Dooley’s Dribblings debut: A look at SEC hoops

Missouri's Jordan Barnett brings the ball down the court during the second half against Illinois in the Dec. 23 game in St. Louis. Illinois won 70-64. Florida visits Missouri on Saturday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

We start a new weekly feature for today where staff writer Pat Dooley will take a look at some of the things that stand out about SEC basketball. It will appear online every Thursday.

* Remember less than a year ago when Missouri came to town and the great debate was whether or not the Tigers were the worst team we had seen in the O-Dome in the last 20 years? That was Feb. 2 and Mizzou lost to Florida 93-54 with Chris Chiozza recording a triple-double. It’s a different story now, as the Tigers prepare to play host to Florida on Saturday. They won at South Carolina on Wednesday night to break a 32-game road SEC losing streak and looked the part of an NCAA team with a lot of weapons. Kassius Robertson looks like a difference maker for a team that was in need of a playmaker. It should be a heck of an early season game Saturday.

* On the other hand, I give you South Carolina, which looks like it is going to drive Frank Martin crazy this year. We knew that losing three starters was going to make things difficult, but if I had to make a bet I’d say USC is the worst team in the conference. LSU was picked last in the preseason poll, but I like a lot about the Tigers, especially after watching Duop Reath go for 24 points and 11 rebounds against Kentucky. I think Kentucky is going to have a lot of games like its first two in the conference this year in that the ‘Cats don’t play defense well enough to blow many teams out (sorry, Louisville) but they have so much young talent they overwhelm you with big plays late.

* Really, because this is such a young league, it doesn’t appear that anybody is playing great defense so it’s not just a Florida problem. Of the 14 teams in the SEC, 11 are averaging 76.3 points a game. I know that PPG tends to come down during conference play, but last year only five teams averaged that much for the season. There were some great defensive teams a year ago and two of them faced off in the Elite Eight. At least it should be more entertaining this year.

* The consensus is that the SEC is better and the reason it is better is that it has better players and the proof was in the non-conference results that allowed the SEC to be second in RPI. Just don’t get too carried away with those early rankings, because it also feels like this league is so balanced you could end up with a lot of teams on the bubble because of overall records. Still, the SEC is not short on receiving love right now. KenPom has nine SEC teams in the top 60 in the country, one more than RPI. KenPom also has Florida at 29th while RPI has UF at 63. That wide range is one reason college basketball wanted to be more inclusive of other measurements than RPI starting this year.


  1. I’m not even sure Florida is an NCAA tournament team this year. I hope so. We got to start playing some ferocious defense and develop an inside game for those nights the three-pointers aren’t falling.

    • You are joking right? If you are not, then you need to put on some glasses or watch a few games they play. They are not perfect for sure, but can they make the NCAA tourney? Uhmm.. yeah. 64 teams will. You are basically saying there are 64 other teams better right now. Disagree…

      • I don’t think he’s saying that at all. First off, it’s more like 40 teams as there’s so many 1-bid leagues. And second off, this team needs to figure out who it is. If Egbunu comes back and is as good as he was last year, then we could be in great shape. But if we continue to live and die by the 3, then we be right around a 7-seed or so in the SEC tourney and that’s not always enough. But 2 good wins against overmatched teams to start the year are good news. Hopefully aTm returns their starters and comes back into the top 15 so that it can boost our resume, even if we didn’t truly beat a top 15 road team based on who was available

      • There are 64 teams better than the Gators. The Gators won’t even make the NIT, so that means there are 96 teams better than the Gators? It’s actually 100 because 68 are now invited to the NCAA tourney. The Gators are a BAD basketball team. Don’t know what happened at A&M the other night, but that was definitely not normal.

        • Mickey – Not sure what anti-Gator prism you’re looking through but, in case you wanted to look at their record so far UF is 10-4 and the losses are to: #2 Duke (13-1) by 3 points, #24 FSU (12-2) by 17 points, unranked Loyola Chicago (11-4) by 6 points and #25 Clemson (13-1) by 2 points. As Dools points out their RPI is 63 and they are 29th in KenPom. And this is all without their two biggest inside men playing.

  2. I have no idea how UF will finish this year, since this team can look incredibly good or incredibly bad on a given night, but, AA Ron, you have to be alot better than ALOT of the 64 teams you mentioned(actually, it’s 68) who make the tourney in order to get in. All who win their conference tourney, including from conferences some of us have barely heard of, get in automatically.
    Usually it takes an RPI in the 40-50 range to get it if you don’t win your conference tourney.

  3. I, personally, (while missing John Egbunu’s play inside) am totally into this team and the 3’s they rain down, like a hot summer shower in Hogtown. Most games, Florida is an entertaining brand of basketball (Pat’s right). And good defensive efforts for this team often turn into fast points. Go Gators! Beat Mizzou!
    P.S.-Tourney time is in MARCH, people (hence: ”March Madness”). Get a calendar, I’ve got extras if you need one.

  4. This team as it currently stands is an NCAA tournament team. But, because the big men are sitting and we are thin depth wise because of this, coach isn’t able to apply pressure with the full court press like last year, a great tradition at Florida that was a Billy Donovan staple. When the big guys come back, I hope we are deep enough to put the press back in. With more strength on the inside, I believe this team is a top 10 team again. Ebu is scheduled back at the end of Jan, so let this team get healthy and back to full strength before we judge the entire work.