Gators preparing for tough backcourt

The reputation of the Connecticut backcourt isn't a surprise to Florida. The Huskies are known for having one of the best backcourts in the country this season with three guards capable of handling the basketball. The Gators are expected to head to Storrs without Kasey Hill or DeVon Walker ready to play, causing numbers issues with the Florida guards on the defensive end of the floor.

The Connecticut trio of Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun and Shabazz Napier has Florida's attention. They average 36.1 points per game, led by 15 points from the senior Napier. It's Boatright and Napier that get the headlines, but Florida head coach Billy Donovan was quick to point out that Calhoun (9.4 points) should be in that group.

"They've got three really good guards, experienced guards," Donovan said. "Napier is without a doubt one of the elite point guards in the country, but it's not just him."

Donovan pointed to some of the elite point guards Florida faced last year, notably Missouri point guard Phil Pressey. To slow down the Tigers' offense last season, Florida focused its attention on Pressey because they knew it would start with him taking the ball up the floor.

That won't be the case on Monday.

Connecticut switches between the trio of guards bringing the ball up the floor. The Huskies' creativity makes it difficult for Florida to prepare.

"This is different for us," Donovan said. "Last year facing a guy like Phil Pressey (at Missouri), the ball was in his hands. (Connecticut) has three guys they can put the ball in their hands, and they're able to make plays. They put pressure on the defense."

The talented players don't stop in the backcourt. Connecticut junior DeAndre Daniels (6-9, 195 pounds) was a target for Donovan on the recruiting trail, and he has taken advantage of his time in college. Daniels comes into Monday's game averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

"I really liked his skill level at 6-9," Donovan said, remembering his time recruiting Daniels. "He's a guy that has benefitted by being in college for a few years. There are guys that think they're a one-and-done, but you realize certain guys need more time. He's a guy that has benefited from it and has put himself in a position to play in the NBA. He's a very skilled player."

Monday serves as the second of a four-game stretch that will challenge Florida. The Gators pulled off a one-point win over Florida State on Friday night, and after Monday's game at Connecticut, Florida will have eight days to prepare for hosting Kansas. The stretch ends with a game against Memphis in New York.

Monday is the only true road game of the stretch, and it will serve as a big challenge in Gampel Pavilion, which seats 10,167.

"When you play in games like this, you're going to find out more about your team and where you need to get better," Donovan said. "Things will get exposed this time of year. This stretch of games, although very challenging, we're going to get a chance to find out more out about our team."

Fightin Gators Top Stories