February fade

Florida's Dan Werner sits on the bench with frustration in the first half of UF's game against Xavier on Saturday.  (Photo by Tricia Coyne/The Gainesville Sun)
Florida's Dan Werner sits on the bench with frustration in the first half of UF's game against Xavier on Saturday. (Photo by Tricia Coyne/The Gainesville Sun)

The axiom in college basketball is to get to March you first have to get through February.

Poet T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month. But February has been no picnic for Florida Gator basketball fans.

Since 2005-06, Florida has been a pedestrian 16-16 in February games. As a result, the Gators are on the verge of missing the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

Florida has had just one winning February (2006-07) since the 2005-06 season. A look at the recent results:

  • 2005-06 — 3-4
  • 2006-07 — 5-3
  • 2007-08 — 3-4
  • 2008-09 — 3-3
  • 2009-10 — 2-2

Fatigue and scheduling are the two issues Florida coach Billy Donovan cited when asked about the topic last week.

“Because of the success we have had in the past, generally as our conference schedule goes, it really, really has always been back-heavy with clearly the best teams in the league in a lot of respects,” Donovan said. “We still have to play Vandy again, we still have to play Kentucky again, we still have to go on the road at Ole Miss .

“That’s a great thing for me because when you are talking about the stretch run and you are talking about the things you are talking about you would rather play against the best, and when are playing against a best to me that’s a way you earn your way in. To me it’s pretty clear cut and dry, if you don’t win some of those games, you are not going to deserve to get in and if you do win those games, then you put yourself in the conversation as a team that can maybe get in. So I think our schedule has been a positive thing for us coming down the stretch but now it’s can we find a way to win some of those games.”


  1. It appears to me that one of the problems is that the gators are determined to get into the paint. Walker, short as he is, loses the ball about 50% of the time trying to go inside. It would be better for walker to try more 3’s since he is about a 50% 3point shooter. On free throws, it doesn’t seem that there kis enough height to their throws. Mitch

  2. What have we learned about this team to date? First, Boynton is a decent player, but probably the most overhyped recruit in many years, and a very poor outside shooter. Secondly, Walker is a weak point guard, as his turnovers, poor passes and lack of assists will attest. When he penetrates, he can’t finish, and ends up tossing the ball anywhere.
    And yet, the back court is supposedly this team’s strength. Tyus has played pretty well, Macklin is an average center at best, and not a strong rebounder for a man his size, and Parsons is fun to watch, but shoots 3’s better than free throws. The bench? Well Parsons was the bench, but is now starting, and rightly so, leaving this as another hole. Looks like another NIT year, and quite honestly, so does next year, as these players are similar to the last 2 years in that they don’t seem to improve as the season progresses, and they don’t improve much from one year to the next. Interesting that Jai Lucas would be the starting point guard, but is now a bench sitter at Texas.

  3. The Xavier game at the O-Dome exposed the weaknesses of this team. Tyus plays with great energy, but at crucial times he can not get the ball in the hoop. Walker tires in the second half, and has been stuffed so many times attacking the basket he will not even try in the late going. Werner will not take a shot any longer, and other teams know it. Macklin has potential, but is inconsistent. Parsons is the only effective shooter from beyond the arc.

    Given these weaknesses, free throw shooting becomes crucial, but no one, not even Parsons, consistently knocks down free throws when the game is on the line. This was Xavier – at home. Now there is Ole Miss and Georgia on the road, and Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky, the three best teams in the league at home. Two wins is probably the best we could hope for.

  4. Did any of us really expect the Gators to be an NCAA Tourny team before the season started. These guys are young and don’t have the strength in the paint. Give us another year of recruiting. We are two men short of real success. Meanwhile we can still win a couple of games and get inti the big one. Go Gators.

  5. Ever since Billy had a change of heart and turned down the Magic job we have been mediocre at best. Recruiting has been pathetic, players have transferred, play has been sloppy and Billy seems to be uninterested. We are back to a middle of the pack SEC team.
    How is it we could not parlay back to back championships into something more sustainable. Why don’t the big name recruits come to Gainesville? Some thing is not right inside the O Dome.

  6. ESPN on line is running a recap of the highs and lows of college hoops over the past decade. The Gator team of 06-07 was voted by the panel as the best of the decade. Interestingly, Jay Bilas, a Duke and ACC homer with little regard for either UF or the SEC, noted in his comments that that Gator team was the best passing, most unselfish team he has seen. In looking at this year’s group, it is obvious that they are no longer the skilled passing team of just a few years back. The offense, whether it’s Walker or Boynton at the point, has way too much dribbling (from poor ball handlers I might add) and not near enough passing. I have a better appreciation now of just how valuable Taurean Green was to those great teams back then, a real point guard who ran the offense, protected the ball, made the passes, and could hit the big shot when needed.
    As skilled as Calethes was, he also failed consistently in these areas as well.