2007 Florida Gators Basketball Preview
The Florida Gators (35- 5 overall, 13- 3 in SEC) won their second straight national title last year, defeating Ohio State 84- 75. After finishing first in the SEC East, coach Billy Donovan’s (261- 103 in 11 years at Florida, 296- 123 overall in 13 years) team pretty much dismantled the college basketball odds and every opponent they encountered. But now the Gators are minus Corey Brewer, Taureen Green, Al Horford, Lee Humphrey and Joakin Noah. They were responsible for 62 PPG, 20.6 RPG and 5.0 APG.
Last year’s college basketball lines and stats are irrelevant since the guys who were most responsible for making the Gators first in rebounding margin (plus-8.5 RPG), first in scoring defense (62.6 PPG) and second in scoring (79.8 PPG) are gone. The good news is that Donovan has brought in a fine freshmen class filled with many capable scorers.
In the frontcourt, size and depth are both big concerns. Sophomore Marreese Speights (4.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 67.1 FG%) showed a lot of promise in limited play last season. Speights, who has a fine shooting hand, is tough inside. Look for him to turn it up a few notches this season. Sophomore forward Jonathan Mitchell (1.4 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 41.5 FG%) has strength inside, while freshman Alex Tyus has the potential to be a dominant power forward and influence college basketball betting.
At the point, look for Jai Lucas, the son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas, to see prime minutes. Lucas is the only true point guard on the club. He’s a cagey floor commander who will need to mature quickly. Walter Hodge (5.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 54.4 FG%), a junior, has an accurate pull up shot. Hodge, who is the team’s leading return scorer and most experienced player with 17.7 MPG, will be invaluable and will be looked at closely for our college basketball predictions. Along with possessing good backcourt skills, he can drive the basket, finishing the play and drawing the foul.
With every starter from the championship club gone, the Gators are just about starting over. This is a massive rebuilding year. Don’t expect a national title or even a SEC championship, but Florida will most likely be in the NCAA tournament mix. How far will they go? It will probably be one deep and then out. Anything more will be truly amazing.