There’s no denying how painful the Gators’ Final Four loss is. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- The program is trending upward. After 3 straight Elite Eight exits, Florida made it to the program’s 3rd Final Four in a decade.
- The 2013 – 14 Gators are still an excellent team. They simply had an awful game which, in my opinion, was simply due to bad luck. It was just one of those days when they didn’t have it. Unfortunately, it was in the Final Four. Fortunately, it was not in the Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteen, Round of 32, or First Round (Hi Duke!).
Billy Donovan’s Gators have always been a finesse team, relying more on fundamentals, speed, and the 3 point shot than raw athleticism. And therein lies the rub. Three point shooting is like hitting home runs in baseball: it’s streaky. UF went 1 for 8, leaving 21 points on the court.
- Scottie Wilbekin was obviously hurt. The “sore knees” story we’ve been hearing for a while obviously caught up to him. Maybe UConn played to this too. Scottie’s been the heart of this team all year, and without him at 100%, they faltered.
- This loss is less painful than the previous 3 Elite Eight losses. Why? Because a single bad game – which everyone has – is a lot more palatable than losing close, winnable games or getting blown out despite your best efforts. The 2011 and 2012 Elite Eight exits were the former, while the 2013 one was the latter. In 2011, the Gators took Butler to OT, then lost when the tying trey attempt didn’t fall. In 2012 they had a late game meltdown vs. Louisville, capped off by yet another failed 3 point shot by Kenny Boynton. Last year’s game against Michigan was pretty much an exhibition event in which the Wolverines made Florida look like they didn’t even belong in the tournament.
- Give Kevin Ollie some credit. He somehow managed to beat the Gators and then make them beat themselves. In the same season.
Photo by mvongrue.