After two crucial victories against Texas A&M and Missouri, the Florida Gators basketball team has made it through a grueling first half of the season with an impressive 14-2 record.
The Gators currently rank seventh in the USA Today Coaches Poll and eight in The Associated Press Poll and several players deserve the proper recognition for their contributions to the team’s success this season.
Gator Country decided to hand out its own midseason awards to the Gators basketball team to best highlight what players have been standing out in the first half of the 2012-13 season.
Freshman of the Year
This is an easy one.
Michael Frazier II came into Florida as someone who could have somewhat of an impact in his freshman season but more realistic predictions expected Frazier to start contributing later in his career.
However, Frazier II came on strong early in the year and has secured his spot as one of the first two options off of the bench for coach Billy Donovan. He only averages 5.4 points per game but is second on the team in 3-point percentage at 42.2 percent.
Frazier II has been a nice surprise for the Gators this year and has given them even more depth off of the bench.
Dunk of the Year
When Patric Young goes up for a slam dunk with all of his power, it’s probably best to get out of his way.
Unfortunately for Missouri’s Ryan Rosburg, he preferred to get out of the way by slipping and making it look like Young faked him out of his jockstrap.
Most Improved Player
At the beginning of the season, senior guard Mike Rosario was considered to be in Donovan’s doghouse. He was a player who just didn’t seem to get it and after a disappointing 2011-12 season, Rosario was supposed to lose playing time to freshman point guard Braxton Ogbueze.
Rosario would have none of that. In the first half of the season, Rosario has been one of the Gators best players. Although he still struggles with bad shot selections, Florida has relied on his hot shooting to pull them through several games of offensive struggles.
Rosario’s improvement will make the Gators an even more dangerous team come March.
After hearing Jacob Kurtz’s story of how he became a team manager and then a walk-on, the on-court success he has had in the few minutes he’s played is exactly why everyone loves sports.
Here’s a guy who wasn’t ever supposed to get any opportunities, but he makes the most of any playing time he gets, even if it is in the midst of a blowout.
In the Gators’ season opener, Kurtz got three minutes of playing time late in the game since Florida was beating Georgia by nearly 30 points.
The team had many things to cheer for during the game, but it was when Kurtz drained his first two shots, including a three-pointer, for a quick five points. The Florida players erupted on the bench as they cheered on “Jake the Snake” with their snake hand movements.
It may not have had any impact on the season, but it’s those kinds of moments that remind you of how great sports can really be.
The Gators are good this season — really good. But if the team didn’t have its 6-foot-10 sharpshooter in Erik Murphy, this season might have gone a lot differently.
Murphy has given the Gators an unstoppable weapon on the outside. Rarely, can any opponent matchup with Murphy, so his team-leading 44.6 three-point percentage has keyed many Florida victories this season.
He stretches the defense out like almost no one can and opens up the lanes for guards like Scottie Wilbkein, Kenny Boynton and Rosario to penetrate.
Murphy could make a case for being the team’s MVP this season, but its safe to say his presence on the floor provides a lot of matchup problems and gives the Gators in the best chance to win.
Most Valuable Player
After debating through several names like Murphy or Boynton, who leads the team in points, it’s clear that Rosario has been the team’s MVP this season.
As mentioned before, Rosario has seen a drastic improvement in his production compared to last year. He’s receiving more than double the minutes than he had in 2011-12 and is rewarding Donovan for his trust. Rosario is second on the team in points per game (12.5) and leads the team in field-goal percentage at 46.1 percent.
Rosario has been hot on the offensive side of the ball for most of the year and was a key part in the blowout against Texas A&M, scoring 17 points in the first half, as well as against Arizona, where Rosario’s 16 points kept the Gators in control for much of the game.
He’s provided a major spark for the Gators this season and has thus been the team’s most valuable player in the first half of the 2012-13 season.