Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making the Transition; Freshman Shipman Is Starting to Settle into His Role for Florida

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Making the Transition; Freshman Shipman Is Starting to Settle into His Role for Florida

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL DIROCCO

GAINESVILLE - Ray Shipman let the basketball fly, and it felt good.

Better than any other shot the freshman guard has taken this season.

The 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Florida bench dropped through the net, and Shipman bounced back toward his teammates during the timeout that Tennessee called after the basket.

"My shots before haven't been confident," Shipman said. "That was confident.

" ... I just felt like I was back in high school. I was playing ball again. I felt comfortable."

That's been a long time coming for Shipman. He thought he'd be making more of an impact for the Gators before their 14th Southeastern Conference game. Finding his role, accepting it and trying to understand the nuances of UF's offensive and defensive systems has taken nearly the entire season.

But he has a better grasp on those things now - just in time to help Florida in its last-ditch run for an NCAA Tournament berth.

"There's still more adjustments," Shipman said. "The process is still probably going on, but I can see a little more light."

Florida coach Billy Donovan knew Shipman wasn't going to have an easy transition from averaging 26.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as the state's Mr. Basketball at Miami Pace High School last season to a role player whose main job is to play defense.

He tried to prepare the 6-foot-5, 212-pounder for it, but there's no better teacher than experience. Some players get it quicker than others. Shipman needed more time that he - and Donovan - had hoped.

"That has been about as big of a learning curve for Ray as anything else he has had in front of him this year," Donovan said. "The first thing he has to do is show he can take that kind of a role as this defensive guy we are talking about when, in a lot of respects, he probably didn't have to do that a lot. He played defense and came from a great high school program, but it is a change from a guy who was a leading scorer to now having this kind of a role."

Shipman said his lack of patience has hindered him more than anything else. …

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