Logan Bowles / USA TODAY Sports

Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; March 21

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

Far too often, what happens in the spring stays in the spring, but after years of waiting for the offensive line to perform to a higher standard the news coming out of Florida’s spring practice is refreshing.

Word out of spring practice is that new O-line coach Brad Davis has not only infused the Gators with his high level of energy, but he’s quite demanding as well. We’ve heard for years that the Gators are going to be better on the O-line in the fall, but this year there is good reason for the optimism.

At his Monday press conference, Jim McElwain went out of his way to praise former O-line coach Mike Summers. Summers isn’t a bad guy nor is he a particularly bad coach but he really did need a new change of scenery and Florida really did need a new O-line coach. Davis has all the earmarks of a coach with a huge upside who can get the most out of a relatively deep and talented group of linemen.

If fall camp were to begin today the starting O-line would look like this:

LT Martez Ivey

LG Tyler Jordan
C T.J. McCoy
RG Brett Heggie
RT Jawaan Taylor

UF ESTABLISHED AS 1.5-POINT FAVORITE OVER WISCONSIN

The Gators (26-8) have been established as a 1.5-point favorite for their Friday night Sweet 16 matchup with Wisconsin (27-9) of the Big Ten Conference. Florida finished the regular season ranked 17th in the USA Today Coaches Poll while Wisconsin was ranked 22nd. In RPI, the Gators were #10 nationally at the end of the regular season while Wisconsin was #36.

Here is some info about Wisconsin:

The Badgers average 72.1 points per game while allowing 61.8. Wisconsin shoots 45.3% from the field and 35.8% from the 3-point line. The Badgers shoot a very poor 64.3% from the foul line although guards Bronson Koenig (14.5 points per game) shoots 90.2% and Zak Showalter (8.1 per game) shoots 93%. Opponents shoot 41.1% from the field and 37.7% from the 3-point line.

The Badgers only turn the ball over 11 times per game and turn opponents over 12.8 times. Wisconsin holds a nearly 7 rebound margin on its 36 opponents.

Against common opponents: Wisconsin beat Tennessee 74-62 and Oklahoma, 90-70. Florida beat Tennessee 83-70 and Oklahoma 84-52.

Other than Florida State and Gonzaga, the Badgers are probably the tallest team the Gators have faced all year. They have only one player (freshman point guard D’Mitrik Trice, who comes off the bench and averages 5.8 per game) shorter than 6-3. Their front line is 6-10 Ethan Happ (13.8 points, 9.1 rebounds), 6-8 Nigel Hayes (13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds) and 6-8 Vitto Brown (6.8 points, 3.9 rebounds).

Styles: Wisconsin is a grind it out team that wants to force teams deep into the shot clock at the defensive end, and at the other end the Badgers run a pattern offense not all that dissimilar from the one the Gators defended against Virginia.

2017-18 UF BASKETBALL ROSTER IS ONE OVER THE LIMIT

Although there is the growing assumption that Devin Robinson will forego his senior season for the NBA Draft, there are no guarantees. Should Robinson elect to stay for his senior year, then decisions will have to be made since the Gators will be one over the scholarship limit of 13.

Here is a breakdown of the roster with Robinson included:

REDSHIRT SENIORS (1): John Egbunu (6-11, 260)

SENIORS (2): Chris Chiozza (6-0, 160, SR); Devin Robinson (6-8, 200)

RED SHIRT JUNIORS (1): Jalen Hudson (6-6, 190)

JUNIORS (2): KeVaughn Allen (6-2, 183); Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 220)

REDSHIRT SOPHOMORES (1): Keith Stone (6-8, 240, RSO)

SOPHOMORES (2): Gorjok Gak (6-11, 231) Eric Hester (6-3 170)

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN (1): Dontay Bassett (6-9, 222)

FRESHMEN (4): Isaiah Stokes (6-9, 275); DeAundre Ballard (6-6, 195); Chase Johnson (6-8, 215); Michael Okauru (6-4, 180)

UF GYMNASTICS HOSTS NCAA REGIONAL ON APRIL 1

Florida’s 3rd-ranked gymnastics team will host #10 Georgia, #15 Missouri, #30 New Hampshire, #33 Penn State and #35 North Carolina in an NCAA regional at the O-Dome on April 1. The top two teams at each of the six NCAA regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis April 14-15. The Gators finished second to LSU during the Southeastern Conference regular season and again at the SEC meet in Jacksonville.

UF BASEBALL SLIPS TO #11

After a disastrous 0-3 road trip to Auburn, the Gators dropped down to #12 in the ESPN/USA Today college baseball rankings. The Gators (13-8, 0-3 SEC) take to the road tonight for a non-conference encounter with Stetson in DeLand, still looking for their first road win of the season. The Gators are 12-2 in the friendly confines of McKethan Stadium (1-0 neutral site), but they’re 0-6 on the road. If Florida is going to right its listing ship, this is a good place to begin because 4th-ranked LSU comes to Gainesville for a 3-game SEC series this weekend. Somehow, the Gators have to find a way to take this series. Starting the SEC portion of the schedule after dropping the first two weekend series is a recipe for disaster. 

