FOUR BITS: Caps, Pounceys, Donovan, Macklin

By Adam Silverstein
February 25, 2010

1 » Florida Gators football will have new captains for the 2010 season, and they are seniors defensive end Justin Trattou and guard/center Mike Pouncey. Two of only eight true seniors on the team, Trattou and Pouncey may have some company before all is said and done. Their value will likely be unmatched both from a leadership and playing standpoint in 2010, so it is nice to see them receive early recognition.

2 » Mike may be concentrating on the Gators but his brother, center Maurkice Pouncey, is currently in Indianapolis, IN, for the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. A first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC and Rimington Trophy (top center in the nation) winner, Pouncey is projected as a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft in April. “I’m going to do everything,” Pouncey said of workouts at the combine. “I’ll do it now and have pro day to fall back.” Surprisingly, he never thought about playing center until Florida needed one two years ago. “I wanted to do whatever the [Gators] needed, and the team needed a center,” he told The Ledger. “It has worked out for the best.”

Check out two BITS on Florida Gators basketball after the break!

3 » Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union takes an interesting look at the expectation levels of football and basketball at Florida. Though head basketball coach Billy Donovan’s team has struggled the last few years, Frenette points out that he has not received the criticism someone like head football coach Urban Meyer would if his team suffered a similar fate. “It just shows basketball’s place within the Gators empire,” he writes. “You can fall from greatness to just OK for a couple of years, and nobody questions it or lights the coach’s hair on fire. Yet Urban Meyer would need an asbestos suit if the football team went 8-4 and 7-5 over the next two seasons.”

4 » One player helping Donovan stay out of the fire is his very own acquisition, redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin. Though he had a rough start to his Gators career, Macklin has truly become a presence inside the paint for Florida. In his last six games, Macklin has hit a then-career-high 20 points (2/6 vs. Mississippi State), two double-doubles (2/13 vs. Xavier, 2/23 vs. Tennessee) and established a new career-high with 22 points (2/20 vs. Ole Miss) all while shooting 66 percent from the field. “Coach just told me to be mentally and physically ready to play,” Macklin told The Gainesville Sun after Tuesday’s game. “It just feels good to be able to get a win in the conference.”

17 Comments

  1. Brett says:

    Most of the accomplishments that the basketball team has experienced has been under Billy though. Also with basketball players leaving after 1 or 2 years its much harder to keep things going.

  2. Malikg says:

    I think we’re mostly saying the same thing, but my contention is that Florida has shown that it will tolerate 3 seasons of ineptitude in football. Even Ron Zook was an eyelash away from getting a 4th year despite back-to-back-to-back 5-loss seasons and an 0-2 record in the non-BCS Outback Bowl.

    A valid comparison would be if Urban Meyer had not only won 2 national championships but had also gone to ANOTHER national title game and lost. If he then had 3 straight Zook-level seasons (IMO the equivalent of NIT seasons at a program like Florida), he would most certainly be on the hot seat… but not fired. Yet.

    Gene Frenette of the Jacksonville Times-Union says Urban/Billy would need an asbestos suit if he went 8-4 and 7-5 the next two seasons, and he’s right. It would get even HOTTER if he had a similar next season, but, as Zook has shown us, even with all that and WITHOUT any titles (SEC or otherwise) he probably wouldn’t QUITE get fired…

  3. Yeah, I think we are on the same page on a few things. Yes, even football will tolerate three seasons of below-average football. HOWEVER, if Zook was not even making bowl games (or just making the Emerald Bowl) he would have been gone earlier. I do not think you can compare making big non-BCS bowl games (Outback Bowl, for example) with compltely missing the NCAA Tournament. That is where we disagree. You are trying to compare the results of Zook’s bad seasons with the last two years of Florida basketball and I don’t agree with that comparison whatsoever.

    And that is also not to mention that Zook brought in top recruiting classes every year he was here while Donovan has struggled with recruiting since the Orlando Magic fiasco. We won’t agree on this subject – period.

  4. Malikg says:

    I’d venture that LOSING in “big” non-BCS bowl games like the Outback in consecutive years (with the 2nd loss by 20) is comparatively MORE embarrassing and detrimental to a football team’s image than just missing the NCAA Tournament and winning NIT games, but we can leave that argument to rest if you like.

    About recruiting, although I agree that Donovan has had curious and disappointing misses (some which have transferred), he’s still recruited as well as anyone in the SEC during the period, with classes ranked 3, 9 and 17 in 2007-2009 (by Scout.com).

