Wisconsin Badgers 59 – Florida Gators 53; Point Guard-Less Gators Come Up Short

This wasn’t a game that the Florida Gators should have won, but it also wasn’t a game where a win was unattainable either. The Gators had plenty of opportunities to seize the game but instead came up short with a 59-53 loss in Madison, WI against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Billy Donovan, Florida Gators

I’m going to try to break down the game in terms of positives and negatives, through the notes I took during the game.

Positives:

• Florida didn’t get killed. Seriously, the team went into a hostile environment without a point guard for much of the game and handled it reasonably well given the circumstances.
• Michael Frazier II put forth a magnificent effort, scoring 20 points on 11 shots with 5 three-pointers, and you could say he’s the primary reason that Florida was able to stay in the game. He also assumed a lot of the ball-handling duties when Kasey Hill was out.
• Casey Prather (12 points) continued to be one of the top offensive options. I’d say that he is easily the most improved player from last year to this year and he’s made tremendous strides over his career.
• The defense wasn’t bad. In fact, it looked better than it did against North Florida.

Negatives:

• Kasey Hill struggled to get into a groove, and most of his layups were strong off the backboard, though he really showed off his athleticism and burst in the open floor. Wisconsin was also playing very loose defense on Hill and he failed to hit a shot that forced the defense to guard him closely. He fouled out in the second half.
• DeVon Walker still isn’t there yet. He showed flashes of athleticism, with a nice block in transition, but turned over the ball too much and looked like a young player who just isn’t ready.
• No back-up point guard: Prather and Walker handled the ball often and accounted for 8 of Florida’s 11 turnovers.
• Depth. Not much of it, whatsoever. That will change though.
• The Gators left way too many Wisconsin shooters open. Perimeter defense has struggled this year without Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton.
• Patric Young is struggling to play good basketball. If the Gators had more depth, this would be a situation where Donovan benches Young in order to motivate him.

Overall, isn’t wasn’t a bad effort for a depleted basketball team against a decent team in Wisconsin. The Florida Gators showed a lot of fight and should improve on the loss. While Scottie Wilbekin remains suspended, key transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Demontre Harris should be available for Florida on Saturday against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans in the O’Connell Center.

The NCAA Tournament Starts Tomorrow; How Excited Are You?

It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited for the NCAA Tournament. As a Florida fan, I’m always excited for the Gators as they make their way to the big dance, but my overall excitement for the tourney as a whole has leveled off in recent years. Call it an overwhelming obsession with one team, too many other sports on my mind at one time, or whatever you want. Whatever it is, it has put the tournament in a place of muted thrill for me.

Florida Gators - National Champions

That doesn’t mean I don’t watch, but I’ve been a halfhearted tourney follower at best. My brackets were completed with little thought and venture too far out of the SEC and I may give you a line similar to “er…uh…yeah…sure they can pull off the upset…they have that guy, don’t they…no, the tall one…you know who I mean.” I was a sports fan that needed a slap on the wrist, or better yet a smack across the back of the head.

For whatever reason, that period of my life has since passed. I’ve become more involved in the college basketball season and more excited for what March brings than in other recent years (and not just because yours truly has a birthday on the horizon). I’ve watched games, I’ve followed the latest stories, and I’ve even found myself fretting over 8-9 matchups. Basically, I’m back.

Just the other day, Mrs. TBG (not much of a basketball fan) said from her spot on the couch “the Florida game ended, we’re still watching basketball?” Yes. Yes we were. And we still are. I’m excited. Overly so.

I printed out my bracket early this morning and it has more corrections, fixes, and edits than I remember it having in five years. March is here and I’m ready. I’m ready too watch the orange and blue try to win a close game. I’m ready to cheer on those other schools I’ve always liked for reasons I can’t understand (North Carolina) and reasons I can (Wisconsin) should something drastic happen to the Gators too early. And I’m ready to be consumed by all that is college basketball for the next three weeks.

Florida Gators 72 – Florida State Seminoles 47; Demolishes Sounds Just About Right

I fully admit that I’m a football fan first. I’m probably also a football fan second and even third. In terms of ranking sports, basketball comes in behind soccer and hockey. (Yes, I just said that and I do mean it. Feel free to never read anything I ever write again.) But that ranking changes when it comes to the Florida Gators. It’s still football first and always will be, but basketball climbs leaps and bounds and plants itself firmly in the number two spot. There still isn’t much of a comparison, but if the football team beating those nasty, hated Florida State Seminoles is a delicious piece of pumpkin pie this time of year, the basketball team doing the same less than two weeks later is the whipped cream.

Kenny Boynton - Florida Gators

I like beating FSU in any sport really. I love blowing them out (or demolishing them as the ESPN headline stated). I’ll admit that I watched the game in bits and pieces. Life has taken a commanding lead in the priority race over blogging this year. I have no problem with that and am more than pleased with what life has brought, but that means balancing it with watching games, evaluating games, and then writing about games. It doesn’t make wins any less wonderful and definitely doesn’t diminish the glorious feeling of beating your rival to the point of their utter insignificance.

