Florida Gators bubble watch: Sat. March 13

By Adam Silverstein
March 13, 2010

NOTE: OGGOA is currently in the process of relocating (AKA I am moving) and is without Internet access until Monday morning. Therefore, we will be coming at you with a ton of news and notes first thing that morning. However, we will still be keeping tabs on Florida Gators basketball throughout the weekend and will still offer a live update right after Selection Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

Florida’s win Thursday against the Auburn Tigers appeared impressive enough to earn them a berth in March Madness, but their loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals coupled with a bunch of upsets and other victories has forced them to the back of the bubble.

Below is OGGOA‘s latest bubble watch update:

» Mississippi State (22-10) defeated Florida 75-69
» Dayton (20-12) lost to Xavier 78-73
» Rhode Island (23-8) defeated Saint Louis 63-47
» Georgia Tech (21-11) defeated No. 19 Maryland 69-64 (considered a lock)
» Illinois (19-13) defeated No. 18 Wisconsin 58-54
» Ole Miss (21-10) lost to No. 13 Tennessee 76-65
» San Diego State (24-8) defeated No. 8 New Mexico 72-69 (considered a lock)
» Minnesota (19-12) defeated No. 11 Michigan State 72-67
» Washington (22-9) defeated Stanford 79-64

Additionally, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has dropped Florida out of his final teams to earn a berth. Instead, he has them as his second team out after Illinois after Mississippi State, Minnesota and Washington pulled off impressive victories Saturday coupled with some big upsets from other teams.

Florida [21-12 (9-7), RPI: 54, SOS: 31] The Gators seemed to be in decent shape after defeating Auburn in Thursday night’s first round of the SEC tournament, but then they lost to Mississippi State on Friday and a bunch of other bubble teams won. It will be a close call for Florida, which is trying to end a two-year NCAA drought after winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. UF went 9-7 in SEC play during the regular season. The Gators are 3-8 against RPI top-50 foes, but those three are very good: beating Tennessee (home), Michigan State (neutral) and Florida State (home). Eight of their 12 losses came against teams that are ranked No. 24 or better in the RPI ratings. The Gators will have to overcome one ugly eyesore — a 67-66 loss at home to No. 212 South Alabama on Dec. 22.

Selection Sunday will air March 14 beginning at 6 p.m. on CBS. The NCAA Selection Committee will choose five at-large teams to join the 39 locks and 21 automatic qualifiers already in the tournament. OGGOA will provide full coverage of the event.


  1. ReptilesRule says:

    Billy D certainly deserves all the credit for what he’s done for Florida Basketball, but he’s not getting paid 3.5 Mil a year to go to the NIT. Let’s examine the numbers…it was $10.5 Million Dollars ago that Billy took us to the Tourney. Of course, that was back to back NC’s but still…I’m not talking about the Sweet 16 or Final Four…I’m just talking about getting in the door!! NOT ACCEPTABLE!

  2. Think of Donovan’s $3.5M contract as backpayment for the two titles, three appearances, etc. that he did for the Gators up until he signed it. You guys really need to get off of Donovan’s contract and the coach himself. He cannot catch the ball, make the basket or grab the rebound. The team is as “good” as it is because of Donovan. It would be no better if someone else was coaching.

    The only two acceptable criticisms of Donovan I give any credence to is (a) playing time decisions with Werner/Walker and (b) recruiting. Aside from that, he is one of the best coaches in the game and the insane amount of criticism he has received recently is unjustified. That is all.

  3. ReptilesRule says:

    Adam, there’s no doubt about Billy D’s accomplishments. But iespecially n this economy, it’s hard to ignore the contract. UF is paying Kentuck money and getting USF results. Anybody can go to the NIT nowadays. It’s about to be three years in a row. Every once in awhile, OK. Billy is the second highest paid college basketball coach at 3.5 mil just $500,000 below Calipari. And we can’t even make it in a 65 team field. In the business world, that kind of return for your money would be considered a rip off. If we go to the NIT AGAIN next year, something will need to be done…

  4. Phuq werner says:

    The recruiting has to improve without question, just happy they made it in ..now let’s win atleast one game

  5. gatorspirit says:

    Let’s see, …questionable: (a) “playing time decisions with [both a Senior (older) and Sophomore (younger) player],” which would seemingly suggest it’s not about seniority (and it’s clear it cannot be based on talent or results, though it should be; on WHAT then: favoritism? …perish the thought! Perhaps”experience,” but did Walker start last year??), and (b) RECRUITING (a minor little HUGE THING!!!). Is that all?!?
    How much else is there?!?

