Seminoles Pose Tall Test for Donovan's Gators

After three games against average to below average sized opponents the Gator basketball team will be looking up for most of this evening's game. Florida hosts Florida State which boasts one of the tallest teams the Gators will face all season. The Seminoles are 3-0 with lopsided wins over Jacksonville, Stetson and Mercer.

The Gators also beat Stetson, but Florida's 74-46 win was not as dominating as FSU's 80-38 route.

Florida State has 7-1 Solomon Alibi (12.3/6.3), 6-9 Chris Singleton (9/10) and 6-8 Ryan Reid (10.3/7) up front and has 6-11 Xavier Gibson (11.7/3.3) coming off the bench. That length and athleticism has helped hold opponents to 26 percent shooting and has combined to block 32 shots in just three outings. The ‘Noles are also long in the backcourt with 6-5 Devidas Dulkys and former Gator recruit 6-4 Derwin Kitchen starting and 6-5 freshman Michael Sneer coming off the bench.

Billy Donovan is going to need strong performances from Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, Kenny Kadji and the rest of his front court players. He's also going to need excellent play and decision making from his undersized point guard Erving Walker.

This is the first time in a long time the Gators' home game against FSU has not been the Friday night before the football game. Donovan says he likes having the game on the football weekend, but it couldn't be done this time with the Gators playing in Atlantic City this coming weekend. FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton wants the game to stand on its own and prefers keeping it away from football.

Donovan talked about a number of aspects of this contest.


On Florida State's size:

"They're probably going to be one of the biggest and longest teams we will play against. They have great length and size, but we have Vernon up front, we have Kenny Kadji up front and Erik Murphy and Alex and Dan so we got some guys that hopefully can match up. We don't have anybody the size of those guys or the length of those guys but neither does anybody in the country."

On dealing with that size:

"I think we have to have a presence at the basket against them, but you have to be smart in terms of when your guards are making decisions going down the lane. Part of the reason they are such a good defensive team is not only are they very good on the perimeter but they have length and size in the front court to alter and change shots and they're blocking a lot of shots."

On whether he regrets not being able to get Kitchen into UF:

"I'm just more happy for Derwin for himself. During the process (of recruiting) and getting the chance to know him he's a great kid. We obviously would have loved to have him and tried to sign him but it did not work out. He deserves to be playing somewhere and I'm happy that he's able to play and fill a role and get a chance to contribute to a good team."

On whether FSU loss cost the Gators an NCAA bid last year:

"Along they year I think you can make that point to some home SEC games where we lost to Mississippi State or we lost to a Tennessee. I think every game is important and I don't think one game, per se gets you in or out of post season play. It's really what you do over the course of the year. A win against them would probably have helped. I look at maybe the South Carolina loss on the road when we could have won the game; should have won the game as just as important."

On when to play the annual FSU game:

"I've always been a big advocate of playing on the Friday night. I just think it's good. That's just me. It's a great atmosphere and it's a great way to tie the basketball and football weekend together for the fans. But people have different opinions on that stuff."

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