Rebounding Troubles Raise Red Flag in Florida’s Exhibition GamePosted by Brian Joyce on November 4th, 2012
Most often, exhibition games can serve as glorified practices or tune-ups for upcoming regular season foes, while not much can be extrapolated from a lopsided victory over an outmanned opponent. But occasionally, critical issues may emerge that need immediate attention. Florida’s Billy Donovan liked the effort he saw from his his freshmen in the Gators 101-71 win over Division II Nebraska-Kearney late last week, but he wasn’t pleased with the rebounding effort he saw from his veterans. “I question our older guys’ commitment to defending and rebounding like we need to,” Donovan lamented. “That was the disappointing thing to me. I’d rather have the young guys out there making mistakes, really getting after it, giving all they have.”
Despite having a major height advantage over the Lopers, the Gators only out-rebounded the opponent by a margin of 32-29. While UF was armed with 6’10” Erik Murphy, 6’9″ Patric Young, 6’7″ Will Yeguete, and 6’6″ Casey Prather, Nebraska-Kearney didn’t possess a single player on the roster above 6’7″. Exhibition game or not, that represents an area of concern for the Gators moving forward.
Much of the Gators’ struggles in rebounding comes from their choice to employ a three-guard attack. “The challenge comes in is if you are in a three-guard situation with Scottie (Wilbekin), Kenny (Boynton) and (Mike) Rosario,” Donovan wonders, “can we realistically rebound the ball well enough with those three guys without putting such a focus on our frontcourt with two guys to secure all of the rebounding, that would put us at as a disadvantage.” The departure of the bouncy 6’3″ guard Bradley Beal leaves a huge void in Florida’s rebounding this year. “He’s really patient, a great rebounder,” center Patric Young said about Beal during last season. “He’s probably not seen as such a great rebounder because he’s a guard, but he’s a great rebounder.” But now the Gators aren’t sure where to turn to replace Beal’s 6.7 rebounds per game.
Florida’s best rebounding option might be on the bench in the form of slimmed-down forward Will Yeguete. While Yeguete didn’t start, he came in to grab 11 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. “I just want to get rebounds,” Yeguete said. “Coach D is really on us about rebounding, so I want to prove him wrong. I want to prove we can be a good team that can rebound. We’ve gotta keep working on it and get better.” Yeguete had the highest offensive and defensive rebounding percentage on the Gators last year. Could he be the answer to their rebounding woes? If so, Donovan has to find additional minutes for him in a crowded frontcourt. Regardless, Donovan needs somebody, no matter his size, to provide consistency on the boards if Florida expects to reach its goals this season.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.