Gators Schedule Tailor-Made

What do you do when you are faced with replacing the top six players from your basketball team and have just nine guys on scholarship? Well, if you are Billy Donovan, you put together a schedule designed to build confidence in your young squad.

Florida released its schedule for next season on Monday afternoon, and the Gators are certainly going to great lengths to ease the transition into life without the "Oh-Fours", Chris Richard and Lee Humphrey. The Gators will play 19 regular season home games and three of their four non-conference games away from the O'Connell Center will be played in front of friendly crowds. The Gators will face Temple in South Florida, Vermont in Tampa and Georgia Southern in Jacksonville. Florida's only non-conference road game will be at Ohio State on December 22, and to call that a rematch of the National Championship Game would be a tad misleading.

I have often been an advocate for more difficult and interesting non-conference schedules, but if ever the Gators needed to go shopping for "cupcakes" this was the year to do it. Florida enters the 21007-08 campaign with one upper classman, junior Walter Hodge. The combo guard will be joined on the floor by three sophomore and five freshmen.

The Gators need time to grow, mature, learn and play before taking on the SEC and others. This schedule will give them a chance to do that. Florida will get to build confidence while playing in front of friendly crowds night in and night out. It might leave them a little less than ideally prepared for the intensity of life on the road in the SEC, but early success is far more important.

Next year, with a veteran team returning and another top freshman class the Gators will likely go back to the kind of schedule they played last year. For now, however home is where the wins are.


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