Easy Start to Post-Christmas Schedule

The Gator basketball team should rebound quickly from three losses to end the first part of the schedule as it resumes action this week. Florida will host a pair of 2-10 teams in the O'Connell Center with American coming in Monday night followed by Presbyterian. A pair of wins would send the Gators into a key Sunday game at NC State with a 10-3 record.

Just because Florida has two opponents they should beat easily, it doesn't mean the Gators should just go through the motions. Au' contraire! Florida should use these games to experiment with some personnel and see if they can find some other options heading into SEC play. There are several things that I believe are worth attempting.

Play Nimrod Tishman ---- The freshman guard from Israel has been little more than a tourist to this point of the season, garnering just eight minutes of playing time. Perhaps he won't be able to help this team at all, but someone needs to provide some back court depth. If the Gators could get 3-5 useful minutes a half it would do wonders to save wear and tear on starters Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton.

Play Kyle McClanahan --- Okay, this is pretty much the same thing as Tishman, but it is consistent in the effort to find more options on the perimeter. McClanahan is a walk on, but he did score 1,503 points for Winter Park High School and averaged 20/6 as a senior. He helped get his team into the 6A Final Four his junior year. Surely he could play some.

Get Shipman straightened out --- I have said all along that Shipman was in many ways the key to this team and the results thus far pretty much beat that out. It's no coincidence that Shipman's two best games came in Florida's two biggest wins – Florida State (9) and Michigan State (10). In Florida's eight wins Shipman averages 4.8 points. In the three losses he averaged 1.3. He has to be a contributor on a nightly basis.

Get healthy --- Florida should seriously consider resting Chandler Parsons, Erik Murphy and Kenny Kadji if at all possible. Those guys need to be closer to full strength for NC State and the SEC games that follow and giving them a bunch of minutes against these two teams is not likely to help much in that regard. I'm not sure what the health status of each is heading into Monday night's game so there may be a need to adjust that suggestion. Obviously the bench is frighteningly thin if they are all sitting.

Improve assist/turnover ratio --- If there is one thing this team could really use it would be two high assist/low turnover outings. The Gators have not taken very good care of the basketball this season (14 TO/g) and have not shared it all that well either (15 assists/g). If they don't improve those numbers before league play begins those issues will haunt this team, especially in close games.


The Gators enter the American game with five players averaging in double figures. Kenny Boynton (13.7) leads the way, but has to improve his dismal (.225) 3-point shooting. Boynton also should be more alert on the defensive backboard and try to improve his rebounding (3.1/g).

The team also needs to get serious about the defensive glass. Florida opponents are grabbing 13.5 offensive rebounds a night. That was the determining factor in the losses to Richmond and South Alabama.

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