On the eve before the big Florida-South Carolina football game, the Gator basketball team opened its regular season with a blowout win over the William and Mary Tribe, 68-45. And it wasn’t that close.
It was hard to pick out any weaknesses out of this performance, because the Tribe did not play like the favorites of a D2 conference, let alone the Colonial Athletic. W&M is a team that likes to score from outside the arc, but they shot a miserable 2-22 from three point land. That’s not going to beat many CAA teams, let alone a Florida team that has now won 33 consecutive games in Gainesville. They also broke down several defensive assignments early, allowing a few too many wide open looks for Michael Frazier from downtown.
But it was the guard play of William and Mary that really let them down. Between Marcus Thornton, Greg Malinowski and Daniel Dixon, the three W&M guards combined to shoot a pitiful 6-27 from the field. If not for Omar Prewitt (15 points), William and Mary would have been really blown out.
That said, for the most part, while Florida didn’t look like world beaters, the Gators did what they were supposed to do against an inferior opponent. They moved the ball pretty well, hit six threes, and ran a balanced attack in which three different players (Jon Horford, Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier all reached double digits in the scoring column. And the defense was suffocating, even though W&M helped them out by missing pretty much all the open looks they got.
The young backups looked good, too. Devin Robinson got to slam down a couple of dunks, Chris Chiozza poked a few balls away and turned them into points (usually via a full possession, but he got two fast breaks out it) and former manager-turned player Jacob Kurtz hit a few shots from the floor.
Finally, let’s note that this is not even close to Florida’s full team. The Gators will get big man Chris Walker back after the next game, and Duke transfer Alex Murphy will be eligible to play in December. So this team will only get better as it moves forward, not just with experience, but by getting more talented guys into the mix.
But for better or worse, we’ll know a lot more about this team on Monday night, when the Miami Hurricanes come to town. For now, just sit back and enjoy the fact that the Gators have done everything right that we could have realistically expected them to.