Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
9/06/2006 12:44:00 PM
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM ... Florida's Ontario Doubleheader
Walter Hodge was a bright spot for the Gators in their trip to Canada.
The Gators cruised to a pair of Labor Day weekend wins over Brock University of the Guelph All-Stars.
1. On a team loaded with junior stars, the most improved player this offseason may be a sophomore reserve. Guard Walter Hodge played 19.2 minutes per game as a freshman but averaged just 3.8 points and finished with more turnovers (49) than assists (47). When I visited Gainesville in August, Hodge's teammates were raving about his play in pickup games. Coach Billy Donovan indicated before the tour that Hodge was going to see more time at the point in '06-07. In the second game of the trip, an 84-55 win over the Guelph All-Stars, Hodge shot 6-of-8 from the field and dished out five assists against zero turnovers. Taurean Green's job is not in jeopardy. He'll just have a better backup.
2. The Gators' early games in November -- everything leading up to their showdown with Kansas in Las Vegas on the 25th -- are going to get ugly. Granted, the Guelph All-Stars are a step below even Samford or Chattanooga, but with its starters on the floor, Florida went on a 10-1 run to open the first half and an 18-3 explosion to open the second. Facing a such a talented, cohesive unit -- especially trying to combat the size of Jo Noah and (the bulked-up) Al Horford -- will be overwhelming for about 85 percent of the teams in D-I this year.
How can anyone even question if Florida should be the favorite going into this season. Florida has all of their starters and main two backups returning, not to mention another great class of recruits. It seems like a no brainer that they will start the season ranked No. 1, and should be considered the favorite to win it all again.