- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — Teammate Corey Brewer saw it as early as the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in November. Adrian Moss figures it came far later, perhaps just as March began.

All along, there have been flashes that Florida point guard Taurean Green was firmly in charge of the youthful Gators’ offense after the early departure of Anthony Roberson after last season.

No matter when Green officially broke out, it’s clear he has been in control throughout Florida’s postseason run. The Gators (31-6) meet George Mason (27-7) in tonight’s first semifinal at RCA Dome, and Green will spend nearly the entire night guiding Florida’s offense.

“He’s the leader on the floor for us,” junior guard Lee Humphrey said yesterday. “He pretty much plays all the minutes at point. Him on the floor, he gets us in our offense well. He doesn’t have to be scoring for us to play well.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when he does. Green received plenty of attention after back-to-back 23-point outings in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Gators’ 16-0 start.

Yet Green, who averaged only 3.9 points while backing up Roberson a season ago, wasn’t always consistent. As he worked to master the Gators’ offense, he looked back on some of the lessons Roberson imparted before turning pro.

“He did a great job of teaching me how to run the point guard spot, what to do and what not to do,” Green said. “I learned from what he did and what he did bad. He’s a great player, and I think that year was a learning experience. This year, everybody on our team has stepped into a new role. I think everybody’s grown up as the year has gone along.”

Some of that maturation came during a 5-6 stretch that began with the Gators’ first loss of the season Jan. 21 and continued through the end of February. After a three-game losing streak left Florida at 8-6 in SEC play, Moss recalled Green finally decided “to find his niche.”

There would be no more out-of-control play or shaky shooting decisions. Instead, he would be a more consistent floor leader to help change the postseason fortunes of a program that has been a reliable early tournament out for the last five years.

“He was kind of like, ‘This is what I need to do to help our ballclub win,’” Moss said. “He settled down, and he did it. He’s been [one of] the top three or four point guards in the country.”

Florida has won plenty ever since. Green took a more assertive role on offense in the Gators’ first two SEC tournament games, scoring 20 and 18 points against Arkansas and Louisiana State, respectively.

That has led to a solid NCAA tournament, which included a 19-point outing in Sunday’s regional final win over Villanova. Of greater significance is Green’s constant presence on the floor. He’s played at least 33 minutes in 11 of Florida’s last 12 games.

Like teammates Al Horford and Joakim Noah, Green comes from an athletic background. His father, Sydney, starred at UNLV, played for five NBA teams and later coached at Florida Atlantic.

“Just growing up, he really wasn’t there sometimes because he was on the road,” Green said. “We talked a lot. We still maintain a great relationship. Just the main thing that he always tells me, just to go out and have fun.”

It’s been a lot easier for Green and his teammates to accomplish that mission during the Gators’ nine-game winning streak.

It’s a stretch that has reflected the maturation of a team that starts four sophomores and a junior, and much of it begins with Green’s development as a point guard.

“He’s improved a lot,” Brewer said. “He’s just learning the game. He just became a leader, and he just makes us go.”

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