Sunday January 27, 2013BasketBlog: Top 5, NBA All-Stars, Corey Brewer, Halle Berry, etc.
Updated: 11:15am, January 28
Updated: 11:15am, January 28
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A lot of earth moved in the Top 25 last week.
As of Sunday afternoon, ranked teams had absorbed 17 losses. All but three of those 16 were courtesy of unranked teams, including five in the top 10.
Down went No. 1 Duke. Down went No. 4 Syracuse. Down went fifth-ranked Louisville twice to unranked teams. Down went No. 9 Butler.
No. 8 Florida, meanwhile, won by 17 and 35.
On the road.
When the new rankings come out Monday, it’s almost certain the Gators, winners of eight straight and quite possibly the best defensive team in the country, will move into the Top 5 for the first time since those back-to-back NCAA title years. If voters put any stock in UF’s entire body of work -- an average victory margin of 22.5 points and seventh in the RPI -- the Gators could shoot to the top three or four.
“It would be cool to be ranked that high, but it really doesn’t mean anything,” junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin said. “It might make you more of a target, but every game in the SEC we’ve got a target on our back. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”
Perhaps so, but what’s become evident with each game is that every Florida opponent is getting the Gators’ best shot. Or close to it.
This is a veteran team -- with three seniors, two juniors in the starting lineup -- that has grown up together, has dealt with adversity (both internal and external) the last few years, taken some very difficult defeats, and through it all has embraced the ensuing teaching moments of Coach Billy Donovan.
A ranking, even a very high one, should not affect this group.
“My thing with that is, do you have the maturity level to block it all out?” Donovan said after Saturday night’s 82-47 blasting of Mississippi State at Starkville. “I mean, as a team, what’s the difference with where you’re ranked and where you were ranked 36 hours ago? Whether you’re 2 or 3 or 4, what does it mean? If you lose a game, you’re just going back down again.”
The Gators are going to be favorites in every game they play the rest of regular season and in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, including next Saturday when Ole Miss -- also unbeaten and atop the league standings -- comes to the O’Connell Center.
And even though UF is playing lights-out right now, there are going to be lulls and, yes, losses. It’s how the Gators handle the good and learn from the bad that will define this team down the road.
Higher ranking means higher expectations. Not that their level of play hasn’t heightened those expections.
Right now, though, the Gators’ expectations of themselves could not be any higher.
Donovan had the look of a proud father last week the day after two of his former players, Golden State power forward David Lee (left) and Chicago center Joakim Noah, were selected as reserves for the 2013 NBA All-Star, set for Feb. 17 at Houston.
Throw second-year Houston forward Chandler Parsons and Washington rookie guard Bradley Beal into the Rising Stars Challenge (second-year players vs. rookies) and the Gators will have four players at All-Star Weekend.
“I think it’s pretty impressive,” Donovan said. “I’m proud of those guys.”
Lee is averaging 19.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, has reached double-figure scoring in all but two games, and leads NBA big men with 28 double-doubles (points/rebounds).
Noah is averaging 12.1 points, 11,1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 blocked shots.
Kenny Boynton is UF’s active lead in games played with 126. What UF basketball player holds the all-time record for most games played in a career? Answer at the bottom in the “Free Throws” section.
EX-GATOR OF THE WEEK
Well, it would be easy to tab the aforementioned Lee and Noah for this honor, but we’ll go off the beaten path and shout out to Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer (left).
The former UF superstar and member of the iconic “04s,” has a part (as a basketball player, go figure) in the motion picture “Movie 43,” a comedy comprised of 12 short features and armed with cameos from heavy-hitters like Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman and Naomi Watts.
And (repeat) Corey Brewer.
Go to this link to read Brewer’s interview with Denver Westworld Blogs about his bit role alongside Academy Award nominee Terrance Howard, plus some Q&A about his bigger-picture role with the Nuggets.
As for reviews of the film, they’re out there (unfortunately, in some case). But we’ll wait for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the Gators self-appointed (and very tough) film critic Erik Murphy.
Editor's Note: If you're wondering about the photo to the right, hey, when you get a chance to put Halle Berry in a UF basketball blog, you do it. Period.
CHARTING THE GATORS -- Road Warriors
With Saturday night’s victory at Mississippi State, the Gators have won five straight road games for just the 11th time in school history and four straight SEC road games for only the sixth time.
Most Consecutive Road Wins
7 (twice): 1940-41, 2000-01 & 2001-02 (overlap)
5 (seven times): 1932-33; 1948-49/1949-50 (overlap); 1986-87; 2002-03; 2004-05/2005-06 (overlap); 2006-07; 2010-11
Most Consecutive Road Wins in SEC play
6: 2005-06/2006-07 (overlap)
5: 1999-00/2000-01 (overlap)
4 (3 times): 1940-41; 1964-65/1965-66 (overlap); 1988-89; 2012-13
SILLY GATOR PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Regardless of what the polls say -- I’m guessing the Gators check it at No. 4 -- the latest Basketball Power Index (BPI) has Florida, right now, as the projected No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, followed by Duke, Kansas and Indiana. ... Since that horrific shooting slump in December when he shot 25.5 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from the arc (4-for-32) over a five-game period, Boynton has made 50.6 percent of his shots and 45.4 percent of his 3s (25 of 55) over the last seven games. Chalk that up to shot selection. ... Junior center Patric Young went 6-for-6 from the floor at Mississippi State. He’s very quietly become a tremendously reliable low-post option -- especially when he gets the ball inside the circle -- with that soft jump hook. All Young has done is make 62.8 percent of his shots for the season, including 52 of his last 76 over the last 12 games (since Florida State) for 68.4 percent. ... MSU freshman Craig Sword after UF hit 64 percent in the second half, including 8-for-14 from the arc: “We all played defense with a hand in their face, but they were still hitting shots. There wasn’t much we could do about it. I didn’t know all of them could shoot like that.” ... Trivia answer: Guard Walter Hodge (2006-2009) played in 151 games, including as a key reserve on UF’s back-to-back national championship squads, as well as a team that went to the Final Four of the NIT his junior year. The next closest to Hodge is Erving Walker (2009-2012) with 144.