Gators Dealing with Lack of Size

Once again, the Gators will face a big challenge in a big frontcourt when they match up against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon. But then again, what else is new?

The Buckeyes have a talented frontcourt led by 7-0 center Kosta Koufos who averages 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Florida's smaller lineup is sure to struggle in defending Koufos, but it's something they've had to get used to all season.

"There's never a game I'm going to walk into and say we have a size advantage in the post," Billy Donovan said.

Some good news for the Gators is that Alex Tyus should be back at full strength for Saturday afternoon's nationally televised rematch of last year's national title game. Tyus played just three minutes against Georgia Southern last weekend and then played 18 against Charleston Southern.

"He had been complaining a little bit because of the flu," Donovan said. "He complained a little bit about in practice and it just didn't seem like he had that same bounce and energy about him. We got some guys that are dealing with normal cold/flu season. I really thought it affected his energy going into the Georgia Southern game."

Dan Werner is also coming along well after a slow start to the season. The sophomore forward had a career game two games ago against Georgia Southern and is someone Donovan hopes can help out the Gators defensively in the low post.

"He's got a great body," Donovan said. "Sometimes when you see a guy in college basketball with a great frame and a great body, you think, ‘wow, this guy's got to be a great player.' But the physical part of it comes from your mentality. I think Dan changed his mentality. I don't think his body changed. I think his mind changed. He's had to figure out how to play it."

Donovan said that Werner has found his special niche and that should help the Gators as they get ready to hit SEC play.

"I'm proud of the way he's grown," Donovan said. "When the season started there was so much focus on his shooting. Everyone was talking about the fact that he was 0-for-11 from the floor. But I was trying to tell him that there is so much more into it than just shooting the ball. He's been able to carve a niche on our team of something that we have to have on our team. He goes in there and rebounds. He has a physical presence about him. He's a very good passer. He makes good decisions."

At 6-7, 235-pounds, Werner can't go down into the post and bang with some of the bigger post players, but he can have success down low. It's something that Donovan will evaluate, but he also doesn't want to take away what Werner does so well outside the paint.

"We're going to have to find a way to get Dan some more post touches," Donovan said. "I thought we got that against Georgia Southern, but I thought we didn't capitalize. We missed a lot of shots around the basket."

Werner's skill set reminds him of another player from his recent past who could do similar things.

"I remember when I was coaching David Lee, he didn't always feel comfortable posting up against certain people and I don't want to force Dan to have to post up," he said. "There's so much more that he can do off the dribble that I don't want to make him more one dimensional, but I'm probably going to have to find a way to do more of that."

Although the Gators don't have the size and strength down low to match up against many teams as their schedule begins to get more difficult, Donovan said they still have to make an effort to get the ball into the post. Otherwise, team's can back down into zones and force them to make the outside shots on a consistent basis.

"We've got to get what I consider more paint touches," Donovan said. "We have to find a way to throw the ball into the paint more. Marreese [Speights] is the best option to do that because he has the most post skill."

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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