BASKETBALL: IMPRESSIONS AGAINST ECKERD COLLEGE

These are some impressions following the Gator victory in their second exhibition game against Eckerd…

'You can call me Al': With starting center Adrian Moss sitting out with a sprained ankle, Coach Billy Donovan was faced with a good dilemma to have this early in the season. Sophomore Chris Richard started in place of Moss playing a solid game in which he established himself well coming off his summer knee injury with five points. However, the story of the night came in true freshman Al Horford.

Horford was amazing out there and brought to the Gators a grit that was definitely lacking in 2003. While his impact should be taken with a grain of salt because of the opponent, his ability, stats and hustle shouldn't. In 27 minutes, Horford had 12 points, 6 blocks, and 12 rebounds (6 offensive, 6 defensive). Horford had arguably the play of the night when an attempted Eckerd alley oop was met by with a Horford block right at the basket.

In the big picture, it will be interesting to see how much court time Horford sees with the return of Moss to the starting lineup. It was a noticeable problem in 2003 that the Gators were constantly out muscled in the key. From Kentucky's Gerald Hayes to Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts, rebounding was a glaring weakness. If Horford can provide that stat line each night, UF could be in for some good times in 2004.

'Consistent-Lee': Tonight was a good example of just how important it is to have another big man down low. Last year, Lee was constantly a target in the key for opposing teams and struggled when doubled team. With Horford and Richard supplying some muscle under the boards, Lee exploded for 26 points in 28 minutes. Lee showed his versatility as a big man going 12 for 14 from the free throw line.

Lee showed plenty of great moves with his back to the baskets keeping the athleticism that made him so dangerous last year at the power forward spot. When Moss returns, it will be important for them to continue to communicate in the key, because the Gators offense in 2004 is going to need to rely on post scoring production. Which leads me to my next point…

'Much of the Same': While it is obvious that the focal point of UF's basketball offense goes through Anthony Roberson, and deservedly so, the Gators learned in important lesson last year with their perimeter offense. You live by the shot, you die by the shot. When the Florida's perimeter game is on, the Gators are very hard to beat.

Lee Humphrey is a force from beyond the arch hitting 3 of 4 tonight. Unfortunately, when they are off they are off and with Matt Walsh going 1 of 6 from three point land and Peep 2 of 6, this is a problem that could arise as the season goes on.

It will be absolutely vital for David Lee, Adrian Moss and Co. to establish themselves early on in games so that they can kick out passes to their offensive arsenal. If they can do that successfully, the group of Peep, Taurean Green and Humphrey will be lights out come SEC time.


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