Tuesday night in Gainesville, the Florida Gators met a real Final Four contender in the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Gators came into the game with a top 10 ranking and lofty expectations despite never having really done anything as a group worthy of much attention. Just how good are the Gators?
For three quarters of the game they hung right in with one of the best in the country. Then the Gators ran out of gas. A high pressure full court defense had taken its toll and the Gators wore down.
Before they knew it, a 56-55 game turned into a 70-60 game and the Gators could never recover, losing 93-75.
Is it time to panic in Gainesville? Not yet. Not when you consider that it is only the second game of the season and Chandler Parsons, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton all played over 35 minutes in an up-tempo, full-court-pressing contest.
Was this a message from Coach Donovan that his team needs to get in shape? Perhaps. Donovan is not opposed to taking an early loss to send his team a message. He's done it before.
In 2007 against Florida State he sat Joakim Noah and Al Horford in a game when Corey Brewer was out sick for the entire second half. The Gators lost but the message was received.
Also I think Erving Walker's minutes at the point guard spot will decrease as freshman Scottie Wilbekin gets more experience. Walker repeatedly made poor decisions leading to turnovers which really hurt the Gators.
In fact, the Gators' shooting percentage was right there with OSU's, and they also rebounded with them evenly. The difference in the game was OSU took 13 more shots than the Gators. So turnovers were key.
If Wilbekin plays more point, Boynton also plays a few minutes there and Walker plays more two guard, the Gators may have something good happening.
Vernon Macklin looks to be much improved offensively. If he hits those hook shots all year like he was last night, he will be tough in the paint. Eric Murphy also impressed with his offensive game. He was a beat on the glass.
One thing we know for sure is that the Gators have already faced one of the two or three best teams they will play this year. They know who they are and where they need to make adjustments. If this team gets to its full potential, look out. 2011 will be a fun year.