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Mammoths in Motion

Agile Noah, Horford & Co. have sights set on repeat

Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 1:57PM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 6:14PM
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Florida's Al Horford averaged 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds during the Gators run to the national title.
Florida's Al Horford averaged 11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds during the Gators run to the national title.
Bob Rosato/SI
FLORIDA: Agile big men have sights set on repeat
KANSAS: Talented guards ready for Jayhawk run
WISCONSIN: Homegrown stars aiming for title
HOFSTRA: Trio has Hofstra ready to contend
TEXAS A&M: Aggies' rapid rebuilding spells success
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By Luke Winn, SI.com

How are college basketball's contenders built? SI.com's Luke Winn breaks down five different sets of Hoops Architectural plans.

PLAN NO. 1: FLORIDA

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Mammoths in Motion

CHARACTERISTICS: The Gators' style is all the rage, and justifiably so -- they're the defending national champs. Florida is defined by atypically agile towers Joakim Noah and Al Horford, who are both All-America candidates with new-age skill sets. "Everyone talks about our size and shot-blocking," said coach Billy Donovan, "but the thing that gets lost is [Noah's and Horford's] ability to handle and pass the basketball. There are times when they start our fastbreak -- and that helps a lot."

Joining the giants is a cast of team-first veterans (point guard Taurean Green, sharpshooter Lee Humphrey and wing Corey Brewer) who fill out the balanced attack. How balanced? In 2005-06, all five starters had double-digit scoring averages, no one higher than 14.2 points per game, no one lower than 10.9.

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: Winning the title, Donovan said, only reinforced his beliefs about what a team is supposed to be. In the season prior to the title run, a loaded squad -- with talents such as Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee -- bowed out in the second round. In '05-06, the personnel changed, and so did the personality: "Every single guy realized that less is more," said Donovan. "Every guy in our starting five could have averaged more points last year, but they got the teamwork concept, the intangible things. That's what makes up great teams."

PROJECT STATUS: Defending NCAA champs, ranked No. 1 in the AP and Coaches' polls. All five starters are back after Noah, Horford and Brewer decided not to leave early for the NBA and instead returned to make a repeat run.

PRIMARY MATERIALS: Noah (14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player) and Horford (11.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Florida's frontcourt duo is now the most coveted material in all of college hoops, but when Donovan recruited them, neither was a top-50 prospect in scout.com's rankings.

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