Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Gators Garrote Good Guys

I was too upset to post this last night.  I cannot watch Bama Basketball dispassionately.  I have calmed down a bit now and hope I can be a more objective than I was right after the game.  At least by having waited I won't have to make as many apologies after hitting the SEND button at the end of the blog entry. 

The better team won Tuesday night.  It won convincingly.  Congratulations, Florida.  You are the well deserving champions of the SEC Regular Season Title.

Coach Grant said before the season started he thought Florida would win the SEC.  Last night Florida put on a spectacular offensive show in the second half (Coach Donovan started letting the air out of the ball long before he really needed to, perhaps out of his affection for Coach Grant), but their strangling defense is what really won the game for them.  The Gators shot less than 30% from the field to start the game, and the Tide still had to go on a run to tie the score at 30 at the half.  Florida allowed only 21 additional points in the second half.  TWENTY ONE POINTS!  As Coach Grant (and every other really good coach I've ever heard) says, defense wins championships.  Game, set and match to Florida.

The only way Alabama had a chance to beat the Gators was to play at the top of their game for forty minutes. As other posters here have noted, Bama looked sluggish and undisciplined last night. Florida is a veteran team that knows what it feels like to play for the conference prize. None of our young men ever had been in that situation.  Add to that the fact that Florida would not have to wrestle the trophy from our hands on the floor of Coleman Coliseum, and one can begin to understand just how difficult a task our team and coaches faced.

Our team blew whatever chance they had of winning when Alabama's front line players picked up four fouls in the first four minutes of the game, including a technical on Chris Hines that sent him to the bench for most of the first half.  Hines' third foul on a mental error in the first minute of the second half pretty much eliminated him as a defensive threat for the rest of the game, and Billy Donovan took full advantage of that defect.  Those fouls were not the result of bad calls by the officials.  But they did tend to dictate how the rest of the game played out.  Bama appeared to play tentatively throughout the rest of the game.  Please understand I am not criticizing the officiating in last night's game.  I am trying to point out that our team looked like it did not have enough in its tank to deal with the additional adversity those quick fouls created for the remaining 36 minutes.  Similar problems helped us earlier in the year against teams like M$U and Arkansas. Last night the snake bit us. It's all a part of the game.  If you live by the sword you also can die by the sword. 

The Tide took a tired, inexperienced, under-talented team into Gainesville with a chance to win the SEC regular season title.  The better team and the more disciplined team won last night's game in convincing fashion.  I thought Florida's crowd showed us how fans can have a huge impact on the game.  They were loud all night and supported their team enthusiastically not matter what was happening in the game.  Our kids did an excellent job just getting us to that game.  The Gator crowd helped their team remind us of the relative states of our two programs. 

No Alabama fan can be happy with last night's result, but we need to put it into perspective.  I doubt any of us expected on January 1st that our team would be playing for all the marbles and a chance to get play in the NCAA Tournament when we walked into last night's game.  Our team and coaches deserve our respect and appreciation for having put themselves in a position to have even a chance to play in that game.  There are ten other teams in our conference who all wish they could have enjoyed the opportunity our team had earned last night; and nobody expected that Alabama would be Florida's opponent when that game finally arrived.  I am proud of this team and have enjoyed watching (almost) every minute of their play this season. 

If there is a bright side to last night's humiliating loss it might be that our team now has at least one big-time game under their belts and they know how it feels when they succumb to fatigue and pressure.  A really good coach will help our young men learn from last night's experience and turn them into a better team for the season finale and the SEC Tournament.  The next eleven days might teach us a good deal about both our coach and this year's team. 
Roll Tide!


Anonymous said...

Someone explain to me why we didn't start fouling with 5 minutes to go in the game.

DJC said...

Anon....Seriously? For one thing, half of our team would have fouled out. Also, we were already down 20 at that point. The way we shoot, even if Florida missed every single free throw (not likely) we still wouldn't be able to score enough to win.

At that point, I was ready to get the game over with and get on with 7 hr drive home. I would have been pissed if we started fouling.

Anonymous said...

If we don't start fouling we lose for sure. If we try fouling something might happen. You (and Coach Grant) gave up on your team.