Postcard from Knoxville

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Gotta love Knoxville, unless you’re a Gator basketball player. For me, it’s a chance to reunite with good friends like Big Al and The General (Galen, not Bobby Knight.) Special thanks to Diamonds for extending some courtesy Friday night. All and all, a good trip, and it’s hard to beat Calhouns for ribs.

Some thoughts from the game:

* You’ve got to wonder if Florida coach Billy Donovan will have a quicker hook on sophomore point guard Nick Calathes if he picks up an early foul. Digger Phelps forewarned on ESPN’s CollegeGameDay that teams should try to get Calathes in foul trouble. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl must have been listening. Granted, you’re not expecting to pick up an offensive foul in that situation, but Calathes needs to be more careful on the road, where you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt.

* On the subject of Pearl, he improved to 6-1 lifetime against Billy Donovan. Is he in Billy D’s head? I always thought that Pearl’s success had more to do with Chris Lofton (5-0 with Lofton, 0-1 without) because Lofton always seemed to get up for the Gators. Now, I’m not so sure, unless freshman Scotty Hopson is morphing into the new Chris Lofton.

* Donovan said he thinks this game will benefit Florida down the road because of the physical nature it was played. Florida’s freshmen had a deer-in-headlights look early (especially Erving Walker) but senior Walter Hodge displayed some level of toughness in the second half when he landed an elbow in Hopson’s jaw. Some felt it was a cheap shot, but Hopson was draped all over Hodge, who was trying to clear some space for himself.

* Freshman guard Ray Shipman gave Florida some quality minutes in the second half. I think it’s a game he can build from.