Posts Tagged ‘Florida’
I am not going to have time for a full post due to how late it was last night when I returned to Atlanta from Athens, coupled with the fact that I need to be at work in less than an hour. However, here are three things from last night’s game that stuck out in my mind on the drive home (please comment or add to them below):
1. Even though Florida ended up winning 64-47, the Georgia Bulldogs deserve some credit for showing up Wednesday night ready to go toe-to-toe with the best team in the conference. Considering how badly the Gators whipped the Dawgs down in Athens, it would have been very easy for UGA to come out tentative in this game. Yet, Georgia appeared poised and fairly aggressive for the first twenty minutes, taking a 27-24 lead into the halftime break.
2. When Florida wants to shut a team down, they can look pretty dominant doing it. Coach Billy Donovan obviously was not happy with his squad’s first-half play because the Gators came out of the locker room a team possessed for the final twenty minutes. Nearly twelve minutes into the second half, Georgia had managed to turn the ball over 5 times and they had only mustered 4 points (on 1 field goal). The Dawgs’ offense looked miffed against the Florida pressure, either coughing it up, or just swinging the ball around the perimeter until someone could hoist up a last-second, fall away three to avoid a shot clock violation.
3. Florida is just a lot more talented than Georgia. When you see the Gators up close and in person, and then you look at what Georgia has on the floor, it’s not even a fair comparison. This Florida team is one of the better ones that Billy Donovan has put together in recent years, and they look like a squad that could go very deep into this year’s NCAA tournament.
Whatever celebration the Georgia Bulldogs (7-10; 1-3) enjoyed following the win over LSU on Saturday night most likely ended when they peered at the schedule and noticed that the #7 Florida Gators were up next.
The Dawgs’ first contest with the Gators – a 77-44 drubbing in Gainesville – seemed horrific for UGA at the time, but looking at Florida’s SEC resume thus far it appears the beating was business as usual for the Gators. Florida (14-2; 4-0), who is easily the top team in the conference, might be the best team in all of college basketball right now.
Need proof? Check out the 83-52 whipping Coach Billy Donovan’s put on #17 Missouri last Saturday on ESPN3 in the “Replay” tab.
In the Missouri game, Florida employed the same full-court, relentless pressure that flabbergasted the Dawgs a few weeks ago. The Gators’ defense has been scary-good through their first four SEC games, holding opponents to a conference-best 48.8 points per night. In those same games, Florida’s average margin of victory has been nearly 27 points a game, also tops in the league. When looking at the Gators’ team statistics in conference play, it appears that they are either first or second in just about every category – field goal percentage, turnover margin, rebounding, assists, etc.
Georgia, on the other hand, can be found near the bottom of the list in nearly every aforementioned category. The biggest concern for Coach Mark Fox at this moment should be his team’s inability to take care of the basketball. Through four SEC games, UGA is now tied with Vanderbilt with 17.3 turnovers per game, which is worst in the league. In the first game between these two teams Georgia gave it away 19 times – if the Dawgs cannot become stronger with the ball then Wednesday night’s match-up could quickly evolve into another 30-point beat-down.
Georgia’s backcourt has got to start defending the perimeter better as well, since they are currently allowing SEC opponents to make nearly 43% of their three-point attempts (also worst in the conference). Florida, who is knocking down an SEC-best 8.8 three’s per game, canned 12 from beyond the arc the first time these teams met. The Dawgs cannot afford to allow the Gators to reel off big chunks of points from the outside with Georgia’s ongoing scoring issues.
Realistically, UGA needs to play a completely flawless game just to have a chance to hang around on Wednesday against the #7 team. Florida may not take the Dawgs too seriously, considering how badly they mistreated them down in Gainesville. If the Gators do sleepwalk into Athens, then maybe Georgia can keep themselves in the game.
One thing is for sure, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will need to be a lot more assertive this time against Florida than he was the last. In the O’Connell Center, KCP only put up one shot through the game’s first 12 minutes. By the time Pope reached the scoring column on a lay-up with 8:06 left in the first half, Georgia was already trailing 19-6.
The Georgia Bulldogs first conference game of the season did not go well.
Coach Mark Fox’s young team, facing the 11th-ranked squad in the country on the road, got out to what can only be described as the worst start imaginable for an inexperienced team away from home.
