Florida’s basketball season is over and while it’s easy to see how 21-15 could have been much better, there are positives to build on for the future for Mike White. If you see things through optimistic eyes, then here are seven positives as you look ahead:
1. Kasey Hill started playing like the Kasey Hill we expected when he was the nation’s most highly recruited point guard – and a McDonald’s All-American – out of high school. In the last several games of the season, he hit open shots, showed he can be a creative passer who gets the ball to teammates and played serious defense. Against George Washington, he had 12 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. In his last five games, Hill averaged 15.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. If he comes back – and he should – he could be one of the best point guards in the country.
2. KeVaughn Allen will be the go-to guy next year. He averaged 11.6 points per game as a freshman. If he learned the difference between a good shot and a bad shot this season and parlays that into better decisions as a sophomore, he could average 20 a game.
3. John Egbunu has the size and strength to evolve into an NBA talent at center. When he loses that fear of hurting someone with a power move and decides to dunk both the basketball and the defender, he will be a beast.
4. Kevarrius Hayes showed in the last two games that he’s going to be a very good basketball player. He’s still too skinny at 210 but has the frame to add another 25 pounds. At 235 he will be a beast.
5. Keith Stone took a redshirt. Word is that he’s transformed his body and will be SEC strong next year. He’s got enough range on his shot to stretch defenses. If Devin Robinson doesn’t develop into the replacement for Dorian Finney-Smith, Stone could be that guy.
6. Alex Murphy could get a sixth year from the NCAA. He played only 23 minutes all season. He’s got grades, an undergraduate degree and a squeaky clean record of behavior, just the kind of guy to whom the NCAA typically will award that extra year. Murph has such a high basketball IQ that he could be like a coach on the floor. He might not ever be anything more than a role player off the bench, but he has outstanding leadership qualities and that’s something the Gators lacked this year.
7. Florida’s bench next year could be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference with Justin Leon, Chris Chiozza, Robinson or Stone, Murphy and freshman combo guard Eric Hester. Mike White loves to press and run opponents ragged. With this group, he’ll have a strong rotation at every position.
Men’s Swimming: The 5th-ranked Gators are third with 32 points after the first day of the NCAA championships in Atlanta. All 32 Florida points were scored when Pawel Werner, Jan Switkowski, Mark Szaranek and Mitch D’Arrigo combined for a 6:09.84 time in the 800 Yard Freestyle Relay to set a UF school record.
FINEBAUM’S FINAL FOUR OF SEC QUARTERBACKS
Radio/TV host Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network has been conducting a est ever SEC QB playoff that is decided by a vote of fans. The final four will have Tim Tebow (Florida) vs. Cam Newton (Auburn) and Peyton Manning (Tennessee) vs. Archie Manning (Ole Miss).
While it’s hard to complain about any of those four, I have one question: How can you have a final four of SEC QBs that doesn’t include Danny Wuerffel? In the playoff, Wuerffel was defeated in the quarterfinals by Archie Manning.
The original 12 QBs for this playoff (seeding in parenthesis) were: (1) Tebow; (2) Peyton Manning; (3) Wuerffel; (4) Newton; (5) Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; (6) Archie Manning; (7) Steve Spurrier, Florida; (8) Joe Namath, Alabama; (9) Pat Sullivan, Auburn; (10) Ken Stabler, Alabama; (11) Eli Manning, Ole Miss and (12) Fran Tarkenton, Georgia.
Just in case you keep track of such things, 71 of the 128 Division I football schools are outfitted by Nike followed by adidas with 27. Among the 65 power conference schools, Nike outfits 44 while adidas has 12, Under Armour 8 and Russell Athletic (Georgia Tech) 1.
SEC shoe/apparel contracts ($$$ per year in parenthesis):
Nike: Florida ($3.355 million), Alabama ($3.67 million), Arkansas ($3.3 million), Georgia ($3.8 million), Kentucky ($3.525 million), LSU ($4.2 million), Missouri ($2.25 million), Ole Miss ($4 million), Tennessee ($4.2 million), Vanderbilt (signed new deal through 2023, no details)
Adidas: Texas A&M ($7.1 million), Mississippi State ($3 million)
Under Armour: Auburn ($8.68 million), South Carolina ($7.15 million)
BASKETBALL COACHING MOVES
Former UF assistant and VCU/Alabama head coach Anthony Grant has the inside track on the Tulane job.
UCF is hiring Johnny Dawkins as its new hoops coach. Unless UCF is willing to spend money for a realistic recruiting budget and spend some money so travel isn’t done el cheapo, Dawkins will suffer the same fate as the fired Donnie Jones.
Pitt reached out to Arizona coach Sean Miller about coming home. He said no.
Pitt also reached out to former coach Ben Howland, who just finished his first year at Mississippi State. That was an easy no for Howland. Pitt is a Nike school. The reason Mississippi State was able to land a coach of Howland’s stature is because he’s a died in the wool adidas guy.
Apparently Vandy head coach Kevin Stallings is thinking about a move. His name is being mentioned prominently with the opening at Saint Louis. The other hot name for that job is Florida Gulf Coach head coach Joe Dooley.
Archie Miller (Dayton) and Johnny Jones (LSU) are staying put. Miller is getting a substantial raise and some other upgrades while Jones avoided a Countdown to Firing Day date with the Extinct Species List.
The average player in the NBA makes $4.9 million per year. The league minimum is $525,000 for a rookie. A person who makes minimum wage in the US would only have to work 8 years and 71 days to make that much money. And these guys are thinking about a “labor stoppage” – a strike in the real world – next year. Am I missing something?
Last year Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors walked away from Nike and signed a shoe deal with Under Armour. I’m guessing Nike has canned whoever it was who was in charge of contract negotiations.
Alex Rodriguez says he will retire after the 2017 season when he finishes the final year of that 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees. Do we need further proof that some people (the Yankees management who approved that deal) have more money than they have brains?
The NFL moved touchbacks on kickoffs back to the 25 yard line.
ESPN.com rates the uniforms of the teams that made the Sweet 16. North Carolina got the nod for the best uniform while Texas A&M was picked as the worst. I’m guessing the guy who ranked the unis didn’t get a close up look at those hideous outfits the Miami Hurricanes wear.
Since Jim Harbaugh insists on pushing the envelope by bringing Michigan to IMG in Bradenton for spring football practice and holding satellite camps in the deep south, then SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and ACC commissioner John Swofford should declare open season on Harbaugh. Let’s see how Harbaugh would like schools like Florida, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, Florida State and Miami holding camps up north. I’m sure a kid who is butt-deep in snow several months of the year might be intrigued by the thought of playing football in the deep south.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Are you optimistic about the future of the Florida basketball program or are you withholding judgment until you’ve seen at least one more season from Mike White?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
It’s been quite a week for Cuba. Obama visits. The Tampa Bay Rays play an exhibition game before a sold out crowd of 55,000. Friday night the Rolling Stones play a free concert. Mick Jagger will turn 73 this year and I’m relatively certain Keith Richards is at least 106, but they still put on a great show. Today’s music is a live concert recording from 1998 in Bremen, Germany.
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