Let me be open and honest, you guys. I watch every UK game. I love college basketball. Outside of golf’s major championships and the Ryder Cup, it’s my favorite thing to watch on television. But after the title game last year, I’ve had a hard time getting really pumped up for games. I miss last year’s team. I miss the chemistry they had. I miss destroying the will of the opponent.
That’s not to say I don’t like these guys. I do. But those guys last year were a group I don’t think we’ll ever forget. However, outside of the Maryland, Duke, and Louisville games, I haven’t been overcome with excitement on game days this season. This game, that changes.
I’m excited for this game. Win or lose, we’ll know who this team is and how far they can go. Winning ugly foul fests against Auburn don’t tell me much. But Florida is a really good team. Sure, they’ve lost games they shouldn’t have. Show me a team in college basketball that hasn’t. Florida is in the group of teams that could conceivably win the title. I know there isn’t much time left in the season, but I still think our team can get into the outskirts of the conversation. I’m excited for this game because it’s a measuring stick. I’m ready to learn about these Kentucky guys.
Before we do that, however, we must learn about our enemy. Join me as we get to Know Your Enemy: Florida Gators.
The University of Florida is located in Gainesville, a city in the state of Florida. It is inland, making it less cool than places like Destin, Panama City, and Miami. When it comes to vacation destinations in Florida, Gainesville is not one.
It is a typical SEC college town. It has a academic buildings, a strip of bars, crappy hotels, and people that don’t care about basketball. The university is the main attraction in town unless Tim Tebow is visiting. I once stopped in Gainesville on a return trip from Q-School. I was with a buddy and though we had no rooting interest, we stopped for a Florida-Tennessee football game. We stayed at the Super 8 motel. If ever visiting Gainesville (which you should not), do not stay at the Super 8 motel. That is all. You’re welcome.
Erin Andrews- It’s not a Florida alumni section without including the most beautiful woman in sports. She was once a Florida Dazzler. And once upon a time, she called me out. Upon meeting her on the elevator in the Galt House during Kentucky Derby weekend with my friend, I did a terrible job of trying to talk to her. My friend, who had no idea who she was, did perfectly fine. Because he didn’t know who she was. After I got a picture with her (with my eyes closed), my friend kept talking with her and her assistant. After a couple minutes she looked at me (probably because I hadn’t spoken) and said words I’ll never forget: “You aren’t handling this well, are you?” No Erin, no I wasn’t.
Probably Not Alumni:
This Guy- I’m speechless.
Matthew Faulkner- Probably not this guy, either. Like most of us, Florida native Matthew Faulkner wanted Taco Bell after a night on the town. Unlike most of us, Matthew did not go through the drive thru in a responsible manner (in a taxi). He drove.
Upon falling asleep in the drive thru after receiving his food, Matthew was awakened by police and asked for his ID. He handed the cops a taco. Had the cop been Drew Franklin, the guys drives away unscathed. The cop was not Drew Franklin. The cops arrested Matthew for DUI and had to put out a fire under his hood because he fell asleep with his car in park and his foot on the gas. I’m going to guess Matthew is “probably not an alumni.”
Dance Team Scouting Report:
ATTENTION FLORIDA DAZZLER’S COACH: We have PLENTY of room at my house for the SEC tournament in March. No need to waste money on a hotel. Hope you all get a long with LSU’s dance team.
Despite their fans not caring much about basketball, Florida has done some great things in the past 25 years. Though they did not make their first NCAA tourney until 1987, but since then they have made 17 tourney appearances. They’ve made eight Sweet 16’s, six Elite 8’s, and 4 Final Fours. In 2006 and 2007 they won back to back national championships. You’d be hard pressed to find many teams that have experienced more success during that time period.
UK has, of course. But we’re UK. We’re the gold standard. Billy Donovan even said so himself: “I think every school in this conference looks at Kentucky as being the program to try to become. ”
William John Donovan, Jr.- Billy Donovan has been the head man at Florida since 1996 and is responsible for most of the success the Gator program has enjoyed in it’s history. He coached the 2006 and 2007 national champions and has taken his team to the Elite 8 the past two seasons.
A former point guard at Providence, Billy played one year for the New York Knicks before becoming an assistant coach at Kentucky under Rick Pitino. After five years here, he took the head coaching job at Marshall. After going 35-20 in his two years at Marshall Donovan was hired at Florida. In just his fourth season he took the Gators to the title game where they fell to Michigan State. Despite flirting with the NBA and UK a couple of times, Donovan is one of the longest tenured head coaches in NCAA division one.
Florida has a lot of good players. Really good. Four guys average in double figures scoring (Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy, Patric Young) Young averages over 6 rebounds. Two players shoot over 47% from three point range (Murphy, Michael Frazier II). They shoot 39% as a team. Scottie Wilbekin averages 5 assists. I could have listed just two, but they have a lot of guys who do a lot of stuff.
We’ve got our hands full.
We come into this game as 11 point under dogs. And while this seems like a lot of points, Vegas didn’t build all those buildings by losing. Hopefully being an under dog fires this team up. I know it does me. Win or lose, I’m really excited for a game for the first time in a while. It feels good.
Before I get out of here, we’ve plugged all the Dance Blue game watching parties. If there is one in your area, you should absolutely go. It’s for a great cause. For those in the Nashville area come out to Corner Pub in Midtown and help support the UK Children’s Hospital fight childhood cancer. 10% of all sales will benefit Dance Blue.
After all, who says you can’t have fun on a Tuesday? It’s Mardi Gras! Hurricanes and hand grenades for everyone!