And that’s about as close as I’ve come to trash talk in quite some time. I rarely venture into that arena, mostly because for every stupid thing that comes flying out of my mouth, there is a heartbreaking loss to follow. So I cover my bases by not saying much that resembles “HAHA, YOU SUCK!” Partly because I don’t see the point, but also because I don’t like to tick off the jinx gods.

That all sounds good and then the last two weeks happened. Just when it looked like the ‘Noles had mounted a comeback and beat the Gators on the football field, Florida turned it up in the fourth quarter and worn down yet another overrated FSU squad. Then the basketball team showed why many are starting to believe a long NCAA Tournament run is ahead by running over the Seminoles in a game that wasn’t ever close.

The Gators contained the ‘Noles by only allowing one player to reach double digits in scoring. Senior guard Michael Snaer scored just 10 points on only 3-of-8 shooting and is starting to look less and less like the All-American some thought he would be. But it wasn’t just Snaer that did virtually nothing; it was the entire FSU team. They were dominated by a Florida team that looks better on both ends of the court than we imagined.

The win was the Gators’ seventh of the season, pushing Florida’s record to 7-0. The Gators have won each game by at least 13 points and have beaten their last two opponents – Marquette and Florida State – by 58 combined. Add Wisconsin to the mix and Florida has defeated what were supposed to be three fairly good teams by an average of 25.3 points. Yeah, things are good in Gainesville. So maybe the trash talk will resurface again; it’s hard to tell, but there is a reason for it if it does.

Florida Gators Vs. Wisconsin Badgers; Bring On The Physical

I was going to go with “Let’s Get Physical,” but be glad I didn’t. The Florida Gators host the Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday night in a game that many are hyping like it’s the WWE’s next great pay-per-view event. It’s not; it’s a college basketball game—one that could get a little bumpy along the way, but a college basketball game all the same.

Patric Young - Florida Gators

The physical will come mostly from Wisconsin’s end as they are a team that likes to pound. They will challenge Florida when the Gators look to enter the lane and they’ll be bumping all night. The role of the Florida bigs becomes that much more important as they will be hounded every time they touch the ball. From the sounds of it, you would think they would get undercut whenever they leave their feet for a rebound, but that’s being just a tad dramatic.

The Gators can play physical basketball as well, but the question is for how long. Florida likes to stretch the court and make teams play both the game under the basket and behind the three-point line. Their goal will be to drive, take the hits, then get the ball back outside for the open look. After getting beat by whatever weapons the Badgers take into the paint with them, the Gators will kick it out for bomb after bomb after bomb. At least, that’s the game plan (which is very similar to the game plan of many of the Billy Donovan years). How Florida’s physicality matches up with Wisconsin’s determines how successful that will be.

We don’t know a lot of this Gators team so far. We’ve had a game and a half of basketball to go on. One was a season opener in a nontraditional environment and one was against a team not on the same wavelength in terms of talent. What came out of those two instances was a victory of a half of basketball that didn’t count for anything and a blowout that was expected. If the game against Georgetown stood as the first challenge for Florida, Wednesday night’s contest against Wisconsin replaces that.

The Gators hold the No. 10 spot in both of the polls, while the Badgers rank in at No. 20 in the Coaches and No. 22 in the AP. Both are 1-0 with big victories against opponents that are your typical schedule fillers. Florida looks to be the more talented of the two and the team with the better all-around squad, but Wisconsin is coming off a 26-win season itself and does return some experience from a team that made the Sweet 16 a year ago.

As the Gators bounce between talented opponent and overmatched cannon fodder, there are certain games to watch closely. This is one of those games. Keep an eye on Florida’s defense, but also how they manage the game offensively. Watch how they handle the physicality of the team from up north and see how it affects them mentally. Both of these teams are in similar situations—collect as many quality wins early before conference play starts—and both will fight hard for victories.

We’re still in the midst of football season (a very weird and disturbingly delightful football season), but basketball season has begun and the University of Florida has yet another top-10 program in action. Watch, cheer, enjoy, yell, get physical, critique…basically, be a fan.

Florida Gators To Battle Through Tough Out-Of-Conference Schedule During 2012-13 Men’s Basketball Season

The Florida Gators will have their work cut out for them during the 2012-13 basketball season. With the Kentucky Wildcats coming off of a national championship and the rest of the SEC ready to pounce, the Gators will have to fight through what has become one of the tougher conferences in college basketball. But before they get there, Florida will have plenty to get them ready for the rigors of the Southeastern Conference. The Gators announced their 2012-13 out-of-conference schedule earlier this week and it’s a tough one.

11/1 — Nebraska-Kearney (Exhibition)
11/9 — Georgetown (Jacksonville, FL)
11/11 — Alabama State
11/14 — Wisconsin
11/18 — Middle Tennessee State (Tampa, FL – WHO’S COMING WITH ME???)
11/20 — Savannah State
11/23 — UCF
11/29 — Marquette
12/5 — at Florida State
12/15 — at Arizona
12/19 — Southeastern Louisiana
12/22 — Kansas State (Kansas City, MO)
12/29 — Air Force (Sunrise, FL)
1/6 — at Yale

Billy Donovan has put together quite the lineup for his Gators. It will have it’s tough moments, but should only prepare Florida for the SEC and beyond.

