Florida will usher in the Todd Golden era when it hosts Stony Brook on Monday night in Gainesville, Fla.
Golden was hired from San Francisco as the Gators' new coach in March to replace Mike White, who left the school for Southeastern Conference rival Georgia. White posted a 142-88 record and led the Gators to four NCAA Tournament trips in seven seasons.
The 37-year-old Golden intends to bring a fresh, analytics approach to the Gators, which he used to lead last season's San Francisco club to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. He inherited three returning starters from last year's Florida team, which went 20-14 and reached the second round of the NIT.
One of those starters, preseason All-SEC center Colin Castleton, appears poised for another big season and is back to full health after undergoing successful shoulder surgery. Castleton, a Michigan transfer, has averaged 14.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks for the Gators over his last two seasons.
"We're just super careful in bringing him back, but he's been healthy," Golden said. "It's a long year and I want him to be ready not only on Nov. 7, but through January, March, into the SEC tournament. I think his body is in the best place it's been."
Golden said Castleton and Kyle Lofton, a transfer point guard from St. Bonaventure, are the only two players set in the starting five. He intends to play a deep rotation early that includes returning starters Kowacie Reeves and Myreon Jones at the wing spots.
"It's a challenge for me and the staff to really drill down an eight-man rotation at this point," Golden said. "To be honest, we can't. We wouldn't try. We have a number of guys we feel good about."
Stony Brook, under fourth-year coach Geno Ford, returns two starters from a team that finished 18-13 last season.
One of those returning starters, guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore, is a strong perimeter defender and will look to build off last season, when he averaged 7.4 points while shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range.
Forward Frankie Policelli (7.7 ppg, 36.1 percent on 3-pointers) is another returning starter and perimeter scoring threat.
Stony Brook is entering its first season in the Colonial Athletic Conference after 20 years in the America East Conference.
"The CAA can compete against any league you put it up against," Ford said. "There's good coaches, good players, great venues, great campuses. ... We're looking forward to some fresh challenges."
--Field Level Media