Written by James Brown, Co-Founder of Gatorsfirst.com
So the other day, I started thinking about what, exactly, could be the problem with our basketball team.
We lack depth. I studied the early departures during Donovan's entire tenure at Florida last summer.
We lack certain skill sets. Again, is Billy Donovan's recruiting to blame? Is Dan Werner just a bum with no business being on anyone's team?
Then I really started thinking: which team would be better off in 2009-10, our present rotation (we run 8 deep) or a 9-man rotation consisting of guys that either left Florida early or aren't playing now for other reasons?
Oh, and I'll answer those other questions, too...
Is Donovan's recruiting to blame? I say no, he has gotten the right guys in school. Keeping them here, and healthy, has been an issue. These things happen, and the margins are smaller (as far as prospects not panning out) in college basketball than football. What I mean is one player leaving early or getting kicked out of school or transferring for playing time issues impacts your entire team more, whereas half of most football recruiting classes accomplish little-to-nothing in their collegiate careers. (Conversely, certain recruits can entirely turn a team around, but as I showed in the previous link, the success of Donovan's teams is tied more closely with the number of years they've collectively played together more than counting on one John Wall-type impact. Also, Billy doesn't cheat.)
Another point on recruiting- one I discussed with a fan last week- is that, with the early signing period, a lot of guys are signing way before your needs are fully known- especially if you have surprise transfers, etc. Additionally, any 'bump' you expect to see from a national title would not be seen until another year out. The 2006 class (Dan Werner being the only one left) was signed before we won the Tournament. The 2007 class (Nick Calathes, etc.) was that first class delivered after the title- and featured two five-stars (Calathes and Chandler Parsons). These were the first five-stars Billy brought in since Anthony Roberson. So you can see that we did receive a bit of a 'bump' in recruting, but you can also see how little it necessarily impacts success: the '03 and '04 classes, the foundation of the back-to-back titles, had no five-star recruits. In other words, lay off Billy's recruiting. It's getting as good now (especially if we get Brandon Knight) as it's ever been.
I think we've already covered the Dan Werner question here and here. I will emphasize that his playing out of position for 4 years cannot be understated. Not every recruit is cut out to play 35 minutes of highly successful basketball per night. Because of depth issues, we need Werner to play more than just a role, even though he's a better fit as a role player. I love the guy's effort, and feel awful for the way most of you have treated him. The true story of Dan Werner is the story of all his teammates that fucked him over by leaving Florida before their eligibility ran out.
Which brings me to the central debate of this post: which of these rosters would win in a game? Which is better off competing over the season? Since we're playing with health issues here, assume everyone is healthy.
Our starting five: Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin.
Our bench: Dan Werner, Ray Shipman, Erik Murphy.
The Other Guys starting five: Nick Calathes, Jai Lucas (starting him because he and Nick started together when he was here), Jonathan Mitchell, Marreese Speights, Allan Chaney.
Other Guys bench: Adam Allen, Brandon Powell, Kenny Kadji, Eloy Vargas.
I know, it's a reach to say Speights would ever be a 4-year player. The good news is, if he bails, the Other Guys have depth in the front court. Allen gives them an extra 3-point shooting threat we don't really have, but their back court is defensively limited. Walker is smaller than Lucas but a better defender, and Calathes hasn't cared about playing defense, ever. They have two guys better suited to play the point, though, and Powell and Mitchell can play some two-guard to run out some interesting lineups.
Anyway, what do you think? Would you watch this sort of Orange and Blue game?
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