Billy Donoans’s Gators came out of the gates applying relentless full court pressure, forcing the Dawgs into 4 turnovers on their first 5 possessions. By the time five minutes had elapsed, Georgia found themselves on the wrong end of an 11-0 run.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did not even find his way into the scoring column until eight minutes remained before the half. The Bulldogs were frustrated into near meltdown-mode offensively, and their leading scorer refused to assert himself.
Credit Florida senior Kenny Boynton for the defensive performance he put on KCP on Wednesday night. Boynton may have struggled to find offense, scoring just 7 points on 2 of 8 shooting from the floor, but he made up for it on the other end of the court, holding Pope to only 11 points on the night (on 4 of 10 shooting).
The Gators took a 28-15 advantage into the break, which seemed rather shocking considering just how lopsided this half felt as an observer.
Florida proceeded to begin the second half much like it started the first, opening up with an 8-0 run. Following a lay-up by Tim Dixon with 16:45 left in the game, the Gators lead had ballooned to 36-19.
For most of the second half, Florida merely toyed with Georgia, setting themselves up for wide open three after wide open three. With 12:06 remaining, Florida’s lead approached thirty points (53-26) after freshman Michael Frazier hit his second shot from beyond the arc. At the 8:35 mark, the Gators advantage had blossomed to 62-31.
Florida made 12 of their 26 three-point attempts, which really made the score unbalanced considering UGA was only able to hit one shot from the perimeter.
When the final horn sounded, Georgia had committed 19 turnovers which factored greatly into the Gators 77-44 blowout.
Florida was led offensively by guard Mike Rosario, who scored a game-high 19 points.
In the first conference game of their young careers, Charles Mann and Brandon Morris finally looked like freshman – tentative and unsure of what to do with the ball. The two players combined for just two field goals in a total 47 minutes played.
The loss tonight to Florida puts an end to Georgia’s four-game winning streak. The Dawgs had clearly not faced an animal with teeth like the Gators during their recent stretch of games, and tonight’s UGA performance highlighted a plethora of areas in which this team must improve (ball security, press break, etc.).
While the Gators were heavily favored heading into this match-up, the outcome turned out to be even more disproportionate than anticipated.
However, Georgia must find a way to regroup quickly so that they will be prepared to hold serve at home this Saturday against Mississippi State in a game that should serve as a good indicator of just how this SEC season might go for the Dawgs.
The Georgia Bulldogs (6-7) will begin conference play on Wednesday as they head south to take on the #11 Florida Gators (10-2).
The Gators returned a solid core of players – Kenny Boynton, Patrick Young, Erik Murphy – this season from a team that was just a basket away from reaching the Final Four in last year’s NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Myron Metcalf likes Florida to win the SEC, citing senior forward/center Erik Murphy as a critical portion of that prediction. Murphy – Florida’s second-leading scorer at 12.1 ppg – is a big body to contend with inside at 6’10″, yet he possesses a surprisingly soft touch from the outside, hitting over 45% of his three-point attempts.
Unfortunately for Florida Coach Billy Donovan, Murphy is listed as “doubtful” for the game against Georgia, and he may miss up to two weeks with a rib injury.
The Gators will definitely miss Murphy’s offense on Wednesday night, and his absence is certainly a huge plus for a UGA team that could use any and every possible advantage available in their first SEC road game of 2013.
Coach Mark Fox’s defense must capitalize on the weakened Florida lineup by centering much of their defensive focus on shutting down senior guard Kenny Boynton. Boynton, a preseason First-Team All-SEC selection, leads the Gators with nearly 14 points per contest, and he is an extremely streaky shooter with the ability to change games quickly from the perimeter.
However, in each of Florida’s two losses this season – Arizona and Kansas State – Boynton struggled to score, managing just 16 total points on a combined 6 for 21 shooting performance from the floor. In both of the aforementioned games, Boynton shot woefully from beyond the arc, making only 2 of his 12 attempts.
The message for the Georgia backcourt: Stop Boynton and you might stop Florida.
If the Dawgs can contain Boynton and not let junior Patrick Young hurt them too much in the paint, they may find themselves hanging around late in the game – Vegas doesn’t think so though, slotting Georgia as an 18-point underdog in this one.
Young is monster in the frontcourt, standing 6’9″ and weighing nearly 250lbs (most of which appears to be solid muscle). He is chipping in over 10 points and almost 7 boards a night for Billy Donovan thus far.
Georgia is riding a four-game win streak into Gainesville, though I would like to note that the team they face on Wednesday night is going to look nothing like the squads UGA entertained in Athens in December. In addition, this game will be the first conference game of the year for the freshmen, meaning that “playtime” is over for Charles Mann and Brandon Morris – from here on out, the defenders are going to be bigger and quicker across the board.
