Hoops Shows Potential, Flaws

The Gator Basketball team gave the public a glimpse of this year's team Sunday afternoon with a 30 minute practice session followed by three five-minute scrimmages. A sparse gathering (you could hardly call it a crowd) saw some of the potential in this year's squad along with many of the concerns that will hover around the team all season long.

Florida is not as talented, not as big, not as athletic nor as experienced as they were last year. Still, evaluating the scrimmage is difficult to do in a group context; so instead I will offer up a thumbnail assessment of the eight scholarship Gators who took part in the action. Freshman swingman Adam Allen did not participate in scrimmages though he went through the practice portion of the activity due to a minor injury.

Marreese Speights ----- The big man showed his variety of offensive skills knocking down shots from as far as 17 feet out. He showed some improvement in avoiding silly fouls, although he picked up one near the three-point line and may have deserved another on a high screen. He will be a major scorer if he can be out there 30 minutes a night.

Alex Tyus ----- Without a doubt the most explosive athlete on the team, Tyus will be a crowd favorite because he plays hard all the time. He seems to want to rebound the ball more than anyone around him and has shot blocking skills. As with Speights, fouls will be a concern here.

Dan Werner ----- Looks physically stronger and much more confident now that he knows he'll be playing. Stroked several nice three-pointers and made a nice drive to the basket. His willingness to play physically and get his share of rebounds will be tested.

Jonathan Mitchell ----- Sort of ran hot and cold out there. Mitchell made some nice shots and had an impressive block of Speights. He rebounded pretty well, but twice got his pocket picked after a rebound.

Walter Hodge ----- The Gators' most experienced player is still much smoother when he plays off the ball. Hodge had a solid day, nothing spectacular but he looks like he'll be good for 10-12 points a night.

Nick Calathes ----- He may be the Gators' best all around player. Calathes showed alertness on defense, court awareness in passing the ball both in the half court and transition and shot the ball pretty well. He'll play more point when Hodge is on the floor and shooting guard when Jai Lucas is playing.

Jai Lucas ----- He'll be fun to watch develop with his quickness off the ball. Lucas is the truest "point" on the team, but also nailed a three-pointer during the action. He must be more active defensively, but he'll entertain.

Chandler Parsons ----- At 6-9 you would like him in the paint, but Parsons is clearly most comfortable at the "3" spot. He didn't shoot the ball well, but did other things to be effective. He handles the ball and passes it better than most small forwards, but will have a heck of a time defending smaller "3"s man to man.

We'll get a much better idea of the Gators as a "team" when they face outside competition in their first exhibition game on November 1st. But for now, realize this team will not come close to the last two years. They will have to stay healthy, work hard and develop quickly in order to continue Florida's run of 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament bids.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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