Gators-VCU to play closed scrimmage


Florida will get a pretty strong tuneup before the start of the 2014-15 season.

VCU coach Shaka Smart confirmed the Gators will host the Rams in a closed scrimmage on Nov. 1. Under NCAA rules, the game between Division I teams will be closed to the public and media. It will be played on the same day as the Florida-Georgia football game.

These “not so secret” scrimmages have been allowed by the NCAA since 2011. Why the NCAA doesn’t want them publicized remains a mystery only Scooby Doo and Mystery Incorporated can solve. Florida has played UCF, Rollins and Georgia Tech in past seasons in closed scrimmages. But VCU should present the toughest test yet, considering the Rams are picked to finish first in the Atlantic 10 by Blue Ribbon Magazine and return leading scorer Treveon Graham from an NCAA Tournament team.

Smart, of course, worked as an assistant at UF under Florida coach Billy Donovan for one season (2008-09) before taking over as VCU’s coach. Like Florida, VCU likes to press under Smart, which should give guards Kasey Hill and Michael Frazier II a nice early taste of pressure defense. Donovan and Smart have maintained a close relationship, with Smart serving on Donovan’s staff when Team USA won a gold medal in 2013 at the FIBA 19-under World Championships.

Florida will play its lone official scrimmage Nov. 6 at the O’Connell Center against Barry University before opening the season Nov. 14 at home against William & Mary.

Other notes:

– Florida unveiled its uniforms for the 2014-15 season. Here is a sneak peak

– Based on NCAA rules, Division I teams are allowed to practice in team activities as early as Friday, but Florida intends to maintain individual drills until its first “official” practice on Oct. 17.

— Gator redshirt sophomore guard Dillon Graham appears to have his hops back after offseason hip surgery.