THE SEC DESERVES MORE RESPECT FOR BASKETBALL

For 19 years, the constant about SEC basketball was that Florida would be relevant as long as Billy Donovan remained the coach and Kentucky would always be relevant no matter who the coach is. Donovan has been gone two years, but Florida is back under Mike White and Kentucky is still Kentucky, but the rest of the league is worthy of more respect and largely because it’s hiring some really good basketball coaches.

So here we are with three SEC teams in the Sweet 16 and the only reason the ACC has one (North Carolina) is because Arkansas coach Mike Anderson went brain dead in the final five minutes. Yes, the Hogs got screwed by an inept zebra crew of LaMont Simpson, Bo Boroski and Darron George swallowed their whistles on some critical calls, but Anderson made zero adjustments in the last five minutes. That game was winnable even with the bad zebras.

I’m not at all surprised that Kentucky and Florida made it to the Sweet 16. I predicted Kentucky to the Final Four when the brackets came out and I thought Florida certainly was good enough to beat East Tennessee and Virginia to advance out of Orlando. I’d like to say I’m shocked that South Carolina beat Duke, but I was telling people in Orlando that South Carolina was capable and the Gamecocks proved it because Frank Martin flat outcoached Mike Kryzyzewski.

Martin, who outcoaches a lot of people, attributed South Carolina’s success against Duke to playing an SEC schedule. He wasn’t intending to backhand the ACC with that comment, but it’s a fact. The SEC is a much better league than the rest of the country chooses to believe and it’s only going to get better. According to KenPom.com, the SEC ranked 32nd out of 32 conferences this season in terms of experience. Six of the SEC’s 14 teams ranked among the 25 most inexperienced teams in the country with Mississippi State, the youngest team of all.

The reason the SEC is improving is two-fold: Improved coaching and that, in turn, has resulted in better recruits and it’s not just Kentucky bringing in outstanding talent. Alabama, for example, has the #5 ranked class for 2017 while Florida’s class is top 10 with some publications. There are 5-6 other SEC schools that will appear in someone’s top 30-40 recruiting classes.

It’s hard to argue with the ACC hype since you’re talking about a league that boasts four Hall of Fame coaches who have won NCAA titles (Coach K, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim), but the SEC is catching up in a hurry. When you consider the SEC has three of its five NCAA teams advancing to the Sweet 16 while the ACC went 1-9, it tells you it’s time the SEC got more respect for its basketball.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Evan Daniels of Scout.com is reporting that VCU coach Will Wade is the new coach at LSU. Wade, a former Shaka Smart assistant, went 40-25 in two years at Chattanooga before going to VCU, where he went 51-20.

Now that the VCU job is open, would the AD bring back Anthony Grant, who made the school a household name before he took the Alabama job? Grant is currently working as an assistant for Billy Donovan with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com, the best basketball writer in the business, says Indiana’s next head coach will come from one of these six prospects: Steve Alford (UCLA); Gregg Marshall (Wichita State); Scott Drew (Baylor); Chris Holtmann (Butler); Chris Mack (Xavier) and Archie Miller (Dayton). My money is on Scott Drew, an Indiana native who played at Butler, worked as an assistant at Valparaiso before taking over for his dad, the legendary Homer Drew, and then made the move to Baylor where he turned a program on serious NCAA probation into a consistent top 10.

Graduate transfers have become college sports’ version of free agency. The first big free agent name for college basketball is Elijah Brown, a 6-4 guard from New Mexico who averaged 21.7 and 18.8 points and more than 5 rebounds in his last two seasons at UNM. Brown, the son of former Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, graduates in May. Expect at least 50 offers.   

Clemson will bring back basketball coach Brad Brownell for an 8th season. He’s 124-103 in his seven seasons with only one NCAA appearance. 

Florida State desperately needs point guards. So what does Leonard Hamilton recruit? The 5-man class he has signed includes a 7-footer, two power forwards, a 6-6 wing and a 6-3 shooting guard.

Former FSU safety Myron Rolle is set to begin a neurosurgery residencey at Harvard med school and Massachusetts General. Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2010 but never played a regular season NFL game.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you consider it somewhat of a fluke that three SEC teams advanced to the Sweet 16 while the ACC managed only one or is this a sign of good things to come in the future for the league?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Today I heard The Band’s version of the old Eddy Arnold torch song “You Don’t Know Me” and that got me looking up old concerts. I found this one from San Francisco Civic Auditorium in 1983 for today’s music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8vKVPx2-Lc 

 


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