First Look at 2009-10 Gators

The Florida basketball team will take the court against St. Leo Monday night in the first of two exhibition contests to open up the season. Florida will have another exhibition a week later in preparation for the regular season opener against Stetson on Sunday, November 15.

The Gators will certainly look quite a bit different this season after the departures of Nick Calathes and Walter Hodge. That's 26 points a game that Florida will have to make up. In their place the Gators are expected to start a back court of freshman Kenny Boynton and sophomore Erving Walker. The 5-8 Walker played extensively last season averaging 24 minutes and 10 points an outing for the 25-11 Gators. Walker now makes the transition to full-time point guard.

Gator fans will also get their first look at center Vernon Macklin who sat out last season after transferring from Georgetown as well as freshman big man Erik Murphy and guard Nimrod Tishman who apparently will go by "Rod".

Florida Coach Billy Donovan has been very complimentary of his team in terms of conditioning and work ethic on and off the practice floor. He shared some of his early impressions about a number of his players.


On Erving Walker playing the point:

"I don't have any concerns about him back there at all. He has played very, very well. He's passed the ball very well. He's probably maybe next to Jason Williams the fastest guy we've had from one end line to the other in terms of pushing the ball. I think he's always a threat from deep range (.419 last year). I think the chemistry between he and Boynton is very good and I think they compliment each other very well and like playing with each other."

On getting Vernon Macklin on the floor:

"Vernon's been good. Vernon has gotten better offensively, (but) I wouldn't say that he's a guy that has dominated low post scoring. There's no reason that Vernon should ever have a bad practice or a bad game. If he's running the floor, if he's chasing rebounds, if he's blocking shots and he's defending those are things he can control and he done a really good job in that area. He's been very coachable and wants to get better. He's a good passer for a big guy."

On keeping expectations for Macklin realistic:

"He's really a senior in college and since he's been in college this is really the first time in his career that he's going to see significant minutes on the floor. For him getting put in that situation there's probably a level of uncertainty on his part because he's never done it before. I think he can really evaluate himself on the things he can control. Once he really focuses on the things he can control he's only going to get better.

On Dan Werner's role not being strictly at the "3":

"Dan's going to have to play some power forward for us because he's such a good handler and sometimes with our offense it does go through our front court players. Dan's a real cerebral player and he can play a couple of different positions. I really don't mind him understanding that when he goes into the game it could be at the power forward spot or the small forward spot and I think Chandler (Parsons) is the same way. We're fortunate with those two guys that they have a high level of basketball IQ and when you put things in they have the ability to absorb those things for a couple of positions."

On Alex Tyus settling in at power forward:

"Alex is a guy who I think has really improved his perimeter shooting. I wouldn't say that he has three-point range, but he's probably as consistent a 15-to-17 foot jump shooter as we have right now. He's played well. He's rebounding the ball well. I think for him and his game he's more suited to be (playing power forward) at a more natural position. Last year was difficult for him because he had to play inside so much."


To me the two guys who may hold the key for how good this team can be are Boynton and Ray Shipman. Those two are Florida's most athletic guys on the perimeter and they could make the Gators a dramatically better defensive team and transition team than they've been the past two seasons.


There will be no television of this exhibition game but it will be live on the radio in Gainesville on AM-850 WRUF as well as on line at Mark Wise and I will have the call beginning at 7:00.

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