Blog Entry

Florida's guards remain a double-edged sword

Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:49 am

Matt Norlander

If you aren’t an only child, then you know what I’m about to describe.

When you’ve got a brother, or a sister, or a couple of brothers or sisters (or some combination of siblings) it’s a wonderful thing. Growing up with them truly is one of the greatest gifts anyone could ask for. Those who grow up solo miss out on a linkage that would take so much longer to describe than this blog post will allow.

But you know what? Your bros and sisses can be real pains in the a--, too. There’s resentment that builds up over years of fights and competition and all the other dynamics that make families the haywire mess of dysfunction we all know so well. But most times, no matter the faults, you accept your siblings, issues and arguments and all. It’s because you have no choice to. You were born into this circumstance, and you’d likely never change it.

Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker are family at Florida. And they are the brothers with the problems. The ones who can make a situation harder than it needs to be. But Florida’s going to have to learn to live with them. Just how it’s going to be.

The Gators got good news Monday. Erik Murphy is expected to return for Wednesday’s home game against Arizona. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll be back for the game after that. With Murphy, Florida’s a much different team. Plus, Brad Beal won’t be asked to play the 4, something he had to do against Syracuse. Beal had a bad offensive night in that role. Murphy’s unlike any other player they have, and with him, the guards aren’t looked to as much for offense.

But it doesn’t mean Boynton and Walker won’t still seek to give Florida that offense as much as they can.

On about eight occasions last Friday night I watched those two put up a shot or make a play that was an “oh, no!” kind of moment. Half the time, that sequence was a quick-trigger 3. On some occasions, the 3 feel through the hoop. I turned to's Andy Glockner and we exchanged looks of acknowledgment: that’s so Boynton. And so Walker. That’s so Florida. It’s who they are. It’s how they’ll lose and how they’ll win more times than not this season. It’s what happened last year, and it’s why Florida made it to the Elite Eight, before falling to a less-talented Butler team.

A similar fate awaits the Gators this year, I think.

You can’t deny the numbers right now, though. In fact, it’s a good sign — Florida’s scoring almost 1.2 points per possession, the best in college basketball right now (according to, the national average is .99 points per possession). It’s shooting the ball well (57.5 effective field goal percentage), not turning it over (giving it away on just 17.6 percent of possessions).

Boynton has an O rating of 134.5. That’s really great. Walker’s sits at a firm 123, also fantastic. And to be fair, Walker isn’t taking as many shots as Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario when he’s on the floor. Rosario is also a guy who wants his.

Florida is getting by quite well despite the 5-2 record.

Those two losses have come to Ohio State and Syracuse. North Florida, Wright State, Jacksonville — these are the types of teams UF’s beaten so far. The backcourt play hasn’t been an issue against the patsies. But for as nice as the numbers look, I know what my eyes see. They see players who too often can pass up a 3 out of an offensive sequence because it’s tempting to them like a brownie is tempting to me. I don't think Florida will have issues with 90 percent of its schedule.

In tight moments, I remain skeptical, because the shots can't always fall, especially not when Rosario, Walker or Boynton are bringing our their catapult, convention be damned.

One month into the season, it’s clear Florida can’t change its stripes with Boynton and Walker. I asked Donovan to address his backcourt situation after seven games. He dodged the question like the veteran coach he is. The legitimate question of “How can Florida share the ball with those three?” remains on the table. They’ll win plenty, they’ll win dramatically, but I can’t shake the feeling when the Gators lose, it’s not going to be because on the hands of Patric Young, Murphy or Beal.


Since: Jun 22, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:59 am

Florida's guards remain a double-edged sword

Good analysis.  The Arizona game proved your point about missing shots and struggling.  But the Gators also hopefully learned to pound the middle more before throwing up the bombs.  Coach Donovan gets it and will coach them up before tournament time.

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:53 am

Florida's guards remain a double-edged sword

Matt Norlander should have a perfect understanding of the Florida backcourt.  His writing reeks of the same kind of problems.

With more than his share of knowledge about college hoops, he just can't take the time to present his views in well written prose.
I guess the urge to blather without discipline is too great a temptation to avoid.  Careful usage and structured paragraphs don't
seem important enough to make the effort.  Either he needs to spend some time reading his own stuff or get some help from an
editor (coach) and be smart enough to listen.

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:46 am

Florida's guards remain a double-edged sword

That would be idiotic. Florida needs Billy...Billy can get a job anywhere.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:16 pm

Florida's guards remain a double-edged sword

I wonder how long before Gatorfans start wishing Donovan had taken the Magic job?  Just like with football, the class that won two NCAA Championships sorta spoiled the Gator fanbase and gave them a feeling of entitlement.  Now, both teams seem to be settling back into being what the WWE calls "JTTS," or "jobber to the stars."  They are good enough to beat tomato cans, but only serve as "opponents" or "good victories" for the truly elite teams they play.  
For teams like the Gators, success seems to go in cycles.  Right now, the Gators are taking a lazy afternoon nap.  For their fans, they can't wake up soon enough.

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