Back Nine: SEC honors not only thing up in air in college hoops
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
The Back Nine is back after a weekend where I watched so much basketball that I think I sprained my right eyeball.
10. Now that we are down to the final three weeks of the season in the SEC, it's worth looking at a couple of postseason honors. For example, who would you vote for the SEC Player of the Year. I mean, it's so wide open. The best team in the league right now doesn't have one standout guy which is one reason it's the best team in the league. Florida has five guys averaging in double figures in SEC play. In fact, I'm not sure who I would put from UF on an All-SEC team. Seniors Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Erik Murphy are 14th, 15th and 16th in the SEC in scoring. Because he is such an X-factor and a matchup problem, it might be Murphy who gets the nod on the All-SEC team. But the way Scottie Wilbekin has played, it would be hard to leave him off. And then we have coach of the year. A lot will depend on how everyone finishes but if the Gators go, say, 15-3 or better in the league would it be Billy Donovan? Who expected Florida to be this dominant? Then again, the Gators have a very difficult game tonight at Missouri so let's just wait and see what happens.
11. While Florida keeps it rolling and the talking heads keep debating whether the mighty Gators will be a one seed or not, the more interesting situation in the SEC is the bubble for this year's NCAA Tournament. Florida is the only team that is a lock to make the field. Certainly, a win tonight for Missouri would be huge, but at 18-7 with an RPI of 38, the Tigers still have work to do. So does Ole Miss despite a 19-6 record. The Rebels' schedule down the stretch is softer than a overripe banana, but they cannot afford upsets. Alabama has a shot at 17-8, but needs to get some big wins down the stretch. A lot of noise was being made about Tennessee after its rout of Kentucky, but this is still a 14-10 team. The Vols do get Mizzou and UF at home, but they can't just erase another bad pre-conference record. What is really amazing is that the team that scored 36 and 38 points in back-to-back losses to Georgetown and Virginia managed 88 against Kentucky.
12. Which brings us to the Wildcats, who had so much dirt thrown on them Saturday afternoon they must be struggling for air. I almost felt sorry for the UK players during the Tennessee game. It was embarrassing. The thing is that it's not too late for this team to work its way into the NCAA Tournament. The RPI is respectable at 44 and the brand is there. The 'Cats have Missouri at home Saturday and Florida at home on March 9 and the other four games are certainly winnable. It will be interesting to see if John Calipari can get this team back mentally. It looked lost Saturday. Calipari ripped his team after the game by saying it was not being “real coachable” but backed off those comments on his website Sunday. “I went to Mass this morning and had a chance to reflect on where we have come from this season, what we have been through and where we are right now. I refuse to believe they don't have the fight in them to do this. I refuse to believe they aren't coachable. I refuse to believe either one of those because we've got good kids.”
13. During the ridiculously over-hyped, week-long celebration of Michael Jordan's 50th birthday, I was flipping through the channels and came across a North Carolina-Duke game from 1983 and while it was fun to watch all of the big names playing at the college level, there was one thing that absolutely floored me — the lack of physical play. If you touched a player it was a foul and now to think of how physical the game is, well, it was just stunning. “It's a very, very physical game,” Donovan said. “I don't know what the answer is.”
14. I know and you should know that I'm a football guy, but this time of the year gets me fired up. I love talking bracketology and bubble teams and who is in and who is out. It's almost more fun to speculate about the tournament than it is when the games actually start. And for that, we all need to thank Donovan, who has made it a regular part of this time of year for people who follow Gator sports. Everyone buckle up because it's about to get crazy for the next couple of months.
15. When Duke tried one of those “fake throw to third, throw to first” and it handed Florida a run Friday night because the first baseman lost the ball, it reminded me that the major leagues have banned the move this year. Nationals manager Buck Showalter claims that stolen bases are going to go through the roof because of this. Good. Now let's see if we can eliminate the play from college baseball. It just slows things down.
16. The whole Jadeveon Clowney thing over the last couple of weeks has been ridiculous. It's an example of how one person can write something and it turns into a giant deal because ESPN's many talk shows keep it alive. If you missed it, it has been suggested that Clowney sit out the season to avoid an injury in anticipation of the 2014 NFL Draft. Here's the question I keep asking myself — is Clowney the first true junior with can't-miss-NFL talent in the history of college football? Just asking.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Kentucky TV personality Thomas Beisner — “Tennessee's official site has a ‘30 for 30' post, which is their 30 favorite things from their 30-point win. Everyone's Super Bowl.” True, Kentucky is always the biggest game of the year for SEC teams, but I wonder how big now.
18. I've been cleared to return to the gym and get back on the elliptical machine so I need some new music. Thanks for the suggestion of “Ramona” by Night Beds and also try “Lost Kid” by Apache Relay. And you would make me very happy if you downloaded “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys because it was my mother's favorite song.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.