The Back Nine comes at you after another week of quarantine that included the end of March … thankfully. As months go, it was about as bad as it gets. Let’s hope April isn’t worse.
- Florida certainty received some good basketball news with the return of Scottie Lewis for his sophomore year. There are a lot of guys who have tough decisions to make this year, because they might have been at the bottom of the first round (best case), the second round (bad case) or not even drafted (worst case) and know they don’t have much of an opportunity to increase their NBA draft stocks because of what we are dealing with. We saw a guy in Lewis who came to Florida not ready for college basketball and got better and better with every game. As he told me way back in January (or was it February?), he needed to learn to trust what his coaches were saying. And now, all of the people doing way-too-early Top 25s are going to start sliding Florida into that 18 or 19 spot. Imagine if Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson surprise us and return as well. On the other hand, it might be better to fly under the radar.
- Even before Lewis made his announcement, Joe Lunardi had put out an NCAA bracketology for next year that had Florida as a six seed. That got me to thinking (man, I sound like Andy Griffith there) about the semantics of schools and their streaks in the NCAA Tournament. Technically, when Kansas makes it next year can you say it’s the 31st straight year? Or 32nd, because the Jayhawks would have been a 1 seed this year? Or was the streak snapped? If Florida gets in next year, would it be Mike White’s fourth straight? Or do you count last year as being in even though the field was never announced? You know, as if I don’t have enough things keeping me awake at night.
- This weekend, they announced the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees and it certainly was a deserving group with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Kim Mulkey. But I was ready to fire up the old laptop and write about Billy Donovan being one of the choices. When that didn’t happen, I called some experts to ask why he isn’t in because he has passed 25 years as a coach (a criteria). Mostly, the feedback was that it was ridiculous. So I reached out to the Naismith people who got back to me with the information I had just discovered Monday morning after I did some more research. Billy would have been eligible, but recently, the Hall put in a requirement that coaches have to be 60 years old. Billy is 54. Bill Self got in three years ago before they changed the criteria. I’m not sure why they did, but they did. It’s always been a kind of different Hall of Fame anyway, one that includes foreign players and full teams. Anyway, UF needs to be ready in six years because there is a formal nomination process. If I’m still around, I’d be happy to handle it.
- So I also saw this over the weekend, that so-called experts are predicting an abnormally bad hurricane season. Of course, they are. Wouldn’t that be something if we finally get to the point where we all feel safe enough to have football and then the first week of the restart in Florida is canceled by a hurricane? I mean, we here in Gainesville are speaking from experience. I talk all the time about ZookLuck and the catalyst for that was that Ron Zook had to deal with the uncertainty of four hurricanes (in his final season) in one year, one that cost him his bye week. Will Muschamp had a little bit of it and so did Jim McElwain. Dan Mullen, so far, no ZookLuck.
- This is the last thing I am going to say about when or if we will start football season in 2020 until we get through the next couple of months. We can all speculate and that is all it is. Yes, coaches like Dabo Swinney are smart to say he has “zero doubt” that the season will start on time because that is the mentality his players and coaches have to have. That’s the mentality everyone has to have inside those buildings. In the real world, we know the chances are slim that the season will start on time. But again, that is simply a guess. I’m basing it on a vaccine being discovered and available and I don’t think there can be games without one. But nobody — not the NFL or the President or Dabo — really knows what the future holds. We all just have to buckle up, wash our hands and stay away from each other. (Insert joke about how your husband or wife has been doing that for years here.)
- We all hope that at some point our lives are going to be closer to normal and we will have the distraction of sports this fall. Now that golf has announced its plan for scheduling, you’re gonna need a bigger TV room. Imagine a Saturday/Sunday with college football and the NFL … and the NBA finals … and the World Series … and the U.S. Open or The Masters. That should help us all get through this desert that is a world with no sports on TV. Of course, there are more important things to worry about, but a man can dream.
- Desperate times call for desperate measures (two Back Nine items on golf, for example, when there is no golf), but one thing I watched this weekend was the Augusta National Women’s Amateur from last year. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would even though I knew who won because of two things. It was still the same beautiful golf course and it was the typical Augusta crowd. I’m all for Howard Stern getting a bunch of “Baba Booeys” and “Hit ‘Em With the Heins” for his show at most tournaments. But the galleries at The Masters are the best in sports. As much as it was a dream come true for those young women to play that course (I shot 85 in 1996, but I digress), playing in front of those patrons had to be a big part of the thrill. And that, my friends, is as much as I can bleed out of something that happened a year ago.
- The Tweet of the Week comes from NBA writer Sam Amico — “1918 – Toronto wins Stanley Cup
1919 – Stanley Cup canceled
1993 – Toronto wins World Series
1994 – World Series canceled
2019 – Toronto wins NBA Finals
2020 – …”
Ah, so it’s Toronto’s fault.
- The best thing about going for a walk is usually a playlist I have put together that allows me to ignore the pain in my knee. But the last few weeks, it has been the positive messages on home-made signs and chalked onto sidewalks. I appreciate them. It’s so hard to be positive right now and it makes me happy that so many people are trying. Anyway, here’s another playlist:
* “Martin” by Car Seat Headrest.
* “Moral of the Story” by Ashe.
* “Hunter’s Moon” by Lisa Lambe.
* “Dance of the Clairvoyants” by Pearl Jam, which is very Talking Heads-like.
* And for an old one, in honor of the late Bill Withers who passed away last week, “Use Me” which was always my fave.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.