Addition by Subtraction

It was long time Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey who is credited with coining that term. It means sometimes a team can get better not by adding an important player but by removing one. The theory was that you can often have a player who is an obstacle to a team's goals.

That theory is apparently proving itself with this year's Gator basketball team which is apparently better off without its top player form last year, Nick Calathes.

Don't take this as a criticism of Nick in any way shape or form because it is not. Calathes was clearly Florida's best player through its two seasons of exile to the NIT. He played hard and he was asked (by his teammates, not coaches) to make just about every key shot for two years. He averaged 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in his two years with the Gators and Florida would not have seen any post-season play without him.

Still there are three key reasons why Florida is better off with Calathes playing professionally in Greece.

Defense Matters ---- When your best player is not much of a defender it's hard to instill a defensive mindset into a team. The Gators gave up five more points a game the last two seasons than they had in the previous three. Those extra points cost the Gators in several games. This team is allowing only 56 points a game and only Michigan State has topped 60.

Emerging Erving ---- Calathes' absence has allowed Erving Walker to expand his game and be even more annoying to opponents. Last year he averaged fewer than three assists a game and his assist/turnover ratio was a mediocre 1.6:1. Through six games Walker is dishing out five assists a night and the assist/turnover ratio is up to 2.6:1.

Parsons Principle ---- Growing up Chandler Parsons was always the sidekick to the Nick Calathes show. That continued through the last two seasons when it seemed to me that Parsons was tailoring his game to fit Nick's more so than to fit the team. Now he's taking fewer 3-pointers and taking the ball inside more often and more effectively. As a result his scoring and rebounding numbers are up even though he's coming off the bench. He's also been more effective in the press. Not only has his game grown, so too has his hair.

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Last week will go down as probably the best November week in school history. The wins over Florida State and Michigan State should count big when the NCAA Tournament bids are decided. FSU strengthened the value of that win by rallying past Marquette to win a tournament at Disney World.

This week will be a lot easier with the Gators hosting FAMU on Tuesday and traveling to Jacksonville Friday night. Both teams are winless at this writing.

Florida's pre-conference schedule still includes four solid opponents, highlighted by national power Syracuse (6-0). The slate also includes Richmond (6-1), South Alabama (6-2) and North Carolina State (5-0). Only one of those games (South Alabama) is in Gainesville. If Florida can enter SEC play with two losses or less it will be a lot more meaningful than their domination of much weaker opponents the past two years.


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