    “Aside from that,” there’s between-game stuff (scheming {incl. film}, drills, practice, and coaching {granted, no small load; and at which he obviously does very well}), and in-game management (OF WHICH personel and playing time ARE A PART! – so the part he’s good at is Time-Out & Clock management??? Great! But some play calling has been suspect too – unless you want to charge that to execution; which may well be, based on what I see on the court. Point is, he doesn’t even get full credit for this due to his stated deficiencies/decisions!).

    All that said, it’s amazing we’re as “good” as we are (especially considering our lack of depth and mediocre talent)! A most obvious measure of Billy’s enduring coaching prowess!

    Therefore, I still do believe in Coach Donovan. However, though he was once a fresh and brash “young gun” – great for the SEC and even better for UF – astute pundits point out, he’s no longer “Billy The Kid,” but rather “The Elder Statesman” of the conference.

    As such, like anyone, and as many before, even he’s subject to fall prey to “old school syndrome” (staleness, predictability, tradition {sometimes it’s good, other times not so much!}). For this reason, I’m really glad John Calipari has come to the SEC with his so called dribble-drive offense. He and his style is the best thing to happen to the SEC since, well, …”Billyball!” It’s exciting and challenging; a new mountain for our “Elder Statesman” to tame (to mix metaphors)!

    I’ve said it before in this forum, and I’ll say it again. We’re not too far from greatness again. Consider: give us just one of Kentucky’s vaunted freshmen (or an equivalent), MAYBE two (and not necessarily John Wall), and we’re likely sitting at a record of AT LEAST 25 – 8 (probably better), AND advance past Miss. State to the Semi-finals in the SEC Tourney. That would merely be off the “Gatorboyz” pace by only about 2 games or so! Not too shabby!

    Penultimately, in addition to the need for Donovan to re-double his efforts at stressing “the extra pass” (a hallmark of classic “Billyball”) – not to mention the attending Player Movement that goes with it on the court – he needs to shore-up foul shooting skills; they’re FREE throws (read: FREE POINTS) for goodness sake. They’re GIFTS:
    …TAKE THEM!!!
    EACH player should shoot a MINIMUM of 100 ADDITIONAL free throws above and beyond that which they already shoot in each practice session! NO player on the team should average below 70%! NO ONE!!! 80% shouldn’t be considered good; it should be AVERAGE!!!
    Allow me to demonstrate the significance of “Free Stuff,” in the form of uncontested POINTS from the “Charity Stripe,” in the following “Sidebar:”

    {SIDEBAR} — [I suggest renaming shots from the Foul Line “FREE POINTERS;” sounds like the beloved “Three Pointer,” and would be a constant reminder of their intrinsic, yet underrated, value – quite often the difference between victory and defeat!
    For example, even with no Kentucky Freshmen transfers, and assuming the sheer number of “Free Throws” shot and missed in any game was sufficient to accomodate, had we made exactly …
    …SEVEN more “Free Points” in each game, we would’ve won 7 more games and lost 7 fewer (28 – 5);
    …SIX more “Free Points” in each game would’ve yielded 5 more “regulation” victories plus 2 Ties – a potential 6th and 7th victory in Overtime – giving us at least a 26 – 7 record (or a possible 28 – 5);
    …FIVE additional “Free Points” could’ve yielded 5 additional wins (26 – 7);
    …FOUR extra “Free Points” in each game also would’ve produced an OT game, along with 4 “W’s,” offering up either 25 – 8 or 26 – 7 records; amazingly, a mere …
    …THREE extra “Freebie Points” (again, we’re talkin’ ’bout simple, “made” FREE Throws here!) in each game would’ve profitted us at least 3 more wins, with a possible 4th OT victory, netting a 24 – 9 or 25 – 8 record, respectively; incredibly, only …
    …TWO additional “made” FREE Throws (what are they? …FREE POINTS!) in each game would’ve generated as many as 3 more wins, but no less than 2 due to one being another OT game (result: 24 – 9 or 23 – 10); and,…
    …JUST ONE (1) MORE “FREE POINTER” from the “Charity Stripe” in each game could have garnered us as many as TWO (2) additional Overtime victories; a 2 to 1 return ratio for wins to points – a pretty good investment which would’ve remedied our collective “Bubble” angst much sooner, leaving us with a 23 – 10 record come “Selection Sunday!”
    Unfortunately, the only scenario heretofore that would’ve advanced us past Miss. State to the SEC Semi-finals is the SEVEN “Free Pointer” one (since we lost to them by six points).
    For the record, adding a mere SINGLE “Freebie Point” to the SEVEN “Freebies” scenario above, totalling EIGHT (8) additional FREE THROW POINTS (per game), secures us TWO (2) ADDITIONAL Overtime games, enabling us to potentially win 9 extra games leading into the SEC “SEMI-FINALS” (30 -3), and entering the “Big Dance” with records of either 30 – 4, 31 – 4, or 32 – 3. Behold the power of “FREE POINTERS!”]. {END SIDEBAR}