    2007 – Calathes, Parsons, Tyus and Lucas are all quality recruits

    2008 – Erving Walker and Kenny Kadji are both quality recruits, with Shipman still at least in the jury

    2009 – Both Kenny Boynton (arguably the best 2-guard Billy has ever signed) and Erik Murphy look to be solid additions.

    Injuries to Kadji and Adam Allen can’t be blamed on him, but other than that, it’s definitely been a feast or famine situation. Even in the 2006 class, though I’d count Werner and especially Speights as positives, it’s hard to defend Brandon Powell and Jonathan Mitchell.

    And, the failures of Allan Chaney and Eloy Vargas lay at his lap as well.

    I’d honestly say that his recruiting is pretty SIMILAR to Ron Zook’s in recent years. Standouts at the top, mixed with missed scouting and in the middle and lots of lost or transferred players…

  5. John Shanks says:

    It’s amazing how much better I feel about Donovan after the UT game. Maybe its enough, we can get to the tournament and get the monkey off our back.

  6. So it is more detrimental to lose two bowl games that don’t really count for anything, games that you get into because you’re still one of the top 10-20 teams in the country, as opposed to not even making a tournament that accepts the 40-or-so best teams along with every conference winner? There is no comparison in my mind.

    As far as recruiting, Donovan’s classes may have been ranked decent – but they did not pan out. Zook’s were ranked at the top and provided many players who helped the Gators win national championships. There is no comparison here either. To say that their recruiting was similar as far as the end result goes is simply not true.

    And one more thing. Say what you will about the games the Gators lost under Zook – the team was in both Top 25 polls every single week of the regular season every year he was here. Never dropped out. However, two of the years they were not in the final AP poll (after bowl game losses – were still in USA Today poll). Put that head-to-head with Gators basketball over the past three seasons, which has barely been in the polls. Again, no comparison.

    When it comes to the injuries and transfers, you don’t need to break those down – I have been defending Donovan for what has gone on over the last few years for quite some time (including to John Shanks below your post, just ask him). Not only did Donovan get screwed with injuries/transfers, he lost Speights a year earlier than he thought to the NBA and had Calathes ditch the team last season for Greece (which I didn’t personally mind).

    (Side note – Every argument I am making about Donovan is not just about the previous two seasons, it is a “what if” scenario in regards to the team not bouncing back from their most recent losses and once again finishing with a loss in the NIT.)

    You seem to think I have it out for Donovan here, I don’t. As I just said, I’ve defended him on here all season long to people who were saying if we didn’t make the tourney this year that next year would be his hot-seat season. I don’t necessarily disagree with everything you are saying, Malik, but I do disagree with most of your reasonings (as I’ve pointed out above).

    We’re really just going to keep going back-and-forth here, so I say let’s agree to disagree.

  7. Malikg says:

    At most schools, no, it’s not more detrimental to lose those games in football, but at Florida, I’d say yes, it is.

    We can certainly agree to disagree, but about the recruiting, whether or not Donovan has laid a high-level foundation with his recruiting at least remains to be seen. I’d say that if Florida is able to add Brandon Knight to the recruiting class they’re already bringing in (and don’t lose anyone but Werner), all of which with Donovan’s track record are HUGE IFs, then Florida will have not only an SEC-title contender, but a possible Final Four contender next year.

    As I pointed out to Vernon Macklin the other day, Florida will have an all-senior frontcourt of returning double-digit scorers. Pair that with an elite college-level backcourt of Boynton and Knight and a bench that could include a healthy Kadji alongside starter-level players like Young, Walker and Prather, and suddenly Donovan’s recruiting matches up quite well with Zook’s.

    You actually don’t seem to have it out for Billy, in my opinion — I’m just enjoying the informed debate, analysis and “back-and-forth” with a fellow UF Journalism grad, especially while you’re hard at work covering the combine.

  8. I disagree that it is detrimental to lose those games – and I point to the fact that the Gators never lost a step and did not suffer in preseason rankings the following seasons after losing those bowls. As far as recruiting, you can’t use a future player (Knight) to justify your comments about the previous few years being comparable to Zook – just doesn’t work that way. I don’t question Donovan as a coach and recruiter, I was simply showing the disparity between what Zook did recruiting-wise and what Donovan has done recruiting-wise within the time span you and I were previously discussing.

    To your second paragraph, once again, you cannot go out of the time frame we are discussing. I enjoyed the back-and-forth as well. Knew I’d get you going when I gave points to corroborate with the article. Now it is time I get back to the combine. 🙂

  9. Malikg says:

    “I try to get out, but they just pull me back in!”

