Notes: Wilbekin getting comfortable

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As Florida freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin dribbled in the second half of Thursday night’s game against Kent State, students from the O-Dome student section screamed, “It’s OK Scottie, you can shoot it.”

Wilbekin then launched a 3-pointer, the lone one he made of the night. While shot attempts have been few and far between for the the 17-year-old Gainesville native, Wilbekin has done plenty of other things well early in his career.

Considering that Wilbekin has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team (21-6), he can be excused for being a little tentative offensively. Wilbekin has attempted just 19 shots this season, including 11 3-pointers. He’s averaging 2.3 points per game.

“I’m still getting used to when I need to take my shots,” Wilbekin said. “I want to make sure I get Vernon (Macklin) and Alex (Tyus) touches inside to balance the offense. I’m starting to get more comfortable, when I need to take shots and when I need to pass.”

Wilbekin played 21 minutes against Kent State, a game Florida coach Billy Donovan said was his best of the season.

“He played tonight because he was really good,” Donovan said. “All the little things, he was tough, he was physical, he defended. He did a nice job running our team. He got in offense. I thought he did a really, really good job tonight.”

Wilbekin finished the game with three points, four rebounds, three steals and an assist. Donovan also was pleased with Wilbekin’s defense.

“There were several times on the defensive end of the floor that something bad was going to happen for our team where he rotated or stepped up or guarded a guy or cut a guy off,” Donovan said. “He made a lot of really good plays that broke some momentum for them.”

— Looking for positives early in the Florida basketball season? One area that’s greatly improved is offensive rebounding. Through the first nine games of the season, Florida is averaging 12.6 offensive rebounds per game. Donovan said the coaching staff is charting the percentage of times big men Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, Erik Murphy and Chandler Parsons crash the offensive glass. “If they are in the game, and 20 shots go up, and the only go to the glass 10 times, that’s 50 percent, we’re pretty disappointed,” Donovan said. “We want them to be up in the 90 percentile where shot goes up and they are going to the glass hard 90 percent of the time to try to find a way to rebound.”

— Florida’s strength of schedule currently ranks second in the country, according to CollegeRPI.com. As a result, Florida currently ranks eighth in the Ratings Percentage Index, which measures a team’s record against its strength of schedule. The remainder of UF’s non-conference schedule should keep its schedule strength high. Florida faces Kansas State (17 RPI), Xavier (31 RPI) and Rhode Island (45 RPI) in the next three weeks.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Wilbekin’s minutes need to go up. If he can run the point and create shots for other players that adds a dimension the other guards don’t provide especially at the end of close games. It would probably benefit the team (if Wilbekin is ready) if Walker were playing most of his minutes supplementing the 2 and 1 positions rather that being the primary point guard. It is surprising that the younger player’s play defense with better intensity than last year’s starters.

  2. What is like about Wilbekin is that he does not seem to mind playing team basketball. A player like that a PG is just what the Gators need. I will say that Boynton and Walker did do a better job of playing as a team the last game. If that continues, this could be a very good team. Go Gators!

  3. Everyone’s assists to turnover ratio would improve if the Gators could simply shoot the dang ball. I’m amazed that this looks a lot like the last couple years, when the Gators were charter members of the bricklayers club.
    That includes free throw as well. If it turns out that Wilbekin can also shoot, well praise the Lord and give him the ball, because the rest of them sure can’t. Good thing that this team rebounds well and hustles on defense.

  4. Really like Scottie and I am pretty happy where the squad is at right now. The UCF loss exposed the problems we have and Ohio State showed the range of our abilities (good to bad); but Boynton is starting to find a role outside of missing shots and our frontcourt depth is tremendous. Looks like a dangerous team come March.

  5. I’ll be very interested to see this team play a quality opponent after having 9 days off. I’m guessing they will not have changed much, even though they need to. It would not surprise me if Boynton and Walker continue to take poor shots with little to no correction by the coaching staff. Wilbekin will need to play because he’s the only perimeter player the Gators have that can stay in front of Pullen.

  6. From what I have seen this year. Wilbekin and Prather are the best on ball defenders we have. I know Prather has not taken many shots but as I recall he has hit most of what he has taken and I believe of those they were mostly from three point land. Does anyone know that stat? He has great length and a smooth shot. If Walker and Boyton continue to struggle sit them for a while and maybe they will get more focused watching the youner guys. They are going to get pushed hard next year anyway with the Rutgers transfer and Beal who can certainly shoot.

  7. Wilbekin appears to be a great player in the making. Love watching Wilbekin, Murphy, Parsons, and Walker playing great team ball. That said, Boynton is a joke. He is a one man team hotdogger. Yes, anyone can get hot shooting on occasion, but he totally ignores the other prlayers on offense and invloves nobody but himself. Only passes when he’s forced by the defender. He needs to get coached into playing team ball or get benched.