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February 5, 2011

Basketball: Grading the Gators

With roughly two-thirds of the regular season in the books after Florida's win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday, InsidetheGators.net is here to review what's gone right and wrong for Billy Donovan's Gators so far.

We hand out grades for the team, the backcourt and the frontcourt, and for individual players in this comprehensive look at Florida's first 21 games of the 2010-11 season.

OVERALL

The Gators continue to be plagued by inconsistency. During this last 12-game stretch, Florida hasn't been able to build on the momentum of its big wins.

Following its upset of then-No. 6 Kansas State, the Gators fell in overtime to Jacksonville. After beating both Tennessee and Georgia on the road in overtime, Florida lost to South Carolina and Mississippi State respectively.

In fact, the only big win this year that the Gators managed to follow up with another win was its road victory at Xavier. Florida played one of its best games of the year against Rhode Island after knocking off Xavier.

That's something that makes it hard to see Florida finishing at the top of the conference or doing very well come postseason play.

Still, despite its inconsistency from game to game, Florida is in great position with regards to making the NCAA Tournament.

Given the weak bubble this season and the Gators' strong RPI and strength of schedule, Florida can probably get in the tournament by winning just three of its final eight games. Winning four would likely cement an at-large berth.

Overall Grade: B
Previous Grade: B-

Summary: The Gators went 9-3 during this past 12-game stretch, putting them near the bottom of the college basketball polls and the very top end of the bubble picture. As things stand right now, Florida is solidly in the NCAA Tournament and is the type of team that can win a game or two once there if the match ups are favorable.

BACKCOURT

The main issue for the backcourt in the first third of the season was Erving Walker's turnovers, and that continues to be the case for the Gators. His numbers have improved slightly in that department, but still need plenty of work.

Also, while Kenny Boynton's shooting percentage from behind the arc has improved, his overall shooting percentage has dipped three percentage points. At times, he's been an offensive liability with his shot selection.

Scottie Wilbekin is still providing some solid minutes off the bench, which has given Walker and Boynton a breather at times.

Chandler Parsons' play in the backcourt has also improved tremendously, and his ability to knock down perimeter shots recently has really opened the floor for the Gators.

For that reason alone, the grade for the backcourt improves significantly from the first third of the season.

If Boynton can shoot a higher percentage and Walker can cut down on turnovers, Florida should be a team that can do some serious damage in the NCAA Tournament.

Backcourt Grade: B-
Previous Grade: C+

Summary: Walker's turnovers are still an issue that is costing the Gators and in the upcoming stretch, he simply won't be able to get away with them. Boynton has been more of a liability than a threat recently, as well. But Walker's shooting and Parsons' all-around play have been enough to improve the unit as a whole over the second third of the season.

FRONTCOURT

The frontcourt has improved considerably since the beginning of the season. Vernon Macklin continues to be a force on the glass, and freshman Patric Young has really evolved over the past several games.

Alex Tyus still has work to do, but he's beginning to provide slightly more consistent scoring and rebounding.

Erik Murphy was sidelined for a while with an injury but has provided good production in the limited minutes he has gotten since his return.

As a whole, the frontcourt needs to be utilized more by the Gators. Simply put, Florida is much better when the offense flows into the paint rather than hovering around the perimeter.

The only real negative for the frontcourt over the second third of the season has been the disappearance of Will Yeguete. Yeguete logged more than 10 minutes in only one of the 12 games and has been significantly less effective than he was at the beginning of the season.

Parsons is providing much better production around the basket than he was at the beginning of the season, though.

Frontcourt Grade: B+
Previous Grade: B

Summary: The bottom line is that Florida is most consistent when it attacks in the paint. The grade here could be much higher if the Gators simply got the ball into the frontcourt more. Until they do, it's impossible to give this unit an "A."

STARTERS

Erving Walker: His shooting numbers continue to be very strong, but turnovers have been an issue along with crunch-time free-throw shooting.
Grade: B
Previous Grade: B-

Kenny Boynton: His cold shooting has been an issue all year and he actually seems to have regressed as a whole since his freshman season.
Grade: C-
Previous Grade: C+

Chandler Parsons: He seems to have put his early season slump behind him and has proven that he can have a big impact in games even when he's not scoring.
Grade: B+
Previous Grade: C-

Alex Tyus: His presence around the rim has improved, but he still gets lost at times on the floor and isn't as much of a force as he should be.
Grade: C-
Previous Grade: D

Vernon Macklin: He is still playing at the high level he started the year at and has been terrific as a scorer and rebounder.
Grade: A
Previous Grade: A

BENCH

Scottie Wilbekin: His defense has still been good, but he hasn't really emerged as a scoring option or a viable option as a starting point guard.
Grade: C+
Previous Grade: B

Casey Prather: He has improved somewhat since the beginning of the year, particularly around the rim. He still isn't capable of providing more than 10 minutes per night, though.
Grade: C+
Previous Grade: C+

Will Yeguete: After a strong start to the year, Yeguete has disappeared in the middle of the season. He needs to get back to his early season form for the Gators.
Grade: C-
Previous Grade: B-

Erik Murphy: With the mid-season injury and limited minutes, it's impossible to give Murphy an "A," but he's still Florida's best option off the bench.
Grade: B+
Previous Grade: A

Patric Young: He has been much improved in the past few games, finally figuring out how to play strong defense without fouling. He's also added a little more offensive touch around the rim.
Grade: B
Previous Grade: C-


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