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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What is it called when you do something differently but get the same result each time? For three consecutive years, Billy Donovan has taken three different teams to the Elite Eight.
After making the regional final in 2011, the Gators lost Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Alex Tyus, who combined to account for 44 percent of the team's offense. Donovan simply reloaded, and made another deep tournament run, falling one game shy of the Final Four again in 2012.
Last season, Florida went into the season having lost Bradley Beal and Irving Walker, who made up 35 percent of the team's scoring. Different team, same result, as the Gators made another Elite Eight before falling to Michigan.
This year's team has yet another interesting situation. This time, the Gators have lost more than half of their offense from the year before in the form of their top three scorers: Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy, and Kenny Boynton. But at this point, questioning Donovan's ability to keep this team competitive would just be disrespectful.
What makes this year's team especially interesting is that they will be relying on a group of guys who have not spent a lot of time playing together. Of course, there are still players from last season's team who step into larger roles, the most important of which is Patric Young. He'll certainly have to do a bit more than the ten points and six rebounds he's posted the past two seasons, and he'll have a chance to do so as the team's best returning player.
It's going to take a while for Donovan to sort everything out with this team.
But even though this team could potentially go ten deep, only Casey Prather (6.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG) and Michael Frazier (5.6 PPG 3.1 RPG) join Young as returning players who will be 100 percent ready at the start of the season.
Why? Will Yeguete is still not fully recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for part of last season. Scottie Wilbekin has been partially reinstated after an indefinite suspension, but still isn't cleared to play.
Otherwise, everyone else is new to the roster. Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris are transfers from Virginia Tech and South Carolina, respectively. Neither were significant scoring threats (both averaged under 7 PPG when they last played) but they will add strength and rebounding to the Gators' frontline. Another transfer, Eli Carter from Rutgers, was cleared to play without sitting out a year, but is not healthy enough to play as of yet.
Florida also brings a strong recruiting class highlighted by two five-star studs: Kasey Hill and Chris Walker. Unfortunately, Walker is suspended and can't return until December at the earliest.
This is clearly a roster in serious flux. Hill will likely fill in at point guard for however long Wilbekin is out. Meanwhile, Yeguete will have to ease his way into a frontcourt consisting of Young, Finney-Smith, and Harris when he heals. Walker will have an especially tough time finding his groove if he is even able to play this year, as the team will be developing chemistry without him.
It's going to take a while for Donovan to sort everything out with this team. Florida's non-conference games against Wisconsin, Connecticut, Kansas, and Memphis will be tough without everyone's minutes set. But if everyone is back by the time SEC play begins, Florida will be able to push Kentucky to win the conference title.
At this point, Donovan would probably be more relieved with a first round exit in the NCAA tournament than another Elite Eight (not really, but still). This team has a lot of question marks for a top ten team, but if everything works out another new-look Gators squad will make a push towards the season's final weekend.