After being outscored by 40-something before getting out first points in the last 5 games, Coach Grant decided to change things up and go with his 12th different starting lineup this year. This one consisted of 1. Relly, 2. Key, 3. Hale, 4. Coop, and 5. Jacobs. It didn't work, as the Gators jumped out on us 8-0. I didn't mind the starting lineup so much as the decision to open the game in a man to man defense. Last time we played these guys, we were pretty much able to keep it close with them the whole game running zone. Generally speaking, when the other team is better/more athletic than you at every position on the floor, it's normally not a good idea to play man. When we switched to the 1-3-1 with soft trapping we had our most success and were able to come back and take the lead.
It was tied at halftime, but Florida got hot from 3 point range against our 2-3 zone and we had a number of turnovers allowing Florida to run out to a 15 point lead. Give the team credit for continuing to battle and actually getting the margin back down to a somewhat manageable and respectable 7 points at one point.
Releford had another great game, but he had absolutely no help. Relly scored 25 points, and nobody else was in double figures. Jimmie Taylor played his best game so far, and I don't understand why we didn't go to his jump hook in the post after he went 3 for 3 in the first half. Nick Jacobs did not take advantage of his start, he was poor on defense as usual and only scored 5 points with 2 rebounds. Carl Engstrom has went from starting to only playing 3 minutes today.
A couple of key plays stick out in my mind. We were only down 3 with around 17 minutes to go in the game, and Cooper missed a wide open 3 from the corner, Florida immediately made a 3 at the other end to double their lead. That started the run that Florida would eventually make a 15 point margin. Late in the game, we had cut it to 7 with 1:40 left and got a defensive stop and had Releford open on a run out that would have quickly cut the lead to 5, but Retin made a bad pass leading to a turnover. That pretty much ended any hope of a comeback.
Algie Key really needs to make better decisions with the basketball. His 6 turnovers were horrible, including screwing up a 4 on 1 fast break opportunity. While it was the right call, I hate the rule that led to his intentional foul call early in the game. Basically, any contact with the elbows to the head is to be called an intentional foul. I understand the concern about concussions, etc, but I think it gives the defense an unfair advantage when they can get so close to you once you pick up your dribble that a natural passing motion is impossible without picking up a foul. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I actually played basketball, we were taught to "chin and spin it" on rebounds, and to "clear out" with the elbows if a defender was reaching or crowding if you picked up your dribble. The game has changed, and I'm not sure it's for the better.
Watching games on TV can be frustrating at times. There were 2 occasions where the whistle blew, but they didn't show the officials nor did the announcers let us know what was going on. At one point when we were making our comeback, after we scored there was a whistle, and Florida made a substitution, but there was no explanation as to why play was stopped. I see in the box score that we were given a bench warning at some point, so I suspect that was the cause. One time when we were down 8, I think, we had a good trap in the back court and Florida appeared to turn the ball over, but the whistle blew and Florida was awarded possession, again no explanation of the call. I'm still in the dark over that one, play resumed too quickly for there to have been a foul called.
Also, Duke Vitale needs to shut his pie hole. To hear him tell it, Coach Grant would have us in the elite 8 if only Lacey and Pollard were still on the team. We could use Lacey's shot and we would be better, but there was certainly no guarantee that Pollard would even start for this team. As is always the case with him, it's not enough for him to state his opinion once, he has to yell it ad nauseam the entire game. He gave me a headache.
Up next, we return to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum to take on the Ole Miss Rebels and their Eminem wannabe at 8pm Tuesday night. The game will be televised on ESPNU.