought up in conversation because of the way he impacted games as a facilitator. “Oh, I’m a big Larry Bird fan,” Parsons said of the player’s NBA spread. “I always thought Larry Bird played basketball the way it ought to be played.” Dortch put Parsons up against his “Bill Russell Test” to determine if he has the chance to be successful playing at the next level. He also spoke with NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake about Parsons. “One of his advantage is that he has a number of skills he does well,” Blake said. “He shoots the ball. He’s got size. He passes very well. He’s a rebounder. And he’s a hard worker and has a professional approach.”

3 » Though BYU Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette had his way with Florida in 2010 – especially in the two overtime periods – he is well-aware that the Gators are a much improved team this time around. “They’re just better because they’re more experienced and have played together for two years,” he told the Associated Press. “They won two games in the NCAA Tournament together as a team and they’re used to winning.” He also discussed how Florida might guard him. “I think they’re just going to be really tenacious…run at my ball screens hard, maybe double them and try to get the bal out of my hands,” Fredette said.

4 » Freshman F Cody Larson will be redshirting this season and has spent every game from the bench watching his teammates achieve great success. Donovan praised Larson’s contributions during a media availability at the beginning of March, but assistant Larry Shyatt expanded on those comments to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “He’s been terrific,” Shyatt said. “He’s helped our frontline get better this year. Great work ethic, improved offensively, inside and out. We’re excited he’s going to be eligible next season.” Though Larson himself says sitting is “tough,” he understands the reasoning. “I’m looking at it like I’m not going to play if I don’t get better,” he said. “I just need to keep improving.”

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