Florida boasts the tough combination of tall, athletic players who can run the floor. The talented Gator squad shoots the ball from anywhere on the court, and features a suffocating brand of defense.
In the backcourt, Anthony Roberson (6-1, 180) and Matt Walsh (6-6, 205) team up to provide a very effective combination. Roberson leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game, and although he's a bit unconventional in that he shoots first and sometimes a bit wildly, he's a scoring threat that can't be ignored. Teammate Matt Walsh is the steadying influence, tossing in 13.6 points per game to go with almost six rebounds per outing.
Rashid Al-Kaleem and Ryan Appleby provide relief off the bench, and although they aren't big scorers, provide an almost 2-1 assist to turnover ratio.
Up front, the talent is even more pronounced. David Lee (6-9, 240) leads the front court in scoring (14.4) and rebounding, (7.6) and is also the most proficient power planyer and dunker on the team. Christian Drejer, who was injured and did not play agaisnt WVU last year, has been stellar at the other forward spot. His all-around game includes 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and more than four assists per game. Bonell Colas (6-9, 225) has been the perfect complementary player to Lee and Drejer, adding 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
The Gator backups in the front court are an embarrassment of riches. Adrian Moss (6-9, 240) plays almost 20 minutes per game and is an effective defender and shot blocker in addition to his 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per outing. Mohamed Abukar and Chris Richard also both get extensive playing time up front, and neither causes any dropoff in the Gators' level of play.
We could pick just about any matchup on the floor in the game and make a case for it, but this one has an interesting faceoff between two very heady players.
|Sat 12/20 8:30 p.m.|
WVU 5-2, 0-0
Florida 5-2, 0-0
Fox Sports Pitts
WVU - 45
Florida - 52
|Margin: Florida +2|
Herber, although not the scorer that Walsh is, plays a similar type of game. Herber is a bit better passer and handles the ball effectively, and is also a smart and savvy defeneder who has battled players of all sizes during his Mountaineer career.
In this matchup, Joe gets to face a player of similar size and build. He'll have to negate some of Walsh's strengths to keep the Mountaineers in the contest. Herber will look to keep Walsh contained on one side of the floor and try to disrupt him as he conducts the Florida offense.
WVU: Nick Patella (Concussion) Out for Season
The Gators come at opponents in waves, and try to wear them down with a combination of relentless pressure and frequent substitutions that help keep everyone on the floor fresh. Only guard Matt Walsh averages more than 30 minutes of court time per game, and the Gators' ten man rotation is strong defensively from top to bottom.
To combat this, WVU will need significant solid minutes from not only D'or Fischer, but also from freshman Frank and Jerrah Young, both of whom have seen limited time this year. The Youngs may not need to score a great deal to keep the Mountaineers in the game, but they will have to defend, and more importantly, rebound, if WVU is to back up last year's win with another victory.
Another item to keep an eye on is Florida's pressure game, and West Virginia's response to it. The Mountaineer backcourt has shown the aiblity to deal with presses this year, but they haven't seen one like the Gators' this year, which traps all over the floor with tall, long players that move well. WVU handled the Gator press well last year, turning the ball over 14 times, and will have to duplicate that effort on Saturday night.
Once they get past the pressure, the Mountaineers will also have to contend with Florida's halfcourt defense, which may be even more of a problem. Florida is allowing opponents to hit only 35.8% of their shots this year, so Mountaineer patience will be at a premium as they attempt to find good looks on the offensive end.
Drew Schifino needs just seven points to become the 40th member of WVU's 1,000 point club.
* * *
Only one opponent has shot better than 40% from the field against Florida this year.
* * *
Although it may look like a mismatch, don't be surprised if Schifino has a big game against the Gators. With Florida playing bigger defenders and trapping frequently, paths to the basket could be a bit easier to come by for WVU's 6-3 slasher.
* * *
Florida has been ranked 88 consecutive weeks in the Top 25 coaches' poll and 85 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press poll. Only Duke, with 134 straight weeks in the AP poll, has a longer current skein.
* * *
Florida averages 47.1 rebounds per game, and leads the SEC in that category. Draw your own conclusions.