Gators face Biggest Hoop Challenge to Date

Although it feels like an undercard bout before the main event of Saturday's football game, the Gators will face rival Florida State on the hard court in what should be their most challenging game to date.

"Florida State, just personally knowing their personnel, is very athletic, they're always very talented and we know on Friday night they'll play their best game of the year," Billy Donovan said. "I think that that's certainly been the case with teams that we've played against here of late because of what's happened here. Our guys will need to take whatever games Florida State's played up to this point in time and just realize they'll play their best game here on Friday night."

With the notoriety the Gator program has earned over the past few years, it's expected that opponents will bring their best performance, even though much of those championship teams are gone. It's undoubtedly been the case for Florida State, a team that always manages to give the Gators a game.

"They play us tough every year," Werner said. "I know we had a couple guys out or sick or whatever but they're still a very good team."

The Seminoles lost their best player from a year ago in Al Thornton, who was selected 14th overall in the NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. But even without Thornton, Werner said he expects just as much of a challenge.

"To tell you the truth, I don't really see much of a difference," Werner said. "They're still very talented. Every year, they play Duke very tough, they even beat Duke every other year. That tells you the talent level they have there."

It will be the first rivalry game for the team's five freshmen. The crowd will be energetic and motions will be running high. It will be interesting to see how the young team responds.

"I'm excited, but to be honest with you, it's another game for us," Calathes said. "It's another game to step on the court and show everybody that we're going to be a good team this year. I know it's a huge rivalry. I think we're going to be ready for them to come here."

It may just be another game for Calathes, but for fellow freshmen Chandler Parsons and Adam Allen it's sure to mean a lot more. Parsons originally tried to commit to Florida State back in 2005 but was turned away by the Seminole coaching staff while they waited for other recruits. Parsons was disappointed by the experience, but little did he know at the time that he would eventually sign their biggest rival.

The connection is even more personal for Adam Allen, who's father played for the Seminoles in the ‘80s. Many expected the Seminole legacy to follow in his father's footsteps but he too chose to sign with the Gators. Donovan said he hasn't addressed the issue with Allen and that he doesn't expect it to be a distraction.

Questions or comments? Contact's Blake Bonsack

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