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November 25, 2009, 01:52 PM ET
The All-D, No-O Florida Gators

by John Gasaway

Actually, “no-O” is probably overstating the facts of Florida’s case. I just wanted to piggy-back winningly on the headline from Kevin Pelton’s story on the Toronto Raptors. Still, there’s no denying the fact that the turnaround in Gainesville has been striking over the young season’s first four games.

Keep in mind this is a team that for the past two years has had an exellent offense but has been locked out of the NCAA tournament due to shoddy D. And now all the sudden they’re beating Florida State in Gainesville 68-52 in a 71-possession game? The times they are a-changing. No Florida opponent, including and especially the Seminoles, has been able to make any shots against a reconfigured front line that features Alex Tyus at the 4 and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin in the paint.

Good thing Billy Donovan’s defense has been so outstanding because this group hasn’t been able to make a three to save its life. Note for instance that highly anticipated freshman Kenny Boynton has been fairly efficient in his scoring even though the young man has made just four of the 23 threes he’s launched thus far. Effective exertions inside the arc and frequent trips to the line have enabled Boynton to help his team even amidst all the clangs from the perimeter. And, hey, if Boynton’s threes actually start dropping you’re looking at a Wesley Johnson-level phenomenon. Meanwhile Erving Walker, nominally a scoring point guard, has chosen to pay tribute to Boynton by duplicating virtually every miss from long-range: Walker is 4-of-22 on his threes, though he has been laudably proficient in the assist department. 

While it’s hard to envision this offense scoring enough points to hang with Michigan State this Friday night in Atlantic City at the Legends Classic, Donovan’s team does look like a tougher test for the Spartans than I would have thought a few days ago. Not to mention the December 10 game between Florida and Syracuse in Tampa now looks a little more intriguing. 

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