UF MEN'S BASKETBALL
Nearing millennium mark, Young has bigger goals
Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 12:08 a.m.
Patric Young is nearing a career milestone. But the Florida senior center is thinking about bigger goals for the 2013-14 season.
Who: No. 13 Florida Gators (9-2) vs. Savannah State Tigers (2-10)
When: 3 p.m., Sunday
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM
Asked about the significance of being on a team with four senior starters, Young responded: “This is our last chance to come away with a banner and a ring — the big one.”
The No. 13 Gators (9-2) will continue that quest this afternoon when they host Savannah State. At 988 points, Young is 12 points shy of becoming the 50th player in UF history to score 1,000 points for his career.
“I've just done what's inside of our system, made hook shots and layups and dunks,” Young said.
Of the current 49 scorers to reach the 1,000-point mark at UF, 20 have been under current Florida coach Billy Donovan. The last UF player to reach 1,000 points was Erik Murphy, who is 47th on the school's all-time list with 1,052 points.
“The thing what we've tried to do offensively is be a well-balanced team where we always have five or six guys in double figures,” Donovan said. “It's not just one guy getting the majority of the shots. The ball has moved. We try to create a high number of assists, and I think because of that there is going to be some balance in what we're trying to do offensively.
“You're going to have guys, if they're here for four years be able to score over 1,000 points, especially if they absorb a lot of minutes for four years. Erving Walker scored a lot. (Kenny) Boynton scored a lot.”
For Young, it has been an up-and-down career at UF. Young has started at center since his sophomore season and has endured some growing pains along the way. He's shown flashes of dominance in posting double-doubles against Ohio State and Arizona as a sophomore and Kentucky as a junior. But consistency has been an issue throughout the 6-foot-9, 240-pound center's four seasons on campus.
Donovan said he thinks Young is chasing the ball off the backboard as well as he's seen him in his career. Young is averaging 9.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last three games.
“He's been really, really aggressive in keeping balls alive, trying to rebound out of his area.” Donovan said. “I thought he had a difficult offensive game vs. Fresno (State), I thought he had some pretty good looks in and around the basket he just didn't finish but it didn't impact or affect him on the defensive end or with his rebounding.”
Said Young: “My effort is one thing I can control. So I just try to go into a game with the mindset of trying to get every rebound I can.”
Walker still out
Donovan confirmed that freshman McDonald's All-American forward Chris Walker will not play today against Savannah State. It's the third straight game that Walker has sat out since joining the Gators to practice on Dec. 16. Walker is still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA before he can compete in games.
“I really do hope for his sake there can be some kind of timely decision, because certainly he's here on campus, he's cleared to practice, he's not cleared to play right now,” Donovan said. “He's already missed (two) games, he's going to miss a game here (today). I'm just hopeful that our school, the NCAA can all get together and figure out a solution.”
Donovan said that Walker has maintained a positive attitude in practice and is starting to pick things up defensively.
“He's getting better,” Donovan said. “I think he's overwhelmed in terms of the amount of information and what we do. He's got to play a lot of catch up, but I can see progress. It's been humbling for him going against seniors like (Casey) Prather, (Will) Yeguete and Young up front, seeing the size and the strength. He's got a good motor.”
Donovan said that McDonald's All-American freshman point guard Kasey Hill is OK after suffering a minor ankle injury against Fresno State. It was a different ankle from the high ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games earlier this season.
Hill said he's adjusting to playing on the court at the same time with senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin.
“I think our chemistry can get a lot better,” Hill said. “We're going to start practicing a lot together. We weren't really on the court a lot together because I was out (with the high ankle sprain) and he was out (with the suspension) at first. But I think it's going to get a lot better. We're both unselfish guards.”
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Michael Frazier II 6-4 So. 11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
G Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Sr. 12.3 ppg, 4.8 apg
F Casey Prather 6-6 Sr. 18.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Will Yeguete 6-7 Sr. 5.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 Sr. 10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg
SAVANNAH STATE PROBABLE STARTERS
G Whitley Carter 5-9 Fr. 1.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg
G Terel Hall 6-1 Jr. 4.5 ppg, 2.7 apg
G Alante Fenner 6-5 Fr 14.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg
F Saadiq Muhammad Fr. 6-7 3.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Hikeem Champaigne 6-9 Jr. 2.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Notes: Florida returns to the O'Connell Center to start a three-game homestand. The Gators have won 21 straight games at home. … Florida is 2-0 all-time against Savannah State. The Gators were held to a season-low 58 points in a 58-40 win over Savannah State last season. … The Gators lead the Southeastern Conference and rank 18th in the nation in scoring defense (61.1 points allowed per game). Florida has held seven opponents to 61 points or fewer this season. … Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith is averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds per game off the bench. … Senior forward Casey Prather has reached double figures in scoring in all 11 of UF's games this season. Prather is shooting 62.4 percent from the floor and 75.7 percent from the free-throw line. Prather has been 13 of 16 from the free-throw line in the final minutes of regulation this season. … Savannah State returns just one starter from a team that finished 19-15 last season. The Tigers are coming off back-to-back losses at Arkansas (73-42) and at home to Miami (68-51). … Savannah State is coached by Horace Broadnax, a Plant City native who played against Florida coach Billy Donovan in college when Broadnax was at Georgetown and Donovan was at Providence. … Florida is averaging 12.5 assists per game. Donovan said he would like to see that number increase to between 16-22 assists per game going forward.
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.