Freshmen get 1st taste of SEC

Published: Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 12:11 a.m.
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Florida junior Anthony Roberson, who scores 15 points in 35 minutes of play, collides with Arkansas' Charles Thomas.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun
Florida's freshmen only heard stories about what to expect in Southeastern Conference play.
For the most part, the freshmen handled the situation well in Saturday's SEC opener against Arkansas. Florida's freshmen accounted for 36 points in the 82-74 win and provided energy and depth the Gators needed to make up for the absence of leading scorer Matt Walsh.
"For our team and our program to continue to develop we need to have the freshmen on the floor," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
The most notable improvement for the freshmen was at the free-throw line. Freshman starters Corey Brewer and Al Horford combined to shoot 9 for 13 from the stripe. None of the shots was bigger than the two free throws Horford hit with 32.9 seconds left, which answered an Olu Famutimi 3-pointer that pulled Arkansas within 78-72.
Horford and Brewer were a combined 5 of 11 against Florida State.
"In high school, I used to hit the clutch ones all the time," Horford said. "So far here it's been different. But I worked a lot with (associate) coach (Anthony) Grant this week."
Freshman Joakim Noah scored all four of his points late in the first half on a wide-open dunk and tip-in. Cornelius Ingram hit a 3-pointer in the first half.
Freshman backup point guard Taurean Green may have been dealt the heaviest burden. Green played 31 minutes and endured some growing pains, finishing with one assist and 5 turnovers.
Green will be asked to run the point even more with Walsh out, with Roberson sliding over to the shooting guard spot when Lee Humphrey needs a breather.
"You look at the stat sheet and you see one assist, five turnovers," Donovan said. "But I thought Taurean was able to do a lot of little things not on the stat sheet in running our team. He gave us some good minutes there."
  • FINDING HIS RANGE: In his second start of the season, Humphrey picked up where he left off against Florida State.
    Humphrey, who came into the game shooting 33 percent from 3-point range for the season, made 3 of 4 3-pointers in Saturday's win. Two of the threes came during a 14-2 run that put the game out of reach.
    "My three-ball felt good today," Humphrey said. "I definitely felt good shooting today."
    Humphrey was more shaky at the foul line, missing 3 of 4 from the stripe during a stretch run in which Arkansas feverishly tried to get back in the game. After making his first eight free throws of the season, Humphrey has missed five of his last six.
    "That's something I'm going to need to work on," he said.
  • QUICK CHANGE: With the O'Connell Center hosting the Super Six Gymnastics meet Friday night, Florida needed to change floors in a hurry for Saturday's opener
    Crews worked until 7 a.m. to get the basketball court put together, according to assistant arena director Lynda Reinhart. Reinhart said about 30 people toiled in shifts through the dawn hours. The meet ended a bit short of 11 p.m.
    "Just various crews," Reinhart said. "Not all of them worked at the same time. We broke it down in shifts."
  • STRETCH SHOVE: Starting point guard Anthony Roberson said the shove off he received from Green in the closing minutes looked worse than it appeared.
    Roberson wanted the ball to run the offense, but was shoved off to the left side by Green, who called for Florida to spread the floor. The possession ended with Green dribbling himself into trouble. Ronnie Brewer stole the ball from Green at midcourt and drove in for breakaway dunk, which cut Florida's lead to 77-67 with 1:46 remaining.
    "I broke to the ball but didn't see him," Roberson said. "But he has to understand that when I ask for the basketball at the end of the game, I want the ball. Taurean is a good player and we're confident with the ball in his hands."
    You can reach Kevin Brockway by e-mail at or by calling 374-5054.
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