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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

One day after its public debut, the UF men's basketball team has yet to make an impression.

Associate Head Coach Larry Shyatt is unsettled following Sunday's scrimmage at the Alltel Wireless Fan Appreciation Day in the O'Connell Center.

"We just finished watching the tape, and there's a lot of mixed emotions, a little disappointed really," Shyatt said Monday of the three-period, fifteen-minute scrimmage. "We had a couple of players stand out offensively. I think the disappointment was that we really didn't have a lineup or a group of players that stood out defensively."

The afternoon event replaced UF's annual Midnight Madness. The women's team played one five-minute scrimmage following an autograph session. The men practiced a set of drills before competing in their own intrasquad matchup.

The sides were shuffled throughout, and the final score ended in a 30-30 tie. Highlights of the scrimmage include two outside shots by center Marreese Speights and a put-back dunk by forward Chandler Parsons, who led all scorers with 11 points.

Shyatt said he was impressed with Parsons' performance, especially the 6-foot-9 freshman's physical style of play.

"The good thing was that he took the ball to the hole and did follow up some offensive rebounds," Shyatt said. "We've been physically weak in terms of getting to the glass, so that was a good thing."

Freshman Nick Calathes made a mark of his own by adding 7 points, which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave his team the advantage after two quarters. Other standouts included Jai Lucas, who scored 7 points, and Speights, who contributed 9.

One of the more intriguing lineups featured a three-guard setup of Lucas, Calathes and junior Walter Hodge.

Sophomore Dan Werner, who scored 7 points in the scrimmage, said the trio proved difficult to handle.

"It was tough," Werner said. "You had to help pressure the ball a little bit. They had two McDonald's All Americans and a guy who won two national championships, so it was difficult, but I thought we handled it really well."

Sophomore Jonathan Mitchell said he believes the team has already begun to develop an identity.

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"We're going to run and gun," Mitchell said. "We don't have the size down low, so we're just going to go out there and run. … It's a lot of fun, and it's obviously easy for the coaches because they don't have to call any plays."

After his first taste of action, Mitchell said he can't wait for the season opener against Flagler College on Nov. 1.

"I think it was good for us," he said. "It was the first time we got to put on a uniform and be out there in front of a crowd, especially with us being a young team.

"I just came out there and tried to get everybody involved and tried to teach the young guys at the same point. … It was just good to finally be out there."

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