Gators Confirm Challenging Non-SEC Schedule

As we've been telling you all summer those who have been clamoring for the Gator Basketball team to play a more difficult non-conference schedule will get their wish this season. Florida Coach Billy Donovan has released the Gators' slate of games prior to the start of SEC play.

It features five games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year including Michigan State which reached the finals of the Big Dance. The Gators will also face Big East power Syracuse in Tampa.

The home schedule is significantly upgraded with three NCAA teams coming to the O'Connell Center. Florida State visits Gainesville in November, American University comes in December and Xavier will face the Gators in February.

Once again fans around the state will get a chance to see the Gators come to town. In addition to the Syracuse game, the Gators will play J-U in Jacksonville and return to the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise with Richmond providing the opposition.

The Gators will take on this challenge with one of the youngest and thinnest backcourts in recent memory. Florida returns just sophomores Erving Walker (10.1) and Ray Shipman (3.8) on the perimeter. That tandem will be joined by highly touted guard Kenny Boynton from Plantation. There's a chance the Gators could add another back court player to the mix. Donovan could also look for junior Chandler Parsons (9.2/5.7) or walk on Kyle McClanahan to give the team some minutes at the "2" as well.

While the back court is a question mark, the Gators are expected to be plenty strong up front. Vernon Macklin is eligible after sitting out a year following his transfer from Georgetown. His presence and that of Kenny Kadji (4.4/2.7) and Eloy Vargas will allow Alex Tyus (12.5/6.2) to be a full-time power forward. Dan Werner (8.9/4.9) should play more minutes at the small forward spot where his passing ability will be more valuable.

The Gators posted a 25-11 record last season including a 9-7 SEC mark. The Gators did advance to the third round of the NIT before losing to Penn State in the O'Dome.

2009-10 Gator Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

2 St. Leo University (Exhibition)
9 Webber International (Exhibition)
15 Stetson
18 Georgia Southern
20 Troy
24 Florida State
27 Michigan State or U-Mass/Rutgers, Atlantic City, N.J.
28 Michigan State or U-Mass/Rutgers, Atlantic City, N.J.

1 Florida A&M  
4 Jacksonville @ Jacksonville, Fla.
10 Syracuse @ Tampa, Fla.
19 Richmond @ Sunrise, Fla.
22 South Alabama  
28 American
30 Presbyterian

1 North Carolina State @ Raleigh, N.C.

13  Xavier

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