Sunday March 2, 2014 'Basket Blog' Notes: The chase Gators aren't talking about, 1989 video, 3-point shooting, etc.
Updated: 4:22pm, March 2
Updated: 4:22pm, March 2
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tulane and Georgia Tech left the Southeastern Conference after the 1964 season, dropping the league from 12 to 10 teams. The following year, each SEC team began playing 18 conference games and did so until the league expanded back to 12 teams (adding Arkansas and South Carolina) for the 1991-92 season.
Over those 27 seasons of playing an 18-game league schedule, three schools managed to go through the SEC season with a 17-1 mark: Kentucky did it three times (’65-66, ’69-70, ’85-86); Vanderbilt (’64-65) and LSU (’80-81) once each.
But never an 18-0.
That LSU team, by the way, is the only one in league history to have a 17-0 mark in conference play. The '80-81 Tigers lost their regular-season finale against Kentucky.
You know where this is going, right?
The numbers “18” and “zero” were not bandied about by Florida coach Billy Donovan or his players following their 79-61 thumping of the present-day Tigers Saturday, but this UF group sees an opportunity to do something truly special; something that has never been done before.
On a team that already has clinched an outright conference championship and is close to locking up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, there needs to be other quests (and conquests) during the journey to keep the troops challenged, focused and motivated.
“There are opportunities out there for them to chase things,” Donovan said.
That will be the theme as top-ranked UF (27-2, 16-0) enters its final week of the regular season, with a Tuesday game at South Carolina (11-18, 4-12) and Saturday finale at home against Kentucky (21-8, 11-5) that will mark the final O’Connell Center appearance for seniors Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Patric Young.
What a week it could be.
Or, frankly, what a reality check it could be.
As the Gators like to say, they're chasing greatness.
LSU coach Johnny Jones was impressed by the effort Florida put forth in destroying his high-scoring Tigers despite having locked up the league title and top seed in the conference tournament.
“It says a lot about their team,” Jones said. “They sit here and they’ve already clinched the championship, and for the guys to come out and play as motivated and hard as they did tonight ... .”
“The other motivation is for them to go undefeated in the league.”
Jones can talk about it. Others will talk about it.
On Sunday the Gators were back at work. They were talking about South Carolina.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Kudos to the O'Dome crowd for making members of the 1988-89 UF basketball feel welcome Saturday during their reunion to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of the program's first SEC title. A number of players, including Livingston Chatman, Clifford Lett, Renaldo Garcia and Brian Hogan were on hand. So was Ken Schintzius, father of Dwayne Schintzius, the 7-foot-2 center who died in 2012 following a battle with a rare form of leukemia. The sight of Mr. Schintzius breaking down as an image of his son was beamed on the JumboTron was a poignant one.
If you missed it, here's a video of the halftime celebration, including the highlight tribute to that team.
After watching the Gators shuffle nine guys in and out of their main rotation Saturday, I got to thinking about minutes. UF’s active leader in average minutes played for his career is Young at 24.1. Two-part question: Who is Florida’s all-time minutes leader per game and who is the leader during the Donovan era? Answer below in “Free Throws” section.
FORMER GATOR UPDATE
This one was a little out of the box, but it was an easy call.
Sydney Moss, who starred for the UF women’s team as a freshman last season but opted to transfer to be closer to home, set a Division III single-game scoring record Friday night when she poured in 63 points for Thomas More College (Ohio) in the title game of the Presidents Athletic Conference Tournament.
Moss, averaging 28.6 points per game, went 24-for-41 from the floor (she made just one 3-pointer in four attempts) and 14-for-16 from the free-throw line against Waynesburg on the way to breaking the mark of D-III 61 set by Oberlin’s Ann Gilbert in 1991.
The daughter for former NFL star Randy Moss was Kentucky’s 2012 “Miss Basketball” as a senior. As a UF freshman she averaged 11.6 points and 6.7 points per game in helping lead the Gators to the semifinals of the WNIT.
In leaving Florida, Moss transferred to a school just across the Kentucky state line in suburban Cincinnati. Thomas More is 27-0 and ranked seventh in the D-III poll.
It's mind boggling to me no #Gators player is projected in 1st or 2nd rnd of NBA draft. Why wouldn't u want a winner who plays O and D?— Wally Szczerbiak (@wallyball) March 1, 2014
CHARTING THE GATORS
That 13-for-22 performance from the 3-point line Saturday was far and away the best of the season. It’s not been a great year shooting the long ball for the Gators, with the exception of Michael Frazier II (and even his stats are down in SEC play compared to last year), so it seemed like a good time to crunch some 3-point numbers. This UF team is on pace to tie the third-worst shooting percentage from distance among Donovan’s 18 teams, yet it is taking, on average, the fewest of any Billy D squad at 15.6 per game. The 6.5 makes trending for the third-lowest of any Gators team since Donovan arrived in 1996-97. Wouldn't it be something if that .353 trend began tilting more in Florida’s favor and inching close toward the UF-under-Donovan all-time average of 37.4 percent and nearly eight treys per game. As Wilbekin put it after the LSU onslaught, “If we shot like this every game, we’d never lose.”
Season Pct. Attempts per Makes per
‘96-97 .374 22.6 8.46
‘97-98 .400 24.5 9.83
‘98-99 .379 24.6 9.32
‘99-00 .363 19.7 8.10
’00-01 .383 21.5 8.26
’01-02 .353 21.2 7.48
’02-03 .390 22.2 8.70
’03-04 .377 21.3 8.03
’04-05 .390 19.5 7.63
’05-06 .392 18.9 7.41
’06-07 .409 18.1 7.40
’07-08 .363 20.8 7.55
’08-09 .367 22.2 8.17
’09-10 .313 19.0 5.97
’10-11 .352 17.7 6.30
’11-12 .380 25.3 9.65
’13-13 .378 21.5 8.10
‘13-14 .353 15.6 6.51
Totals .374 21.1 7.86
Nice return to action by freshman point guard Kasey Hill, who led UF with five assists against the Tigers. Hill had missed the previous three games with a groin strain. ... Dorian Finney-Smith, after clanging 22 of 23 shots from 3-point range over a seven-game stretch, has gone 7-for-14 the last two games. ... Look for a big spread in Sports Illustrated this week, written by Andy Staples, that profiles the No. 1 Gators and focuses on their four seniors. Ace photographer Bill Frakes has been virtually embedded with the team for two weeks. ... Lots of complaints from fans about the Gators -- did we mentioned they’re ranked No. 1 in the nation -- being pretty much snubbed on ESPN SportsCenter Saturday night and Sunday morning for repeated coverage and highlights of Wichita State, Virginia and Oklahoma State, all of whom rang up huge wins during the day. Relax, people. Not only is that not a bad thing, this group of players doesn’t need that stuff to feel justified right now. Publicity does not drive this bunch. ... Trivia question: UF’s all-time per-game minutes leader is forward Ronnie Williams, who also happens to be the school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,090 points from 1981-84. He logged an insane 35.43 per game. Under Donovan, it’s point guard Nick Calathes, who went 32.97 a game in ‘08-09.