*College basketball is here (unlike the NBA), and this year might be one of the best in recent memory. The powerhouse is back, while the Cinderellas believe. That’s a deadly combination. We know some of y’all have been asking for some previews. We have you covered – the top 16 teams in the nation will be previewed individually in the next few weeks. After we broke down two talented squads yesterday, we’ll keep this going with No. 10-ranked Florida (ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll).*
The tables have turned in Gainesville, Florida. Going from a dual-threat team to a perimeter-oriented team is not easy. They lost three key big men in Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. They only return one senior in Erving Walker. Walker can take over games with his scoring ability, but he will need to be more consistent if he wants to push Florida to become a top-5 team in the country. The Gators have talent. For this team, it will be about establishing roles and turning potential into production.
This team can run with anyone in the nation. Their guards are top-notch athletes. While they do not have great size in the backcourt, they make up for it with speed and talent. Florida will often find themselves in a three-guard or four-guard set this year, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They also have one of the best raw athletes in the country in Patric Young. Scouts say Young’s physique reminds them of players like Josh Smith and Dwight Howard.
This team has many different types of players with good fundamentals in a certain category, but not many versatile players. Their freshman sensation, Bradley Beal, is arguably the team’s most versatile player. Then you have Walker, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario who are primarily scorers. Erik Murphy is a face-up power forward. Will Yeguete is the undersized banger down low. Patric Young will be the rebounder and defensive anchor. They have a lot of guys who can play a certain role. They just need to establish those roles and develop chemistry. And that could take a while.
Losing an entire frontline hurts. The Gators are going to need to find a way to replace 71 percent of their rebounding. They also have four talented guards – none of whom are pure point guards – that will need to get minutes to produce. Basically, there will be a lot of pressure on Billy Donovan to figure out substitutions early on.
X-Factor: Patric Young and Erik Murphy
The guard situation will figure itself out (hopefully). The big question for Florida is their frontline. On paper, Young and Murphy should complement each other nicely. The only issue is that they are both unproven players. They went up against a bunch of bangers in practice all last year, so these two young, promising big men should be poised for big years. If not, Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis will be licking their lips when they host Florida in February.
We already know this team can score from the perimeter. We already know athletically, they can hang with any team in the nation. We don’t know how they will react with all the new faces and players in new roles. We also don’t know how they will divide up minutes for all of their talented guards. Someone will need to step down for the rest of the team to advance.