Back Nine: SEC teams are finalizing resumes for NCAA tourney
Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 9:29 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after one of those perfect Gainesville weekends with family and friends and grilling and a few pops and an impressive performance by the Florida basketball team.
10. We're still not sure how many teams the SEC will get into the NCAA Tournament. It could be as many as six if a team like Georgia wins the SEC Tournament. It could be as few as two. Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee all have a shot but because Mizzou and Tennessee play to end the season it may not be possible to see them all get in. The bottom line is that this league has better players than it has resumes. I see so much me-first basketball in this league. It's one reason Florida heads into tonight's game at South Carolina at 16-0. I know this is hardly a revelation, but the Gators get the team concept that not enough teams in the SEC understand. It's part of the problem in Lexington and it's a big problem in places like Baton Rouge and Oxford. When you go on the road, you had better be ready to play as a team. Florida is 9-2 on the road with both losses coming early in the season. The rest of the league is 28-96 on the road. That's why the SEC is hoping to get more than two teams in. Fortunately, Arkansas finally figured out how to play on the road and finds itself back on the bubble.
11. I have written many times how a college football season seems to fly by. Isn't college basketball just the opposite? Maybe it's because of the tournament or maybe it's because it's a two-semester sport or maybe it's because there are so many games, but a college basketball season feels more like a 10K run than a 100-meter dash. Not that this one hasn't been enjoyable. Quite the opposite. And we are now heading into the best time of the year. As much as I love college football, there is nothing better than the postseason in college basketball. The conference tournaments are delicious appetizers setting us up for the main dish. And it is wide open this year.
12. The most stunning thing I saw this weekend wasn't Kentucky's loss to South Carolina. It was Teddy Valentine getting in the face of Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. Valentine is one of the least popular officials with fans who have nicknamed him “TV Teddy” but he went way over the line. That performance will cost him some work in the postseason. But I think Cronin is crazy when he suggests that different coaches are treated differently by officials. They're all just trying to do their jobs. Sometimes they make mistakes. Did Tony Greene back away from Jim Boeheim at Duke? No, but Greene handled it properly.
13. Here's some good news for Kentucky fans — it's looking more and more like the NBA is going to work with the NCAA to up the age requirement to 20 years old. That means we'll see a bunch of two-and-done players instead of one-and-doners. “I think the NCAA should have a seat at the table in all matters of NBA eligibility,” said new NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. Don't look for it any time soon because the NBA players union is a mess and it has to be negotiated. The way the rule is now hurts both the college game and the pro game. Hopefully, it can be resolved soon. And hopefully, the AP voters will not base their preseason votes on who Kentucky signs instead of who the Wildcats return. Last year, they were No. 3 and went to the NIT. This year, they were No. 1 and have eight losses. I'm actually surprised to see them still ranked, but the way the top 25 teams keep losing, well, someone has to be ranked 25th.
14. Kudos to the University Athletic Association for the classy presentation of the 1989 basketball team at halftime Saturday. The first SEC champs deserved that kind of an ovation and presentation. I had a few tears during the moment of silence for the late Dwayne Schintzius. It seems like just a month ago I was sitting in the stands interviewing him about his battle with leukemia (it was actually three years ago). He was so positive. It's so sad that he's gone. Not only was he a great player, but he was in the middle of the greatest Florida basketball story that season. I never get tired of telling the Vanderbilt tennis ball story.
15. Bo Pelini has decided to open up spring practices to the media under the condition that there will be no real-time reporting and no injuries can be disclosed until he announces them. At first, that whole thing really bothered me. What is this? North Korea? But in a world where access continues to shrink, anything is better than nothing and I do think it helps the hacks to watch practice and know what the coaches are seeing.
16. The baseball and softball teams at Florida could not be more dissimilar. The softball team is loaded with veteran players. The baseball team is loaded with freshmen. The softball team has hit 29 homers in 21 games. The baseball team has hit one in 12 games with 70 strikeouts. The softball team is 21-0. The baseball team is 6-6. I will say this — I think there is plenty of talent on the baseball team, but the team seems to be tight at the plate. It will get better, but it may take longer than expected. Softball, on the other hand, looks like it's ready to return to Oklahoma City.
17. I made a conscious effort to unfollow a bunch of people on Twitter and I hope they aren't offended. I just needed to reduce the number, and, especially, the people tweeting about 2015 recruiting offers. It's not personal, but I just don't care. In the process, I forgot to save the Tweet of the Week and I don't remember who tweeted it. Other than that … Anyway, Tweet of the Week is whoever tweeted this after Kentucky loss to Arkansas — “Somewhere in a small African village there are kids running around in blue 'Pursuit of Perfection: 40-0!' T-shirts.” They printed those T-shirts in Lexington before the season and the players were talking about perfection this year. It was absurd then. For those of you who don't know, merchandise like “Denver Broncos Super Bowl champs” hats are donated and shipped to third-world countries. You know, if you have to explain a tweet, it might not be the Tweet of the Week. I'll do better next week.
18. OK, this is the last of the reader selections because I'm ready to get back to it. This week's comes from Larry Reccoppa — "State of the Art" by Jim James, "The Sing" by Bill Callahan (not the Raiders ex-coach) and for an oldie, "Satellite of Love" by the late, great Lou Reed. Thanks for all of your suggestions. Great job.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.