Back Nine: Gators overachieved


Seniors Erik Murphy, Mike Rosario, and Kenny Boynton, right, talk in a huddle against the Michigan Wolverines during the first half of their Elite Eight game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 11:40 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you and it's really great to be home. Sure, I wish I was going to Atlanta this weekend but instead I get to watch a pretend football game.

10. There are different ways you can look at the Florida basketball season and a lot of it probably depends on either your personality or your sense of entitlement as a Gator fan. You probably should look at it this way — Florida overachieved this season. This was hardly Billy Donovan's most talented team, but the Gators found a way to win 29 games. They were playing with fool's gold in December and January when they were blowing people out. Or you could look at it this way — who did Florida beat away from the O'Connell Center? Their best win might have been the Round of 32 win over a middle-of-the-Big-10 Minnesota team. Or maybe it was over Middle Tennessee State. This was a team that needed to be patted on the back by the home fans to play at its best. Either way, Florida will be more talented next season.

11. Cowboys Stadium was an impressive place with every little detail taken care of. But it was easily the hottest basketball arena I've ever been in. Even John Beilein, the Michigan coach, mentioned it in his postgame presser. “Everybody was sweating,” he said. “I think they ought to look at that. I'm sure they have a thermostat somewhere here. Turn it up a little bit, maybe. Because both teams looked fatigued to me. A lot was on the table today and both teams were fighting through fatigue. So I don't know what that would be, but I assume maybe look at that thermostat.” I'm with the coach on that.

12. It wasn't the greatest Elite Eight when one team lost by 22 and another lost by 20 and a third scored only 39 points. In reality, the best game of the weekend was Louisville's win over Baylor in women's basketball. That was incredible to watch. The women's game needs more upsets like that. At the same time, if you're a Baylor fan, you're probably not happy with the officiating in that game. It was really bad. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey after the game said, “I thought that all three of them, if they go past this round of officiating, it will be sad for the game.” Ouch.

13. So who will win the men's tournament now that we're down to four teams? Even with the gruesome injury to Louisville's Kevin Ware the Cardinals are going to be the favorites. I think it will be interesting to see how Michigan's shooters do against the Syracuse zone. Donovan said the zone will take away some of the easy baskets Michigan's Mitch McGary gets inside. Not that it matters because my bracket has been shredded, but Louisville is the only team I picked correctly to go to the Final Four, so I'm picking it to win. Too much speed on the perimeter.

14. Don't count out the Florida baseball team just yet. The Gators' two shutout wins over Ole Miss were huge over the weekend. Despite being three games under .500, the Gators are ranked 24th in the nation in RPI. I know Kevin O'Sullivan felt at the beginning of the season that his young team would get better as the season went along and if he could get them into a regional they'd be dangerous. They've still got a ways to go, but this weekend was a step in the right direction.

15. If you haven't heard about the latest Internet craze, Google “Dufnering.” Golfer Jason Dufner was caught in an odd pose while visiting a classroom and it's the new “planking.” And speaking of golf, congrats to Billy Horschel for his second-place finish Sunday. The former Florida golfer is having a really good year.

16. Anyone have Women's NIT fever yet? The best thing about advancing for Amanda Butler is she's getting a lot of extra practice time with this year's team and that has to help next year when Florida will be pretty good.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from The Sports Hernia and don't ask me why I follow this Twitter account — “Why were the Astros involved in opening night? That's like the NFL anointing Jacksonville as hosts of the Thursday night opener.” What he (or she) said.

18. As I said, it's nice to be home to see my family, but I do appreciate that I get to cover a basketball program that keeps making these deep runs. A couple of Gator fans in Dallas shouted from the stands Friday that they wanted to know this week's iPod downloads. Well, guys, here you go — “Things I Can't Change” by The Story So Far, “Heartbeat” by the Kopecky Family Band and for a classic cut “Old Man” by Neil Young because that was the song that was playing when we hit the Gainesville exit.

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