Friday March 29, 2013Gators Notebook: Scout Team's Role, Billy D in March, More Tidbits
The Gators face FGCU tonight in the Sweet 16.
The Gators face FGCU tonight in the Sweet 16.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Freshman guard Braxton Ogbueze has played 107 of Florida’s possible 7,000 basketball minutes this season. He’s averaged less than a point per game and has more turnovers than assists.
Ogbueze also is one of the most important players in a UF uniform this week.
“He needs to be great,” Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey said. “All those guys do."
They are the “orange team,” also known as the scout team, and Ogbueze was charged this week with handling the role of flashy Florida Gulf Coast point guard Brett Comer as the third-seeded Gators (28-7) prepared for Friday night’s Sweet 16 showdown with the Eagles (26-10) at Cowboys Stadium.
Pelphrey was charged with scouting FGCU and therefore coaches the scout team. Its job is to replicate what the opponent is doing based on film study and personal tutelage from Pelphrey. Scouts, most notably Ogbueze and fellow freshmen DeVon Walker, Dillon Graham and Michael Frazier and walk-on Jacob Kurtz, run Eagles action and the “blue team,” mostly UF regulars, has to stop it.
“You have to give them a realistic look,” Ogbueze said. “You have to pay attention to the scouting report and what the coaches say [Comer] does and try to repeat that when going up against the blue team. It’s up to us to prepare them the best we can.”
During practices this week at both Southern Methodist and University of Texas-Arlington, orange got the better of the Billy Donovan-coached blue enough to draw praise from the coaches. The converse to that praise is scorn for the regulars, but that’s the idea. Make the regulars work. Score on them and make them work harder.
“That’s our job,” Kurtz said.
On scout teams this season, Kurtz has played everything from a point guard to center. And while no one is going to mistake him for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope -- yes, he played the Georgia forward and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, too -- being able to mimic activity, motion and tendencies of a player is exactly what his team needs.
“It’s about making things as realistic as possible,” Pelphrey said. “I’ve been really pleased with what those guys have given us.”
SIZING THEM UP
Like everyone else, the Gators have seen FGCU's athleticism. The Eagles can run the floor and finish fast breaks with the best of them.
The one area the Gators have a clear advantage is bulk. The heaviest player on FGCU's roster is sophomore forward Filip Cvjeticanin, who tips the scale at 212 pounds -- or 37 pounds lighter than Gators center Patric Young.
Young and teammates Will Yeguete (240 pounds) and Erik Murphy (238) could give the lanky Eagles trouble.
"I wouldn't question their athleticism,'' Young said Thursday. "I would question their size. Their guys can jump just as well as we can jump but they're not as physically built or have the same amount of strength as us."
BILLY D AT HIS BEST IN MARCH
With the events of last weekend, UF coach Billy Donovan moved up from sixth to third on the list of active coaches with the best winning percentages in the NCAA Tournament, based on at least 10 games.
Rank, Coach, School, Record, Pct.
1-Mike Krzyzewski, Duke, 81-24, .771
2--Larry Brown, SMU, 19-6, .760
3--Billy Donovan, Florida, 30-10, .750
4--Roy Williams, North Carolina, 62-21, .747
5--John Calipari, Kentucky, 38-13, .745
6--Tom Izzo, Michigan State, 39-14, .736
7--Rick Pitino, Louisville, 44-16, .733
8--Bill Self, Kansas, 35-13, .729
9--Brad Stevens, Butler, 12-5, .705
10--Shaka Smart, VCU, 7-3, .700
THE STATE OF THE SUNSHINE STATE ... IS GOOD
Much was made this week about the state of Florida sending a trio of teams to the Sweet 16, but triple representation from one state this deep in the tournament has not been that rare. In fact, just last season Ohio had four teams in the Sweet 16. Here’s a look at the eight instances -- since the NCAA field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 -- that the regional semifinal round has featured at least a trio of teams from the same state.
2013: Florida (UF, Florida Gulf Coast, Miami)
2012: Ohio (Cincinnati, Ohio, Ohio State, Xavier)
2007: Tennessee (Memphis, Tennessee, Vanderbilt)
2001: California (Cal, Stanford, USC)
1997: California (Cal, Stanford, UCLA)
1993: Kentucky (Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky)
1989: North Carolina (Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State)
QUOTE OF NOTE I
"I blame this on the Selection Committee. This should be a Final Four game, not a Sweet 16 game." -- FGCU Andy Enfield on the all-Florida matchup
QUOTE OF NOTE II
"They are just fans. They don't shoot the ball. They don't play defense. It's on us." -- Yeguete on what is expected to be a heavy pro-FGCU, anti-UF crowd at Cowboys Stadium
QUOTE OF NOTE III
"I think it's helped a lot. It's been a good bonding process for our team. We got some good work in and we've been focused on them since Monday, so we are pretty familiar with that team." -- Gators guard Kenny Boynton on the team staying in Texas this week to prepare
NOTES AND NUGGETS
Based on the configuration for this weekend's NCAA Tournament games, the official seating capacity at Cowboys Stadium is 42,614. The stadium set a world record for largest crowd at a basketball game when more than 108,000 fans attended the 2010 NBA All-Star Game ... Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski made a surprise appearance at Florida's shootaround Thursday, dressed in his baseball uniform. Pierzynski is a big Gators fan and grew up in Orlando. The Rangers had an exhibition game Thursday night at the Ballpark at Arlington, located next door to Cowboys Stadium.
--GatorZone.com senior writer Scott Carter contributed to this report.