Outdoor game a unique test for Florida hoops
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:30 a.m.
Growing up in Pompano Beach, Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton had a favorite outdoor playground he shot baskets on as a kid.
“It was double rims where I played,” Boynton said. “So this will probably be different.”
Florida opens its season Friday night against Georgetown on the deck of the USS Bataan in the Navy-Marine Corps Classic. The outdoor game at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville will present some unique challenges for a Florida offense that has traditionally been built around strong 3-point shooting.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he doesn't intend to alter UF's game plan based on the elements. Donovan chose not to have the team practice outside leading up to the game, though both the Gators and Georgetown will have a shoot-around Thursday afternoon on the deck of the ship.
According to Weather.com, the forecast calls for temperatures between 40-50 degrees for the 9 p.m. tip with winds north-to-northeast at 9 miles per hour. Chance of rain is 0 percent.
“Both teams are having to deal with the elements whether it's very cold, windy, whatever it may be,” Donovan said. “We're both going to be dealing with it.
“I think if it were even in a regular situation if we were coming down the floor and taking tough or quick 3s, I wouldn't be happy with that. But there are going to be some situations in the game where guys on Georgetown or guys on Florida through ball movement or whatever happens, they are going to be left wide open, and it could be a pretty good shooter.”
In its 101-71 exhibition win against Nebraska-Kearney, Florida shot 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from 3-point range and scored 50 of its 101 points in the paint. Donovan said he felt the timing was off in delivering the ball to center Patric Young and forward Erik Murphy in the post. UF's starting post duo combined for just six points and seven rebounds.
“Hopefully we can just run our offense,” Young said. “Coach talked about the game last year, North Carolina-Michigan State didn't shoot that well from 3. We'll look to go inside more and attack the basket more rather than shoot the 3-point shots we're known for.”
Said Boynton: “The wind, I think, will be a big factor on Friday. If the shots aren't falling, I think we've got to get to the hole. The numbers from the Michigan State-North Carolina game, I don't think anyone shot well. I think we have to get fouled, get to the hole more.”
Donovan said he talked with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo about last season's Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego. But those conditions were different. For one, the game was held at 4:30 p.m., rather than Friday's 9 p.m. tip time. Warmer temperatures in San Diego also caused some condensation on the floor.
“I know the people in Jacksonville are working really hard to deal with that, the possibility it could be a problem during the game,” Donovan said.
Donovan said he's as concerned with the potential cold temperatures as he is with the wind. He said game organizers are talking about having heaters behind both benches.
“How we try to keep our guys warm coming out of a game fully lathered up and all of the sudden they are sitting there, you know somebody gets in foul trouble, sits for eight minutes and tries to start the second half? There are going to be some different situations for all of us,” Donovan said.
As a result, Donovan said with the potential impact on shooting, gathering loose balls and rebounding will be important. Florida barely outrebounded undersized UNK in its exhibition opener. Four of Georgetown's five starters are 6-foot-8 or taller.
“There is going to be a lot more rebound opportunities,” Donovan said. “I think taking away easy baskets becomes a big premium.”
Young, a Jacksonville native, is not concerned with the cold. He last played outdoors in middle school.
“We'll get a good sweat, run some sprints,” Young said. “We'll be fine. Hopefully we won't get too cold at halftime. We'll probably just do some extra stuff to make sure guys are loose on the sidelines, ready to come in.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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