GAINESVILLE – Ray Shipman wasted his freshman season.
Florida’s sophomore guard knows it, too, and sometimes he can’t sleep because it bothers him so much.
“I beat myself up at night about it,” Shipman said. “I started beating myself up at night about it not before the first [exhibition] game, like Summer A [semester], once I started getting myself in shape and seeing how I was doing in pickup games, how I was like the most athletic. My mind-set coming in my freshman year was like, ‘Let me see how many dunks I can get.’ Not even putting in the work. I would work on my skills but not my body.
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“It’s frustrating but I can’t look back at my mistakes, so I just keep moving forward.”
If Shipman continues to play the way he did in UF’s two exhibition games, he’ll be able to sleep much better next summer. Shipman scored 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and had six assists and two turnovers in the Gators’ victories over St. Leo and Webber International.
Shipman played with good energy and worked hard on defense, UF coach Billy Donovan said. He rarely saw that from Shipman last season.
“I think Ray came in as a freshman – and I think he’d even tell you this – with entirely the wrong mentality,” Donovan said. “I think he came in wanting to do what he thought the team needed instead of doing what the team actually needed. I think now because he’s in better shape he’s able to sustain intensity for a longer period of time. He’s more active defensively.”
Once the 2008-09 season ended, Shipman realized he had to get in better shape and embrace the role Donovan wanted. Shipman lost 20 pounds and spent the offseason adjusting his game so he would be able to have success against bigger players offensively and defensively.
“It’s been a real process,” said Shipman, who averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds last season. “Down in Miami, I’m 6-5. I was about the biggest guard, biggest power forward, biggest center. I could do everything when I was playing high school. Now, I’m going against bigger dudes, 6-7, 6-8. In the post, you have to learn different finishes.”
Shipman finally understands the role that Donovan wants him to play: a defensive stopper, a high-energy player who isn’t concerned about scoring but takes advantage of offensive opportunities when they occur.
“Sometimes, you don’t know if a guy can ever really get it,” Donovan said. “The way he played [against Webber International, 16 points, five rebounds, three assists], forget the scoring. Just his energy, I wish he could have played a little bit more like that last year. We really could have used that, but some guys get it earlier than others.”