    To add realism to Free Throw practice (while simultaneously involving the fans), I would PUBLICLY schedule specific time periods for Free Throw practice, then invite Gator Fans to attend and participate by sitting behind the basket(s) and making as much of a ruckus as possible (both noise- and motion-wise). If the O’Dome doesn’t already pipe in blasting music and/or “canned cheering,” they should. Oh, and why not make available (for purchase) some cheap noise-makers and horns and the like for the fans to use (if not already)?! This would create an even stronger bond between fan and team, and give the fans the feeling that they have an even greater vested stake in the team’s success (and rewards)!!

    Lastly, Billy NEEDS to come up with “something” to enhance team/player FOCUS; primarily to help ward off our perennial end-of-season skid, but also to combat our equivalent to the proverbial mid-life crisis: the “mid-season malaise.” Even the vaunted “Gatorboyz” of yore suffered these in consecutive seasons!
    Let’s LEARN from history… Boyz!

    That’s all.


    • I’ll respond to your comment, gatorspirit, when I get to a computer tomorrow. But dude, this is a comment section – not an essay contest. I dread reading that entire thing tomorrow. 🙂 LOL

  6. gatorspirit says:


    a) WOOPS!
    b) Donovan & the Gator Hoops program are gradually recovering from his “fiasco” following the 2007 season. They’re almost back. I expect a Final Four appearance in three years. It would’ve been this year, or last, had he not pulled that “stunt!”


    PS: Poor Mississippi State. Man, were they burned?!?! So their RPI wasn’t that good and they had a couple bad losses, BUT they were peaking BIG TIME at the best of times!! If that layup doesn’t beat the buzzer, their in!! Ridiculous!

  7. gatorspirit says:

    Sorry Adam, et al,

    I did not start out intending to write a long treatise, but at some point I passed the proverbial point of no return, and was faced with the decision of whether or not to self-delete an already substantial investment (?) of time!
    Also, first drafts, especially without an outline, can tend to be long. My bad.
    As well, I risked inadvertant truncation at any point due to heretofore undetermined “technical glitches” as previuosly experienced!
    At least I kept it clean, I think, error-wise (and otherwise!).


    PS: Perhaps it’s more intended for the “Basketball gods;” from this “essay” to “their” ear(s)!
    [That is all].

  8. Reptiles- Don’t bring the economy into this conversation. Coaches salaries rise every year and the Gators had to pay him enough to not only keep him away from Kentucky, but also the NBA. Would you rather them not have done so and let him go? Obviously the end of your comment had to deal with them not “even make it in a 65 team field,” which they did – they were one of the top 40 teams in that field. So we’re done here.

    Gatorspirit- I gave two concessions about Donovan as “acceptable criticisms.” In other words – criticisms I would tolerate hearing about him. I didn’t say I agreed with those criticisms.

    (a) As far as the “playing time” portion goes, Donovan has been working with an eight-man team this year, not 10. He has 8 bodies to rotate in and out, two of which are freshman, one of which Gators fans know can’t play (Werner). However, you need a body in there to replace Macklin and Tyus (and Parsons isn’t a post player), and Werner is that body. Now to Walker…this kid was supposed to be a BACK-UP point guard. Donovan recruited Jai Lucas and Nick Calathes (mostly a SG, but still) to run the team with Walker helping out. I personally would have preferred him play Shipman more and let Boynton run the point (which I suspect he will do next year), but this team still won a ton of huge games.

