Murphy and Yeguete Need Big Year

It is no secret that the University of Florida basketball team is going to be a guard oriented bunch in 2011-2012. The loss of big time front court players Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin, and Alex Tyus has left the team a little shorthanded with numbers in the front court. Junior Erik Murphy and sophomore Will Yeguete at forward are just two that will have to step up.

For Erik Murphy, it is about getting better on the defensive side of the ball. Last week, the Gators ventured to Orlando to scrimmage with UCF a squad very capable of making the NCAA tournament and the top 25. Murphy thinks he played a little better on the defensive end of the court.

"There are some things I have to do better," he said. "Coach has emphasized defense. I played a little better on defense and we tried to feel each other out."

The Gators were out rebounded by eight on the day and that is where a guy like Murphy has to take some responsibility this year.

"It was eye opening a little bit, but it was one scrimmage and will make the team get better in that area," he said. "Being a front court guy it is part of my responsibility to rebound the ball, so I am trying to focus on that too."

Murphy has put on about 15 pounds or so in the offseason and thinks the added weight will help him inside.

"It has helped me, especially down low and I am able to bang a little more," he said. "A couple of times in the past season I was banged up a bit. The way it's going to help me is that it is all muscle and I am in the best shape of my life. It feels good and I feel comfortable right now."

Sophomore Will Yeguete is what you might call an ‘intangible' guy. He is quick with his hands and feet and makes all of the loose ball plays that are so important in games. Defensively he is a stand out, but he has to work on his offensive game.

In the scrimmage last week, Yeguete continued on the path but knows he has to get better and handling the ball on offense.

"I think I did ok," Yeguete said of the scrimmage. "Defensively I did good. I just need to make the extra pass and coach will tell us about it. I don't know how many rebounds I had, I just know I did well defensively and have to cut down on turnovers."

Yeguete knows his offensive game has to improve and the biggest part of it is believing in himself and attacking the rim at the right time. Florida head coach Billy Donovan has been on him about it.

"I am trying to be more aggressive offensively, I just can't play defense (all the time)," he said. "Coach D wants me to be more effective on offense and not turn the ball over, so I have been working on that. I have been working on that lately and all summer, so I think it is coming along."

Yeguete toured with team France in the offseason and when he returned, Donovan quipped that he had too many French pasties. He wasn't in great shape. It hasn't taken long for him to get back in gear and actually add some muscle to his frame. Much needed for this team.

"I think when I came back I was real tired physically and not in the shape he wanted me to be," Yeguete said of Donovan's comment. "The strength work has been really good and I think now I am in really good shape to start the season. I am about 225 pounds and when I came back I was about 215."

Yeguete may actually get a little time at center for Florida with the lack of size on the roster, which means the added bulk will actually come in even more handy.

"I played with Casey Prather one time he and I were inside," he said. "I don't know if we want to do that a lot."

One thing Yeguete may be very well suited for is the promising up-tempo style we expect to see form this gator basketball team. With such a guard heavy unit, look for Florida to spread the court and really try and make things an up and down the court adventure for opponents. Yeguete's athleticism should be gr4eat for this kind of game.

"I like it and think it is going to be really exciting, the pressing and stuff," he said. "I think it will be good if we press the right way and think it can help us a lot."

Florida plays host to Catholic University tonight at 7 p.m. in the O'Connell center in the team's only exhibition game of the season where he will be matched up with his son, the younger Billy Donovan.

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