Florida Gators Basketball: Each Player's Role Moving Forward
Following a blowout win against UC-Santa Barbara and a tough battle against UCLA, the Florida Gators will meet a familiar foe in Thursday's Sweet Sixteen match-up. The Cougars of BYU sent the Gators home early in last year's tournament, and will look to do the same this week.
While almost everyone in the country knows BYU's key player, many are unfamiliar with the various role players on Florida's roster. The Gators do not have a Jimmer Fredette, but they have talented guards, athletic big men, and a very solid bench.
Here are the do's and don'ts for every active Gator in this Thursdays game and, if all goes well, the next few games.
Kyle McClanahan, a 6'1" junior guard, has only seen game action a handful of times this year. He did appear at the end of Florida's win over UCSB.
-Keep the bench warm
-Stand up on every three point attempt by your team
-Trip an opponent
-Drool over Jimmer Fredette too much
Yeguete is a 6'7" freshman forward. In limited minutes this year, Yeguete has averaged 1.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. He is an active defender and above-average rebounder.
-Play with high energy every second on the floor. Yeguete's role is to give the starting forwards some time on the bench to catch their breath. There is no room for the energy level to be low, especially against such a good team.
-Box out on every single rebound and limit second-chance opportunities.
-Concede rebounds to the bigger post players. When in the game, Yeguete must at the very least be physical and body up his match-up.
-Do more than you're asked. Yeguete's role is to play defense, rebound, and make good decisions. He should not be taking many shots unless completely open.
Casey Prather is a super-athletic 6'6" freshman guard/forward. The swingman from Tennessee has shown flashes of brilliance, but has made some poor decisions, especially on offense. He averages just over one point and rebound off the bench.
-Use speed and energy to provide a spark. Prather is one of the most athletic Gators. He can jump, run, and play tenacious defense, and will be needed to do all of those while he is in the game.
-Do not give your match-up an inch of space. Prather is the type of player who can afford to be beat off the dribble, because he has excellent closing speed and can contest a shot at the rim. But against a team with great shooters, he must play air-tight defense.
-Jog. Prather will be in the game for energy and for defense. Anything less than a full sprint up and down the court is downright insulting.
A 6'9" sophomore forward, Murphy has made great strides this season, become a much more physical post player and giving the Gators a boost of the bench with his great offensive moves. He averages 4.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
-Get physical inside. Murphy is not the bulky, muscular player that posts up on every possession. But he must not be afraid to draw contact and take fouls while playing in the post. He must be prepared to take a beating on every rebound and loose ball.
-Surprise the opposition with a three-ball. Murphy has a very pretty long-range shot, and has hit several in the NCAA tournament. He's good for one or two until the defense picks up on it.
-Get frustrated. He will foul, he will get fouled, he will miss shots, and he will concede rebounds to bigger players. But Florida needs Murphy to remain active in the post and make smart decisions.
At 17 years old, Scottie Wilbekin is the youngest player in the NCAA tournament. But the 6'2" guard plays like a senior, providing the Gators with great instincts, defense, and playmaking ability off the bench.
-Play Scottie Wilbekin defense. Wilbekin may be the Gators' best perimeter defender, which bodes well for match-ups against BYU, Wisconsin, and Butler. He must play the best defense of his life these next few weeks.
-Make smart passes. Wilbekin has a great ability to find the open man, especially while on the run. He must be able to find open men, either on the perimeter or in the post.
-Try to do too much. For all the talent he has, Wilbekin does sometimes try to force passes and shots. He must remain disciplined and play to his level.
Of all the Gator post players, 6'9" freshman Patric Young is probably playing the best. He is freakishly athletic, a terrific defender, and has a good array of post moves. He had 8 crucial points in the win over UCLA, and will be a big contributor moving forward.
-Show off. Young can dunk, he can block, and he can score. The NCAA tournament is the time for players to leave it all on the floor, and Young has been doing that so far. He needs to keep dunking over players, grabbing big rebounds, and rejecting shots, and beating his chest a little.
-Avoid foul trouble. He does a good job of playing defense with his hands up, and he does a good job of remaining vertical while challenging shots. But after nearly fouling out against UCLA, Young must be as disciplined as he is athletic.
-Play out of position. Being so long and athletic, Young has a tendency to try and come out of the post to defend shooters or driving guards. This gets him in foul trouble and puts the other Florida post players in a tough position.
-Be overaggressive. Again because of his talent, Young has been known to force some shots, especially from the low block. He must keep in mind the stakes of the game and what his role is.
