Florida and Miami will renew an in-state rivalry tonight in a national showcase game on ESPNU.
It also will pit two of the top point guards in the country — Florida’s Kasey Hill against Miami’s Angel Rodriguez. Both were among 36 players named to the preseason Cousy Award Watch list, given to the top point guard in the nation. Rodriguez, from Dr. Krop High in Miami, transferred back to Miami from Kansas State and was briefly recruited by Florida coach Billy Donovan.
“He played for (Dr. Krop coach) Shakey Rodriguez and I’ve had a great relationship with Shakey and I loved Angel as a player,” Donovan said. “I always thought he was really really good and when Frank Martin was at Kansas State there was obviously strong connections there to Miami but we really did not have a scholarship. We were kind of full on our backcourt and it probably had less to do with what we thought about Angel as a player and probably had much much more to do with the fact that we just had too much depth in our backcourt.”
Rodriguez sat out last season, per Division I transfer rules. He finished with 16 points and 3 rebounds in his Miami debut against Howard. Rodriguez will share time at the point with Miami sophomore Manu Lecomte in a three-guard starting lineup.
“Angel is a great competitor,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “He loves to compete against other great players. He’s a very well-rounded player. There’s a lot of balance to his game. He’s a very good on-the-ball defender. He’s very good off the ball helping teammates. He’s got great anticipation. And offensively, he can really shoot the 3 and is also very good at getting his teammates involved.”
Larranaga also described Rodriguez as a vocal floor leader: “He’s very good at giving direction, talking to guys, motivating guys to get the job done.”
Hill sacrificed offense for defense in UF’s season opener against William & Mary, finishing with 3 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists while chasing around start William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton throughout the game. The Gators held Thornton to 10 points on 3 of 11 shooting.
“It was a challenge,” Hill said. “Coach challenged me a little bit to guard to see where I was defensively so just doing whatever I could to help the team.”