    (b) Recruiting – Donovan came into the 2008 season with his starting SIX players (and one walk-on) all off the team due to graduation or declaring for the NBA Draft. Did that 2008 team pull an absolute flop like it probably should have? Nope. It went 21-10 in the regular season with wins over No. 13 Vanderbilt and some quality SEC teams. He also lost the following games: (at No. 15 Ole Miss – 89-87, at No. 19 Vanderbilt 61-58, vs. No. 4 Tennessee 89-86). In 2009, his team went 22-9 in the regular season with wins over Kentucky, Vanderbilt, NC State, Washington and close losses to FSU on the road, SC on the road, Kentucky on the road, LSU on the road, Tennessee at home. That team then won its first SEC Tournament game before losing to Auburn in the second round.

    **It also held this distinction: of a “big 6 power conference” team, Florida’s 22 regular season wins were the most one had achieved to be left out of March Madness in the HISTORY of the tournament.**

    You can question him bringing in Werner, sure. But he’s also lost a ton of players to both transfer and injury. Him skipping to the Magic for that short period of time coupled with a let down in 2008 led to this. (With Speights returning and Calathes starting, many hoped the team would still be able to make it right away. Speights flipped to the NBA and Calathes left for Greece one year later – the team’s next two best players.)

    Donovan has two four-star forwards and two five-star shooting guards (one of them the No. 1 player in the country) already committed for 2010 and 2011, respectively. He is also in the hunt for the No. 1 player in the country in Brandon Knight. So please, I don’t want to hear about his recruiting. Everyone has misses.

    (c) As to everything he does – the actual coaching, preparing for game,s game planning, clock management, calling plays on the court, etc. – he does that as well as anyone in the game today. It is not his fault if the execution is not always there. Do you know how many open layups, free throws, etc. this team has missed? Do you know how many chuck three-pointers Erving Walker has thrown up (such as the one game I recently pointed out where he threw up the last seven shots and missed six of them)? Donovan didn’t call for him to do that, trust me.

    (d) There is nothing stale whatsoever about Donovan or his coaching. He gets these kids motivated and keeps what the team brings out to the court fresh. You notice his “Billyball,” but you don’t even realize he’s NOT playing Billyball this year. That includes great three-point shooting, the ability for players to drive the line and create their own shot, etc. He doesn’t have those players. Instead, he did what great coaches do and CHANGED things to suit the players he has on his team. He turned them into a defense-first team (though they don’t always execute) that limited shots from downtown for its opponents (sans MSU) and made them fight all game long. That’s why you have games like MSU where the team goes on a 14-point run after being down 19. That’s why you have them take the No. 2 Kentucky team to the brink on two games (though they fell apart in the final minutes, they kept it close until then). That’s why you had them almost beat Vanderbilt at home and almost come back against Georgia (the best home team in the conference outside of Kentucky and Vanderbilt) on the road.

    (e) If the Gators are “not too far from greatness,” then why disagree in the first place. This team would be nowhere near greatness without Donovan.

    (f) The extra pass? Player movement? Did you see what this team did against Auburn? Obviously not. Do you not think they’re taking those extra free throws? Have you not seen the improvement from the line after those two pitiful games? You don’t seem to realize that college teams do not shoot FT% the same as the pros.

    (g) Ignored your sidebar. This was too long already, and I have so much work to do on the site. Suffice to say, FT are fine the way they are.

    (h) He needs to enhance focus? What? Not going to bother responding to that. Suffice to say, most of the points you made are simply dead-wrong or overblown and you are not looking at what is actually going on but rather the criticisms that the media and other fans are throwing his way. **I respect your opinions and greatly appreciate you taking the time to write them out and join us in conversing here!** I just don’t agree with you whatsoever.

    Also, as a quick sidebar of my own – please let’s try to keep comments relatively short. It is a comment section, not a message board. And if you want me to respond to something or answer a question, it especially can’t be long like this because it takes up wayyyy too much time with all the other writing I have to do here. I hope you understand. 🙂

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