Florida has something it hasn't had ever on its 2019 basketball team: A center that is a threat from beyond the arc.
And this is how it should be, right?
The NBA especially, but in basketball in general, big men are more skilled and less physical than ever. It caters to the faster pace and faster referee whistle of modern basketball. Last season, UF struggled to ever get decent production from a big man in general. John Egbunu never returned to the court after suffering a torn ACL in the 2017-2018 season, and Kevarrius Hayes to be brutall honest just wasn't very good.
This year, Florida is drastically different in a number of areas, and center is the main one. When Kerry Blackshear Jr. caught the ball behind the three point line and pulled up, the first thing I thought about was Hayes last season. Gator fans, could you imagine Kevarrius Hayes pulling up from three? Ever?
Well Blackshear was a 50 percent three-point shooter last night, hitting two of his four from past the arc. This is observation one of this piece, and it is by far the most important. Now, let's look at four more of the details of this game and what they mean:
Defense is an Issue
Granted, Lynn did have shooting guard Jordan Allen making seemingly everything he threw up. He was an astonishing 9-17 from three-point range and finished the night with 35 points in 34 minutes.
I don't know if he just had the night of his life or if he somehow got missed by bigger schools, but Allen looked like he belonged on the SEC team Tuesday night instead of the Sunshine State Conference.
However, that does not excuse the fact that the Gators just simply can't afford to give up 71 points to a team like Lynn. The defensive performance lets a Kentucky or a UCONN break 100 in all likelihood. This team is going to be an offensive force, but it needs to at least slow teams down defensively to be elite.
Tre Mann and Ques Glover will contribute a ton
I must admit, Mann starting over fellow-freshman Scottie Lewis surprised me. Although I fully expect Lewis to start during actual games, I do think the decision to start Mann in this game sends a message that coach Mike White is not afraid to play his newcomers big minutes.
Glover played a ton, and I did not expect that. I thought that Glover would be wearing warmup shirts most of this season and not getting much action until next year when Andrew Nembhard had left Gainesville.
However, I was wrong, according to this game, Glover is the backup point guard and Mann will play more shooting guard than point guard. It is an interesting tactic, but if White deems both players as simply too good to not play meaningful minutes, this is really the only way to get both of them on the court.
Nembhard has improved
Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard played with team Canada in The Olympics over the summer. He has clearly improved from a year ago.
The already-talented ball handler was an excellent passer last season, and facilitated an offense like a pro. His weakness was outside shooting. That was what kept him from being lethal.
Now, his shooting seems to be more threatening. He was also 50 percent from three, making 4 of his 8 attempts. If Nembhard has a significant deep shot, with all of the other weapons on that side of the floor, the Gators should run up the score on many teams throughout the year.
Omar Payne was underrated
The off-season talk for the Gators was always centered around Blackshear, Lewis and Mann. But Payne played a significant chunk on Tuesday and was really effective. The only shot he missed all night was a free throw, as he was 4-4 on field goals and 1-2 at the stripe.
He also tied with Lewis for a game-high three blocks and grabbed seven rebounds. That type of production from a backup forward is rare in college basketball. If he contributes in that fashion regularly, the depth of the Florida frot court can be better than it has been since Patric Young and Will Yeguete took the floor.
Nothing other than a loss or an extremely close win was going to change the general opinion of this team. The vibe is still that it is a special group that has final four potential. Yes, there are questions and concerns. But what team doesn't have those this time of year?