    SO hard for me to leave it like that when you put it that way, brother.

    The reason I point to Knight and the rest of the incoming class next year is both because it completes the 3-year-cycle that I’ve been comparing (Zook’s tenure of 3 recruiting classes, and the 3 years since Donovan won the 2nd title) AND because when all is said and done Donovan’s recruiting will have created a top-level foundation.

    Just like Zook.

    If you say we can’t include the upcoming class in the discussion, then we should only discuss 2 years of Zook’s recruits, which wouldn’t include those who eventually contributed to Urban Meyer’s first championship.

    The core of next year’s UF basketball team, even outside of Knight, will be directly from Donovan’s recruiting.

    In fact, I’ll even take Knight out of the equation. Donovan will sign another guard to add to this class, regardless. I’m saying that next year’s team will be an SEC-title contender even without Brandon Knight, which I would say puts the recruiting classes at the same level as what Zook’s classes did.

    By the way, regarding the combine, I’m really looking forward to what Riley Cooper’s measurables are — I think he’s going to blow them away, honestly. American Caucasians are underestimated at the “skill” positions in football and basketball…

  10. The recruiting was just a small part of the overall argument…a very small part at that. And if you are talking about THREE classes, Billy D’s would be 2007 (Calathes, Parsons), 2008 (Walker, Shipman) and 2009 (Boynton). The 2010 class (Prather, Young) will be his FOURTH and the 2011 class (Rivers, possibly Knight, etc.) will be his FIFTH! Even if I gave you four (which you could argue for because Calathes and those guys committed during the title season), it would not include the 2011 class (Rivers and Co.) or Knight. Sorry my man – you are wrong here – there is no comparison whatsoever recruiting-wise.

    I’ve pointed out numerous ways (achievement against opponents, failure to make the tourney [consisting of more teams and more chances] vs. simply losing bowl games, poll rankings, etc.) in addition to the recruiting that have all made my point here.

    I understand and respect your opinion, but disagree. Now I’m getting a headache. Just posted the combine article – let’s move on. 🙂

  11. Mark01 says:

    I would have to agree with Malikg here. Basketball is so much more volatile. With much fewer players on scholly if one big recruit transfers or doesn’t pan out then it really really hurts the team. You almost have to haul in a huge class every year and have almost every guy pan out. In football one player doesn’t mean as much.

    Look at this year; UNC and UCLA aren’t going to make the tourney. If those two schools can’t make the tourney every year then who can. I don’t think you can compare it to making a bowl game. It is much easier to make a bowl game. In Div I there are over 300 bb schools and only ~120 fb schools.

  12. Mark01 says:

    My quick count is there is 34 bowl games. That is 68 teams.

    68 teams make a bowl game. That is more than the ncaa tourney and more than half the teams in the FBS. It is much easier to make a bowl game than to make the tourney.

  13. 1) Bowl games – Yes, there are 34 Bowl games. But the Gators were not in the 34th best bowl game. They were in one of the top 10, which made them one of the top 20 teams each of those years. It may be easier to make a bowl game, but it is not easier to make the Outback Bowl (for example) compared to even getting a berth in the NCAA tourney. Again, not only were bowl games part of the argument, so were top 25 rankings – on football side the Gators were always there, on the basketball side they have hardly been there in the time periods we are discussing.

    2) Yes, basketball is more volatile. But that doesn’t really relate to the discussion we were having. Just looking at production. Honestly, I could not be any more tired of talking about this completely fictitious scenario. That one article that I posted wasted half of my day already. haha

  14. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    To me comparing Donovan to Zook is just absurd on too many levels to even list…that being said it is clear we are finally seeing a real team built again after a few years of struggling…I’ll trade that for 2 NC’s any day at UF….this is not UK, Duke, UNC or Kansas folks…the expectations of some are just crazy!!!

    • That is because you are jumping into the middle of a conversation. We were not comparing Zook an Donovan and we were certainly not comparing their careers. The discussion was about whether or not Donovan would still be employed or be on the hot seat if he only had the last three seasons (with the assumption of missing a third NCAAs) as UF’s football coach. Malik and I started the convo on Twitter and continued here.

  15. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    I thought I was on a message board….I’ll move on to another topic I guess

    • I wasn’t trying to imply that you coulnt join in. Just that you weren’t around for the beginning of the conversation and misunderstood what we were talking about. As you said, moving on…

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