Dooley’s Dribblings: It’s February

Florida head coach Mike White goes to his bench for a substitution during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Florida won 81-60. (AP Photo/Ron Irby)

Our weekly look at SEC basketball:

* I guess the best way to look at this Florida basketball team is to call it “Team Weird.” From one game to the next, you don’t know what you’re getting. One day, you may think this is a team that can make a deep run in the tournament, a few days later you wonder if it will get into the tournament. I know this, you won’t see a lot of people picking Florida to go far in their brackets if UF makes the field, because they know that game they showed Tuesday is in there waiting to come out. At the same time, this same team held Baylor to 60 points and Baylor scored 96 points a few nights later in Norman, Okla. Basketball is similar to football in that every game is its own game, but the way this team is up and down has been exasperating to the fans. The trouble is, I don’t know if it’s going to change over these last nine conference games. It’s looking less likely John Egbunu is coming back at all, so they is what they is. Of course, let’s remember that nobody had Florida making a deep run last year. So there is that.

* When the Gators lost to Loyola-Chicago on Dec. 6, we figured/hoped that it would be their worst loss of the year. Not so fast my friend. That team is having a heck of a year and RPI-wise Florida has three worse losses — to Georgia (55th), South Carolina (62) and Ole Miss (85). Loyola-Chicago is now 52nd in the RPI.

* You know what Auburn is? Auburn is what we thought Florida would be in November after the tournament in Portland. Auburn scores a bunch of points, has multiple 3-point shooters, makes clutch shots and finds a way to play its best when other teams are making runs. The Tigers have a two-game lead on the field in the SEC and I don’t think there’s anyway to avoid the reality that Greg Sankey will be presenting Bruce Pearl with the trophy in St. Louis. I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

* Sometimes it feels like there are teams trying not to get into the Big Dance. South Carolina followed up its big win in Gainesville with a pair of losses at home, including Wednesday night against Mississippi State. Alabama got an impressive win over Oklahoma and then lost to Missouri at home. Arkansas won three in a row before losing to Texas A&M. It’s all about winning on the road with the new Quadrat System and there are six SEC teams with one or fewer road wins this season.

* Ranking the best non-conference SEC wins based on the latest RPI:

  1. Tennessee, over Purdue (8th).
  2. Alabama, over Rhode Island (9).
  3. Alabama, over Oklahoma (10).
  4.  Arkansas, over Oklahoma (10).
  5. Florida, over Cincinnati (15).
  6. Vanderbilt, over TCU (21).
  7. Auburn, over Middle Tenn. (24).
  8. LSU, over Michigan (32).
  9. Texas A&M, over West Virginia (33).
  10.  Kentucky, over West Virginia (33).


  1. Well, FSU basketball is 16-6 overall, 5-5 in conference. Maybe I need to admit that my criticism of Gator Basketball is secondary to the mediocrity of Seminole basketball. Well, we did win our ACC conference once, the absolute zenith of our program. I don’t see how Coach Hamilton has any higher ceiling for this program. Coach White led the Gators to the Elite Eight last year and was quite close to the final Four.

  2. FSU having Hamilton is a double edged sword for UF fans. On one hand, he recruits the right players to annoy the stew out of UF’s team and almost always beats us. However, on the other hand, we know that he’ll be on the couch watching the games after the 1st weekend of the tourney every year. Oh well.

  3. If Egbunu does NOT return, why is he even dressing out and doing warmups? I don’;t see this team going very far in the tournament without a solid inside defender and rebounder. It’s one thing for a 6-8, 210 center to try it. It’s quite another for a 6-11, 265 center who has proven he can score inside and rebound. What will Egbunu do? Ask for another year? If that’s the plan, I think White is off-base. The NCAA is not likely to give Egbunu a 6th year after he already transferred once and sat out. Just saying. Don’t think this team is consistent enough to go far in the tourney without a big presence in the middle. However, it is mind-blowing that this team has beaten Cincinnatti, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri and nearly dumped Duke, then has lost to mediocore S. Carolina, below-average Georgia, licked by Loyola Chicago and so on. My head has a permanent scratch from trying to figure this team out.

    • I understand your frustration, but I don’t think it’s that much of a head-scratcher. You provided the answer in your first few sentences. The Gators don’t have a reliable inside game, and when they face elite big men like SC’s Silva and UGA’s Maten, they struggle mightily to contain them. They tend to give up more 3’s to those teams also, because they’re trying to double the post, then recover to guard the 3 point line.

      Egbunu would certainly help defensively and on the glass, but he doesn’t really have a polished post game that would allow the Gators to just dump it inside to him and be confident of a basket. He can score inside, but it’s more likely to be on a put-back or an assist from a driving teammate than on a post move.

      Just listened to Kevin Brockway’s interview with Tuscaloosa News writer, Cecil Hurt, and he said that Bama isn’t that physical. That should bode well for the Gators, especially if they can get decent play from Hayes and Stone.

  4. This season, I’m looking at the bigger picture with this team. All things considered, they are doing well.

    Just based on guard play and pure shooters, this is a very dangerous team to draw in a tournament setting.

    I easily see another level of team play that’s attainable in the games ahead, especially on defense. If John Egbunu comes back it will be a tremendous boost to the confidence and morale of the team. The timing could be a boost to our fortunes late in the season.

    This is still a championship caliber team in his absence. They’ve shown they can compensate by playing small ball and defense at a very high level. I’ve enjoyed watching this team play and the energy and excitement they bring to every game. I like their chances in the weeks ahead to win any game.