The big news of the day for Florida was that stud freshman Chris Walker would be playing his first game as a collegian on Tuesday night.
And he did enough to pique the interest of Florida fans, throwing down a couple of alley-oops while grabbing two boards and blocking two shots in limited minutes off the bench in a 68-58 win for the No. 3 Gators.
It was promising, but the bigger news may actually have been the play of Patric Young, who finished with 13 points and six boards while showing off an array of moves in the post. He scored over both shoulders, he hit jump hooks with both hands, and overall, he looked like a real threat on the block, which adds yet another weapon to Florida’s arsenal.
You see, the strength of this Florida team is their defense. They have a pair of ball-hawking point guards and a slew of big, athletic wings — Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, Dorian Finney-Smith. That versatility allows them to be able to press, run a couple of different zone, and play either straight man-to-man or a switching man-to-man. The athleticism of their front court players allows them to play ball-screens in a number of different ways. And regardless of what defense they’re in, they play it well.
That’s a nightmare scenario for a coach trying to prepare for them and a major reason why the Gators had allowed an averaged of 42.7 points in their last three games entering Tuesday.
But Florida doesn’t have a ton of great scoring options. Prather is a slasher that gets his buckets from five feet and in. Michael Frazier can shoot the cover off the ball. Scottie Wilbekin is one of the more underrated players in the country. Kasey Hill can create off the bounce. Those are all nice pieces, but there is nothing there that scares you.
And Young’s low post game isn’t going to scare many people, especially considering this performance came against a Missouri team that isn’t exactly known for their interior.
But that’s missing the point: knowing that Young will be able to take advantage of a mismatch inside makes Florida that much more dangerous offensively. Florida doesn’t have a go-to guy offensively, but they also don’t have a weakness. They have a roster full of players that know, understand and execute their roles. That’s not a bad thing.