2012-2013 Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #2 SEC
Florida Team Page
Because of the performance put forth last year by the Kentucky Wildcats, much of the Florida Gators’ accomplishments were overshadowed or ignored. This team finished second in the conference and made it all the way to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row. Other than the back to back National Titles in 2006 and 2007, this current roster has been Billy Donovan’s most successful of his coaching career. And that is saying something for a man who has coached teams to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and three Final Fours. Although Donovan has some new pieces to integrate into a returning framework, this year’s squad should make it 15 in a row rather easily.
2011-2012 Record: 26-11, 10-6
2011-2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Billy Donovan
Coach Record: 386-158 at Florida, 421-178 Overall
For a team that had such overpowering production from their top five players compared to their bench, losing 40% of their starters will be a huge blow. Diminutive, senior point guard Erving Walker graduated. He averaged double digit points per game all four of his years at Florida. He was also a true point guard and offensive catalyst who will be hard to replace. In addition, freshman sensation Bradley Beal left after one season for the NBA. Although Beal’s numbers were not quite in line with what people were expecting coming out of high school, he had a rather impressive season. Beal was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounding, often having to play out of position for an otherwise tiny Gators lineup.
Donovan’s club really didn’t lose anyone else of consequence but had very few consequential players last year to begin with. Other than the five stars, no player averaged more than 22 minutes or 6.6 points per game. Thus, with the Walker and Beal departures, there goes 35% of the team’s scoring, 45% of their assists and 40% of their steals (all numbers according to a per game basis).
As logic would reveal, if two fifths of last year’s starting five is gone, it would be safe to assume the other three fifths have returned for another go. Guard Kenny Boynton and forward Erik Murphy are back for their senior years with a chance to both be really good. Boynton, more of a two guard than a point, was the team’s leading scorer last season and will look to dominate the backcourt scoring as his partners in crime this year will be inexperienced. Florida may in fact go with freshman Braxton Ogbueze, a highly touted rookie, to be their starting point guard.
Erik Murphy is returning to the front court, along with perennial draft stock Patric Young. Murphy is just an inside banger who has gotten better each of his three years under Donovan, culminating in last year’s 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game numbers. Young, on the other hand, has been touted as a NBA lottery pick since he first took the floor as a freshman. His numbers haven’t quite bared this out but he is still a quick and powerful leaper at the center position, capable of changing shots and finishing around the rim. The two make up one of the more capable front courts in the conference.
Who to Watch:
It will be important to keep an eye on the incoming freshmen. Last year’s team had very little depth and leaned heavily on their starting five. Bill Donovan does not want that to happen again to such an extreme degree. The aforementioned Ogbueze may get the start at point guard. Coach Donovan has also brought in a couple other talented recruits though to try to fill the voids left by Walker and Beal. Dillon Graham, Michael Frazier, and DeVon Walker all bring size to the shooting guard position and it remains to be seen how their playing time will be divvied up.
Kentucky still seems like the best team in the SEC. Newcomer Missouri is coming in with a talented roster but one that may be just a notch below the conference stalwarts at Gainesville and Lexington. The Gators should look to finish in the top three of the conference and perhaps challenge Kentucky, at least on their home floor. After that, it will be Donovan’s mission to capture another Elite Eight berth with a team that might lose 60% of their starting five after the year is up.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Kenny Boynton, Senior, Guard, 15.9 points per game
Braxton Ogbueze, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Casey Prather, Junior, Forward, 2.0 points per game
Erik Murphy, Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game
Patric Young, Junior, Center, 10.2 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#28 Patric Young
#63 Kenny Boynton
Madness 2012 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#54 Braxton Ogbueze
#98 Michael Frazier