VETTEL: Gators' Success Has a Point

Looking back to six months ago I wrote the key to this Gator Basketball team would be the play of point guard Taurean Green and the ability of this team to play well when he was not on the floor. Now that the Gators are moving on to the Final Four and a chance at the school's first national title, it's even clearer that point guard is the key to it all.

Obviously when a team has all five starters in double figures everyone on the floor is playing a crucial role in what's happening on the court. From the emotional fire of Joakim Noah to the quiet workmanlike efforts of Al Horford, Green has plenty of help. From the unpredictably spectacular plays of Corey "Spiderman" Brewer to the precision marksmanship of Lee Humphrey the Gators have five guys who are essential.

Still, the indispensable piece to this puzzle is Green. Not only because he leads America's most unselfish team in assists; he is also second in scoring, steals and three-point shots. But perhaps most important of all, Taurean Green is Florida's iron man. His 33.2 minutes per game is more than three minutes above the number two guy on the team (Humphrey 29.7). In post-season play he has worked even harder, logging 36.3 minutes each night.

With all that work, something has to suffer and for Green it's been his shooting accuracy. The sometimes leg-weary guard has made just 10 of 33 shots in the NCAA Tournament. After making 40 percent of his "threes" through the SEC Tournament, Green is just 6-for-22 (.273) from long range in the big dance.

Yet despite that, Green has never wavered when he steps to the free throw line. He is 20-for-22 at the charity stripe and has essentially seen to it late rallies have little if any chance against this Gator squad.

Green Chats About The Final Four

Tuesday, Florida's sophomore point guard spoke with various media folks (including your personal favorite, me!) about the Final Four and more.

MG: What goes through your mind when you hear the team "Cinderella" applied to your next opponent (George Mason)?

TG: It doesn't matter. Obviously they can play because they beat quality teams to get where they are right now. So we just got to be ready to play.

MG: Does it add to the drama of your game?

TG Yeah, it adds to the drama but it doesn't matter to us. They're just another opponent to us and we know they're a good team. We've just got to stay focused, not listen to all that stuff and remember its going to be a forty minute game.

MG: What did you know about George Mason before the tournament and what do you know now?

TG: I didn't know anything about them before the tournament. But they've made some noise in the tournament and they proved that they're a good team. They can shoot and they have some good post players. They like to pressure on defense so we've got to be ready to take on those challenges.

LV: They are very much guard-oriented and you just played a Villanova team that's guard oriented. Does that similarity help a bit in preparations?

TG: Yeah, because against Villanova we had to guard four guards so that should help us a lot. Every game we've had to play a different type of game. Georgetown slowed it down and we had to guard their action for almost 35 seconds each time. I think being in those situations has helped us.

LV: Would you prefer an up-tempo game as opposed to the Georgetown style?

TG: It really doesn't matter, but we like to get up and down and that's the style we like to play at.

MG: Some of the guys say that when they want to get under your skin they tease you about your height.

TG: Nah, I don't let that bother me anymore, that's old.

MG: Your mom says you used to complain about not being tall like your dad (Sidney Green is 6'9"; Taurean claims to be 6' ½")

TG: I used to mess around with my mom and make my mom feel bad about it because she's so short. I tell her I got her genes, and I would say why can't I be like dad and she'd say "God wanted you to be a point guard."

MG: When did you finally accept that?

TG: I think I accepted it my junior year. I just told myself, all right Taurean you're not gonna grow no more so you gotta deal with it.

MG: Three of you guys have famous dads. How are they handling the situation?

TG: They're enjoying it, too just as much as we are. You see them in the stands jumping up and down. They're just proud fans just like anybody else. My dad told me that he was one game away from getting to the Final Four. He told me to tell me teammates to just seize the moment and enjoy it and keep playing like we've been playing.

LV: Taurean, what's it been like around campus since you guys got back from Minneapolis?

TG: It's been crazy. The atmosphere around campus and around Gainesville is just at another level. We're just happy that we're at the point where we're at right now.

MG: Do you feel any pressure as the point guard that you have to lead this team to a National Championship?

TG: No. It takes five guys on the court to win the game. And you got to have all the role players and we just see it as a team effort. You know, it does start with the point guard and the point guard just tries to set the tempo and get everyone involved and try to make everyone happy. But I think all five guys on the court just feed off each other when we're in the game and try to make the game easier for each other.

Taurean Green is 14 assists from tying the Florida single-season record of 190. That mark seemed out of each when the regular season ended. But since then, The Gators have played seven games and Green has picked up 26 assists in those contests. While his shooting has not been very good in the post-season with the exception of the Arkansas game in the SEC Tournament, there's no question his play is absolutely vital to getting two more wins in Indianapolis.

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