HOOPS: Just Don't Call Moss Superstitious

Adrian Moss does not think he's a superstitious guy, but when given the opportunity to appear on the cover of the University of Florida media guide, the 6-9 fifth-year senior declined the opportunity. You see, he was one of the players on the cover last year and he had to have back surgery.

"I was on the cover of every thing, schedule cards, media guides, even posters last season," said Moss. "I got injured. I think that was a jinx."

He hurt his back and had to have surgery that forced him to miss a number of games. When he did come back, he had limited minutes. The buzz around the basketball complex is that he's gotten superstitious. He says that's not the case at all.

"I'm not superstitious at all," he said, "but if I can reverse some of the things I did before my injury, maybe I can go back to my normal routine of playing basketball."

He's put in the extra time with the strength and conditioning coaches to get into great physical condition. He's done the rehab work on his back so he is going without pain now.

"The back is good," he said. "It was a long rehab process but it went well. I'm feeling good, strong and back to my old self."

Moss is the lone senior on a team that has just two juniors. Unlike the last couple of years when the Gators had proven scorers like Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee, Florida will have a lot of question marks on offense but Moss believes the Gators might be better defensively than last year when they won the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.

During the Gators' run to the SEC Tournament championship, Florida improved dramatically on defense and in rebounding. Moss thinks Florida has the elements in place to put more pressure on the ball.

"Last season we had a big defensive year," said Adrian Moss. "We defended and rebounded well. This season it will be more of the same defensive pressure only better." He has been impressed with what he's seen of the team in early season workouts, particularly in the weight room. Even though the Gators will be very young, he thinks they have the potential to be very good.

"The improvement of this team is impressive," he said. "We are a stronger team and I believe we will be more physical this season. We are going to press and play harder this season."

Seven is Florida's lucky number going into the season. The Gators have won 20 games or more for seven straight years and they have made the NCAA Tournament the last seven seasons. Due to the loss of Roberson, Walsh and Lee to the NBA, many experts say this could be the year the record run for UF could come to an end. Moss, however, hasn't seen anything that would make him think that the good times are over.

One reason the pundits figure the Gators will have a drop-off is because all the proven scorers are gone. With Roberson, Walsh and Lee, you could depend on 50 points or more per game. Sophomore Corey Brewer is the leading returning scorer for Florida and he scored only eight points per game last year.

The lack of a proven returning scorer doesn't seem to faze Moss who believes Florida can find its points from a variety of sources. He's far more concerned with what the Gators do to stop people.

"I've been here for five years and I know what it takes to win in the SEC," he said. "One guy scoring 20 points a night is not going to get a win every game in the SEC. The only team I've seen it work for was Georgia with Jarvis Hayes and he was a lottery pick in the NBA. It takes a defensive and rebounding oriented team to win in the SEC. We're going to be a great transition team because of our defensive play."

For the Gators to keep rolling, the team will have to keep their focus on each opponent, each game. They will not have the luxury of looking past even one opponent.

"The crazy thing about this team is that we are never under the radar," said Moss. "Every time someone says we are under the radar we do something to get back on the radar. We are not going to take any team on our schedule lightly and they will not take us lightly."

As the only senior, he knows he will be called on to be a leader. That is a role he's ready to assume although he admits it's something new.

"I am still learning how to lead but I believe we will be fine," he said. "It's a long season, we will be just fine."

The Gator Nation and opposing fans can say what they wish about Adrian Moss. People can call him old, as Billy Donovan so affectionately does, superstitious or a foul magnet. One thing they should all say is that Adrian Moss believes in his team as they prepare for what he believes will be one of their best seasons yet.

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