Florida Gators basketball Mailbag: Can Patric Young keep up his hustle?


The first and possibly only all-basketball Alligator Army Mailbag is here!

A special Alligator Army Mailbag double dip this week. This one's all about the Gators of the hardwood. As usual, hit @AlligatorArmy up or drop a question off on Facebook, and I'll get it answered.

Will Donovan need to keep Young as a 6th man to get that insane production out of him? (@_slotkin)

The insane production from Patric Young that we're talking about here, a double-double with a handful of blocks and assists against Marquette, is not actually "insane," I think: Young's been capable of doing that the whole time. But capability and production are different, and the energy Young showed against the Golden Eagles in Florida's dominant win is the sort of thing that he's never been able to maintain before.

It's no secret that Young's conditioning and focus have been his major issues, and it's been plain to see in his first two years that his intensity can slip during games. Young's built like a strongman, which is great for his potential as the face of a program, but hasn't been as valuable on the court; basketball players need lean muscle, and leg strength, most, and Young's almost skinny from the waist down.

Combine that with subpar conditioning commitment and lackadaisical effort, and Young has been brilliant only in bursts for Florida. Last Thursday was the first time I saw him go full bore for basically the entirety of a game, and the new and different thing on that night was the "benching" and use as a sixth man.

I don't think Billy Donovan needs to keep Patric Young on the bench to begin games to get that out of him; I think Young needs to put that out on the court to stay off the bench to begin games. Whether Young understands that he and Florida are much better when he's fully engaged and acts on it remains to be seen.

Can Florida survive a Will Yeguete injury and still be a Final Four team? (@Jbird_H/Chekhov's Spread Gun Option)

I am tempted to say yes, because Yeguete doesn't do any one thing so superbly that an injury would kill Florida's Final Four chances. But no, if Yeguete is hurt again in March, Florida won't be going to the Final Four.

Circumstances were different last year when Yeguete went down, especially in the NCAA Tournament itself: Florida played a Virginia team that just couldn't keep up with it, housed an inferior Norfolk State squad that had gotten its glory, beat game-but-less-talented Marquette, and had Louisville on the ropes until the Cards' defense ratcheted up and the Gators' shots stopped falling. It is a bit of a leap to think Florida will have a road to the Final Four that forgiving again.

But there's also no Bradley Beal on this team, and Yeguete's main skill (rebounding, especially on the offensive end) was more easily replaced with Beal on the court to get rebounds that no 6'3" guard should ever have gotten. Young is an erratic rebounder, and Erik Murphy's not fast enough to be more than good; Yegeute's great, and might be an all-timer on the boards if he were just a couple of inches taller. Florida can't pencil in Casey Prather to do a Yeguete act (well, probably: Prather's still an enigma), DeVon Walker isn't strong enough to do it, and there's no other scholarship player taller than 6'6" on Florida's roster.

Beyond the rebounding issues Florida would have if Yeguete went out, he's just about the finest example of a glue guy Florida has had since Corey Brewer. He's got a little bit of everything to his game, and he stays upbeat and hungry (if you could blend Young and Yeguete into one player, that player would be an All-American) for every second he's on the court; he's the heart of this team. And teams don't do well without hearts.

How much of a role will Frazier/Ogbueze get as the season goes on? Both have a lot of potential? (@staasan)

I think we've seen what Michael Frazier's going to be this year: The lights-out shooter off the bench who can sub in for Kenny Boynton, Scottie Wilbekin, or Mike Rosario, play the 2, knock down threes, and serve as instant offense. Frazier's a decent defender and has some skills with the ball, but only five of his 29 shots this year haven't been threes, and he has just 10 fewer takes from distance than Boynton does ... in 82 fewer minutes. Frazier's got a sweet stroke, though, maybe just as good as the silky one Beal never quite got into rhythm with last year, and I can't be mad at a guy who jacks threes if nearly 40 percent of them go in.

Ogbueze, on the other hand, has a much less certain future.

I have no doubt that Donovan told Ogbueze at some point in his recruitment that he could come be Erving Walker's successor at point guard. I don't think Donovan or Ogbueze factored in that Boynton and Wilbekin would be sharing that role this year, which is really Ogbueze's best chance to play before his junior year because Kasey Hill is likely to be Florida's starting point guard throughout 2013-14.

If Ogbueze can't be the point guard, logic says "Okay, fine: Try him at shooting guard, maybe?" Facts, on the other hand, say that he's gotten off to a slow start as a shooter, with just four makes on 12 shots, one three in three attempts, and one made free throw on four attempts from the line. That last bit couldn't be much further from the nearly automatic Erv at the charity stripe, and it's a ways back of even DeVon Walker (8-for-10 on FTs), whose shooting form is ... we'll say unorthodox.

If Ogbueze can't heat up from the field or take command as a reserve point guard, I don't think he's going to worm his way into Donovan's rotation as more than a spot player. And though I like Ogbueze, a guy with his talents should probably consider transferring if he's going to be stuck on the bench.

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