Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Florida at Arizona
Prior to the 2011-12 season, I spent many pixels badmouthing Florida. They seemed to be a team of mismatched parts: undersized guards who insisted on shooting a great deal in an overcrowded backcourt, a big man who was not a good rebounder, and little leadership among the upperclassman. I was wrong. I did not factor in Bradley Beal, who became the team's leader and was able to guard bigger players. He also became the most important part of the Florida offense. I also did not give Florida coach Billy Donovan enough credit. Florida did win two championships under Donovan, but had an NBA level starting frontcourt. Like last year's Kentucky team, Joakim Noah and Al Horford brought a defensive attitude to the team.
I shall not underrate Donovan again and I thought his team was a bit unlucky to leave the desert with a loss on Saturday against Arizona. One thing that the Gators do particularly well is spring their fullcourt trap on opponents. Last year, Donovan would unleash the trap in most games after the first television timeout. In last night's game, Donovan waited until the 12-minute mark of the first half (the second television timeout) to discombobulate the Wildcats with fullcourt pressure. It was quite successful and Florida had a six to 10 point lead for most of the game. I also think Patric Young has improved, but he is still not an impact rebounder (as someone his size should be).
The other thing that stuck me during the game is how guards get labeled as point guards. When he was a freshman, Florida guard Kenny Boynton, Jr was rated just behind John Wall as recruits. Say what you want about Wall as a professional (and I think he has yet to have a decent teammate), he was a transcendent college player, especially as a point guard. Boynton, meanwhile, has never adjusted to the moniker. While the Gator senior is a good shooter (although he did not show it in this game - he was just 2-of-10 for five points), he has never shown much court vision. Similarly, Mark Lyons was supposed to take the point guard duties away from sophomore Nick Johnson. Lyons, after spending three years in the backcourt next to Tu Holloway at Xavier, is not much of a point guard either.
Arizona was highly rated this season because of their highly rated recruiting class, yet it is the upperclassmen who set the tone. Forward Solomon Hill is the kind of do-it-all player who should come in handy in March. He is taking too many 3-pointer (more than half of his shots), which has caused his field goal percentage and rebounding numbers to drop. He is hitting 43.2 percent of his threes, so there is some give and take. The aforementioned Johnson hit three 3-pointers on his way to a 15 points. He also had four steals.
The Wildcat freshman didn't do much. Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski fouled out after 20 minutess. Forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett combined for five points and six rebounds. All three frontcourt players will be fine eventually, but their productive days probably won't come this season. If Arizona can beat Oral Roberts and East Tennessee State, then they will have managed an undefeated non-conference slate. It will be interesting to see how long they can manage to be unblemished.