NCAA Tournament 2011: Why Florida Will Win a Championship
We're down to 16 teams, and each remaining team has their shot at winning it all. The bulk of college basketball fans are looking at Duke, Kansas, and especially Ohio State as their favorite to cut the nets. Though, there are still plenty of talented squads who wish to shock the nation and take home the national championship.
Basically, it's anybody's game at this point. But I think Florida has the squad that can surprise the field and can, perhaps, run the table to win it all. Here are five reasons why.
5. They Can Flat-out Shoot
The Gators can always stay in a game due to their superb three-point shooting ability. Erving Walker seems to always hit timely shots from anywhere on the court.
As an example, Walker hit a 3-pointer from about 30 feet out as time expired to send the Gators into a second overtime with the Georgia Bulldogs. He continued his hot shooting in the second extra period to lead Florida to a victory.
In addition to Walker, the Gators offer another sharp-shooter in the form of Kenny Boynton. Boynton shoots the three-ball at 33 percent, but he is much better than his percentage indicates. He is streaky, but when he's on, he's as good a shooter as you will find in the country.
While Walker and Boyton are the team's best shooters, Chandler Parsons is no slouch from downtown.
Parsons shoots fewer threes, but hits 37.5 percent of his shots from distance, a very respectable statistic for a 6'10" forward. Like Walker, Parsons has hit big shots in the past. He hit game-winning threes against South Carolina and NC State in 2009-10.
If Florida gets down, you better not count them out, because they will shoot their way back into the game.
4. They Are Team-Oriented
The Florida Gators may be the most team-oriented squad in the remaining NCAA field. UConn's team is Kemba Walker. BYU is all Jimmer Fredette. Kansas survives on the Morris twins.
Florida plays a different kind of game. They have four or five players that can score with consistency and can score in the clutch. Four of the five starting Gators average double digits in the scoring column, and the other starter scores 8.6 PPG. This makes Florida very dangerous.
If a team, like BYU (Florida's next opponent), puts their defensive stopper, Jackson Emery, on Erving Walker, then Kenny Boynton, Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin, or Alex Tyus will pick up the scoring slack.
This team doesn't have a star, but they are loaded with great players, which should bode well for them in the remainder of the tournament.
3. They Are Experienced
Seniors win championships. It's as simple as that. Last year's champ, for example, boasted the senior leadership of the like of Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, and Lance Thomas. This is one of the countless examples of seniors leading their teams to cutting down the nets.
If you look at the John Calipari Kentucky squads, they have not, and most likely will never, win a championship.
If you look at those Fab Five from Michigan, they fell short twice in the finale. Without seniors, there is no "last chance" mentality that this game may be their last.
The three Gators pictured above, Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin, and Alex Tyus, are the senior leaders for this year's Florida squad. This leadership will do wonders for the Gators' title hopes since these seniors will be putting it all on the line, as to avoid the end of their college basketball careers.
2. Chandler Parsons
If you haven't noticed by the previous slides, Chandler Parsons is extremely valuable for Florida. He was the SEC Player of the Year without ranking in the top 25 in the conference in scoring. That's just how versatile and multi-talented he is.
He is, in essence, the glue that holds the Gators together.
He scores a very solid 11.4 PPG. But he does much more than just that. Parsons rebounds the ball 7.7 times per contest, while dishing out 3.7 assists per game and getting just under one steal per game.
He will need to do it all for the Gators to have a shot at deep tourney run.
1. Billy Donovan
When people think of the big name coaches in college basketball, they think of Coach K, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun. All have been around for a long time and have won NCAA Tournament Championships.
One coach who should be in that same breath is Billy Donovan. It's not too long ago that Donovan won two straight Big Dances (2006 and 2007 to be exact). He has done what coaches never accomplish in a career, and then some. In addition to his championship runs, Donovan has led Florida to nine NCAA Tournaments.
Not too shabby for a 45-year-old coach.
What I'm trying to get at is, when we get to this time of the college basketball year, coaching plays a huge role in addition to the need for talent. Donovan has been around the block before, so don't expect him to be fazed when the game, and the season, is on the line.
The Gators are championship material with Donovan at the helm.