The Gators win two in a row
I only heard the last 15 minutes of the South Carolina vs. Florida game, but the last 5 minutes was all I needed to hear. When I tuned in, the score was something like 32-28, South Carolina. For the next 10 minutes, the differential stayed about the same and the Gators seemed to have trouble getting anything going in their halfcourt offense. Also, we couldn’t get a rebound at either end of the floor. I think Roberson was our only player in double figures with Lee and Walsh knockin’ on the door. Then, with about 4 minutes left in the game, those three completely took over. Lee had some nice plays inside for easy 2-pointers, Walsh made some clutch shots including a contested 3-pointer on an assist from Lee and Roberson continued selecting good shots and even made a difficult runner in the paint. On the other end of the floor, Lee, Walsh and Roberson all pulled down some boards to limit South Carolina to one shot on offense. Roberson finished with about 24 points on something like 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land. Walsh and Lee both came on late, hitting clutch free-throws (I think both of those guys are Top 10 in the SEC in free-throw percentage) and basically owning Carolina by scoring at will, rebounding effectively, knocking down free-throws and stealing the ball a few times.
Those are the highlights. From what I heard, we played with very little energy for most of the game. I think we finished with only 69 points, which is more than 10 points below our average, but this was a home game, so we should’ve been around 85 points. We didn’t seem to respond too well to Carolina’s pressure defense (they were running a full-court, three-quarter-court and half-court press, if I remember right) and, although we didn’t turn the ball over too many times, we certainly weren’t making anything happen on offense for most of the game. We couldn’t pull down many boards, which is unacceptable with Richard, Moss and Lee as our big guys and I don’t think we were playing with much energy throughout the game. The good news is that all things things can definitely be corrected by the Tourney (SEC or NCAA) as they’re mostly stemming from either inexperience or just a lackluster effort.
One thing that troubles me, as it has all season, is our half-court defense. Our zone is ineffective and we tend to give up points to slashers–guys who attack off the dribble either from the wings or the free-thrown line. I think this is a result of our low intensity in some of our games. The main problem is that our help is slow getting to the right spot and we seem to bail ourselves out with weak fouls that show that we’re allowing them to drive by us and then trying to slow them down by grabbing or hooking. Again, this can be partially corrected with more energy (gained by good coaching and maybe some rest and a little motivation before Tourney season), but I’m afraid the inexperience factor might be pretty severe. We have a lot of young guys and I think some of them just aren’t completely comfortable playing at the college level yet. It seems like there’s quite a bit of miscommunication–especially on the defensive end of the floor–and that’s going to hurt us against well-organized offensive teams. I hope that our older “veteran” players (although we only have one senior) can help the younger guys adapt to the game’s speed and intensity before the season’s over.
I think if we pick it up a little by scrapping for loose balls, playing more aggressive defense and crashing harder on the boards, we will have a reasonable shot at winning the SEC Tourney (I think the past few years have made it obvious that it’s anybody’s Tournament to win) and hopefully making it out of the first weekend for the NCAA Tourney. Only a few more regular-season games left and then the Madness begins.