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College basketball

Five keys to victory for Florida men's basketball

By Times Staff Writer
Published November 25, 2003

1. AVOIDING POSTSEASON BLUES: Florida's collapse in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament are documented. Coach Billy Donovan is trying something different: The intensity will remain, but a new dietetic regimen that emphasizes more meals with healthier foods and changes in training have the Gators hoping they won't be so battered and exhausted they exit early.

2. FINDING LEADERSHIP: Florida lost three key seniors from last season: Matt Bonner, Justin Hamilton and Brett Nelson. Nine of 11 scholarship players are freshmen and sophomores, so leadership and chemistry will be key.

3. FLOOR GENERAL: Hamilton was one of the best defenders in the league and an unselfish point guard who set up the offense. Sophomore Anthony Roberson takes over the spot after he's reinstated from a three-game suspension, but whether he can make the switch from pure shooter to floor general remains to be seen. Donovan has freshman Ryan Appleby and 6-foot-9 Christian Drejer, who also will spend time at the position.

4. DAVID LEE: The junior played out of position at center last season and held his own. He spent the offseason working with a shooting coach, improving his free-throw shooting and adding bulk: He's 15 pounds heavier at 249 and cut his body fat from 12 to 8 percent. Last season he averaged 14 points in the final months.

5. A RETURN TO THE PAST: When Donovan arrived eight years ago, he brought a running, pressing, up-tempo style that electrified fans and elevated the program. The Gators got away from that in recent seasons, partly due to injuries and partly because they didn't have players to run it. Donovan expects that up-tempo style to return, with more running and pressing.

[Last modified November 25, 2003, 05:01:18]


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