Great Year, Not So Great Ending

One more shot. That's all Florida needed from Erving Walker. One more shot at the end of regulation would have sent the Gators to the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. But Walker's shot was just off, Butler won it in overtime and Billy Donovan's over-achieving squad saw its incredible season come to an end.

The last few seconds of regulation were not the only reasons the Gators will be watching Butler on TV next Saturday. Yes, Florida probably should have used a timeout and gotten Vernon Macklin into the game, despite the fear of him coming up empty if he ended up at the free throw line.

Yes, Kenny Boynton should have driven to the basket instead of launching a three-pointer with 19 seconds to go down by a point. Yes, Walker should have made the free throw to tie the game with the score at 72-71.

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. That's always the way it is after a gut wrenching setback and that's the way it is today for most of Gator Nation.

Florida fans aren't thinking about an SEC Championship season; they're thinking about giving up an 11-point lead in the final nine minutes of regulation.

They aren't thinking about a 29-win season, they're minds are fixed on allowing Butler to grab 16 offensive rebounds, including seven by Florida native Khyle Marshall.

Gator Nation is not focused on the excellent productivity the team got from its non-starters; it's focused on the Florida bench getting outscored 23-2 by Butler's.

Chandler Parsons was the SEC Player of the Year and gave this team the direction and leadership it lacked for the past three years. But today, I suspect most fans are thinking about his 2-for-9 shooting, five points and two assists in 43 minutes in New Orleans.

It's a shame to have it end like this, but you gotta remember the incredible number of good things that had to happen to be in this position. Florida's 2010-11 basketball team will go down as one of the five or six best in school history.

We'll look at that during the course of the weeks ahead. For now, Gator Nation is in mourning, but that's only because this was such a great season no one wanted it to end.

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