Florida coach Billy Donovan isn’t overly concerned about replacing Bradley Beal’s scoring at the small forward position.
Beal averaged 14.8 points per game, but didn’t emerge as a go-to scorer until late in his freshman season.
“We’re going to able to make up those points, whether it’s by committee or one guy,” Donovan said. “My biggest issue as the small forward spot — Brad Beal was a great, great rebounder.”
The 6-foot-3 Beal averaged 6.7 rebounds per game based on a combination of athletic ability and an overall basketball IQ that belied his experience. That allowed the Gators to start three guards the entire season and not get burned on the glass.
This season, Donovan can go with a more conventional frontline with 6-9 Patric Young, 6-10 Erik Murphy and 6-6 Casey Prather. Or, Donovan could elect to go three guards again with 6-3 Mike Rosario, 6-2 Kenny Boynton and 6-2 Scottie Wilbekin. There will be mixing and matching throughout games depending on opponents. And 6-7 Will Yeguete, who has bulked up to a wide-shouldered 240 pounds, will figure prominently in the rotation at center and power forward. Yeguete said Friday he’s not working out much at small forward. And I don’t see Murphy sliding down to small forward, because he doesn’t have the foot speed to guard on the perimeter.
Donovan likes Prather’s rebounding ability, but is concerned about his turnovers and decision making. Those problems have remained through the first week of practices.
“Playing Casey at the small forward spot, you do gain the rebounding that Beal was able to provide,” Donovan said. “The challenge comes in is if you are in a three-guard situation with Scottie, Kenny and Rosario, can we realistically rebound the ball well enough with those three guys without putting such a focus on our frontcourt with two guys to secure all of the rebounding, that would put us at as a disadvantage.
“Brad probably exceeded my expectations and a lot of other people’s expectations of his ability to rebound. So, Casey, I think can rebound like that. But it is going back to what I said before about the assist-to-turnover ratio. Beal was so secure with the ball and could make plays and could see and had a great, great feel and IQ of passing the ball. Casey has got to be able to do that.”