VETTEL: Great Performances Revisited

There's nothing like watching an individual rise to a whole new level, respond to a challenge with a great performance. We saw that Wednesday night in the O'Connell Center when Joakim Noah offered up what I consider the best performance I've seen from a Gator basketball player.

It also got me thinking about some of the best individual performances I've seen in the O'Connell Center or on the road with the Florida basketball team. This list is incredibly incomplete, but just some memories of some great (and one or two not so great) nights seeing Florida hoops. For the purposes of this stroll down memory lane I am limiting myself to games I saw in person, so that takes away performances like Jason Williams lighting up Rupp Arena. I am also including a couple of opponent performances I'll never forget.

Udonis Haslem vs. Michigan State: The biggest game in Gator basketball history produced a magnificent performance from UD. Haslem battled a deep, talented Spartan front line to score 27 points on 10-12 from the field and a perfect 7-7 at the line. Time and time again Haslem kept the Gators close with clutch baskets in the RCA Dome. The only things keeping this form number one for me are that he had just two rebounds and the Gators did not win. Still it was am amazing performance.

Vernon Delancy vs. Alabama: This 1981 saw the man known as "Fancy Delancy" at his explosive, gravity defying best. Scoring 38 points in a 97-91 win over Alabama showed Delancy to have almost David Thompson-like potential. That potential was never realized as the original "Vernon" had a solid but disappointing career. Delancy would have made a great Harlem Globetrotter, but when approached he reportedly told them, "I ain't no clown, man."

Chris Jackson vs. Florida: In December of 1988 the hottest young talent in the country came to Gainesville and more than lived up to expectations. Jackson scored from every angle imaginable on the way to a record 53 that night. LSU got a 111-101 win over Florida's eventual SEC Championship squad. The Gators got even, clinching the SEC Title in Baton Rouge 104-95 late in the season.

Dwayne Schintzius vs. Purdue: In 1987 the Gators made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and surprised N.C. State in the first round. But in round two Florida faced a powerful Purdue team led by imposing center Melvin McCants. Despite just being a freshman, Schintzius outplayed the highly touted McCants, outscoring him 21-8. Schintzius added six assists, four rebounds and innumerable altered shots as the Gators won easily 85-66 advancing to the Sweet 16.

Andrew DeClercq vs. Kentucky: The 1994 Gators were 13-2 but didn't convince everyone they were for real until this tough, gritty win over the Wildcats. DeClerc q was everywhere on defense, dove for every loose ball and dominated the glass with 20 rebounds. This win was the spark that ended up igniting a run all the way to the Final Four. A run that ended in a disappointing loss thanks to …

Grant Hill vs. Florida: If only his foot problems had begun a few years earlier. The Gators led Duke 45-32 with 16 minutes to go when Hill simply took over. Hill scored every way you can think of and when he wasn't scoring he was finding open teammates. He ended up playing all 40 minutes, scoring 25 points with six rebounds and five assists. It was a most impressive display from the one guy even Duke haters had to respect.

So there's my short list of some of the best performances I have seen during my years covering Gator Basketball. I could have listed many more, but some of the best ones were games I didn't see in person. I didn't see David Lee's 17 rebounds at last year's SEC Tournament or Anthony Roberson's 35 against Vandy two years ago. There have been more great wins than great individual performances, but I guess that's what great team sports are all about.

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