Finally, Coach Fox must continue to get solid offensive production from sophomore big Nemanja Djurisic. The Montenegro Express has been scorching hot the past two games, averaging 19 points and 6 rebounds. The Dawgs have to be able to rely on Neme to help supplement some of the scoring in SEC play so that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope does not have to do it all himself.
Oh yeah – the last time Georgia won a game at the O’Connell Center was over a decade ago (2002).
The Georgia Bulldogs (12-15; 3-10) relationship with the #12 Florida Gators on the hard court is beginning to become eerily similar to the connection that the Dawgs share with the Gators on the football field (in that Florida wins nearly every time).
The Bulldogs have dropped 15 of the last 17 basketball games to Florida, making this match-up particularly one-sided.
According to the odds makers in Las Vegas, who slotted the Gators as an 8-point favorite, this trend of Florida domination should continue today in Stegeman.
Coach Billy Donovan’s Gators have been an offensive juggernaut in SEC play this season, scoring over 70 points per contest. Florida has been especially strong from beyond the arc, where they are connecting on 38.1% of their attempts and making a league-leading 9.2 three-pointers per game.
The Gators may have the most complete backcourt in the country, led by junior Kenny Boynton, freshman Bradley Beal and senior Erving Walker. All three members of this guard trio are netting double-digits on a nightly basis in conference play, with Boynton and Beal leading the way with 15.4 ppg and 14.6 ppg, respectively. Boynton, who is enjoying his best season yet as a Gator, has made over 40% of this three-point attempts in league games this year.
Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldog team needs to defend the perimeter well this afternoon in an effort to limit Florida’s backcourt from lighting them up. Fortunately, three-point defense has been somewhat of a strength for this Georgia team as they have held opposing SEC squads to under 33% on threes, ranking them 5th in the conference in that category.
Florida won the first contest between these two teams back in early January, burying Georgia 70-48 in the O’Connell Center. In that game, the Dawgs held Florida to 7 of 21 shooting from beyond the arc and matched the Gators with 31 rebounds. Just hearing those two statistics might leave Bulldog fans wondering how Georgia lost by so many points.
The big difference in that game came at the free throw line, where Georgia went an unsightly 1 for 9, while Florida canned 15 of 18 attempts.
One unfortunate symptom that has emerged this year, resulting from Georgia’s lack of an inside game, is that the Bulldogs are not getting to the charity stripe. In the entire Division I of the NCAA there are only 23 teams out of 337 that are attempting less free throws than Georgia.
In SEC play, the Dawgs are only tossing up 14 free throws per game, pitting them at 11th in the conference (just above South Carolina). To make matters worse, when Georgia does get to the line they are only making 68% of their attempts, which is 9th in the SEC.
I’m not sure if there is a cure for the Dawgs this season in regards to getting more free throw attempts, but hopefully it will be a major focal point for the UGA bigs in the off-season.
The recipe for a Georgia upset today lies in their ability to make three-pointers, which should come as no surprise to any UGA basketball fan. The Dawgs have shot over 40% from beyond the arc just three times in league play this year – Tennessee, Arkansas, Missy State – and they won two of those games.
The perimeter game needs to start with freshman Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, who has been mired in a terrible slump over the past three games, averaging just 8.3 points while shooting 27% from the field and 15% on three-point attempts.
KCP has to find a way to put the ball in the basket because senior Gerald Robinson, Jr. cannot keep providing all the offense for Coach Fox’s team. Georgia’s recent three-game skid has somewhat overshadowed the fact that GR2 has been playing his tail off, netting nearly 16 points to go along with 5.3 boards, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals during that same stretch. Against both Vandy and South Carolina, Robinson was the only Bulldog to finish the game in double-figures.
If a couple of Bulldogs were to step up and provide some much-needed offensive support to Robinson, then it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the fans in Stegeman could be treated to an afternoon upset.
Coach Mark Fox had his Georgia Bulldogs (18-9; 7-6) come out in a zone defense last night against the Florida Gators, and by golly, they stuck with it. For some reason or another, it was apparent that Coach Fox did not feel like his Bulldogs could match-up with the Gators in a man set.
Running a zone defense in college basketball is a bit of a gamble, especially against a good shooting team like Florida (45.0% FG and 35.0% 3PT). Fox’s strategy worked in the first half, as the Gators struggled to make shots – finishing at 37% from the floor before the break (with only two three-pointers).
