Coach: Billy Donovan 2003-04 Record: 20-11, 9-7 SEC
New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
Anthony Roberson (6-1) returns to start at point guard, but don't be surprised if he sees a lot of action on the wing because of the presence of an excellent freshman point guard prospect, Taurean Green (son of ex-NBA player Sidney Green). Matt Walsh will certainly start on one wing, with Abukar (6-10), Brewer, and Humphrey (6-2) competing for time on the other. Lee and Moss (both 6-9) will start at the post positions, and Richard (6-8), Noah, and Horford will provide depth. Ingram isn't likely to get much time.
With three of the best returning players in the SEC (Roberson, Walsh, and Lee), all double-digit scorers, the Gators have a long start in this department. Roberson is one of the best three-point shooters anywhere, and Walsh, Humphrey and Abukar are proven long-distance bombers. Walsh, Brewer, and Green can all drive to the basket. Underneath, it is likely to be a committee effort to help out Lee.
Rebounding and Defense
Florida was a very young team last year, giving up 69 points per game, and the defense should certainly be improved by the increased experience. Brewer, according to Donovan, could become a defensive stopper. There is more size underneath, with a senior (Lee), a junior (Moss), and a sophomore (Richard) getting significant help from a couple of talented freshmen (Noah and Horford).
Because of his recruiting success, Donovan always has the problem of trying to keep everyone happy. In the offseason he lost Al-Kaleem and Appleby for that reason, but the addition of an excellent playmaker (Green) should offset their loss. Donovan (right) had another good recruiting year, and is now in danger of having more highly-ranked young players becoming upset over lack of playing time, a negative factor in terms of team chemistry. It is a balancing act, but one that other coaches in the SEC wouldn't mind having to perform.
Overall Prospects for 2004-05
The Gators finished badly last season, never quite recovering from the unexpected departure of Drejer with seven games left in the regular season. Nonetheless, they have to be favored to win the SEC East this year and to return to the NCAA, where they lost in embarrassing fashion to Manhattan in the first round. This year they should stay around much longer.