Some news and notes before the preseason opener Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Florida Tech:
— No surprise. Florida’s projected starting lineup is the same that ended last season — Erving Walker pg; Kenny Boynton sg; Chandler Parsons sf; Alex Tyus pf; Vernon Macklin c.
— Forward Erik Murphy (sprained ankle) and Cody Larson (flu) missed practice time last week, but both are back and expected to play in Thursday night’s exhibition opener.
— Florida coach Billy Donovan said he’d like to play all players, including the freshmen, 15-25 minutes, “depending on how the game goes,” Donovan said. “Our first priority is to win because we’re competing.”
— Donovan had the Gators scrimmage Sunday and experimented with some different combinations. Scottie Wilbekin, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton played together for a quarter in a three-guard lineup. Vernon Macklin and freshman Patric Young played together for a quarter, with the 240-pound Macklin playing power forward and the 245-pound Young playing center. Donovan said Young and Macklin had issues with spacing on the floor. Often, they got in each other’s way. “It’s not great right now,” Donovan said. “I think it will get better and I think it’s something I’m committed to trying to help get better because I do think both of those guys can play together.”
— On the subject of Macklin, Donovan said he is looking for more leadership from him on and off the floor. “We need him to step up and be a better player than he was a year ago, and that means everything,” Donovan said. “He needs to rebound better. He needs to defend better. He needs to stay on the floor without fouling like he did a year ago early in the season. He needs to be a presence offensively where we can throw the ball into him and he can get off good shots around the basket. He needs to step up all the way around.”
— Donovan said he has been pleased with how Walker and Boynton have progressed in practice. “Kenny is understanding shot selection a lot better. He’s really passing the ball well, he’s making extra passes. He’s making the game easier for other people out there.
“Erving, the same thing could be said. I’m not seeing as much of the driving down the lane, leaving his feet, getting caught up in the air, trying to jackknife, staying on the floor understanding that he can’t put himself in certain situations. I definitely have seen growth back there from those two guys in a positive way.”