Young Adjusting to College Ball

It took his remaining strength for Patric Young to plunge into the cold tub. He knew the first practices at Florida would be tough, but the freshman didn't know his legs could feel like they did. They felt twice their weight as he struggled to find a comfortable seat in the cold tub.

"It was tough, challenging and really competitive," Patric Young said of his first few practices. "I had to sit in the ice tub for 15 minutes just to feel like me again. The coaches expect a lot from us."

It didn't take long for Young to realize he needed complete focus on what he put into his body. The physical toll of a season would be more demanding than the early days of practice.

Young listened closely to the trainers since he got to campus, but the first weekend of practice emphasized how important it was for him to work with them.

"I've learned to take care of my body more," Young said. "I'm making sure I'm getting all my meals and taking vitamins. I'm making sure to do all the right things."

The temptation for Young early in practice was to attempt dominating from the start. He hit the practice court going as fast as possible, instead of slowly adapting.

It produced turnovers. He became too aggressive with the ball and tried too hard to score. Veteran Florida defenders took advantage of his youth, stole the ball and started a quick fast break.

"The game is going really fast, but you've got to slow down yourself and take your time," Young said. "I've learned that when you take that first dribble, Erving Walker or other guys are right there to take the ball out of your hands. You've just got to be patient."

Slowing the game down is difficult for Young. He's only known one speed through his entire career, and that is to go as fast as he can. His athleticism made up for any struggles at the high school level, but he recognizes the need to pace himself in college.

In high school, Young attacked any player who dared to try scoring in the paint. Even if he didn't get the block, he was strong enough to get back and rebound. That doesn't work in college.

Young now must calculate the risk of going for a blocked shot and potentially giving up an offensive rebound if he can't get the block.

"As much as Patric Young wants to jump around the lane and block shots all the time, for every shot he blocks, he's giving up two or three offensive rebounds when he doesn't block the shot," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "The decision of when do you chase a shot or go and block out, those are things that take a lot of time to figure out."

Young's defense will be improved this fall because of his matchups with Vernon Macklin. They have gone head-to-head in almost every practice, both playing center for different teams.

"I'm still trying to stop him from getting that hook shot off," Young said of Macklin. "His arms are a lot longer than mine. Even if I'm up there trying to block his shot, he's still way up there, even if I time it right."

It shouldn't take long for Young to get accustomed in college. His 6-9, 245-pound frame is as chiseled as any member of the team. He won't be pushed around under the basket, giving the Gators a defensive presence at center they haven't had in a long time.

"He's been really, really blessed physically," Donovan said. "You can see guys that look great physically, but they don't play great. It's the old (saying), "Look like Tarzan, play like Jane." He plays like Tarzan. He enjoys contact. He wants physical confrontation. There are a lot of guys that don't want any part of that."
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