Tuesday March 25, 2014 Alex Murphy does his best Kyle Anderson
Updated: 2:16pm, March 26
Updated: 2:16pm, March 26
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Alex Murphy became really good friends with Kyle Anderson a few years back when they were AAU teammates. That's come in handy this week for the Florida Gators.
Murphy had to become Kyle Anderson.
“Obviously, I’m not him,” Murphy said after Florida’s practice Tuesday. “But I think I did OK pretending to be him.”
Murphy, the transfer from Duke who is sitting out this season per NCAA rules, got the assignment of mimicking Anderson, UCLA’s long and lanky do-everything point guard, for Florida’s “orange” scout team as the top-seeded, top-ranked Gators (34-2) prepared for Thursday night’s South Region Sweet 16 showdown against the Bruins (28-8) at Memphis.
The choice was a logical one, given Murphy goes 6-foot-8, has a really good face-up game, can take contested 3s, has dribble-drive skills and finds the open man.
Anderson does all that too, only he’s expected to be doing it in the NBA next season. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Anderson averages 14.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and shoots 48 percent from the floor and 49 percent from the arc for the No. 25 team in the country. He’s expected to be a top-10 NBA lottery pick in the June draft.
However the Gators choose to defend the Bruins -- they average nearly 82 points per game, which ranks 12th in the nation -- someone must account for Anderson's playmaking skills in both the halfcourt and in transition, where he's really dangerous.
Anderson’s nickname is “SlowMo,” as his game is more methodical and analytical than it is explosive, and he’s the biggest reason the team ranks fifth nationally in assists at 17.3 per game.
The guy, with his combination of size and savvy, can stuff a stat sheet. Murphy saw that first hand (and as a teammate, enjoyed it) when played alongisde Anderson on the AAU squad adidas Nation.
“He looks like he’s not moving fast, but he’s really efficient,” Murphy said after UF's final practice before the team left for Memphis late Tuesday afternoon. “I think people have a perception that he’s slow and handles the ball slowly, but he’s very smart, knows and feels the game, and really, really knows angles. You’re not going to take the ball from him. And he’s so big, he can see over smaller defenders and find open guys. I know in my time with him, he was a lot of fun to play with because he’s such a great passer.”
Murphy has played a pivotal role for the UF scout team this season, along with Jacob Kurtz, Billy Donovan (the son), Lexx Edwards and Damontre Harris. The goal is always to give the “blue” team a realistic look of the upcoming opponent.
“Obviously, there are some differences with Alex and Kyle,” UF coach Billy Donovan said with a grin.
But probably more important than mimicking an individual player is assimilating what an opponent, schemewise, does on offense and defense. That takes the entire group.
Example: There’s no assimilating Kentucky’s size, but the Florida orange team's most outstanding performance of the season might have been the day before the Gators faced the Wildcats in the regular-season finale. The orange squad scored, got shots, grabbed offensive rebounds and basically played the style Kentucky was going to play.
That’s all a coach can ask.
The orange team doesn’t have 6-9 twins like UCLA’s Wear brothers (twins Travis and David) or a 6-5, 220-pound post-up guard like Jordan Adams.
Or Kyle Anderson.
But the have a group of players committed to impersonating an opponent to the best of their abilities.
“The guy’s definitely got a lot of swag to him,” Murphy said. “And it translates over and helps him on the court.”