Florida (12-5, 1-2 SEC) is getting set to face Arkansas (8-9, 1-1) Thursday night, but off the radar of college basketball. The back-to-back championships seem ages ago as Florida desperately needs a winning streak to restore the shine to the program. If they get that winning streak is a matter of personnel, and they are severely lacking that.
Florida's injury issues have limited Billy Donovan's options, forcing guys like Erik Murphy and Dan Werner to get significant minutes. Werner is a liability on offense, yet Donovan keeps him out there because he at least has experience. Vernon Macklin is proof that the redshirt transfer rule can slow your development and Alex Tyus is on-off because he seems to think with Macklin around, Tyus does not have to be physical. Behind Macklin and Tyus is Kenny Kadji, who has the back of a 60 year old man. The only place where Florida has any depth is at guard with Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Ray Shipman, Chandler Parsons off the bench. As well as Parsons has played in spots, he handles the ball and plays defense like a guard. If anything, he's the kid who grew too quickly and still hasn't figured out how to use his 6-foot-9 frame.
If the Gators cannot roll off wins before their January 31 date at Tennessee, they can start preparing for the NIT. Without dominant teams, the NCAA brackets will be deep, with every team having to earn their spot. As it is, UF is outside the bubble and slowly being pushed away. Other than getting healthy, the only thing that UF can do is find a go-to-guy. Boynton and Walker could be those guys, but both are streaky. I would like to see Macklin step up, but he lacks consistency too. One possession he looks like Al Horford, the next possession he looks like he has two left feet.
Florida has plenty of time to fix what ails them. As for next year, everyone is a year older and maybe UF can steal a super recruit like Ft. Lauderdale's Brandon Knight. Too bad Austin Rivers is a junior, because his highlight play would help. More wins this month and a 10-6 SEC mark should get these guys in the tournament, though.