The Return of Gator Basketball

The Gators moving into the AP and Coaches' Poll is really not that significant. We don't know where the team will finish and we don't know what will happen once SEC play begins.

But we do know that ahead of tonight's game against North Florida that this team is working. As I said after the Rutgers game, the team has an identity. Any time you have a big change in personnel, you worry about will happen the season after. It can either be good (the 2005-06 Gators after Lee, Roberson, and Walsh leave) or bad (the 2007 football team). In the case of this ball club, the most important person, Billy Donovan stuck around. He should be given a lot of credit for not only putting these kids together, but also absorbing the criticism and pressure that comes with being two-time defending champions.

While Donovan's handling of the last two seasons (excluding the flirtation with Orlando) has been absolutely fantastic, Nick Calathes is the real deal and Marreese Speights has been fantastic, despite only averaging 20 minutes a game. Everyone as a role on this team and everyone seems comfortable. That was proven Saturday when Jai Lucas finally started shooting threes.

Tonight should be another light challenge for the Gators. North Florida is from the suddenly dangerous Atlantic Sun Conference, but their 37% shooting clip won't compete with Florida. Plus, they are averaging 21 turnovers a game, so expect plenty of shots for the Gators. And after FSU rolled over and played dead for a terrible USF this past weekend, it is possible UF ends the month undefeated. Pushing out even further, the Gators could be 12-0 when they travel out of Florida for the first time and face The Ohio State. Doesn't that sound like the good old days?

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