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Monday, March 04, 2024

Undersized Florida will miss big men, be guard-heavy in 2011-12

I hope Florida fans enjoyed the Gators’ low-post dominance Saturday more than UF’s players and coaches seemingly did, because they won’t be seeing much of it next year.

Despite Vernon Macklin’s career-high 25 points, Florida went away from him in the final minutes of the team’s Elite Eight loss to Butler.

Alex Tyus was visibly upset in the postgame press conference because he didn’t get enough late-game looks.

Commentators and analysts boasted early and often about the Gators’ all-senior frontcourt of Macklin, Tyus and Chandler Parsons. Yet they were rendered ineffective — arguably by their own coaches and teammates — in the most important moment of their careers.

Unfortunately for UF fans, they won’t even be around to be ignored next season.

The 2011-12 Gators basketball team will have a drastically different look — one a little less seasoned up front and a lot deeper in the backcourt.

UF will likely start Patric Young at center and Erik Murphy at power forward next year.

The duo combined for 25 minutes, two points, four rebounds and six fouls in Saturday’s loss against a hopelessly undersized Bulldogs frontcourt.

Don’t get me wrong: Young is exceptionally gifted and will be a great NBA player someday, and I think Donovan will eventually be proven correct in his comparison of Murphy to former Florida forward Matt Bonner.

But they’re not Macklin, Tyus and Parsons.

Those three, the surest things on Florida’s roster, will be gone.

Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 14.6 and 14.2 points per game, respectively. But they did so on a combined 811 shots. The frontcourt trio combined for 911.

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As much as people criticized Tyus for his career-low scoring average of 9.1, he did so while playing the fewest minutes of any member of the starting five, hitting 50 percent of his shots and taking 106 fewer attempts than Erving Walker — 173 fewer than Boynton.

Macklin, meanwhile, was Florida’s most offensively efficient player, making a staggering 59.3 percent of his attempts.

And everyone knows Parsons took home the SEC Player of the Year award this season, becoming one of the most versatile players in the country. His 2-for-9 shooting Saturday isn’t indicative of the season he had.

Next year, without that trio, it will be almost unfair to say Florida will be guard-heavy.

Walker and Boynton will likely continue to shoulder the load and step into increased leadership roles.

But they might be the third and fourth best guards on the Gators’ roster. 

Mike Rosario, the Rutgers transfer often forgotten about during the season, will suit up for Florida next year.

It’s safe to assume Donovan is excited to utilize the 6-foot-3 guard’s ability to create and put the ball in the basket — he scored 16.7 points per game in the Big East in 2009-10.

And perhaps most intriguing, the Gators will add super-recruit Brad Beal.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade does a little bit of everything — and he does it all well.

It will be impossible to keep him from playing significant minutes immediately.

Plus, barring another rush of postseason transfers, Florida will return Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin in the backcourt.

Wilbekin certainly performed far above and way beyond expectations, especially as he became the team’s second-best on-the-ball defender, while Prather drew a lot of praise for his athleticism, even if he didn’t get a chance to show it on the court.

That leaves Young, Murphy, Will Yeguete, a no-longer-redshirted Cody Larson and three-star freshman Walter Pitchford in the frontcourt.

The Gators will certainly have enough talented guards to carry them to another successful season next year, and Young and Murphy are capable of developing into a reliable starting frontcourt.

But they won’t have a ton of experienced big men.

Not a whole lot of known quantities.

Not many sure things.

They’re all on their way out the door. Hopefully the Gators enjoyed them while they could.

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