Midnight Madness sets stage for new season

Midnight Madness 2005 in The House of Horror all began on Friday when the men's and women's basketball teams officially kicked off their seasons. Midnight Madness gives fans their first look at the Florida Gators Basketball teams. Midnight Madness gave the freshman players their first chance to meet fans and the Rowdy Reptiles, Florida's student section. There seems to be a buzz surrounding the Florida Gators Men's and Women's basketball teams entering their 2005-2006 basketball seasons.

How will the men's basketball team perform now that David Lee, Anthony Roberson, and Matt Walsh are gone? How many players will step up to replace the combined 4,242 careers points scored by Walsh, Roberson and Lee? How will this team perform with 59% of the Gators scoring offense gone? Who will step up to replace the leaders and experienced players that have departed the Gators?

Billy Donavan is still waiting for some of his young players to become leaders, "To be honest with you, I'm disappointed with them because I don't think they've done a good job. I think they have the ability to be great leaders, they have great personalities, and they are all hard workers"

Gator fans should not worry because returning are some of the top defensive players from a year ago. Billy says, "Our greatest potential on this basketball team is for us to be tremendous defensively." Florida held opponents to 57.1 points a game at the end of last season, while beating the Kentucky Wildcats twice in the span of eight days capturing the Gators first ever SEC tournament Championship. Al Horford returns with his 51 blocks shots from a year ago. Corey Brewer also returns with a team leading 1.4 steals per game along with his two different socks a game. Chris Richards enter the season healthy for the first time ever at Florida. Richards was a force on the board along with blocking while improving his shot blocking ability. Taurean Green, who is projected to replace Anthony Roberson at point guard, entered games down the stretch switching with Roberson's offense for Green's defensive play. Green was also third on the team with 1.0 steals per game, to go along with 2.2assist per game.

Florida's freshman class includes, Walter Hodge, 6-0 guard from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, David Huertas, a 6-5 guard from Humacao, Puerto Rico and Jimmie Sutton from Deerfield Beach, Florida. Billy Donovan begins his tenth season; seven wins away from his 200th win of his coaching career. Speaking with Billy before the Madness began he said, "I get little excited about it to be honest with you. It's a little bit different this year with the new rules of the NCAA allowing your whole team to participate. We have been doing things maybe once a week as a team for maybe forty minutes. Midnight Madness will not be the first time we've work together."

Donovan addressed the health of his team saying, "The only guy that did not practice was Jimmie Sutton he had his knee re-scoped. Jimmie has been cleared to do some non-contact drills."

Carolyn Peck and the Women's Basketball team are looking for this season to be their break out season. Peck enters her fourth season with the Florida Women's Basketball program looking to replacing her top three scoring leaders from last season. The Women's team has a lot of experience returning to the court with The Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four, officially named by Peck includes Sara Lowe, Danielle Santos, Dalila Eshe, and Brittany Davis. The Women Gators freshman class enters the 2005-2006 season ranked number seven in the nation. Peck, says, "I have six freshman, Latoya Bullard, Sha Brooks, Kim Critton, Marshae Dotson, Jessica Jackson, and Brook Cornish." Peck and the rest of the Gator are anxious to find out what this freshman class can contribute to make this season a success.

The fans were allowed to participate in the madness by yelling and screaming for winners of prize packages and other contests. You can't have full madness without the University of Florida Dazzlers. The Dazzlers armed with new steps allowed some of the men and women basketball players to show some of their dance steps. The men and women basketball players performing with The Dazzlers showed that they can move their feet to beat opponents or just to the beat.

Lee Humphrey, Walter Hodge, Garrett Tyler, Corey Brewer, and last years slam dunk Champion track and field athlete Mike Morrison all participated in the 2005 Slam Dunk Contest. The final round was Morrison vs. Brewer. Morrison went first with Danielle Santos, senior guard for the Women's Team, standing in the lane. Carolyn Peck sat nervously watching as Morrison ran from half court and leaped over Santos to slam the ball. Brewer followed with Taurean Green standing in the lane. Green bounced the ball for Brewer as he jumped over his head to slam the ball to wrap up the night.

For more coverage of Midnight Madness and tons of photos, visit It Happened in Hogtowne!

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