Hodge Reaches Milestone

Walter Hodge will not go down as one of the greatest players in Florida basketball history. The left-handed shooting guard has had a solid Gator career, but he hasn't been an All-SEC or All-American. Not even close.

Yet Hodge has something many of the more successful Gators of the past would much rather have on their resume, 113 wins. The native of Puerto Rico became the winningest player in school history with Saturday's 82-68 victory over Vanderbilt. Hodge scored 12 points in the game, moving him to within 26 points of 1,000.

It hasn't been the best senior season for Walter Hodge who is averaging just 8.2 points a game after scoring 10.4 a night last season. He's scored in double figures 11 times this season, but he's also had seven games in which he has scored three points or less.

I spoke with Hodge after the Vandy game about his senior season, this team and all those wins.

LV: Every win is so important this time of year. How satisfying was it to take control of this one from the beginning?

WH: "It's great when you get off to a good start at the beginning of the game. We have to come out with that kind of focus every game."

LV: How ready is this team for the stretch run?

WH: "We just need to come out really focused to become the best team we can become. We just have to work hard."

LV: I know the coaches don't like to talk about how many wins you need for the NCAA Tournament, but you guys have to know that winning your home games will put you in pretty good shape.

WH: "Yeah I tell those guys we have to win every home game we got left. We'd like to go on the road and take those games, too. We just have to be aggressive."

LV: How do you feel about how your senior year has played out so far?

WH: "I love those guys and I have fun with those guys. I love being here and I'm really enjoying this last year. It's weird, you know, that I only have to more games. The time's passed fast. I just hope we can take care of business and finish the right way."

LV: What does it mean to you to be the winningest player at Florida?

WH: "That's big, but I'm trying to get some more. I'm trying to get another championship."

Florida coach Billy Donovan says that Hodge being the winningest Gator ever will mean more to Hodge than any individual accomplishment.

"Walter is all about winning and doing what he can to help the team. That (playing in the most wins) would be more important to Walter than saying he's leaving here as the All-time three point shot maker. He's not really worried about things like that. To sit there and say, "I'm leaving here and there's nobody that's ever played here that's been a part of more wins". I would think to Walter knowing him that would be the most valuable accomplishment he's ever had in his life. And I'm happy for him because that's what's important to him."

Hodge can go for win No. 114 Tuesday night in Baton Rouge against the LSU Tigers. Florida will take a 21-6 record and 8-4 SEC mark into that contest. LSU is setting the pace in the SEC at 24-4 and has won all but one of its 12 SEC games.

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