The dreaded "E" Word has crossed Billy Donovan's lips. The word that the last Gator basketball team that was taken seriously had to live with, sometimes like a weight around its neck. "Expectations" has made a re-reappearance in Gainesville.
"We certainly have experience coming back," Donovan said. "I think we'll be dealing with something that we have not dealt with in the last couple of years, having a level of expectation on our team."
I for one say "Thank God." Because teams with high expectations have to have a reason for that. They must have something that makes people in the know think they will win. They must have some talent.
To say that is all you need is not exactly true. Nobody would say the last three Gator teams had no talent. What they lacked was experience. They lacked a leader on the floor. That won't be a problem this year.
All five starters return from last year's NCAA team and this year's bench is well stocked. It is so well stocked that Adam Allen has given up his scholarship and will walk on if his knees allow and Rod Tishman has decided to remain in Israel.
What are the "Expectations?" Some early polls have the Gators ranked as high as No. 10. That is flattering. I'd say it's a bit high. As a Gator fan I would expect something better than this past season, but how much better?
This past season the Gators went 9-7 in the SEC. So I would "expect" at least 10-6.
The Gators were knocked out of the SEC Tournament on Friday's quarterfinals, so I would "expect" them to make the SEC Semifinals on Saturday.
The Gators were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round, so I "expect" them to go to the second round.
Am I hoping they do better than that? Of course.
Would I be surprised if they do better? Not really.
But I don't "expect" them to. If you as a fan base set your "expectations" too high, you set yourself up for a big letdown. Ask any Kentucky fan.
So as Gator fans, let's not set the "expectation" level too high.
But I will say that it is sure nice that we have some this year.