Back from Brazil, Florida coach Billy Donovan is looking forward to taking full advantage of a new summer opportunity.
Under recently revised NCAA rules, Division I coaches will have up to eight hours a week in July to work with players enrolled in summer school. Donovan said the entire UF roster, including incoming freshmen, are enrolled for the second summer session. Classes begin next Monday (July 2).
“We can get on the floor with these guys and at least make them go through some individual workouts, team workouts,” Donovan said during Monday’s Southeastern Conference coaches basketball teleconference.
After coaching Team USA to a gold medal in the FIBA Americas 18-under tournament, Donovan has turned the focus back to the Gators. Donovan said the summer workouts will serve as the first chance to mold the identity of the team. There is more experienced depth in the frontcourt with the return of starters Patric Young and Erik Murphy.
“That’s something we are probably going to have to see,” Donovan said. “I do think with Erik Murphy being a senior, Will Yeguete played a lot as a sophomore before he got injured, Patric Young will be a year older, Cody Larson will be a year older. So I think clearly depth wise we will have some good experience.”
In the backcourt, Florida brings back a pair of seniors — leading scorer Kenny Boynton (15.9) and top bench scorer Mike Rosario (6.6 ppg).
“Depth wise any time you lose a starting point guard like we are with Erving Walker and then you obviously lose a top-five pick like Brad Beal, it changes the complexion of your backcourt,” Donovan said. “I think for Scottie Wilbekin, Braxton Ogbueze as a freshman and Kenny Boynton, we’ll have to create an identity back there. And that’s something I’ve given some thought about.
“I do think defensively because Erving at times with his size struggled against bigger guards, I think now Scottie is a bigger stronger guard, Braxton is a stronger guard as well. I feel pretty confident in terms of our frontcourt, what’s returning, I think anytime you take a point guard off a team that has starter for three years there is a different element and dynamic that you have to deal with.”
Donovan said he’s looking forward to working with his guard-heavy incoming 2012 class which includes Ogbueze, guard Dillon Graham, guard Michael Frazier and swingman DeVon Walker. Transfers Damontre Harris (6-9, c, South Carolina) and Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, f, Virginia Tech) also are expected to arrive on campus next week.
Donovan said he focused on more on backcourt players in the 2012 class because he was concerned with the possibility of losing Boynton and Rosario along with Walker and Beal.
“We didn’t really add a lot of frontcourt pieces in the incoming freshman class, but more than anything I was concerned with if we would have lost all of those guys to the draft or to graduation, what kind of situation we’d be in,” Donovan said. “I think the kids understand coming in there is going to be the possibility they won’t play as much because of our experience and depth with Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton. But I think they also understand that in a year things can really, really open up. The kids coming in look like very good team guys. I’ll get a better feel in July.”
Other nuggets from the SEC Teleconference:
— Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia all are taking offseason foreign trips this summer and will get 10 extra practice days.
— Missouri coach Frank Haith is pleased with the addition of Connecticut transfer center Alex Oriakhi. “That’s kind like the Christmas present you weren’t expecting to get,” Haith said. “His experience of being a starting center on a (national) championship team brings something to the table as well as his ability to be a presence. He’s been here working this summer and getting back in shape.”
–Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy, in comparing the SEC to the Big 12, “The biggest difference is the athleticism in the SEC, more up and down basketball. The Big 12 tends to be a grind, especially after you go through the first round of games and you play the second time, it’s a physical, grinding-type league. Sometimes, the halfcourt, the last five or seven minutes are important where in the SEC there’s more transition baskets. It’s a quicker-paced league.”