Bad Timing for the Gators

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Florida Gators
Tags: , , , , ,

The greatest coaches and athletes have bad games, and Florida’s Billy Donovan, who’s an outstanding basketball coach, had one Saturday.

Why’d Donovan slow down the pace of play with 8 minutes to play and the Gators leading Louisville by 11 points?

Why’d Donovan not make any adjustments when his mentor, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino, switched from a zone defense to man-to-man?

Florida’s 72-68 loss in the Elite 8 wasn’t all Donovan’s fault. The Gators as a group couldn’t have picked a worse time to come down with a collective case of the jitters. In other words, the players choked. The basket shrunk. The heart rate quickened.

All in all, it was a good season for the Gators, who had some major flaws, but it was a horrible ending in a game they should have won by 15 points.

Actually, I thought Donovan had an up-and-down season. Clearly his best players with the exception of Patrick Young were perimeter players and the Gators often played with four of them on a court. But size does matter in basketball and I thought his should have used his “bigs” more often throughout the season. It also seemed at times that his veteran guards, Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, didn’t mesh with the young guards. I don’t think they liked getting fewer shots.

When all is said and done, some things are obvious to me.

One, I’d be thrilled to have Donovan as my team’s coach.

Two, Even if the Gators had beaten Louisville, they weren’t going to win the national title. Kentucky is too talented; maybe both Ohio State and Kansas as well.

Three, it wasn’t football.


  1. Wyman says:

    You’ve got to have the horses, if you want to win the race. The Gators didn’t have the horses, so they died with the Finish Line in sight. It happens. I didn’t see or hear the game, but given they lacked the horses to be in the race, it’s a fine, if disappointing, end. Glue factory horses rarely sniff the finish line; this one saw it!

    (Being a native born Kentuckian, I am quite happy two Thoroughbreds, Louisville & Kentucky will have their Rumble, of course. Sorry about your Tar Heels, for I’m not impressed by Kansas.)

    Billy Donovan needs to find the Gators some studs. Can’t just have a one-man gang inside. Guards have to be able to take it to the hole also, if their 3-pointers are truly going to be effective. Given the flaws this team had it’s a credit to Billy Donovan and his coaching staff the Gator players made it to the Final 8. If they keep all non-seniors, then bring in a strong roster of young talent, the Gators could go far next year. Even so, it may take until the second half of the season to mature into a consistent winning squad. Play as a team next season and there is hope. Otherwise, next season could be very long. Gotta have the horses, though. If nothing comes out of the starting gate, you’re not in the race. Good luck, Billy Donovan.

    🙂 Sorry Dave and Billy, but Tebow is bigger than Florida basketball, but this rant kind of connects to your Tar Heels and my Wildcats, so here goes. Do you remember North Carolina’s whupping of my Kentucky Wildcats back in the 1977 NCAA Tournament? Hope you remember that and this little tidbit, the Wildcats broke the Dean Smith / Phil Ford Four Corners offense in a valiant, but futile attempt, to comeback to beat your Tar Heels. I repeat FUTILE, so you don’t misunderstand me. Phil Ford & The Four Corners should go into every Basketball Hall of Fame there is, such is my awe for how he seemed born to run it to perfection. By the end of that game, with the Four Corners cracked at long last, I knew Kentucky would win the NCAA National Title in 1978. And they did, despite along the way, having to play a Michigan team with a freshmen named Earvin “Magic” Johnson, whom Cawood Ledford praised so highly, you would have thought he was a Wildcat.

    I learned from the Tar Heels game and the 1978 season what a winner is. What I learned, in my mind, transcends every sport and may offer insight into a “winning life” or “success.” I can’t put it into words. Except for a little YouTube sports coverage, I have never seen Tim Tebow play. I think he was a Junior at Florida before I knew he was a lefty. I am aware Tebow has “real” football flaws. While at Florida, I began to get the same impression of Tim Tebow as those Wildcats, whose loss to the Tar Heels, set the stage for their National Title in 1978. Tim Tebow is a winner, who barring injury, has a destiny to fulfill. It’s not hard, in fact it is easy, to point out Tebow alone did not win some of the games the Denver Broncos won, but only a fool would deny, the Broncos changed from a losing team to a winning team, when Tebow took over at QB. There are few players in any sport, whose prescence lifts a team above itself. (Magic Johnson did that at all levels of his sport, with his special gifts and talents. The Wildcats did that as a “team on a mission” in 1978.)

    In my mind, the Jaguars completely missed out on a major opportunity to draft Tim Tebow. It’s worthy to argue Tim Tebow’s flaws made him suspect as a winner at the NFL level. Last year, Tebow proved he does have the magical ability to elevate a team at the NFL level. Even given the current Jaguars roster, Jaguars management should have went hard after Tebow, while talking with Denver. In the end, Tebow ending up with the Jets is probably best for Tim Tebow, at this time. I believe Tebow will help the Jets win in ways, yet to be seen. There’s a good chance the Jets getting Tebow precludes the possibility he will ever play for the Jaguars. You have to assume he would have to turn into almost a total bust for the Jaguars to get him, then Tebow would have to become a miracle turn around player; possible, but unlikely, even for Tebow.

    Given all the Jaguars owner said when he bought this team and took over ownership, he’s done very little to excite the fanbase. One can argue Tebow is a no-win situation, yet no one argues for a year or two Tebow would be a money-making investment had the Jaguars acquired him. For the owner to NOT look like all talk and no substance, the Jaguars will have to greatly improve in the coming season. If Gabbert is not ready and Henne can’t effectively replace him, then the Jaguars are more a Glue Factory horse, than the Gators in their last game. Even makes it more believable to me that the owner bought this team, with the goal to invest as little as possible in the team, while creating the maximum possible reason to move the team to L.A.; no fan support. Might not be the intent, but right now that’s what I believe, until the Jaguars start winning regularly and look more Heaven bound than the do today.

    The Jaguar legacy may now be firmly tied to the Tebow legacy. We will begin to see in 2012. Tim Tebow is a winner. The Jaguars need a winner to lift this team. The 1978 NCAA National Title Wildcats proved that to me. The 2011-2012 Wildcats are looking a lot like that 1978 team in its attitude, but I’m making no prediction on that one. I don’t feel confident enough, but I will be rooting for them. Tim Tebow? As I did for 2 or 3 Broncos games, along with the playoffs, I will search for a radio station broadcasting the Jets, if Tebow is playing. Yes, not a Florida fan, am a Jaguars and Chiefs fan, but I’m intrigued enough by Tebow to follow him too. That’s what the new owner of the Jaguars doesn’t seem to understand. Tebow’s a winner and gold too. Guess he would turn down Peyton Manning and John Elway in their prime too? (Billy Donovan, WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR. Why did they move the Dodgers from Brooklyn, ripping their heart out?)

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