Numbers Tell the Story

There's an old saying that's been attributed to a number of people that says, 'There are three kinds of lies. There are lies, damn lies and statistics.' Certainly in politics that seems to prove to be accurate more often than not, but for the sports world, statistics generally tell a pretty accurate story. At least they do in the hands of knowledgeable analysts.

Well if you look at the numbers for the Florida Gators, it's not too terribly difficult to use numbers to explain how the Gators fell from an 18-3 team that was overachieving to a 3-8 squad that underachieved down the stretch.

Gators' first 21 games ----- At this stage the Florida basketball team was outscoring its opponents by 17 points a game (81-to-64). Florida was shooting .502 from the field while holding opponents to .424. The Gators were knocking down an impressive .385 from long range, which was far superior than their opponents (.319) were doing. The Gators were also plus-six rebounds per game and plus-two in turnover differential. Things were good and an NCAA bid seemed like a mere formality.

Gators' last 11 games ----- Florida dropped off in every statistical area down the stretch. The Gators did not execute as well offensively or defensively. First, the Gators went from a plus-17 points per game to minus-five. That's a 22 point a game turnaround in the wrong direction. The Gators' scoring dropped by 9.5 while opponents scored 14.5 more points a night in the final month of the season. Florida's 3-point shooting dropped to .314, while their opponents began nailing long range shots as a .413 clip. The Gators' rebounding was minus-one per game (7 rebound net loss) and the turnover differential became a minus-one (3 turnover net loss) as well. The turnover and rebounding changes add up to ten possessions a game and that's a major factor in the Gators failure to win most of their recent games. In fact, the only wins were over Georgia (twice) and South Carolina.

Heading into an expected NIT appearance, the Gators don't have to wonder about where they need to improve. EVERYWHERE! They have to shoot better, defend better, rebound better and take better care of the ball.

It sounds simple, but it's going to take a lot of work in the days ahead to make some progress and, frankly determine just how much this group wants to keep playing.

Individually Nick Calathes is the one Gator I believe deserves to hold his head high. The freshman led the team in scoring (15.7), assists (6.03) and steals (1.6) and was second in rebounds (4.9). Calathes was the only Gator to post a better than two-to-one assist/turnover ratio. No, Thursday in Atlanta was not a highlight, but he still set the UF single season assist record (193) and is 45 points shy of the freshman scoring record (546) held by Ronnie Williams.

Marreese Speights finished with solid numbers (14.4/7.9) but had to strike fear in the hearts of NBA scouts with his first half against Alabama. If I see one more NBA draft preview projecting Mo as a first round selection I'll keel over. He has a world of potential, but most NBA teams that draft unrealized potential off a college roster end up regretting it. Whoever is advising him needs to convince Speights that at least one more year of college is in his best interests.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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