So far the first two games have been about perfect for the Florida Gators. Jackson State was a perfect first game opponent. The Gators couldn’t figure it out early. Not only that, they had that nervous edge where they couldn’t quite score and had that look of doubt on their faces.
And that’s good.
“You need to have that edge, that nervousness in every game,” Joakim Noah said before the Gators left for New Orleans. “We know that 10 or 15 minutes and you’re off, it can all be over. We don’t want to go home.”
Florida beat Jackson State easily in the second half running away and scoring 112 points. That’s because they played like they’re supposed to in the second half. It’s pretty easy when it comes to Florida basketball these days. When they play like they’re supposed to, they’re nearly unbeatable. When they don’t, just about anybody can beat them.
Same thing against Purdue in the second round game. They couldn’t quite deal with the defensive pressure. They were on edge and couldn’t hit anything early in the game. But once they started playing like they’re supposed to, they went through Purdue without any problem.
“I’m going to let them enjoy it,” Billy Donovan said from New Orleans. “It’s because they wouldn’t be enjoying it if the outcome were different.”
I really don’t know what to make of this Florida team. I don’t know if the opponents have figured something out about them, or if other teams got better, but this isn’t the same run as last year. Certainly, teams are defending Lee Humphrey on the perimeter and making Taurean Green take the shots from the outside. Billy Donovan has responded by putting Al Horford, Noah and Chris Richard in the game at the same time.
Florida’s out-rebounding everybody but their scoring touch has been off in the first half. They shot 65% against Purdue in the second half and it allowed them to move into the Sweet 16. Perhaps more importantly they didn’t turn the ball over in the last ten minutes of the game.
Next up is Butler, another team Florida should beat. Maybe they’ll like the rims in St. Louis better.