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Good and bad: Five early observations of the Florida Gators men's basketball team

GAINESVILLE -- Checked out the Gators' men's basketball team on Monday night at the O'Connell Center. I was pretty much the only beat writer who showed up, so you're not going to read this ultra-important analysis anywhere else.

Seriously, there's not much to take away from a game against Saint Leo, a Division II team from the Dade City area, but it was a good way to familiarize myself with the new players, build some relationships with new guys on the team and, of course, watch the first men's basketball game in two years without Nick Calathes in the line up.

Here are five early observations of the basketball team

1. Kenny Boynton Jr. can create his own shot. That's something Nick Calathes had a hard time doing against good defenders. Now, granted, the perimeter defense of mighty St. Leo isn't exactly a proper test of Boynton's ability but it doesn't take a basketball genius to realize that Boynton is pretty good. He scored a game-high 22 points on Monday, including 5 of 9 from three-point range.

2. The best line up seems to be this one: Boynton, Erving Walker, Ray Shipman, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. It's the fastest line up for a team that will try and push the ball this season.

3. The Gators have a good backcourt with Boynton and Walker but I'm not ready to write that its better than last season's backcourt of Walker and Calathes. I don't care what any says about Calathes, he was a good player and losing him should not be discounted.

4. Florida has serious concerns in the frontcourt. Vernon Macklin is no world-beater. He's going to have to scratch and claw for every rebound this season for Florida to have a chance in SEC play. Kenny Kadji needs to hit the weight room. This guy has a body that NBA players would kill for but Kadji does not appear to be in great shape. Is this guy wasting his ability? Why does he still appear to be carrying baby fat? Get in shape, Kenny!

5. Ray Shipman needs to be more confident with his shot. Shipman appeared to be a little nervous on Monday. If he truly wants to be the "X-factor" on this team, then he's got to play with a little more swag. Come on, Ray, you're from Miami! Shipman appears to be in great shape after a long offseason of hard work. He has more bounce in his legs and is quicker getting down the court, which will help him stay with Boynton and Walker on fast breaks.



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