To be honest, my Florida Gators have exceeded my expectations. With no big man to speak of I think Coach Donovan has done the best that he can and could. Some would say he did not recruit very well. But, there is no way he could have expected Speights to leave UF and enter the NBA Draft early; that in itself left a big hold.
At this point in time though, you would have to consider the Gators a bubble team at best. It really depends on what analyst you listen too.
So I find myself painstakingly going through this season with the Gator basketball team and saying, "Come on if you can just win two out your next four we can get in." Those four teams being LSU, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Kentucky. Well, we already lost to LSU which is what I expected. But, after that lost I realized we cannot win away from home. We cannot compete or think about shutting down the opponent's top scorer or big man. So why am I am prolonging this agony? If they make it they won't get any favorable seeding. If there is such a thing. We won't even get in a region that will keep us close to home. We haven't performed well enough to have that type of consideration. My outlook on this is bleak but realistic.
The Gators have a game today against the Tennessee Volunteers at home in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. It will be alive and rocking. But, truly most Gators would not be surprised if the Volunteers come into our home and walk away with a win. And, we are undefeated at home. But, our inability to get a big win is prominent.
We are not a close win team. We don't have a closer. So here is my analysis of the prospective Gator March Madness team:
Nick Calathes does not have a supporting cast that can pick up the slack or compliment his game. He is a special guard with awesome talent. He surprises me every game with his court awareness and his timely shooting. And, there is the rest of the team.
I think Irving Walker is a scrapper and a future All-SEC Player at his position. But right now he is a freshman and making freshman mistakes.
Alex Tyus has shown signs of tenacious play and dunks. But, he can not be expected to defend and play against the likes of some in the SEC who are stronger and bigger. In other words he is no Joakim Noah or Al Horford. (we in Gator nation should be so lucky)
Kenny Kadji is so inconsistent, but I do see some signs that he can be a good post player.
Dan Werner is in space literally. To be one of the seasoned players on the team he seems to lose focus. I honestly don't why he still gets the nod to start except for that's the best we have. And, if he takes another open three and miss I am going to scream.
Walter Hodge, our lone senior, is getting almost twenty-eight minutes a game and given us just eight points a game and not much in leadership. That leadership title goes to the sophomore Calathes.
Chandler Parson has some game and his high basketball IQ is obvious. He has no strength and truly can't compete inside. We have no power forward.
Our bench has no depth. They are giving minutes but no production. So why would I want them to make this Tournament? If they make it, and I am still skeptical about that, they will not make it out of the first round. Again, I am truly prolonging this agony.
There is no way that we have the team to compete with the likes of North Carolina, Oklahoma, UConn, and Pittsburgh; let alone Duke, Marquette, and others.
Now, I know this a selfish view and some of my fellow gator alum will disagree. I know to not make the tournament continues a non-appearance streak started by last years team. Maybe my view and desire keeps the team from needed experience. But I continue to say we know the end to this season already. We can predict it. I say we squeak by Tennessee, we lose to Mississippi State in Mississippi and maybe find a way to win against Kentucky at home.
We make it into the tournament. We probably win the first game. But our inconsistency will then rear it's ugly head as soon as we Gator fans get some hope. I say stay at home this year. Don't accept the invitation and don't go to the NIT. We would probably lose in the semi-finals of the NIT like last year anyway. And besides, I don't really respect a tournament that the South Carolina Gamecocks have made their own.
We have our twenty win season. We have our savior Kenny Boynton coming next year. Most say he is a one and done. At this point I am willing to accept temporary success with long term hope. This short term failure is killing me. We Gator fans, as I am sure other college fans suffer through these losses. Let's just call it a season after the conference tournament and go back to the drawing board. Please!