Heartbreak Hotel

The University of Florida men's basketball team has finished the regular season with a record of 21-7. However, in all the losses, except for one, the Gators had a chance to win the game. The Gators have lost six games by no more than 5 points and by a grand total of 17 points. This raises the question, "Is this team jinxed or have the Gators checked into Heart Break Hotel? "

One thing that Billy Donovan has preached to his teams the day he became the Gators head basketball coach was never to make excuses. Donovan believes that calling the Gators misfortune at the end of games is silly. "I'm not going to say…we're jinxed or anything like that, because that would be making excuses," said Donovan following his team's loss to Kentucky.

Usually for every problem there is either an explanation or a solution. The explanation for the Gators struggling at the end of games this year is because they don't have a clear-cut go-to-guy. When they Gators made their run at the National Championship, they needed a basket to win the game or else they would have been eliminated. So whom do the Gators look for to take them into the second round of the tournament: Mike Miller. Miller was clearly the best player on that team but what made him great was that he was not afraid to do whatever it took to get the ball in the hoop. He was fearless, a character trait found only in special players.

This team has a player who could potentially take over the game when everything is on the line, like Miller did, in Brett Nelson. Nelson took over the Tennessee game the first time the two teams met this year and he drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The Gators went on to win the game and Nelson said after the game, "This is my team." That is what this team needs. They need a player who is going to say this is my team and I am going to do whatever is necessary to make sure we get a win.

Leadership comes in many different forms. Some people are quite leaders and lead by example and others are very vocal. The Gators need a vocal leader who the team can look at and see that there is no way they are going to lose. Against Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama the Gators had blank faces when the game was on the line. The Gators feel they were better than those teams they lost to by a few points. "I have no problem saying that I feel we're better than those teams," said Haslem.

Tournament time is a chance for players to show off their abilities. Nelson has had an inconsistent season and one thing that would impress the scouts is to see him take charge when his team needs him to. Nelson is the leader; it can't be Haslem because he does not have the ball handling skills to make things happen by himself, Nelson does.

Excuses don't win games but leaders can. This Gator team has the potential to go very deep in the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. But if a go-to-guy does not establish himself, the Gators are not going to be playing for any championships. But instead they will be watching the games on their TV's at home thinking about what could have been.


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