December 2013 | Page 10 of 22 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / December 7.
  • In a widely expected move, Duke transfer Alex Murphy announced he’s headed to Florida.

    “I really appreciate the experience at Duke, playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski,the 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore told ESPN.com. “I learned a lot as a player and a person.

    “I’ve gotten a chance to know Coach (Billy) Donovan and the program. I think it’s a great fit for me to continue my career. I think they can help me develop as a player — and that I can help them a lot as well.”

    Florida Gators v UCLA BruinsBy JOSH NEWMAN
    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    NEW YORK – Whether it be injuries to Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin, indefinite suspensions to Wilbekin, Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris, or simply a tough early schedule, the University of Florida has had to deal with a lot through 10 games.

    Whatever the issue was, Gators head coach Billy Donovan has had an answer. His team is ranked 16th and is 8-2 following a 77-75 win over Memphis late Tuesday evening at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

    With the suspensions in the past and everyone now able to play, with the exception of heralded 5-star recruit Chris Walker for the time being, the question now becomes, with a cast of hardened veterans and capable younger guys, how good can the Gators be down the road?

    “I think they’ve been through a lot and I think we have good chemistry,” Donovan told a small group of reporters late Tuesday night. “I think they care about each other, I think they’re doing the best job they can leadership-wise, but the season is so long and I still think we can get better and improve. I do know I like dealing with these guys. When we walk on the court to play, it’s not like our guys are overwhelmed. They’ve seen just about everything.”

    NEW YORK — Pittsburgh entered Tuesday’s game against Cincinnati in the Jimmy V Classic as one of just 15 unbeaten teams in the nation.

    Yet because of their soft schedule, the 10-0 Panthers were unranked.

    They had a golden opportunity for a quality win on a big stage — on national TV at Madison Square Garden — and to show the voters in the AP poll that they belonged in the Top 25.

    Instead, they came out and laid a big egg in a 44-43 loss to former Big East rival Cincinnati.

    Scottie Wilbekin 2By JOSH NEWMAN
    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    NEW YORK – Scottie Wilbekin was suspended indefinitely in June, an absence that would stretch all the way into November and last the first five five games of the season.

    The message that came along with this indefinite suspension, the second of his career under head coach Billy Donovan, apparently got through to the Gainesville native.

    “Totally different kid,” Donovan said when asked how Wilbekin has grown up after the Gators defeated Memphis, 77-75, at the Jimmy V Classic late Tuesday evening. “I think sometimes, in life, you sometimes go through real difficult, adverse situations where your back gets put against the wall and you’ve got to make some corrections and changes and do things a little bit differently. It forces you to focus on yourself and take a real deep look at yourself.”

    NEW YORK — Billy Donovan’s strategy regarding Chris Walker is simple.

    Under-promise and hope to over-deliver.

    The Florida coach is going to intentionally under-sell Walker’s capabilities because he doesn’t want a big fuss made over his star freshman and his mid-season debut.

    “People are talking about Chris Walker like he’s going to become eligible and be the savior of the program,” Donovan said after his No. 16 Gators edged No. 15 Memphis, 77-75, thanks to Casey Prather’s 22 points in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

    “He’s a high school player who hasn’t played competitive basketball since the end of February last year.”

    NEW YORK — Back when he played in the Big East Conference, Sean Kilpatrick could count on playing every year at Madison Square Garden, capped off by the conference tournament in March.

    But now that he’s playing his final season in the American Athletic Conference, times have changed.

    Kilpatrick and the Bearcats will play their postseason tournament at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, so their game against Pittsburgh in the Jimmy V Classic had special meaning for the White Plains, N.Y. native.