Q & A with Mark Wise

With seven games left in the season and the Gators still having work to do to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, what better time to check in with Mark Wise. Mark, as you know, is the analyst on the Gator Radio Network as well as XM Satellite Radio college basketball and Sun Sports/FSN and other TV networks.

We asked Mark a six pack of questions.

After dropping the Kentucky game, are the next three games as close to being "must win" games as they can be?

MW ----- "I think the magic number is 10. Ten wins in the league should get them in. With that being said, the three most winnable games on paper are the next three. So yes, they are "must" wins, unless you want to go into the last four games having to win most of them."

Is there anything that can be done to get Dan Werner and Walter Hodge playing like they did a year ago? What has been their difficulty this year?

MW ----- "I don't think you can lump Werner and Hodge in the same slumping bucket. It is true neither is playing great, but just because you are older, does not mean your skill level has increased. Hodge to me is the more disappointing one, because he should be thriving with Calathes at the point. Werner is still more effective than he was a year ago. He is just asked to do way too much on a nightly basis. Hodge's role is more narrow in focus and a large chunk of that is 3pt shooting. His 30 percent from bonus land will not get it done."

Who is the SEC Player of the Year?

MW ----- "How can you possibly vote against a guy who got 54 in one game? Easy, Jodie Meeks is not the MVP of the league. As a matter of fact, I have him third right now on my SECHB (SEC Heisman Ballot). Second is Marcus Thornton (LSU), who somehow has had a fabulous year under the radar. But easily, the league's best player is Nick Calathes. Show me a player whose name appears in more statistical categories than Nick. There is none."

Who is the SEC Coach of the Year?

MW ----- "Can I filibuster this one? If UF had beaten Kentucky my vote would be between Trent Johnson and Billy Donovan. With so many teams jumbled, especially in the East, I feel this award is still out there to be had.

Duke/Carolina is the top rivalry in college basketball. What do you consider to be some of the next best rivalries?

MW ----- "I'm glad you brought this game up. Is Coach K a victim of his own genius? Oh yes, he is a genius! What he has done year-after-year getting his team to play hard-nosed, aggressive, man-to-man is one of the reasons they win nine out of every 10 games. But when the other team is better, and that is what he said after the game, then why stand in the middle of the ring and trade blows? Mix in a zone. How bout a triangle-and-two chasing Ellington and Lawson? Do something to keep the "better" team off stride. But I digress. What was the question? Oh yeah, other rivalries: Cincinnati/Dayton, Kentucky/Louisville, Any Philly teams in the Big 5 and from Division III check out Calvin vs. Hope (Hoops version of the Crusades)."

How do you think the SEC Basketball Tournament will do in Tampa? Was putting it there a good idea?

MW ----- "I know the ACC people were thrilled with Tampa hosting last year. Now it's no secret the ACC has a more passionate fan base, so we will see. Do I like the site? To quote a governor that still has her job, You betcha! I get to drive, do the UF games and do games for XM. Can we have it there every year?"

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