Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; Feb. 15

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning...

The Gators (16-9, 7-5 SEC) must be walking on nubs this week after shooting themselves in both feet multiple times Saturday night in the 61-55 loss to Alabama. This is another one of those games that really shouldn’t have been close. Florida should have won the game handily but the Gators just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.

The Gators shot 28.6% from the floor overall (18-63), 14.3% from the 3-point line (3-21) and 59.3% from the foul line (16-27).

So think of the game like this: If the Gators hit a combination of four layups or tip-ins they win the game. If they hit two more 3-pointers, they tie the game and sent it to overtime; three more and they win it. If they hit six more free throws, the game is in overtime.

Losing to Alabama is a serious blow to the Gators’ hopes to get into the NCAA Tournament. There are six more games to be played in the regular season and four of them are on the road (Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Missouri). Of the four roadies, only the Missouri game looks favorable for the Gators. The two remaining home games are Vanderbilt, which already owns a win over UF in Nashville, and Kentucky, which blew the doors off the Gators, 80-61, in Lexington.

To all but guarantee inclusion in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators better figure out a way to win four more games and that’s a rather difficult task since it means winning two games on the road. The Gators are 2-6 on the road so far and this week’s schedule is at Georgia (Tuesday) and South Carolina (Saturday). Georgia is 12-3 at home while South Carolina is 13-1.

Of the 14 teams in the SEC, only South Carolina (4-3) has a winning road record and Ole Miss (5-5) is the only other team with at least a .500 record away from home.

SEC Basketball Power Rankings

1. Kentucky (19-6, 9-3 SEC, #13 RPI)

2. LSU (16-9, 9-3 SEC, #69 RPI)

3. South Carolina (21-4, 8-4 SEC, #25 RPI)

4. Texas A&M (18-7, 7-5 SEC, #24 RPI)

5. Vanderbilt (15-10, 7-5 SEC, #53 RPI)

6. Alabama (15-9, 6-6 SEC, #34 RPI)

7. FLORIDA (16-9, 7-5 SEC, #31 RPI)

8. Georgia (14-9, 7-5 SEC, #64 RPI)

9. Ole Miss (16-9, 6-6 SEC, #85 RPI)

10. Arkansas (12-13, 5-7 SEC, #115 RPI)

11. Tennessee (12-13, 5-7 SEC, #125 RPI)

12. Mississippi State (10-14, 3-9 SEC, #172 RPI)

13. Auburn (9-15, 3-9 SEC, #141 RPI)

14. Missouri (9-16, 2-10 SEC, #198 RPI)

FLORIDA SOFTBALL WEEKEND: GATORS 38, OPPONENTS 1

Tim Walton’s Florida softball team flexed some opening weekend muscle by going 4-0 and outscoring opponents 38-1 in four run-rule games, justifying the Gators’ lofty #1 preseason ranking.

For the weekend, the Gators outhit Illinois State, Michigan, Virginia Tech and South Florida 35-9, with Janell Wheaton leading the way with a 6-12 performance with a home run, a double and 9 RBI. Freshman Amanda Lorenz went 5-10 with 5 RBI. Lefty Delanie Gourley went 2-0 for the weekend with a 1-hit shutout Friday night against Illinois State and three innings of 1-hit relief Sunday in the Gators’ 11-1 win over USF. Gourley struck out 12 batters in eight innings. Aleshia Ocasio pitched a 3-hit shutout  and struck out 7 in Florida’s 8-0 over Virginia Tech Sunday and freshman Kelly Barnhill pitched a 3-hit shutout her collegiate debut as the Gators run-ruled #2 Michigan, 8-0. Barnhill allowed only four balls to reach the outfield against Michigan. She gave up a run and a hit in two innings against USF Sunday.

The Gators will make their home debut Wednesday night against Jacksonville University before heading to Orlando for the weekend for the Diamond 9 Tournament. 

