Gators Rebounding Nicely

Billy Donovan's new look basketball team has done about as well as could be expected in the first eight games of the season. Florida has won seven times already, likely putting the team one-third of the way to its tenth straight NCAA Tournament bid.

The Gators have shown they can blow out inferior competition. They have also shown they can rebound, literally and figuratively.

When you talk about bouncing back figuratively it's the process by which a team puts a setback behind them and moves forward. The Gators were clocked by FSU 65-51, but have come back with a pair of victories by 23 and 25 points over Stetson and Vermont, respectively.

In the literal sense, rebounding is going to be a key for this team all season long. Florida is undersized with just one who is 6-10 and one at 6-9. Not only does Florida lack height, they lack bulk; which is not all that surprising for a team with five freshmen and three sophomores. On the year Florida has lost the battle on the glass three times, most notably in that loss to the ‘Noles when Florida was overpowered by eleven rebounds and it was more dramatic until the late minutes.

Positive Signs Recently

For the past two years, the Gators didn't worry much about getting their share of rebounds. With a front court of Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer, Florida could count on 20-25 rebounds a night from that trio plus another four or more from Chris Richard off the bench. This team does not have that luxury and must do a better job of rebounding by committee.

Friday against Vermont two guys who have been disappointing in their approach to hitting the glass were very effective in that area. Sophomore Jonathan Mitchell snared seven caroms down in Tampa, the most in his Gator career. Alex also had a personal best as the freshman pulled down six rebounds in the win over Vermont.

The contributions of those two are critically needed in support of what has been solid board work from starting big men Marreese Speights (7.9) and Dan Werner (6.8). Florida doesn't need Tyus and Mitchell to grab 13 every night. But the closer they get to that number, the better the Gators will be.

Florida returns to the O'Dome for a pair of easy ones with Jacksonville (Monday) and FAMU (Wednesday) and the progress on the glass needs to continue. Certainly that job will get tougher after the first of the year when play gets more physical and Florida will have to show a willingness to compete in the paint, but for now you have to feel this team is progressing well and rebounding nicely – literally and figuratively.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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