Each year, I look forward to receiving my copy of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
Coaches call it “the Bible.” It’s the most comprehensive look at each team and each conference in Division-I. Yearbook editor Chris Dortch is one of the most plugged-in reporters in college basketball, especially when it comes to the ACC and SEC.
Blue Ribbon ranked Florida ninth in the nation in its Preseason Top 25. Here’s what the yearbook had to say about the Gators:
“Florida is going to be a load to guard. If he chooses, (Florida coach Billy) Donovan can put four 3-point shooters on the floor at the same time. That will leave (Patric) Young to operate one-on-one in the post. And if teams try to double-team him, a shooter is going to be left open. It’s easy to see certain games getting quickly out of hand with the firepower at Donovan’s disposal.”
Blue Ribbon gave Florida high marks, grading its backcourt A+, froncourt A, bench/depth B and intangibles A+.
Here’s a look at how Blue Ribbon projects some of Florida’s key non-conference opponents early this season:
No. 3 Ohio State (Nov. 15, at Ohio State): “For a national title contender, Ohio State has a lot of questions. Until the freshmen are mixed in with the returnees and roles are determined, it’s hard to project what this team will look like. But the known commodities are very strong, to say the least. Ohio State has the best big man in college basketball in (Jared) Sullinger, and one of the best wings in (William) Buford — with a scrappy sophomore guard in (Aaron) Craft who does all the little things and should be ready for big things.”
No. 4 Syracuse (Dec. 2, at Syracuse): “Syracuse returns nine of its top 10 scorers from a 27-win team … (Coach Jim) Boeheim enters his 36th campaign with one of his most experienced and talented teams. The Orange won’t replace (power forward Rick) Jackson, but Syracuse has all the pieces to make up for his departure and realize the expectations surrounding the 2011-12 season.”
No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 7, Arizona): “On paper it looks difficult. The Wildcats lost the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft (Derrick Williams) as well as their second-leading scorer in (Lamont) Jones and return no double-figure scorers. But Arizona still has more than enough to defend its conference title. It’s just a case of using manpower more than starpower. Miller will probably fuel an efficient offense and man-to-man defense with at least a nine-player rotation.”
No. 16 Texas A&M (Dec. 17, Texas A&M, Orange Bowl Classic, Sunrise): “Chances are, the Aggies are going to be playing a little more conservatively on offense than (first-year coach Billy) Kennedy would like. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean the Aggies are going to experience an adjustment period. But this is an experienced team with depth in the league (Big 12) that looks wide open at the top.”
No. 17 Florida State (Dec. 22, Florida State): “Defensively, Florida State is a top-five team. But the Seminoles have a long way to go offensively to get to that level … The FSU staff is hoping that better point guard play — senior Derwin Kitchen was a very good player, but not really a point guard — will repair some of the ball-handling issues and the maturity of Michael Snaer, the health of Ian Miller and the addition of Terry Whisnant will provide the perimeter firepower that will help open up the lane for the team’s bevy of interior scorers.”
— It was a tough recruiting day for the Gators on Thursday, as Florida lost out on top-20 2012 forward prospects Robert Carter (Georgia Tech) and Alex Poythress (Kentucky). In need a forward to balance out its 2012 class of three guards, the Gators may now turn their focus to power forward Anthony Bennett.
— Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal, a St. Louis native, said he’s received a lot of questions about Missouri moving to the SEC. “Missouri is a great program,” Beal said. “They are a great program in the Big 12 and it’s unfortunate they will have to leave the Big 12 because it (has) such a rivalry with Kansas. It should be a great addition to the SEC.”