Tribe visit seventh-ranked Gators to tip off season

Nov 14, 2014 - 5:02 PM Gainesville, FL ( - The 2014-15 campaign tips off for the seventh-ranked Florida Gators at the O'Connell Center on Friday, as they play host to the William & Mary Tribe.

William & Mary was one of the Colonial Athletic Association's best last season, going 20-12 overall while finishing third in the league at 10-6. The Tribe advanced all the way to the conference championship game before falling to Delaware (75-74), thus missing out on its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.

Florida has earned a reputation in nearly two decades under the tutelage of head coach Billy Donovan as one of the best programs in the country, as it has qualified for 14 of the last 16 NCAA Tournaments, including last year's Final Four run (its fourth in that time frame). The Gators' 2013-14 campaign was the team's best since winning back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2006 and 2007, going 36-3 and dominating league play by becoming the first SEC team to ever finish 18-0 in the league.

The Tribe and the Gators meet for the first time in history.

The Tribe lost three starters in the offseason but will still be one of the favorites in the CAA thanks to the return of league's preseason player of the year Marcus Thornton, who averaged 18.7 ppg a season ago and drained 93 3- pointers. Also returning from the 2013-14 squad are Omar Prewitt (11.4 ppg), Terry Tarpey (5.4 ppg), Daniel Dixon (3.5 ppg) and Sean Sheldon (3.4 ppg).

Continuing last season's dominance will be difficult for Florida now that senior leaders Casey Prather (13.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Scottie Wilbekin (13.1 ppg) and Patric Young (11.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) have moved on. There's still plenty talent left for a team that boasted a +12.2 scoring margin and ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (57.8 ppg). Michael Frazier (12.4 ppg) hopes to take the next step into an elite scorer. Dorian Finney-Smith (8.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Kasey Hill (5.5 ppg) are expected to join the starting lineup, and Eli Carter, who scored 14.9 ppg with Rutgers in 2012-13, will be a factor after redshirting last season. Chris Chiozza (6-0, 160), Devin Robinson (6-8, 178), and Brandone Francis (6-5, 205) are all highly-touted freshmen.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!