VETTEL: Gator Hoops Fans Spoiled

Sometimes the box score lies. Wednesday's Gator/South Carolina box has a huge lie on it where it says: Attendance 11,798. There were more than a thousand no shows for the game with South Carolina in what had to be the smallest crowd for an SEC game in several years.

Unfortunately the O'Dome with the bright blue seats in level III makes it obvious when large groups of fans choose to stay home.

Oh I know it was an eight o'clock game. My God, how can they expect fans to stay up all the way to TEN? Sure, 7:00 is more convenient, but can you really tell me that an hour makes that much of a difference? I'm not buying it. To me it show just how spoiled Gator fans are, and how little they truly appreciate the program Billy Donovan has created. And I'm not just chiding those who chose the comfort of watching at home to coming to the game. Those who were there for the most part displayed about as much energy and passion as Al Gore at a funeral.

The Gators were plenty entertaining in Wednesday's game. Florida ended the first half on a 19-7 run to take a 12-point lead and pushed that advantage to 17 (63-46) in the first five minutes of the second half. Then, just to ensure it didn't get boring they proceeded to allow the worst rebounding team in the SEC to grab a dozen offensive rebounds on the way to closing within one point in the closing seconds. Of course by then the 1,000-plus no shows had been joined by 3,000 or more others who just had to beat the traffic.

For the past two years the Gators didn't need packed, raucous crowds to pump them up. They had them, but they didn't need them. In fact, more often than not it was the crowd feeding off the energy of Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer rather than the crowd firing up the players. In exchange fans were treated to 34 wins, an SEC Championships and two NCAA Title celebrations.

But this team is different, even though they are 15-2 in front of the home fans. It is ridiculously young as we have documented time and time again. It's also a group of rather low key guys. Oh, Calathes and Speights and sometime Hodge will try to get the crowd going, but for the most part this group doesn't show much emotion. They need the crowd more than recent Gator teams and, frankly the crowd wasn't there for them last night.

Florida has two home games remaining and the Gators could really use a win or two to strengthen its case for an NCAA bid. There's no excuse for the building not being packed to the rafters when Mississippi State (3/1) and Tennessee (3/5) comes to town. They have given so much in recent years. It's time to give back, folks.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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