Back Nine: Florida needs a healthy Parsons for stretch run

Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful week of recharging in preparation for the best part of college basketball season. The beach, a lot of time with Kelsey at Gator sporting events and some grilling — what’s not to like?

10. Florida’s win Sunday at LSU was the Gators’ season in microcosm. There were times they looked incredible and times when you wondered how they beat anybody this year. In the end, defense was the key, as it has been all season. Now comes the stretch run, and without Chandler Parsons it is going to be even tougher. We don’t know when Parsons will be back, but the bigger question may be how effective he is when he does return. Is he still as aggressive? Does he bang on the boards? Parsons has become the Gators’ most valuable player this season. With the four games remaining, Florida needs the pre-injury Parsons to return if it hopes to win the SEC.

11. Some of you out there will tell Billy Donovan not to worry about getting Parsons back until the NCAA Tournament, but SEC titles mean a heck of a lot around Gainesville. And, yes, I am locking Florida into the NCAA Tournament. Sorry it took so long, but I always look at a team’s prospects based on whether it would be in if it lost out. Just how I roll. Florida is in no matter what happens. Donovan deserves a lot of credit for getting to this point. NCAA-wise, Florida has a real chance to be a three seed with an impressive resume. And don’t read too much into the rash of upsets last week when it looked like nobody wanted to be No. 1. It’s late in the season and so many teams are looking ahead to the postseason. Plus, how many of those were road games? There are no true road games in the NCAA Tournament.

12. What about the rest of the SEC in terms of the NCAA Tournament? Can’t lock anybody in based on my theory. Vanderbilt is close with an RPI of 17, but has three of its last four games as possible losses and usually plays poorly at the SEC Tournament. The Commodores are probably in but could use another quality win. Kentucky is almost in but could use one more win. Georgia looked like a lock a few weeks ago, but the Doggies need to finish 2-2 at least and maybe 3-1. Tennessee is amazingly on the bubble. The Vols really need to win at Vandy Tuesday night. At 16-11, 6-6 in the SEC and despite an RPI of 33, Tennessee is in real danger of missing the tournament with only one sure win (at South Carolina) left on the schedule. Alabama? Looks good for the Tide, but they might need to split their last two games (Florida and Georgia) to make sure.

13. Great weather and high expectations equal huge crowds for Gator baseball. That much we know after the weekend. This is a really good baseball team, as I’m sure you have gathered. I attended Saturday’s game and came away with this — it’s baseball again. With the muffled bat and the pitch clock, it feels like baseball. Not that Florida’s pitchers need the clock because Kevin O’Sullivan preaches to his guys to get the ball and pitch it. But other teams do.

14. Some times the Back Nine needs to be reminded about the obvious. But, man, this weekend was a great example of why I love it here. There was so much to choose from for a sports fan under sunny skies. Kelsey and I did gymnastics Friday, softball and baseball Saturday and vegged out Sunday watching basketball and the race. Yes, I watch one NASCAR race a year. Also caught a little of the women’s game and listened to baseball. If you were among the fans who fought for parking spots and squeezed into seats this weekend, give yourselves a high five. This was one great weekend in Gainesville.

15. Congrats to Trevor Bayne for winning the Daytona 500. All of the conspiracy theorists who thought Dale Jr. was being set up to win forgot about one thing — the wall.

16. A word about the guy whose name I won’t use here because he deserves no publicity. You know, the guy who poisoned Auburn’s oak trees. I have been to Toomer’s Corner. The lemonade at Toomer’s Drugstore is all-world. The tradition of rolling the oak trees is one of the things that sets the SEC apart from other conferences. But try explaining to a 9-year-old why people throw toilet paper into trees after big wins and then explaining why an Alabama fanatic would kill those trees. Or try explaining it to anyone outside the South. It’s not easy.

17. Tweet of the Week: I stayed away from everything last week but jumped back on Twitter for the weekend. This one comes from Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who is a must-follow — “PSA: if u r a XXX-plus-size woman and have a size 2 dress u've been waiting to wear, I'm at an All-Star party where they r letting u n free.”

18. There is nothing like sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in and the people stride by while listening to great music. Try these downloads — “”Shell Games” by The People’s Key, “Thrones” by The Dears and for the old-school in you “Carrie-Anne” by The Hollies. And congrats to the Grammy winners on my iPod, especially Arcade Fire.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at

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