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Thursday, November 10, 2011
Florida guards predict minutes for everyone

By Eamonn Brennan

Florida might have the best backcourt in the country. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are long-term stalwarts at the point and shooting guard positions, respectively, and this year they're joined by freshman shooting guard Bradley Beal -- one of the most coveted recruits in the 2011 class -- and former Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, a talented shooter who averaged more than 16 points per game in his two years with the Scarlet Knights.

But with all that talent comes questions: How will Florida coach Billy Donovan divide the minutes? Could Boynton and Walker actually lose time? Will Beal play a featured role? Where does Rosario -- not to mention bench contributors like Scottie Wibelkin and Casey Prather -- fit in?

Erving Walker
"We think we make each other's job a lot easier rather than we're not competing versus each other," Erving Walker said of plethora of guards.
You'd think, given all that talent, that some level of competition would ensue. After all, there are only so many minutes to go around. But Florida's guards seem to be taking a different tact, and it's one that could help define Florida's season going forward. From the Orlando Sentinel:
"I'm pretty sure everyone has questions on us," Walker said. "But I would say with the relationship we have, we all embracing each other and people say, 'Is there enough shots?' We think we make each other's job a lot easier rather than we're not competing versus each other."

[...] That's a reflection of what Donovan and the players have seen in practice: shoot-first players making the extra pass. It's born of hours with one another away from the court, eating at Chipotle -- a favorite of the guards -- or going to the mall.

"I think maybe one of the things that's happened is because there's been so much talk about it, they've gone the other way, these guys, in trying to even prove how unselfish they are," Donovan said.

That's good news, if only from a team chemistry standpoint; the last thing Donovan needs is a situation that forces him to balance current production with past experience, or, more crudely, new players with old. He doesn't need his players catching feelings (in, you know, the parlance of our time). But at the same time, he has to balance all that unselfishness with some healthy level of competition. His guys have to want their minutes, too, right? They have to want to score. If everybody loves everybody, does the backcourt lose a little edge?

This is the sort of situation that very good coaches like Donovan are paid to handle. To be sure, "too many talented guards" is an excellent problem to have. But it's still, in its own weird way, a problem.