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CALCULATED CONFIDENCE

UF freshman Ray Shipman appears to be breaking out of his shell. Can he be the vocal leader the Gators need?

GAINESVILLE -- We here at Gator Clause hate to interrupt the non-stop bashing of the men's basketball team with good news, but that's what we're going to do in this blog post.

Rayvertical It's time to offer proof -- even now in what seems like the darkest of hours -- that there is in fact something positive to take away from Tennessee 79, Florida 75. It might seem fairly insignificant to some, but freshman forward Ray Shipman of Miami Monsignor Pace appears to be turning into a success story in his first season with the Gators (21-8, 8-6).

Shipman, the state of Florida's 2008 Mr. Basketball, played 20 minutes against Tennessee and had five points, including a three-pointer. He played with more confidence than he has shown all season and offered proof to those that might not be too familiar with his game that there is plenty of unlocked potential in his 6-4 frame.

"My shots before haven't been confident," Shipman said. "That [3-point] shot was confident basically because I have been shooting more in practice. I felt like I was back in high school just playing ball again."


Before we take a closer look at Shipman's development on the court, it would be silly of me to not first mention something even more important. Shipman is succeeding in the classroom. The guy is taking college very seriously. How many out there reading this blog post right now would have considered taking calculus during the your freshman basketball season in the Southeastern Conference? Well, Shipman is doing just that and he has a 3.5 GPA.

And, hey, the guy is not only smart but he's also down to earth. Shipman's favorite class this semester? "I like wildlife [sciences], that's my favorite class," Shipman said. A crip course -- now there's something I can relate to.

OK, back to hoops. Shipman has been excelling in practice, which is leading to more minutes on the court. He scored an SEC-high six points in 17 minutes against LSU last week. Not bad for a defensive specialist, right? Wrong.

Shipman met with the press on Monday -- another sign that he's getting a little more comfortable with his surroundings -- and wanted to make one thing perfectly clear. He can play defense, but he is pretty good at offense, too. He indicated on Monday that he's about to start showing it.

Rayhorizontal "I feel like I'm getting a little more comfortable with the offense," Shipman said. "Because I'm not just a defensive player. It wasn't like that in high school. I understand the offense a little more now and I can get into the system."

Here's something else to get excited about. Shipman has been quiet all season, playing his role as a good little freshman, but that seems like it's about to change as well.

"I'm real impatient," Shipman said. "There has been some sleepless nights but talking on the phone with my parents and talking with Coach Donovan ... It's not hard, going from 25 points in high school to two shots a game, but ... When we're winning I'm not going to say anything, but we're losing and now I'm mad."

Let me place that quote in the proper context so no one misinterprets it. Shipman isn't defiantly mad. He is resolutely mad. As in, this thing needs fixing and I'm not just going to stand here and keep my mouth shut.

Florida needs SOMEONE to get angry and be a confident vocal leader. Why not Shipman?

-jo-

Comments

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Why not Shipman? Exactly. I was astonished that he was out of most of the end of the game. I know we need the size of Werner and Parsons...but we need people to make plays and hit shots. Yes, Werner had one, finally. But how many WIDE OPEN shots did he miss before that? How many times was he head-faked and scored on? How many times was he drive-faked and had his man pull up on a jumper? A LOT. He's a liability.

Let's go small ball and run them out of the gym like Nova did that year they drilled us in the tourney. Bench Parsons and Werner, leave in Tyus and Shipman and Walker and Calathes and one other kid. Run everyone out of the gym.

What other kid? Walter Hodge? A great idea, but that line-up might be a little too small. What about:

G Walter Hodge
G Nick Calathes
C Kenny Kadji
F Alex Tyus
F Ray Shipman

-jo-

fine by me as long as we play more up tempo. i can't stand watching them just pass it around 10 feet behind the 3-pt line in their halfcourt set only to settle for a bad shot near the end of the shot clock. frustrating.

Again, we need more BEEF under the basket rebounding, blocking out, blocking shots, etc. I love Tyus - he plays great with lots of enthusiasm but he's a forward not a center. "If" Werner and Parsons play, they need to be kicked in the butt so they play hard. With the minimal talent level they have, you have to play extra hard if you want to be on the court. Nick can't do it all!

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