This is Your Team Gators

The Gator Basketball team suffered its second straight loss in Sunrise Saturday night, and in so doing, raised more questions about just what the team might be capable of accomplishing. Florida lost to Richmond 56-53 to drop to 8-2 on the year.

On the negative side, Richmond was coming off losses to VCU and South Carolina and beat the Gators despite a 13-point deficit late in the first half. Where South Carolina turned an eight-point halftime deficit to an 18-point win, the Gators did the opposite. Florida's 13-point lead became a nine point deficit after an incredible 27-5 run over roughly 10 minutes.

On the positive side, the Gators came back from that nine-point deficit to take a short lived one-point lead and had a shot to take the lead in the final minute. This team did not and will not quit, and that alone makes you feel better about the rest of the campaign that either of the last two Florida squads.

Thin Back Court Greatest Concern

Saturday's loss was also a grim reminder that the Gators' two-man backcourt just cannot be expected to hold up all season long. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are tough competitors with plenty of talent, but until the Gators start getting acceptable minutes out of Ray Shipman or Chandler Parsons at the '2' spot the Gators will be in trouble.

Richmond has a strong backcourt with veterans Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez. Those two out scored the Gators 30-15 in The Bank Atlantic Center. It was Gonzalvez, the senior making the biggest shot of the night when he hit a 3-pointer to break a 49-49 tie. Florida could not regain the lead after that. While Walker and Boynton struggled to score points, Shipman did not score a single point in 18 minutes on the floor.

Shipman in many ways is the key to this team in my view. The sophomore from Miami scored 19 points in the Gators' wins over Florida State and Michigan State. However in the last five game, he has scored a total of 12 points and the Gators have not played all that well in any of the games.

Certainly the injuries to Kenny Kadji and Erik Murphy have thinned out the Gator frontcourt, but they could handle that if the Shipman of the FSU and MSU games would show up every night.

Looking Ahead

It's not all about Shipman, obviously. Boynton must shoot the ball more consistently and stay as tough offensively as he does defensively. Walker has to stay poised when he gets treated too physically.

Florida still has five non-conference games and three of them are games that should be very competitive. The Gators need to get at least two of three from South Alabama, NC State and Xavier to position themselves well for the post-season. If they do that, the Richmond loss will not do them much damage. I think the Spiders are going to win 20-plus games, and if they do, just playing them is a step up from the non-SEC games of the past two years.

Still its time for the Gators to figure out who their third guard is going to be. Or, rather its time to Shipman or Parsons to take the position that they will be the guy to solve this problem so that the Gators do not end up in their third NIT in a row.

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