Walker with a New Goal

It took until his senior season, but the Florida roster is built this year so that Erving Walker doesn't have to carry the scoring load. Head coach Billy Donovan doesn't want him to. Walker starts his final season in Gainesville with plenty of talent around him and a new goal on the court. The point guard wants to lead the SEC in assists.

The goal was actually instilled by Donovan, who also pointed out all the questions Walker has overcome in his career at Florida. He proved as a freshman that he wanted the ball in clutch situations and had the ability to hit big shots. After Nick Calathes left before Walker's sophomore year, he undersized guard slid in to the point guard position and proved capable of handling it.

In the last two seasons, the Gators' depth has been non-existent at guard. Despite that, Walker has stayed healthy and been on the court whenever needed. His lack of size hasn't affected his durability.

"Now, can he prove that he can take his game as a point guard to the next level and help our team?" Billy Donovan asked rhetorically. "I really think that's important to him that he has an understanding of what's going on in the game."

The early results are positive. Through the first few practices of the season, only Casey Prather and Cody Larson had taken less shots than Walker. He's focusing more on his teammates and getting them involved in the game. This eliminates the out of control drives through the lane that have plagued him in recent years.

He's now playing with a better understanding of the game.

"We're just trying to get everybody easy shots," Walker said. "We're working together. We feel that we have a lot of talent and we can help each other. If someone has a better shot, then they should get the shot. It makes it tougher for teams to guard us."

The assists are important and will come with improved play, but the main aspect Donovan wants Walker focusing on is the flow of the game. If the Gators have run down the floor five times and haven't thrown the ball in the post to Patric Young, Donovan doesn't want to be forced to point that out.

He wants the players to know the situation and adjust. If one of the other guards is hot from behind the three-point line, he wants Walker to create something for that player.

"Great players always play to whatever is needed in the game," Donovan said.

The ideal game for Walker this year could be different than last year. Florida needed him to score last season, whether it came from behind the three-point line or on drives to the basket.

This year, Donovan said a positive game for Walker might come with eight points, eight assists, one turnover and shooting a high percentage from the field.

Part of that comes from the weapons around Walker this year. The Gators added Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, who was the second player in school history to cross the 1,000-point plateau in his first two seasons. Gatorade National Player of the Year Brad Beal will be a freshman and shouldn't have a problem scoring. Kenny Boynton returns after averaging 14.2 points last season, and Walker led the team with 14.6 points of his own.

Scoring points shouldn't be a problem. The perception is that all the scorers finding enough shots could be an issue, but the guards have used that perception to stay unselfish.

"We're all embracing it," Walker said. "We think that having all these guards will make our job easier because we'll have fresher legs in games. We'll compete against each other in practice, which will only make us better. We feel like we have the best guards, so what better way to get better than to go up against each other every day?"

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