After intermission, however, Florida settled in and got a lot more comfortable on offense. The key stretch of this game came with about 7:30 left and the Gators up 52-51. Florida’s Kenny Boynton proceeded to bang down three-straight shots from beyond the arc, and following an Alex Tyus lay-up the Gators were all of a sudden leading 63-53 with only 5:10 remaining. Georgia was never able to fully recover from this 11-2 run, and Chandler Parsons put the nail in the coffin when he snagged an offensive board and stuck it back in to put his team up 65-59 with two minutes left – the final score ended up being 71-62 in favor of the Gators.
Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 18 points, scoring 14 of them in the game’s second half. He and Chandler Parsons combined for five three-pointers after the break, and Florida finished the game right at their SEC average of 35% from the perimeter.
Georgia had been off since last Saturday’s win at Tennessee, so fatigue should not have been a problem on Thursday. It was painful to watch Florida swing the ball around the perimeter and bury open three after open three in the second half. I kept waiting for Coach Fox to get out of the zone and put his team back into man-to-man (especially after Boynton had hit two in a row), but that never happened.
Other than that one killer stretch, the Dawgs played a pretty good game in a rowdy O’Connell Center, with Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins leading the way with 20 and 16, respectively. Georgia only turned the ball over 13 times (with 17 assists), and they out-rebounded the Gators 32-30. The problem, however, was that Florida capitalized on nearly every Georgia turnover, resulting in 23 points (off turnovers).
It was a pretty tall order to ask this team to follow-up their road win at Tennessee with another road win against the SEC’s best team. After dropping both games to the Gators this season, the UGA basketball team has now beaten Florida just twice in the past 16 games – making this rivalry about as lopsided as it is on the football field between these two schools.
The Dawgs are now embattled in a three-way tie with Kentucky and Tennessee for third place in the SEC East.
Georgia has a very quick turnaround, with the South Carolina Gamecocks coming into Athens for a prime time Saturday night tip-off. The Dawgs don’t have time to sit around and lick their wounds from the loss in Gainesville, as the game against the Cocks is critical to Georgia finishing the season with a winning conference record.
The Georgia Bulldogs (18-8; 7-5) head to Gainesville on Thursday night for a rematch with the #13 Florida Gators, who beat the Dawgs in Athens earlier this season 104-91. The first meeting between these two teams was one of the better college basketball games of the year, with Georgia coming from behind to send the game into overtime only to have Florida’s Erving Walker hit a three-pointer to force a second overtime. The Gators were the only team interested in playing in the second overtime as they outscored the Dawgs 19-6 en route a big SEC road victory.
Florida (21-5; 10-2) is undoubtedly the best team in the conference this year, and they are currently riding a five-game winning streak. The Gators, however, could be playing once again without their preseason All-SEC Second-Team forward Chandler Parsons. Parsons sustained a deep thigh bruise in Florida’s win over Tennessee on February 12th, forcing him to sit out the second half of that game as well as the LSU game last Sunday – a game that the Gators won 68-61.
Florida coach Billy Donovan did not sound positive about whether or not his star forward would play during Monday’s press conference.
“Right now, I’m not personally, overly optimistic that he’ll play,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I think in his mind, he’d like to try to play. … The last time he did anything physically was this past Friday and he couldn’t do much at all. We’ll prepare for the game without him and if he plays, it’s a bonus.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox didn’t seem to be buying it though, saying that the Dawgs would “prepare like he is going to play”.
Whether Parsons plays or not remains to be seen, but either way this game is still a difficult road test for a Georgia team that has not won a game in Gainesville in nine years.
That being said, this year’s Bulldogs squad seems to prefer life on the road. Following the Dawgs’ huge win last Saturday in Knoxville over Tennessee, Georgia now holds an 7-2 record in true road games on the season, and they are 4-2 in SEC games played away from Athens.
In the first game between these teams, the Dawgs did not have an answer for Florida’s dynamic guard tandem of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. Walker and Boynton scored 24 points apiece, and they shot a combined 24 free throws (connecting on 20 of them). Both guards used a plethora of high screens to get themselves into the paint where they were able to create at will. Georgia’s bigs must do a better job of stopping penetration off the pick-and-roll, and making it more difficult for Walker and Boynton to get into the lane.
