Reduced Charges Could be Big for 2011-2012

The Gators may have gotten some really big news on Monday when the charges against two of their big men were reduced to second degree misdemeanors. Freshman Cody Larson and sophomore Erik Murphy saw charges reduced for an incident that happened last month in St. Augustine. On a roster void of depth in the frontcourt, this very well could be huge news.

The Gainesville Sun reported Monday that the State Attorney's office has reduced the third-degree felony charges to second-degree misdemeanor criminal trespass charges. The lesser charge can result in a penalty of anywhere from six months in jail to fines and probation.

There is no word yet on how Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan will react to the lesser charges and the two players actually have yet to make a plea. A lesser charge could mean the return of one or maybe both to a squad that needs some size for the upcoming season.

With the loss of senior forwards, Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Alex Tyus, all of whom will try out for professional basketball and/or be drafted, the Gators will have huge holes to fill up front. Murphy spent the second most time on the court of any backup forward in 2010-2011 only behind freshman phenom Patric Young. Larson redshirted this past season.

Both were expected to make huge contributions this coming year until their unfortunate transgression last month and now their basketball fate seems to lie in the hands of the Florida coaching staff and/or the school.

Murphy would be the only upperclassman frontcourt player on the team and the two would be the tallest two players on the squad for the upcoming season.

Still, there are tough decisions that Donovan and company have to make. Murphy, who has never been in trouble with the law before participated in this amazingly ridiculous incident that has no doubt embarrassed himself, his family, his school, and his team. Larson, who came to Florida after a run-in with the law, may have a shorter leash.

Donovan will have a talented team one way or another, but the mischievous players' talent and size would certainly help. A positive for the head coach and his squad is the lack of off-the-field issues his players have had during his tenure, a sign that the man recruits quality people for his squad.

That isn't to say that Larson and Murphy aren't quality people that just made a hand full of stupid mistakes in this one episode. All of these things must be weighed and they will, but a change in the charges will likely allow Donovan and company to weigh everything and make a decision best for their program.

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