With the Gators' starting five getting most of the love, freshman reserve Michael Frazier chipped in what might have been his best effort as a Gator, or at least one of them.
The best part: nobody around the country noticed, because all everybody was talking about was how Florida doubled up a team from its conference for the third time in school history, and how Florida once again proved that they are the class of the SEC by near record proportions.
Nobody cared to mention Frazier, who was Florida's third leading scorer and second leading rebounder despite not playing as many minutes as four of the five starters. Simply put, Frazier may have had the best game ever for somebody who didn't even rate a mention in the ESPN.com game recap (written by the Associated Press).
That's fine with me, and I'm sure with Frazier and Billy Donovan, too.
Frazier adds another dimension to the Gators that could ultimately be the difference in March: depth. It's one thing for a team to have five players who can do damage; it's quite another to have somebody on the bench who is capable of inflicting the same damage with a fresh pair legs. The Gators have two such players on the bench: Will Yeguette and Frazier. Yeguette is an excellent backup to Patric Young (he actually has more rebounds than Young), but we knew about him already. He has already established himself in Gainesville. There was even an entire section in the O'Dome wearing mohawks to pay tribute to Yeguette (and I guess Scottie Wilbekin, who also sports a mohawk). Meanwhile, aside from a 17 point explosion against Marquette, Frazier has done little to suggest that he is just as much of a threat as Kenny Boynton or Mike Rosario... until last night.
Hitting on four of six attempts from beyond the three point line and pulling in seven rebounds definitely qualifies Frazier as a threat. Now Florida (and South Carolina) fans know what he can do off the bench, just in case they missed the Marquette game. Yeguette and Casey Prather (when healthy) give the Gators great depth in the paint, and now Donovan has discovered (or at least verified) another proven option to go to on the perimeter.
That's going to be a serious problem for opponents in the NCAA Tournament, because for every threat wearing orange and blue, the other team has to have an answer. Otherwise, Florida is going to have a mismatch- either on the floor or on the bench. No matter the situation, this is critical.
There could be a day when Boynton, Erik Murphy and Rosario combine to go two for fifteen from beyond the arc, or maybe one of them is sick or hurt. None of us have even considered such blasphemous thoughts, because of the complete and utter dominance Florida has displayed. Most of the people who do know of Frazier just think of him as yet another guy to help pour it on an overmatched opponent. But he could also prove to be the Gators' savior should the starters not play well. It's a percentage game; of the men on the Gators' 12 man roster, add one to the list of players you feel comfortable with making big plays. Whether in a blowout or an emergency, it's always great to have that extra guy be ready to contribute.
But again, much in the same way people don't notice Erik Murphy, nobody is going to know Michael Frazier based off of last night's performance. It was good, but not good enough to be showered with attention, which actually works out better for the Gators.
Next up for the Gators: a showdown in the O'Dome with Mississippi that admittedly lost some of its luster after Kentucky beat up on Ole Miss. The way the Gators are playing, it's likely going to be another episode of the (insert player here) Show. The Rebels, who were unceremoniously torched for 87 to Kentucky (and 50 in the second half), may be desperate to keep from entering a free fall, but the Gators have to be hungrily licking their chops after seeing the Rebels' lack of depth get exposed in the second half of their loss to the Wildcats.
Ask Billy Donovan. His favorite matchup is a team without depth. It's what builds confidence in Michael Frazier, which will pay dividends in March.