Florida center Vernon Macklin, who is a load inside at 6’10″ and 245 pounds, is having a solid senior season for Coach Donovan, averaging 12.7 ppg and shooting over 57% from the field in conference play. Macklin shot 10 of 15 from the floor and scored 23 points in the game in Athens, his highest scoring output in an SEC game this season. With the way Trey Thompkins has been defending lately – 15 blocks in his last six games – I would not be at all surprised to see Coach Fox put him on Florida’s big center (and move either Jeremy Price or Chris Barnes on to Alex Tyus).
Though Trey has been playing some inspired defense lately, he has struggled to find offense since the first game against the Gators (the last time he went for 20 points or more). In the seven games since the Florida one, Thompkins is shooting just 37.3% from the floor and averaging only 12.3 points. Despite Trey’s offensive woes, the Dawgs have gone 4-3 in this same span of games. Imagine how dangerous Georgia would be if Thompkins could get his shot going again?
Georgia has two home games left this year on their conference slate – South Carolina and LSU. If they win those (as they should), they’ll finish with a winning SEC record and will most likely earn an at-large berth into this year’s NCAA tournament.
That means, in a way, that the pressure is off for the game on Thursday (another perk from the win against the Vols). Mark Fox’s team should play as if they have nothing to lose, and treat this game as a bonus opportunity to upset a conference rival on their home court (and to possibly improve their NCAA seeding – last “Bracketology” had the Dawgs as a 10-seed).
The Gators are 12-3 this year in Gainesville, and again, they haven’t lost one to Georgia in the Oconnell Center in 9 years.
Georgia’s victory in Knoxville last Saturday was their first at Tennessee in over a decade.
It might be time for the Dawgs to end another streak.
In the Georgia Bulldogs (15-6; 4-4) loss at Kentucky last week, Trey Thompkins played just 11 first-half minutes. In the Arkansas game on Wednesday, Trey logged merely 4 minutes of playing time in the game’s first half.
Thompkins has now missed significant playing time in consecutive games due to foul trouble, and as expected, the Dawgs offense has suffered, scoring only 60 points in each of the last two contests. Georgia is leading the SEC in scoring in conference games at 74.4 ppg, but without Trey on the floor, that number becomes unattainable.
On Saturday, Georgia hosts the Auburn Tigers, the worst team in the league. The Tigers have won just 1 of their first 8 conference games, and they only have 8 wins on the season (also the lowest in the SEC). Other than a fluke 65-60 win over Florida State back on January 3rd, this season has been a total disaster for Auburn with losses to UNC-Asheville, Samford, Campbell, Rutgers, Presbyterian and LSU (to name a few) – not exactly the nation’s elite programs.
Offensively, the Tigers have been – “challenged”. Through the first half of the SEC season, Auburn is averaging 59.4 ppg, which is second to last in the league. The Tigers are either playing with a lid on the rim, or they are just plain bad at shooting. As a team, Auburn is hitting a frigid 36.1% from the field and under 30% from beyond the arc (they are also dead-last in the SEC from the line – 62.5%).
According to Rivals.com, the Tigers are just living up to their preseason expectations.
Georgia will definitely be the better team on the court on Saturday, and they should be heavily favored. However, last year it felt like the Dawgs had the more talented squad, yet they were blown out on The Plaines 82-63. In that game, Trey Thompkins battled with foul trouble the entire night, finishing with just 6 points and 4 boards before finally fouling out.
The toughest opponent that the Dawgs will face this weekend is themselves. Georgia can ill-afford to have Thompkins get into foul trouble once again, as it will level the playing field for the Tigers.
The Dawgs also need to resist the temptation of looking ahead to their big-time, out-of-conference clash with Xavier next Tuesday. As exciting as that game should be, in the grand scheme of things, Saturday’s SEC game with Auburn is more important.
With all the faults that exist within the Auburn offense, they do have one area of the game that they do exceptionally well – rebound. The Tigers hit the glass hard, hauling down 15.1 offensive boards a game, ranking them second in the conference in that category.
Georgia has been very strong on the defensive glass in conference games this season, bringing down nearly 28 per game (1st in the SEC). However, nearly 7 of those defensive boards are coming from Trey Thompkins. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again – Trey cannot get into foul trouble in this game.
I’m not sure where Travis Leslie has been the last two games, but I bet that Coach Mark Fox would love to have him back. In the first six conference games this year, Leslie was playing like a preseason All-SEC team member, averaging 17.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg. In his last two contests, he is netting just 6.0 ppg and bringing down only 4.0 rpg. The Dawgs are going to need him to snap out of his offensive slump as they head into the second half of the conference slate.
