Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

It’s going to be quite a summer for Nick Calathes, Florida’s leading scorer in 2008 and the Southeastern Conference’s Co-Freshman of the Year. Calathes will be leaving June 22 for Greece, where he will participate in the tryouts for the national team that will be trying to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing.

If Calathes doesn’t make the Olympic team, he will play for Greece at the FIBA World 21-and-under championships. Either way, it’s a chance for Calathes to gain valuable international experience. Whichever team he will be playing for, he will be playing the point exclusively. The international game is pretty much an up and down game and there usually isn’t much defense played, but it can get very physical and there is no such thing as a quick whistle. All things considered, it should be an experience which toughens Calathes considerably.

Calathes has been working hard in the weight room to get his weight up over 200 pounds before he takes off for Greece. His goal for the fall is to play at 205.

DAILY PICK-UP GAMES: Calathes has been getting the equivalent of a master’s degree in playing at both ends of the floor from Professor Taurean Green in afternoon pick-up games. Calathes has been going head-to-head every day with Green and it’s really helped him at the defensive end where he’s learning to deal with a quick point guard that knows where he’s going with the basketball.

Apparently Jai Lucas has really benefitted from the off-season weight room experience. Word is that he’s reached 160 pounds (played at about 148 for much of last season) and he has regained that fearlessness in the lane. After he got hammered to the floor in the Vanderbilt game at the O-Dome back in January, Lucas rarely ventured into the lane again. His willingness to penetrate saved the Gators down the stretch against Kentucky at the O-Dome earlier that month.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.