NEW ORLEANS – When the Florida Gators (28-7, 13-3) take on the BYU Cougars (32-4, 14-2) tonight in the New Orleans Arena, there will be a notable difference between the teams on the floor.
While Florida has three starters taller than 6 foot 6, BYU has just one.
On the bench, BYU has just two players taller than the 6-foot-6 mark, while Florida has three more.
Needless to say, the Gators should have a significant size advantage in the paint. But asked if that was something the team planned to exploit against BYU, Florida players responded they’re not going to do anything different than normal.
“I think we’re going into it with the same kind of gameplan,” senior center Vernon Macklin said. “Every single game we try to get the ball inside. Inside-out with the post feeds or a drive by the guards. We’re not changing our gameplan because of who we’re playing against. We’re just doing the same thing we do every game and that’s penetration or post feeds.”
But despite the assertion that there won’t be a conscious effort to take the ball inside more, the Gators should benefit by attacking the paint.
Macklin should have a mismatch on the offensive end of the floor, where he will go up against 6-foot-8 Noah Hartsock.
If his hook shot is falling like it normally does, Florida could have a big advantage in points in the paint.
That’s even more likely with the recent emergence of Patric Young off the bench. Young’s offensive game has come a long way over the second half of the season, and he should provide Florida with a continued aggressive presence in the paint even when the reserves are on the floor.
Macklin has taught the freshman big man to slow things down and look for his shots more on offense.
“I’ve been talking to him a lot, telling him to slow down and make your move,” he said. “He’s pretty strong, so I tell him sometimes you don’t have to be strong. It’s using your speed, your quickness. You can read the defense. He can catch the ball now and locate it and realize what move he should make. He’s growing, getting more mature and he’s doing a great job for us.”
And even though Florida should have a big advantage in the paint, their players say it’s not necessary to dominate the glass for them to win depending on what BYU’s defense tries to take away.
“I look at every single game – as good as our big guys is – should be an advantage,” Macklin said. “But sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. (Erving Walker) and (Kenny Boynton) can go out there and make six or seven threes and it’ll be on the guards. I think it’s just our gameplan. We’ve got to keep doing the same thing we always do, post feeds or drive and dishes. We’re not going to worry about their big guys up front, we’re just going to worry about how we’re playing.”