GameNight: Toledo at Florida

November 14th, 2008
Nov 14 2008 - 6:00pm

Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson

The season opener for both teams is also a first-round game in the CBE Classic, but with the Gators guaranteed to take on Syracuse in Kansas City on the 24th this isn’t your usual tournament format. While the Rockets will be making their debut under new head coach Gene Cross with four returning starters, the focus will be on the point guard position for the home team. Jai Lucas recently announced his intentions to transfer when the semester ends; a decision that you have to think was influenced by the current commitment of Kenny Boynton.

Nick Calathes, one of the most versatile players in the SEC, looks to be the option at the point and that may not be such a bad thing for head coach Billy Donovan. Alongside Calathes is a good mix of experienced returnees and talented newcomers who will get their first taste of college basketball (those exhibitions don’t count for much). And they do stand to be tested for at least a half in this one by a Toledo squad that returns four starters, led by senior guards Tyrone Kent, Jonathan Amos and Ridley Johnson. Despite the talent of those Toledo guards, look for frontcourt players such as Dan Werner, Alex Tyus and Kenny Kadji to be the difference in a Gator victory. Winner: Florida

 

Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad

On paper, this game does not look like much. Florida is once again back at the top of the SEC, while Toledo shouldn't challenge in the MAC. But this game is the first look at the newest Gators. In order for Florida to unseat Tennessee as the SEC East champion, these guys need to step up. Kenny Kadji, Eloy Vargas and Allan Chaney will be the Gators responsible for filling the shoes vacated by Mareesse Speights. If they perform well here, Florida's season will look a whole lot better. If you're planning on catching a game Friday night, this will be the only one on.

Toledo has 2 players returning who averaged better than 12 points a game last season, and they both fit the Nick Calathes mold, guards who can rebound. Florida counters with Calathes and Walter Hodge at the guard positions. Calathes is a frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year, while Hodge has embraced his leadership role after the departure of the entire championship team. At the forward slots, the Gators will rely on Chandler Parsons, Dan Werner and the aforementioned freshmen to pound the low post. Like Florida, expect the Rockets to lean on new faces in the frontcourt. However, the Toledo recruiting class can't hold a candle to Florida's. Asking Ian Salter and Zac Taylor to match up with the Florida big men is not a task I see Toledo handling too well in their season opener. Winner: Florida 83-64