The Back Nine: Big week for loopy hoops team
Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend of watching so much basketball my eyeballs are still bouncing.
10. There certainly is no shame in losing a game at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs may be dysfunctional but they are talented. It's the way that Florida lost that has to have a lot of people in the Gator Nation tearing their hair out. But as I have said all along, this isn't going to be a good free-throw shooting team. You can practice all you want but if you are not strong enough mentally, repetition goes out the window. And Florida isn't going to win many games when Kenny Boynton plays the way he did Saturday. If Boynton scored four points, it had better be because a couple of other players are on fire. That wasn't the case Saturday. He just had a bad game that included a crucial double-dribble.
11. So we move to a big week for the mighty Gators with home games Tuesday night against Vanderbilt and Kentucky on Saturday. The thing that makes college basketball so different than other sports is there are so many things you are playing for as the season moves into February. You are playing to try to win a division title. You are playing for a bye in the SEC Tournament. You are playing to get into the NCAA Tournament. You are playing for seeding in the NCAA Tournament. You are playing to improve your RPI. Last week I said that if Florida made it through with a split it would be fine. I think the same thing this week because these are two of the best teams in the conference coming to Gainesville.
12. It was a crazy weekend and the back patio got plenty of use, as the Back Nine went hoops heavy with a little golf thrown in. BYU came back to earth with a loss at New Mexico, St. John's trashed Duke, and the SEC went bizarro. It was almost on cue. As soon as I write a column about how bad the West is, Auburn wins at South Carolina, Arkansas goes into Memorial Gym and beats Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State handles Florida. Early prediction — Mississippi State is the team to beat ... in the NIT. The Bulldogs will make a run in the SEC Tournament but end up playing in the NIT, and if Rick Stansbury's team wants to it can go to New York. Meanwhile, can anyone tell me why it took so long for someone to hire Steve Lavin? He was a good coach at UCLA who went to five Sweet 16s in six years but was canned for having the first losing season at UCLA in 55 years. I get why he was fired but with so many retreads getting jobs out there you'd think someone would have jumped on Lavin sooner. He has made St. John's relevant again and has one of the top recruiting classes in the country coming in next year. He'll need it with 10 seniors leaving.
13. A moment of silence, please, because we lost a great young man Friday. Ian Lockwood passed away, as cancer claimed another victim. Lockwood was the young man who received the game ball from Urban Meyer after the Outback Bowl game and gave a touching speech in the news conference. What I will remember most about that talk was watching Meyer's daughters, Nicki and Gigi, crying while Lockwood spoke. He touched that family and the players on Meyer's last team. Lockwood was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, but returned to his Navarre High football team after doctors declared him cancer-free in 2010. A second tumor was discovered during the season and he put off surgery at Shands to play in two final games, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the last one. Lockwood took a turn for the worse in the last couple of weeks and was in a lot of pain before the end.
14. It's difficult to make the transition from thinking about Ian Lockwood to picking a winner for the Super Bowl. You think about him and the results of football games don't seem to matter. One thing we should give credit to the 2010 Gator team for is pulling out the Penn State game so Ian could receive the game ball. Anyway, there is a Super Bowl Sunday, and for a week you are going to be deluged with stories (Maurkice Pouncey's ankle injury) and non-stories (a stripper shortage in Dallas) and it's going to seem like the game will never be played (kickoff at 6:29 p.m.). I've gone back and forth on this. Since I picked the Packers to make the Super Bowl I should stay with them. You factor in the Pouncey injury, but isn't there also the advantage the Steelers have of knowing what to expect this week? In the end, the Packers have been playing in elimination games for more than a month and I'm going with Green Bay, 31-24. That should make my friend and former NCAA golf champ Nick Gilliam upset, because I tend to be wrong and he's a big Packers fan.
15. Great theater at Torrey Pines for the first big event of the golf season. I loved Phil Mickelson having his caddy tend the pin for his eagle attempt from 75 yards out. Look, you're either a Phil guy or you're not. You may be a Tiger Woods guy (or girl) but it wasn't good in his debut. He finished in a tie for 44th. My theory is that Tiger's greatest strength was his mental edge. I don't think he has regained that. He talked about his feeling of entitlement with the women but I think he had that on the golf course as well. He was entitled to hitting this shot, making that putt and shooting whatever number he needed. The question remains whether he can get that mental edge back.
16. It's funny how we sometimes talk about the different factors that affect recruiting, but when you look at the haul Georgia is bringing in it's pretty obvious that wins and losses and head coaching security are not among them.
17. Tweet of the Week comes from Seth Davis, who reports on college basketball for CBS and has a very entertaining gift for Twitter — "THIS JUST IN: The teams for the Pro Bowl have been renamed to 'Legends' and 'Leaders.' " Ha!
18. Need a big week in the gym this week with so much going on, so I have to get some good tunes to supplement on the iPod. I think I'll go with "Walking Far From Home" by Iron and Wine, "Shake Me Down" by Cage the Elephant and for the old-school in you, pull out the tie-dyed shirt and the incense and make sure you have "In a Gadda Da Vida" by Iron Butterfly. Get the long version. Peace and love.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at http://Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.