Women’s Gymnastics

The second-ranked Gators got five 9.950 scores in their 197.450-195.975 win over #9 Arkansas Friday night before a crowd of 7,621 at the O-Dome. Bridget Sloan turned in 9.950s in the uneven parallel bars and the floor exercise while Alex McMurtry got 9.950s in the bars and balance beam. Freshman Alicia Boren, Florida’s only all-around performer against Arkansas, scored a 39.525 to win that title. The Gators own the top score in the nation this season (198.175). Sloan is #1 ranked nationally in the all-around, #2 in the beam and #3 on the bars while McMurtry is tied for second in the vault and tied for third in the bars.  The Gators travel to Missouri Friday night.

Women’s Tennis

Florida’s third-ranked women’s tennis team was on cruise control Sunday, taking a 7-0 win over #20 Clemson at the Ring Tennis Center. Florida won all three doubles matches to take the doubles point, then won all six singles matches in straight sets. The Gators take the week off before traveling west to face #1 California and #14 Stanford the following weekend. 

Men’s Tennis

The 22nd-ranked Florida men posted a 7-0 win over Furman Saturday. The Gators don’t play again until Saturday in Columbus when they square off with Ohio State.

Lacrosse

The seventh-ranked Gators (2-0) got a goal from Sammi Burgess with 10 seconds to go Saturday for a 12-11 win over Michigan at Donald Dizney Stadium. This week the Gators host the Wales National Team Thursday afternoon. Saturday the Gators face #2 North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Amanda O’Leary needs to more wins to get to the 100-win mark at UF. Her career record is 260-92.  

Track and Field

With five national championships under his belt, it takes a lot to impress head coach Mike Holloway, so when he calls what the Gators did Friday at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Ames, Iowa in the Iowa State Classic as “monstrous” it’s time to pay attention. The Gators posted six top 16 Division I times of which three cracked the world indoor top 20. There were six marks that made Florida’s all-time indoor top ten.

At the Tyson Invitational, the #4 Florida women got a 2-3-4 finish from Kyra Jefferson, Robin Reynolds and Claudia Francis in the 400 meters. Those times rank third, fourth and fifth this season in the NCAA. On the men’s side, Ryan Clark (60 meters), Eric Futch (400) and Yanick Hart (400 hurdles) posted times that rank inside the NCAA top 16 for the top-ranked Gator men.

Saturday in Fayetteville, David leapt 44-3.5 for the third best triple jump in UF history and the second best this season in Division I.

Women’s Basketball

The Gators (19-6, 7-5) went 0-2 on the road this week and if that doesn’t drop them completely out of the top 25 (they’re currently ranked #16), they’ll probably be somewhere around 24 or 25. Sunday, the Gators were destroyed by Auburn, 80-58, a game in which their 21 turnovers led to 27 Auburn points. Auburn also manhandled the Gators inside, outscoring UF 40-28 in the paint.

Baseball

The #1-ranked Gators open their season at McKethan Stadium Friday night when Florida Gulf Coast comes to town for a 3-game series.

DAMEYUNE CRAIG BOLTS AUBURN FOR LSU

Let the speculation begin now that Les Miles has stolen Dameyune Craig off the Auburn staff. Supposedly, Craig has been hired to coach the LSU wide receivers but he coached quarterbacks and was credited with much of the development of first round draft picks Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel when he worked for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. At LSU, there is that teensy matter of offensive coordinator/QB coach Cam Cameron, who had a poor 2015. While Miles has not given any indication that Cameron’s job is in jeopardy, there was nothing to make anyone believe former wide receivers coach Tony Ball was in trouble, either, and he now longer has a job. There has been talk that a new contract is in the works for Cameron, whose current contract ends on March 1. It must also be noted that Cameron was treated for prostate cancer following the 2014 LSU season.

Is Craig being brought in simply to coach the wide receivers or is he being groomed to succeed Cameron? And, will it be announced any day now that Cameron has finally signed that mysterious contract, which has been rumored since mid-January?

Meanwhile, there is Auburn. Losing Craig is going to raise serious questions about the job security of head coach Gus Malzahn. After a year in which Auburn’s offense under-performed significantly, losing one of the most talented coaches and best recruiters on the staff has to send a rather chilling signal to the  Auburn faithful. Bruce Feldman of Foxsports.com is reporting that Auburn might be interested in hiring Kodi Burns, a former high school QB who switched to wide receiver at Auburn. Burns worked for Malzahn at Arkansas State and served as a grad assistant for Malzahn at Auburn in 2013.

