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December 13, 2012

The Stock Report: Improvement Inside


Every couple weeks, Inside the Gators will do a stock watch of various players, positions and trends on Florida's basketball team. Here with 1/4 of the regular season in the books, sitting perfect at 7-0, there isn't a whole lot not going right for the Gators.

Kenny Boynton It's tough to say a player who has scored 20 or more points three times this season is trending downward, but let this say more about Boynton's expectations than anything else. When Boynton is on, there is no more prolific scorer on Florida's current roster. But in the past two games against Marquette and FSU he has shot a combined 6 for 23 from the field and 1 for 13 from beyond the arc. It speaks wonders about the Gators' current squad that they were able to win comfortably with that output. Boynton's shot selection needs to improve. Against teams not named Alabama State, Middle Tennessee State or UCF, he is shooting 26 percent from the field.
Gators' defense Coach Billy Donovan said before the season this team's greatest potential could come defensively, where the Gators are more suited personnel-wise to defend inside and out than they have been in the recent past. That has been the story of this season so far. After giving up 71 points to Division II Nebraska-Kearney in a preseason exhibition, Florida has regularly held opponents below 50 points - Wisconsin and UCF the only exceptions - and won every game by an average of 18.3 points. No team has come within less than 13 points of Florida and the marquee victory at this point is a 33-point dismantling of Marquette that coach Buzz Williams called the worst loss he has ever suffered.
Interior presence The Gators may never fully get away from the Donovan school of 3-point shooting strategy but that doesn't mean they haven't shown some serious promise in their front-court during the early going. Will Yeguete is no longer just there for defense and rebounding, although those are both still strengths. He has polished his offensive game and is making an impact on limited shots. Center Patric Young isn't what Donovan wants him to be yet - and won't be until he is averaging double-doubles - but has shown his usual flashes and appears to have gotten the message after being benched early against Marquette. The return of Casey Prather from two concussions has provided situational help as well.
Erik Murphy One member of the front-court deserves his own topic. Murphy spent much of the off-season working on getting stronger and building an offensive arsenal that includes more than just outside shooting. To this point, it has been a success. Murphy has been Florida's most consistent offensive weapon, scoring in double figures four times and most-notably in a 24-point outburst that helped sink a Wisconsin team known for its defense. Murphy is shooting 56 percent from the field and has also been an asset at the other end of the court where he has 13 defensive boards and four blocks.
Mike Rosario For much of the preseason, Donovan ranted about how untrustworthy Rosario was last season. But when Scottie Wilbekin was suspended to open the season, it cracked an opening for Rosario, who currently is second on the team behind only Boynton in minutes. Rosario's effort has been better on defense and he has been a consistent presence for the Gators averaging 11 points per game. However, he still has the occasional moment that leaves spectators confused at exactly what he was thinking in shot selection and ball-handling. Will he ever grow out of it? We'll have to see.

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