We’ve already talked about the aircraft carrier game on November 9. Now we get Wisconsin and Marquette as well as trips to FSU and Arizona. It’s sure to be a fun ride through the out-of-conference schedule.

This particular blogger is happy for the Tampa game against Middle Tennessee State and hopes to get there. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to see the men’s basketball team in person, but here’s to hoping this is the season I can again.

The Bull Gator Week 8 BlogPoll Top 25

Top 10 unchanged. No real reason to change it. Some movement after that, but not a lot. We do have the addition of two-loss teams to the poll for the first time this season. Congrats Texas A&M and Auburn, you have made it.

The Bull Gator Week 7 BlogPoll Top 25

If Florida had been able to keep it close, the Gators might have found themselves still in my top 25. That wasn’t the case though and instead they drop out along with upcoming opponent Auburn.

Much like the AP, my top 10 remains unchanged. Nothing stood out at me to make me shuffle them around this week. You’ll also notice there isn’t a two-loss team among the bunch. At this point, it’s too hard to distinguish which was the best of the bunch. The Gators, for instance, lost to my no. 1 and my no. 2, but did so by a combined 58 points. Texas A&M, on the other hand, lost to my no. 5 and no. 10 in much closer games, but blew huge leads doing so. So for this week, no two-loss teams. Debate away.

The Bull Gator Week 6 BlogPoll Top 25

BlogPoll time and this week there are plenty of changes. Florida-beater Alabama took the top spot away from LSU – the Gators next opponent. From no. 8 to no. 15, there are risers with the exception of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have started the season well, but I’m still not sure what to think of their defense. And at no. 16, there’s our team. You can determine whether a drop of four spots is too little or not. My reasoning: the Gators have some serious areas to work on, but damn the Tide are good. Debate if you must.

SB Nation Week 5 BlogPoll Top 25

You’ve seen the TBG entry, now here’s the final poll.

College Football Rankings 2011

Results for Week 5

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 LSU Tigers (71) 24.73 0.55 Arrow_up 1
2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12) 23.72 0.74 Arrow_up 1
3 Oklahoma Sooners (9) 23.33 1.03 Arrow_down -2
4 Boise St. Broncos 20.41 2.55
5 Oklahoma St. Cowboys 20.23 1.85 Arrow_up 2
6 Wisconsin Badgers 19.25 3.07 Arrow_down -1
7 Stanford Cardinal 19.25 2.37 Arrow_down -1
8 Nebraska Cornhuskers 16.89 2.92 Arrow_up 1
9 South Carolina Gamecocks 15.12 3.05 Arrow_up 1
10 Florida Gators 14.76 2.42 Arrow_up 5
11 Oregon Ducks 14.52 4.34
12 Virginia Tech Hokies 14.16 3.21 Arrow_up 1
13 Clemson Tigers 13.61 3.86 Arrow_up 6
14 Baylor Bears 10.51 3.36 Arrow_up 4
15 South Florida Bulls 10.36 3.81 Arrow_up 2
16 Texas A&M Aggies 10.03 4.47 Arrow_down -8
17 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 7.65 4.50 Arrow_up 6
18 Michigan Wolverines 7.43 4.26 Arrow_up 3
19 Texas Longhorns 7.15 3.65 Arrow_up 1
20 Arkansas Razorbacks 6.49 4.19 Arrow_down -6
21 Illinois Fighting Illini 4.85 4.22 Arrow_up 3
22 West Virginia Mountaineers 4.22 3.16 Arrow_down -6
23 TCU Horned Frogs 3.62 3.36 Arrow_up 2
24 Arizona St. Sun Devils 3.00 2.89 Arrow_up 13
25 Florida St. Seminoles 2.84 3.28 Arrow_down -13
Others Receiving Votes: Houston Cougars | Iowa St. Cyclones | Michigan St. Spartans | Kansas St. Wildcats | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Texas Tech Red Raiders | USC Trojans | Utah Utes | Ohio St. Buckeyes | Auburn Tigers | North Carolina Tar Heels | Georgia Bulldogs | Washington Huskies | Missouri Tigers | Temple Owls | Vanderbilt Commodores | Notre Dame Fighting Irish | Fla. International Golden Panthers | Tennessee Volunteers | Louisiana Ragin Cajuns | Mississippi St. Bulldogs | Cincinnati Bearcats
Updated: Sep 27, 2011 9:01 AM EDT

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Rankings 2011

The Bull Gator Week 5 BlogPoll Top 25

Back again for another week as the season really begins to shape up. Below you’ll find my entry in this week’s SB Nation BlogPoll. Plenty of movement this week, although most of it is minor shifting. The same horse is in the lead, but with tough match ups ahead, that could change quickly. Unlike a certain big-name poll, a two-loss team we all know and…well, whatever…didn’t make the ballot. Discuss if you wish.