Back in Gainesville, Taurean Green bringing experience, perspective to Gators basketball program
There’s the landscape of Gainesville, which has undergone many changes since 2007, including the development of Celebration Pointe and the expansion of Butler Plaza.
“Gainesville was a little town, and now it’s a city. When I got here and got off Archer (Road), it was like there’s the Cheesecake Factory and there is P.F. Chang’s. Am I in the right place?” Green, a Boca Raton native, recalled. “I saw Celebration Pointe and I said ‘wow.’ It’s great for the city, great for the university, and for recruiting.”
Then there’s the game itself, where Green, UF’s newly hired director of player development, has witnessed much change throughout his 14-year professional career and into the 2021-22 season with the Chicago Bulls.
“I feel like basketball in general — college, NBA, European — (has changed). Back when I played, it was, you know, traditional two bigs, a wing, two guards. Now it's about this four-out, sometimes five-out," Green said Wednesday. "So it's just, the game has evolved; it’s crazy, but you have to be able to adapt to how the game’s played now. You’ve got to be able to shoot it. You’ve got fives who can step out to the three now, and you’ve just got to be able to adapt and just go with it.”
Gators' roster sits at 12 with summer workouts underway
Green is now tasked with overseeing the growth of Florida’s roster, which sits at 12 scholarship players as summer workouts get underway. He understands much of what drives the conversation regarding where the game will go next is based on the rise of basketball analytics. His new boss, UF coach Todd Golden, is considered to be on the forefront of analytics' rise and implementation in the game.
Rather than at the European level, Green’s first taste of analytics came in Chicago, where the Bulls used a systematic approach to pregame preparation and in-game adjustments.
“Analytics is big in the NBA. Some coaches really believe in it, some coaches partially, some coaches just go by the eye test. I feel that part of the analytics gives you an advantage. It tells you a lot, actually,” Green said. “I was surprised with just the way Chicago used analytics in preparation for their game plan against certain players, certain teams.”
UF champion teams could hang with today's players
Despite the evolution of the game, Green doesn’t feel as if it’s passed the 2005-06 or the 2006-07 Gators, the last consecutive national championship winners in men’s college basketball, by in the slightest. They, too, would have evolved with the game, and Green envisions they’d have experienced a similar level of success if Green were playing collegiate basketball today.
“(We’d have fared) the same. We would have been able to figure it out,” Green said. “We had shooters. Corey (Brewer), Lee Hump(hrey), the best shooter in the world. We had Corey running the lane, Jo(akim Noah) was a versatile big who could put the ball on the floor, good passer. (Al) Horford was the same thing. Walt (Hodge), C Rich (Chris Richard).”
His past may give him immediate credibility inside Florida’s basketball complex, but Green understands accolades won’t factor into the development process itself. His experience will, however, which is why Golden was keen on having a former UF player join his inaugural Florida coaching staff.
“These kids need to be taught. They’re still kids at the end of the day. I look back when I was 16, 17, 18, 19 — you just got to remember at the end of the day, they’re still kids, man,” Green said. “Ain’t nobody perfect. They’ll make mistakes. You just got to teach them along the way.”
It’ll take someone willing to work through the blunders that undoubtedly will occur.
He’s still in his first month back in Gainesville, but Green has already witnessed how excited UF’s head coach is to work at the university where Green became a household name among Florida fans during the mid-2000s.
With Golden at the helm, Green may be the first to return, but he likely won’t be the last.
“If you get guys from the past to come back and share their wisdom but also to show their appreciation to the university, it’s always a good thing. I know a lot of guys just haven’t been back for whatever reason, but coach Golden has opened the door and he wants guys to come back from former teams,” Green said. “I’m just appreciative of coach Golden giving me an opportunity to be part of the staff, to come back to the University of Florida. It’s a great opportunity — young, energetic staff, really knows basketball — and the guys have really been working so far. But it’s early.”