Bad Loss No Cause to Overreact

The Gators had a great opportunity to pad their post-season resume in Columbia, South Carolina Wednesday night and literally threw it away. It's hard to decide what aspect of the game was the biggest problem.

Was it the 13 missed free throws or 20 largely unforced turnovers? Could it be the 21 minutes with zero points, zero rebounds and five fouls from Dan Werner? Perhaps it was giving up 15 offensive rebounds to a team that is hardly imposing physically?

Whichever you choose (all of the above) it was another reminder that this Gator team is going to have its shortcomings every night. It's critical that the Gators limit themselves to one or two bad categories in order to win.

Still there is more than a little bridge jumping out there among the faithful and it really makes no sense. Florida is still in the same position it was heading to Carolina. The Gators need at least four more wins, and they can get that by winning their home games. Another road win would be a bonus and would probably put this team over the top. Wednesday night was a chance to get that road win and they let it get away, but that still leaves them trips to Georgia, Ole Miss and Kentucky. Ole Miss stands as the most important of the three since the Rebels have a similar NCAA resume as the Gators.

Still this team does have to figure out a couple of things going forward in order to get a 4-3 or even 5-2 finish, because Florida's lack of depth makes multiple wins in the SEC Tournament somewhat unlikely.

What About Werner?

One thing Billy Donovan might have to consider is further limiting Dan Werner's minutes and hope that Ray Shipman or Erik Murphy can be more productive in that time. Werner is just a mess right now and it's sad to see. This is a guy who has averaged nine points and 5.6 rebounds for the past two seasons. He's been a solid contributor and first class kid on and off the court but his senior year has turned into a disaster flick.

In 10 SEC games Werner has made just 22 percent of his shots and just 16 percent from 3-point range. He has one fewer rebound than Erving Walker and leads the team in just one category, fouls. The Gators keep hoping their lone senior will return to that form before the season ends, but time is running out. Erik Murphy has made one fewer field goal and four fewer free throws in 178 fewer minutes (258-80).

Paging Mr. Macklin

Prior to this game I wrote about how interesting it would be to see how Vernon Macklin built on his stellar performance against Mississippi State. Well, the junior center was almost invisible at times up in Columbia and ended up being outscored (16-to-5), out-rebounded (8-to-5) and out-blocked (3-to-1) by Carolina's Sam Muldrow.

South Carolina grabbed 15 offensive rebounds Wednesday night and those second chances were a big part of the Gamecocks' win. The Gators need to know what they are getting out of their most experienced players, and in the South Carolina game they didn't get nearly enough.

Next up is Xavier which is the more important of the two games this week and a bit more important now that the Gators threw away their first chance at their 18th win of the season.


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