The Gators' biggest question mark is 6'9" senior forward Alex Tyus. When he plays well, he is a great asset, an athletic and skilled big man who plays with superior energy. But when he doesn't play well, he is a liability who makes poor decisions and doesn't play with energy.
-BOX OUT. Tyus' biggest problem this season has been laziness on rebounds. Far too often has he stood idly as a smaller player grabs a rebound. Tyus must be active and aggressive on the boards.
-Stay within your game. Tyus has a great face-up game, but far too often, he pretends to be Chris Bosh and attempts turnaround fadeaway jumpers from 15 feet out. He must limit himself to lay-ups and open jumpers.
-Be lazy. This goes with some of the "do's". Tyus cannot be with low energy, allow easy rebounds, or settle for quick shots. This is crucial.
-Take too many shots. No offense to Tyus, but he is Florida's worst offensive player out of the starters. He must limit his shots and put the ball in the hands of the guards, Chandler Parsons, or Vernon Macklin.
He's big, he's strong, and when he plays well, he could be Florida's most valuable player. 6'10" senior Vernon Macklin has loads of talent, but doesn't always use it. He must step up his play for Florida to stay alive.
-Play Georgetown basketball. A transfer from the Hoyas, Macklin must use the moves and skills he learned there. Strong post play is vital for the Gators, and Macklin is the one to lead the charge. His lethal hook shot is a difference maker.
-Get in foul trouble. Macklin, unlike Young, has a trouble staying vertical while defending. He must stay disciplined and pick his spots to be aggressive. Florida needs him on the floor.
-Turn the ball over. Macklin's hands in the post are like bricks. He has had a major problem dropping entry passes or getting them stolen. He must improve his hands and keep the ball close to him so that he can make a difference on offense.
Up until the late part of this season, many had deemed former five-star recruit Kenny Boynton a disappointment. The 6'2" sophomore had underperformed, shooting poorly and turning the ball over far too much. But lately, he has become an offensive stud, scoring 14 points per game and improving his three-point shot.
-Get to the rim. Another area of KB's game that has improved is his finishing. He has quick hands and wrists and has a nice variety of moves at the rim. He must be more aggressive going to the rim, as it will also open up his perimeter game.
-Stay active on defense. Many times this year, Billy Donovan has replaced Boynton with Scottie Wilbekin for defensive purposes. But the Gators cannot afford to lose Boynton's offense this late in the year, so Boynton must step up his defense.
-Take unnecessary three-pointers. As improved as his shot it, Boynton still must improve his shooting discipline. He must only shoot when open, and otherwise pass or take the ball to the rim.
-Reinjure the ankle. Boynton got hurt late in the UCLA game, and although he returned, that ankle is still of some concern. He must be careful when landing. The Gators cannot lose him.
Florida's smallest player may also be its best. 5'8" junior Erving Walker is the Gators' offensive leader, and "Big Shot Erv" has made a host of clutch shots leading up to this point.
-Continue to shoot at will. Walker takes many questionable shots, including 40-foot three-pointers and running bankshots off-balance. But the truth is that Florida needs every point they can get, and Walker has been terrific at delivering those points.
-Try to draw fouls. Being so small, Walker has an advantage while driving the lane. He can create contact and rarely gets a call against him. He could provide a huge lift for Florida by getting the opponent's bigs in trouble.
-Get chased down. When Walker gets out in transition, he has a tendency to drive to the hoop, where he is often rejected by a trailing defender. In transition, Erving must slow down, look for help, and let someone else finish, unless he is completely open.
The SEC player of the year, 6'10" senior Chandler Parsons must live up to his billing to carry Florida deeper into this tournament. He is averaging 11.4 points, 3.7 assists, and 7.7 rebounds per game.
-Remain a double-threat. Parsons is the only Gator with the ability to shoot from the perimeter and drive to the rim with equal effectiveness. He must keep the defense off-balance with a nice mix of jumpers and post moves.
-Make the right passes. As the effective point guard of this team, Parsons almost always makes the right pass, whether an entry pass to the post or a swing to a perimeter player. He must continue to make good decisions passing while remaining a score-first player on the drive.
-Get frustrated at the line. After missing some big free throws this year, Parsons has seemed anxious at the line. He must be cool and collected at the line and knock down his shots, because he will have to take them.
-Foul if beaten on defense. Parsons is a plus defender, but quicker, smaller players will be able to get past him. The key is to not get called for pointless fouls if beaten. Reach-ins and shooting fouls at the rim are not what the Gators need out of their best player.