Also, LSU hired Jabar Juluke off the Texas Tech staff to replace Frank Wilson as the running backs coach. Wilson

ZEBRAS SWALLOWED THEIR WHISTLES AT DUKE SATURDAY

Grayson Allen scored what will go down as the game-winning shot at the buzzer to lead Duke past Virginia, 63-62, Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Video shows that Allen took an extra step before releasing the shot but there was no call. There was also a chance to call a block on the Virginia defender, but again no whistle. This game followed that all-too-familiar pattern this year when the zebras either swallow their whistles and let obvious fouls go un-called or they blow them too much and turn games into free throw shooting marathons.

MEYER TALKS EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

Whether you are a fan of Urban Meyer or not, the former Florida football coach makes a couple of legitimate points when stating his opposition to college football adapting an early signing period. In an interview with Cleveland.com, Meyer said, “You're moving it just forward and forward, what if a kid wants to change his mind? (If) he wants to change his mind because of coaching changes or other circumstances, the player should be allowed to change his mind.” Under the current rules, only brain surgery is less complicated than getting out of a signed LOI. 

Now Maryland fans might think Meyer makes self-serving points since he benefitted from the coaching change that saw Randy Edsall fired and Michigan and former Florida DC D.J. Durkin hired in College Park. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins and linebacker Keandre Jones both committed to Maryland months before the coaching change and had there been an early signing period, both probably would be obligated to play for Durkin and the Terps now.

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE

Last week, in response to the SEC protesting to the NCAA about his decision to hold a week of spring practice at IMG Academy in Bradenton during spring break, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted “Question of the day: Does anyone find whining to be attractive? Just curious.”

This is the pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps because he’s such a good whiner he’s a bit sensitive? Here is a video of Harbaugh showing his calm, cool and collected side on the sideline during games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMd6Fv6OKfM

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Prior to Sunday night I had no clue who Ne-Yo was, but I do now. His rendition of the National Anthem at the NBA All-Star Game was one to be remembered.

As if they need it, Alabama added a quality graduate transfer at wide receiver over the weekend. Gehrig Dieter (6-3, 207), who caught 94 passes for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns for Bowling Green in 2015 including 7-133 and a TD against Tennessee, will be eligible immediately. In his three-year career at Bowling Green, Dieter caught 139 passes for 1,561 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dieter will have a shot to take over in the slot for Richard Mullaney, who caught 38 passes for 390 yards and 5 TDs after transferring to Alabama from Oregon State last year.

Receivers coach Jay Norvell left the Texas staff for a position on Todd Graham’s staff at Arizona State. Norvell was one of two coaches to depart Charlie Strong’s staff last week and the fifth who’s moved on since January 1.

File this under like father, like son. William Clyde “Chase” Elliott II won the pole for next week’s Daytona 500 with a time of 196.036 mph around the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Elliott is the 20-year-old son of Bill Elliott, a 2-time Daytona winner and winner of 44 NASCAR races.

Phil Mickelson’s birdie putt on 18 lipped out Sunday, which gave Vaughn Taylor a 1-stroke win at Pebble Beach. Taylor not only got his first win and a check for $1,260,000 but also qualified for the Masters. Mickelson, who will surely cry all the way to the bank to cash his $756,000 check, was trying to win his first PGA tournament since 2013.

Arkansas gave offensive coordinator Dan Enos a $150,000 raise to $700,000 with $50,000 per year incremental raises through 2018. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith got a $50,000 raise to $800,000 and head strength coach Ben Herbert will be paid $340,000 in 2016. Arkansas also hired Reggie Mitchell off the Kansas staff to coach running backs.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you favor an early signing period for college football or is the game better off with the status quo.

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Today I ran across this video of the Allman Brothers with Eric Clapton from 2009. The guitar work of Clapton, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes is incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb22MYqdugE


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