Florida's 114-57 victory over Catholic in Thursday night's exhibition was not really the best introduction possible to Billy Donovan's 2011-12 Gators. Catholic was slow, and small, and rather limited. But the Cardinals gave Florida plenty of time to shoot, and shoot these Gators did, making 14 of 24 first-half threes and 20 of 40 triples for the game. (That would be a record for a non-exhibition game.) Florida had 70 at the half, and six players in double figures. This is what happens when Donovan's Billyball style has shooters who are willing and adept.
I didn't learn a lot about these Gators last night, but I certainly grasped that they can be exhilarating and overwhelming when they are making shots. And while they may not be as open again this season as they were against a Division III team served up as a sacrificial lamb, shooting is shooting.
After the jump, some notes I took from the first half.
- Erik Murphy made the game's first three. If he can develop into a perimeter scorer, watch out.
- Brad Beal has to learn how to play sound defense without fouling at the collegiate level. He committed Florida's first foul of the game and eventually fouled out; the Gators didn't lose a player to disqualification in the 2010-11 season, but had freshman Patric Young foul out in their exhibition game last year.
- Speaking of Big Pat: I don't know if he's fully comfortable being Florida's fixture inside. He has some work to do in terms of rebounding, and needs to get more comfortable in traffic around the rim, but he hit a 16-foot jumper last night that might have been the biggest "WOW" moment of the first half for me.
- Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Beal, Murphy, and Young started; Casey Prather and Will Yeguete were first off the bench, which might change when Scottie Wilbekin gets healthy. But both sophomores were very good during their limited stretches, with Prather throwing down an alley-oop after creating a turnover and Yeguete finishing on the break with a dunk that inspired me to write "GET UP WILL YEGUETE."
- Beal's first three was set up by a patient, merciless sequence of 12 or 13 passes. It was awesome. Less awesome: Being the only person in the student section who appeared to be more excited about the ball movement than the three.
- Mike Rosario is already branded in my brain as Boynton 1.1. I flinch when he shoots threes, and I already sort of hate his kicks, which are light blue and orange. He heated up from distance, but I can't imagine a lot of scenarios in which he's called on to be much more than an bench scorer for these Gators, especially considering that he looked lost at times on defense.
- I really could have written an entire post on Beal. I started this with his fouling to temper expectations, too, because WHOA, Brad Beal is good. He doesn't look 6'3", but taller; he's quick, but not slight; he rises up almost vertically for very pretty threes much like Ray Allen does, and I already think they're going in every time; he apparently showed a little more of his slashing game in the second half; he led a fast break with an insanely perfect bounce pass to Rosario that led to a Young dunk. There are some defensive deficiencies that he'll have to work on, but Beal has the skills to be Florida's finest freshman ever, and may be the best player on a very good team before long, too.