"Our main focus is rebounding," Brad Beal said. "Coach Donovan says that the offensive end is going to be there. We're not going to shoot as well as the exhibition game, so we have to focus on rebounding. That's our main focus in these next few games."
Florida head coach Billy Donovan has spent his last week trying to get the Gators to buy into that. The competition wasn't great, but if Florida's 114 points over Catholic University in an exhibition win is any indication, putting the ball in the basket isn't going to be much of a problem for this team.
It's the little things that the team needs to focus on.
For Beal, that means rebounding more. The freshman has the biggest body of Florida's talented four guards, and Donovan expects him to go to the basket more.
"I definitely have to do a better job of rebounding," Beal said. "Coach Donovan has been on me since our scrimmage game. I have to take the initiative and actually start going in to battle more with the bigger guys."
To help the team improve at it, Donovan put bubbles over the rims in practice so that shots weren't going in and the team had to focus more on getting rebounds. It also helped the team work more on the fast break offense that should be an advantage with as many shooters as Florida can put on the court.
With Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker lacking ideal size on the outside, Beal has to be the guard that goes to the basket to rebound. His 6-3, 207-pound frame is ready to get to bang with other guards down low, even though he is only a freshman.
"I'm one of the biggest guards and have a more physical body than those guys do, so I can teach them to finish more," Beal said. "At the same time, they're teaching me how to be quick off the dribble because the game is a lot faster. I have picked up a lot of things from them."
Rebounding is even more important for this Florida team because of how good they can be in transition. Beal, Walker and Boynton are enough to stretch any defense, but power forward Erik Murphy can also step up and hit three pointers.
"Everybody is spreading the floor from one to five," Beal said. "The way we play is so fast and get up the floor so quick that there will be guys open on the perimeter. Murphy is able to step up and hit a three, so we've got four guys on the perimeter and one guy inside."
JACKSON STATE PREVIEW: Florida hosts the Tigers tonight in the first game of the season for each team at 7 p.m. Jackson State starts four guards around their 7-2 center Jamarious Sykes.
Senior guard Jenirro Bush returns after averaging 14.2 points and 3.5 rebounds last season. Donovan called him a "preseason player of the year candidate" in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
"He's a guy who can score, put it on the floor, slash and shoot threes," Donovan said.
Donovan said it's hard to judge the team based on limited film this early in the season, but they didn't shoot many threes in their exhibition game. The Tigers feature a "quick, athletic" team that can get to the basket.
"They change defenses a lot and are very active defensively," Donovan said. "Because they drive the ball so well, they do a terrific job of offensive rebounding."
Brad Beal showed in Florida's exhibition game that he won't have much of a problem scoring this season. He's focused on the little things to make him and the team better. As the freshman heads into his first official game at Florida on Friday night, he and his teammates are buying into the team-first mentality.