Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

While fielding questions regarding the future of his young and inexperienced team, UF men's basketball coach Billy Donovan was left looking for answers.

When asked about Marreese Speights, the most talked about player on the roster, Donovan summed up his confusion.

"I think Marreese has made a lot of great strides, and there's been a lot of hoopla surrounding him," Donovan said, "which shows me that there's no one else to hoopla around. I've never seen a guy play two minutes a game and come into his next year and get so much attention in my entire life. The guy makes a baseline jump shot against Ohio State, and I really thought we had Wilt Chamberlain coming back from some of the things I heard."

Speights is one of only four players returning from last season's national championship squad. Only one of those four - Walter Hodge - saw any significant playing time last year.

As a whole, the team features seven freshmen, including two walk-ons, and three returning players in Speights, Dan Werner and Jonathan Mitchell, whose court-time has been limited.

The task of shaping this group into a championship contender should prove difficult for Donovan, who hasn't faced this type of youth since his early days at UF.

"This is totally new," Donovan said. "We have one player that has played some significant minutes on a roster of nine. I don't want to use that as an excuse, but we have eight new guys, and I think there's still a way we need to play."

The style of this year's UF team is still to be decided. A main concern is likely to come from the frontcourt, where, after the 6-foot-10 Speights, the tallest Gator is freshman Chandler Parsons at a very skinny 6-foot-9.

"We don't have the size and strength and length to pound the ball inside like we have in the past," Donovan said. "The positive is that we can come up with things that we can't do and some things that we can do. We've got a lot to get done before our first game, and hopefully as a coach I can help us get prepared for that."

The craziness of the back-to-back title-winning Donovan have made the situation even more difficult. After spending a summer flip-flopping between the NBA and college ranks, he hasn't had much time to get to know his players.

In addition, Donovan has spent six weeks recruiting, limiting his interaction with the team.

For freshman forward Adam Allen, Donovan's absence hasn't been an issue.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

"I don't think it's a problem. We have a lot of other coaches here," Allen said. "With Coach Donovan, it's more of a mental aspect. He just helps us learn about the game of basketball. He's so smart sometimes it's ridiculous. After coming from high school and (now) listening to him, it's just a whole new world."

Allen remembers being a little intimidated by the renowned coach.

"He's Coach Donovan, he's kind of got this air about him, but after a while you realize he's just one of us, and he's not really scary at all."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2022 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.