Nick Calathes Denied His Due, but Are Florida Gators in Better Shape in 2009?

Malik GradyContributor INovember 24, 2009

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 13:  Nick Calathes #33 of the Florida Gators makes a layup over Quantez Robertson #23 of the Auburn Tigers during the quaterfinal round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 13, 2009 at The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Former UF point guard Nick Calathes' achievements have been a LITTLE discounted both because of the Gators' near misses of the NCAA tournament during his two years here and by his early entry into the professional ranks, something which Florida fans often take personally.

He had the best freshman season ever in Gainesville (check the stats) and is now listed all over the record books at UF.

HOWEVER...the Gators will match-up better this year especially defensively, not BECAUSE of him leaving, but by virtue of the four newcomers (versus two outgoing in Calathes and guard Walter Hodge) who will allow UF to achieve better overall balance.

First of all, last year UF was fundamentally flawed defensively.  Calathes was 6-6 with quick hands but not necessarily quick feet, so he was probably most effective playing half-court zone defense.  However, he was playing next to the 5-11 Hodge and 5-8 Erving Walker in a three-guard lineup often.

In addition, you had a 6-8, 215-pound center in Alex Tyus, a 6-7 power forward in Dan Werner, and a 6-9, 205-pound flamingo in Chandler Parsons who swung between the three and four, often starting. 

Tyus and Werner were often overpowered in the half-court and the press was marginally effective as the team in effect started all THREE of its point guards.

This year, though, the team gains shooting guard Kenny Boynton, center Vernon Macklin, forward/center Erik Murphy and point guard Nimrod Tishman, all of whom shift the balance and depth in favorable ways.  When all is said and done, I think the production of those four will equal or exceed what Calathes and Hodge brought on both ends of the floor.

Last season (Calathes and Hodge):
26.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 3.2 steals

First three games this year (Boynton, Macklin, Murphy, Tishman):
33.0 points, 14.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals