BASKETBALL: Frosh big men looking for playing time

Not tough enough. Soft. Weak. That was the general consensus about the 2003 men's basketball team. Adrian Moss was too spastic, Chris Richard didn't get enough PT and David Lee disappeared when it mattered. The next tallest guy on the team, Mohamed Abukar at 6 feet 10 inches, was the type of player that spent more time on the perimeter then he did in the key.

With an off-season of preparation, a well rounded group of freshmen and a stellar 2005 recruiting class that is still filling out, Coach Billy Donovan is steering the ship in the right direction. And with Midnight Madness nearing, it's just about that time to take an overall look at this year's freshman.

This past Friday in downtown I was lucky enough to get a look at the team as they partied at a club. While center David Lee enters his senior year slimmer and poised to take over the team on both sides of the ball, Joakim Noah is literally the new big man on campus.

Noah, who sizes in at 6 feet 11 inches and 227 pounds, definitely needs to hit the weight room. For a guy his size he could be making an impact this year in reserve time, but even more down the line when his put on some muscle.

Noah garnered offers from the likes of Maryland and UCLA and draws inspiration from his father Yannick Noah, the French tennis star.

"I definitely learned work ethic from my father," Joakim said. "He's the person I look up to most in the world. I look up to him because everything he does he wants to be successful but it's not something you do overnight. You've got to work hard and then hopefully good things will happen. That's what it's about. The strongest survive." Noah averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds in his senior year.

Bonell Colas was a great story for the Gators in 2003. A senior from Miami who showed endless hustle, was one of the leaders of the squad. However, Colas wasn't adequate at four spot where he consistently averaged more fouls then points.

Enter in freshman Al Horford.

Horford, a 6 foot 8 inch 235 lb. power forward, is a little raw, but could also see playing time. With Adrian Moss, who played back up center last year, possibly moving to the four, and Chris Richard coming back from should surgery, the time is there for him to play.

"I like our style of play, and I just think that I can go in and contribute right away," Horford said.

He averaged 21 points, 13 boards and 5 blocks in his senior year of play.

Matt Walsh's ability to pass and score fit Billy D's scheme to a tee. When Walsh is out though, the Gators lacked a true man at the three spot as a back up. Lee Humphrey played more at shooting guard, and again Chris Richard served more as undersized power forward to heavy for small forward. Cue the McDonalds All-American Corey Brewer.

Brewer, 6 foot 8 inches 185 pounds, is a perfect for like Walsh for Billy D's up-tempo scheme. He was a top 30 recruit in every recruiting service that averaged 29.4 points and 12 rebounds as a senior. However, Brewer isn't all about the offense. With time he could be turn out to be the best Gator defender since Justin Hamilton. Last year, it was noticeable how much Hamilton was missing when the Gators needed someone to shut down the other team's go-to-guy.

Brewer is a tenacious defender with a nice wing span and a nice touch that should see the court this year.

Stay tuned next week as I preview the scrappy scoring machine Taurean Green, who I saw put up 50 points in high school game, and the wild card Cornelius Ingram. I will also be looking at the kids of 2005 as Billy D is close to filling his class.

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