Nation Is Taking Notice Of Taurean Green

The smile is almost impish, almost as if there is a private joke that Taurean Green will only share among the amigos, his three best buddies who are also his teammates and roommates. It is a smile you see often whenever he talks to or about Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer. They are the band of brothers that have become the defining face of Florida's sixth-ranked 20-2 basketball team that will play host to South Carolina tonight at the O'Connell Center.

Green is the shortest at 6-0 but he has become the most visible of The Four Amigos. When you hang 29 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot on Kentucky when College Game Day's crew is in the house along with Dickie V and a national television audience on ESPN2, your name becomes the college basketball equivalent of a household word rather quickly.

This isn't the first time this season that folks have taken notice of this slick point guard whose dad Sidney was an All-American at UNLV playing for Tark the Shark. Taurean isn't a publicity hound but he does seem to save his best games for the national stage. He took Manhattan by storm back in November when he dazzled the folks at the Garden with back to back wowser games against Wake Forest and Syracuse. That earned him the Most Valuable Player trophy in the Coaches Vs. Cancer Tournament and it transformed Florida's hang-glider blip on the college basketball radar into a streaking F-18. The Gators went from nowhere to second in the nation before falling back to the sixth place they occupy in this week's coaches' poll.

Saturday night was a clinic in how to play the point. When he wasn't taking delight running Rajon Rondo into another tooth-loosening pick at the top of the key he making a fool of Kentucky's big men by dumping one pass after another to Noah, Horford or Chris Richard for an easy dunk. Just for good measure he hit three critical three-pointers and went 10-12 from the foul line.

When it became obvious that Rondo, considered the best defensive guard in the SEC, couldn't handle Green, Kentucky went deep in its bench seeking answers. One by one Green took Kentucky's guards to school and they all came away with failing grades. Once he humiliated the guards he turned his wrath on the Kentucky big guys. Once he was past the guards, Kentucky's big guys had to leave Noah, Horford or Richard to try to impede Green's progress to the hoop. He made them look silly by delivering one flawless passes that were converted into two more points for the Gators.

This was Taurean Green's night to shine. He was the razor sharp stiletto that Caoch Billy Donovan kept plunging into Kentucky's heart until it stopped beating.

Most of the time Green carved up the Wildcats with an unchanging poker face. It wasn't until late in the game when he dished off to Noah for a thunder jam over Randolph Morris that we saw the grin and that was only for a moment. Until the final seconds ticked off the clock he wasn't about to give in and show everyone just how much fun he was having.

You wouldn't know it by his on the court demeanor but Taurean Green has every bit as much fun --- it not more --- than his taller roomies. Brewer and Noah wear their emotions on their sleeves at all times and it only takes a dunk or a blocked shot to get Horford grinning. Taurean delights in maintaining that poker face and then flashing that impish grin when one of his teammates has done something special.

There are times, however, when this self-professed neat freak (Green and Horford are the cleanliness is next to Godliness duo while Noah and Brewer are the resident slobs) has to give in to the inner kid. There was that time last year when The Four Amigos needed to go somewhere off campus. None of them owns a car and most of the time transportation is a couple of borrowed scooters. There were no scooters available on this particular day so Green called a girl that he knew from back home in Fort Lauderdale.

"I asked her can you give us a ride?" Green said Monday, the impish grin growing wider by the second. "She said yeah, yeah, yeah … and then she got there and she had a little Honda Civic!"

She didn't know when he asked her that his friends are 6-11, 6-9 and 6-8. Although he didn't admit to it, somehow you know that he deliberately held that back just to see the reaction on her face --- shocked --- when she got there. And in typical Green fashion, he made everything work out.

"I fit," he said. That was the easy part since he's 6-0 tall. Finding a way to get his buddies in the car required some creativity.

"We all found a way to pile in," he continued. "I sat in the front so I had to put the seat all the way up [gesturing to show knees under the chin] but we found a way to fit in."

The Four Amigos are usually seen loping across the campus together. They share an apartment on campus ---- "That's where everything is and we don't have a car," said Green --- but that could change, particularly if his parents come through with transportation this summer. If he's got a car, it's likely that they will move off campus.

"I'm expecting one [car] from my family next year," he said. "I told my family that if I don't have a car next year there are going to be problems!"

And it's not like he's picky, either.

"I don't care [what kind] … I just want a car," he said.

When he talks to his dad, the former head coach at Florida Atlantic and now an assistant coach at Indiana, he talks basketball but when the conversation drifts to the car, he admits, "I try to butter him up."

Florida's success has sent his stock soaring like never before. He was almost an after thought when he signed with Florida out of Cardinal Gibbons. His AAU teammate Darius Washington (Memphis point guard out of Orlando Edgewater) was the state's Mr. Basketball while Green was considered a pretty good player who might turn out okay at the next level by the time he was in the Florida program two or three years. While Washington has had success for third-ranked Memphis, Green has better numbers in nearly every category.

Washington, who desperately wanted to jump to the NBA straight out of high school only to find he wouldn't be drafted, will probably make the jump to the pros this year if it's apparent that he will be drafted. Green, however, is having too much fun with his buddies to leave the University of Florida. Even though Horford and Noah would be certain first rounders if they declared for the draft this year, Green says the four of them are talking about staying all four years at Florida.

"We just talk about playing each year," he said. "We all want to stay all four years. We talk about how it's going to be and like how we see each other in a lot of years and like the next ten years how it's going to be. I plan on seeing Jo in New York just chilling. It's just kinda weird because we try to think about the future and we don't know what's going to happen."

They love to work hard in practice and they see the next two years as a chance for the team to improve and for their individual games to get so much better.

"If we stay all four years and keep improving we definitely could have a special team," he said. "We just try to focus on each year … going into each game. We don't really look at the years to come. We do talk about how good we'll be in two years. We do talk about that."

There will be a time in the future when they will go their separate ways. Two years may seem like forever when you're 19 years old but time passes quickly. They will get their college degrees and chances are all four of them will get a shot at playing professional basketball. The part about playing professional basketball is a pleasant thought. The thought of not living together as best buddies, however, is not.

"We've lived together since we've been freshmen," he said. "We try not to think about that."

Fightin Gators Top Stories