What more can be said? It’s hard to get too excited about playing a team that sports a 1-7 SEC record, with a 1-4 road record to boot.
The Dawgs just need to take care of business and defend their home court, something that hasn’t been easy for them thus far in conference games. Georgia is 2-2 in SEC games played at Stegeman Coliseum, and if they hope to extend their season into late March the Dawgs need to win the remaining five games in Athens (plus the one against Xavier, so technically six).
The Dawgs were able to sneak back into Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology this week, following their road win at Arkansas last Wednesday. They are still listed with “Work Left to Do” in the latest “Bubble Watch“, but with an RPI of 35, I’d say Georgia is moving over to the favorable side of the bubble.
There are a couple other SEC East games of interest being played on Saturday – South Carolina at #24 Vanderbilt and #11 Kentucky at #23 Florida (ESPN’s “College Gameday” game).
If Georgia does what they’re supposed to do on Saturday and beats Auburn, there is a good chance they could move up to 3rd place in their half of the conference by Sunday.
The 2010-2011 University of Georgia basketball tickets are now available for purchase online at Georgiadogs.com.
If you go to this link for tickets and enter the Promo Code “BULLDOGS” you will be taken to a page where you can buy tickets online for the upcoming Dawgs basketball season.
This year they have added a wonderful “Flex Package” which allows you to select any five home games (while quantities last) for the economical price of $60.00. My recommended “Flex Package” would be: Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Xavier and Vanderbilt.
But that’s just me.
The beautiful thing about the “Flex Package” is that you can pick any five home games you want, even if those five include Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas State, High Point, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky. This may not be the most popular “Flex Package” (and may leave the folks at the ticket office scratching their heads) but for a mere $60.00 you can make it a reality!
When the college football “Bowl Season” rolls around each year, I generally find myself pulling for the SEC teams to win their games. The SEC is pretty much regarded as the premiere football conference in the nation, and as a Georgia fan, I enjoy watching the other teams achieve success when they play outside of the league. If SEC teams perform well in the bowl games, then it makes us Georgia fans feel a sense of pride about our team since they compete in this conference.
My question to everyone is – does this logic apply to the NCAA basketball tournament?
The Southeastern Conference only sent four teams to the Dance – Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Florida.
The Big East got eight teams in; the Big 12 sent seven; the ACC is being represented by six of its teams.
Even the Big Ten got five teams into the tournament, meaning that the tournament committee feels that their brand of basketball is better than the SEC’s – in head-to-head this year, Big Ten teams mustered a 3-5 record against the Southeastern conference.
Should the SEC feel slighted (Mississippi State probably does)?
Should Georgia Bulldogs fans be pulling for the ‘Cats, ‘Dores, Vols and Gators to play well as they represent our conference?
Personally, I am having a hard time finding the energy to cheer on several of Georgia’s conference foes.
Vanderbilt I am ok with. Woo hoo! Go Vandy!
As far as Tennessee goes, I guess I could cheer quietly for them to win their first round match-up with San Diego State (although I do love a good tournament upset). Bruce Pearl and his thuggish little boy, Steven, are not exactly the kind of personalities that will win over fans with their charm. However, I still feel some sympathy for Tennessee considering that they lost their leading scorer to crime (Tyler Smith) earlier in the season, yet they have been resilient (minus their last game against Kentucky in the SEC tournament).
The others, not so much.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is a rule-breaker (he left UMASS and Memphis just before impending NCAA sanctions) and I cannot root for his Wildcats to win this tournament. Coaching legend, Bob Knight, questioned Calipari’s “integrity” earlier in the season at a fundraiser in Indiana. Last Summer, DeMarcus Cousins had committed to play for Memphis. John Wall had all but signed his Letter-of-Intent to play there as well, until Coach Cal quietly scurried out of town. Both these players jumped ship and took off for Kentucky, using the university as a one-year stepping-stone into the 2010 NBA Draft. If you think either Cousins or Wall cares about Kentucky or the SEC (or has attended a class in the past 3 months), then you are a tad bit naive.
Pulling for Florida? No way. The Gators have enjoyed enough success in football and basketball over the past decade to last a lifetime as far as I am concerned. I’d much rather see BYU go on to play Kansas State in the second round than watch Billy Donovan’s squad advance.
Hopefully next year’s NCAA Tournament will include the Georgia Bulldogs, a team that we can all cheer for.