With three new assistant coaches, Florida coach Billy Donovan knows that the opportunity to play a few early preseason games outside of the Gators' comfort zone in the United States could have been a great team-bonding venture.
But it's not going to happen - at least not this year.
Donovan had hoped to have his team participate in one of the preseason tournaments outside of the U.S. that the NCAA allows teams to periodically play in. One of the benefits is teams can start preseason practice earlier, and coaches often rave about how it builds team chemistry. But the Gators had too many obstacles to overcome this year.
"I was trying to find a way to do that, but it's probably not going to pan out for us,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Part of the reason why it's not going to pan out is Patric Young and Brad Beal, those two guys have been invited to play for USA Basketball. So it's an opportunity for them in June and July to go try out and play for that team. Walter Pitchford coming in as a freshman, him going through the clearing house, all that stuff is probably going to take a little bit of time. We've talked about Cody (Larson) and Erik's (Murphy) situation (suspended indefinitely). As much as I would love to make that happen and to do that, with the July recruiting period and trying to leave on Aug. 6, can we realistically get our entire coaching staff on the floor and manage recruiting during a very critical time, and be able to do both? And I think that was the one thing that became very, very difficult. If we've got to start practice on July 25, am I going to be the only coach back here because the other guys have got to be on the road recruiting? And if we do get back, in five or six days how (do they make the quick transition)? And it just seemed like it was too much''
Donovan said he believes the new coaches will be a cohesive unit even without the trip, adding they've already hit the ground running in recruiting and building relationships with the current players.
"As much as I wanted to make it happen, it's probably not going to happen for our team and that's okay,'' Donovan said. "But we'll get an opportunity probably down the road to make that trip happen. But the biggest thing for John (Pelphrey), Norm (Roberts) and Matt (McCall) is they've worked the phones very, very hard. We have six guys on campus right now in Summer A. They've been able to see those guys, spend some time with those guys. And the guys that are at home they've been able to develop a relationship with. I think an overseas trip would be great, but the timing of it and where it takes place isn't probably the best thing for us.''