Watching the Florida/Penn State game the other night I finally figured out why the Gators can’t seem to get over the hump when it comes to a decent opponent who’s having a decent night: they’re just not that good. As much as you want to put a “program” label on Florida, Billy Donovan has come up short in the last two seasons, missing on some recruits and consequently missing the NCAA’s.
There are good players on the Florida team, but it seems inconceivable that the Gators could win back-to-back National Championships and not make the tournament the next two years. (That’s the first time that’s ever happened by the way.)
I do agree when the “’04’s” announced that they were coming back for one more year, it dampened a lot of recruits enthusiasm for Florida and it threw a wrench in “the plan” as far as building from year to year. But this team is just incomplete. In one half of the game, transition and the 3-pointer, they look completely skilled and very confident. But when it comes to the other half, rebounding and the half court game, they look lost.
People point to the loss of Maurice Speights as a big blow to the program. Perhaps, but I think Billy was glad to see him leave. Not getting Patrick Patterson to be a Gator had an impact on the building process, but the lack of a big man, anywhere on the court, has impeded Florida’s road to success.
Alex Tyus is a nice player but disappears for long stretches at a time. Chandler Parsons is inconsistent and a real post player backs him down every time. Ray Shipman and Kenny Kadji are both skinny guys who might be good but even Donovan says they can’t go up and down the floor more than a few times before he has to bring them back to the bench.
I keep hearing that they’re getting this guy and that guy and that this player or that player will develop for next season. Perhaps. Billy knows that getting the best players is important, and combining them in the right year is equally important. He learned a lesson on Kwame Brown and even Donnell Harvey.
Nick Calathes is a very good player on an average team but he can’t lift everybody. Erving Walker can shoot the three but has no idea how to go to the basket.
Maybe we were spoiled by the ’04’s. Looking back they were such a complete team, inside and out, offense and defense, half court and fast break. I suppose nearly any team pales in comparison to them. But Florida’s got enough going for it to capture big recruits and become a real “program.”
Billy is the right coach and the right recruiter.
If he’s going to be the right “chef” when it comes to cooking up wins. He needs to put the right ingredients in the pot.
Right now he’s a little short.