Chris Harry’s Blog Harry Fodder
ORLANDO -- When you’re embedded with a basketball team this time of year, you really get an appreciation for the time-crunch, rapid-fire, behind-the-scenes work that goes into playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Like video prep.
Props to coordinator Oliver Winterbone (left) and his staff of three full-timers -- Billy O’Meara, Zak Elfenbein and Amit Tailor -- and the three interns back in Gainesville. Before the Gators had played a game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week, they already had a pretty good idea they'd be a No. 1 seed in the big tournament, right? So the video team had cut-ups done of 8-10 teams that likely would be No. 16 seeds and thus paired against Florida.
Yep, Albany was one of them.
But the crew also had to project a group of a dozen or so teams that could be seeded 8th or 9th and thus be a potential second-game opponent for Florida.
And, yep, Colorado and Pittsburgh, the No. 8 and 9 seeds in the South, respectively, were on the list.
Florida getting the so-called "play-in" opponent draw made the video guys scramble a little more usual. The Gators did not know who they were playing in their first game, so the coaches and video teams had to prep for two opponents.
When Albany and Mount St. Mary’s squared off Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio to determined UF’s first-round foe, Winterbone wasn’t sure the team’s Orlando hotel would carry TruTV -- last week, the Gators’ team hotel in Atlanta didn’t air all the SEC Tournament games, if you can believe that -- so he dispatched Elfenbein to Amway Center, where the Orlando Magic video folks let UF tape the game.
Back at the hotel, the coaching staff together (top photo) and watched the Albany-Mount St. Mary’s game. Assistant coach Matt McCall spent the previous two days gathering intel on the mad-bombing “Mounts,” who took 37 3-point shots and made 12 in erasing a 20-2 deficit and closing the game to a point late before coming up short.
Assistant Rashon Burno had the Albany scout, so once the final horn sounded in the Great Danes’ 71-64 victory, Burno met with the video crew and told them what he wanted to emphasize during the Gators' “first look” preview of Albany less than an hour later.
McCall, meanwhile, was free to go right to work on Colorado, with assistant John Pelphrey already deep into the Pittsburgh scout.
A more detailed “personnel” video isolating individual strengths and tendencies of Albany players was presented to the team after breakfast Wednesday (pictured left) in time for the Gators to implement some specific things during their morning practice at Bishop Moore High School. Once UF arrived at the school, Burno took the “orange” scout team aside and walked through Albany actions so it could give the "blue" team regulars the most realistic look possible.
On the sidelines, the video crew already was working on both Colorado and Pittsburgh -- and the Gators haven’t even advanced, yet.
But that’s the only way to operate this time of year.
Assistant coach Matt McCall (left) and video coordiantor Oliver Winterbone (right) were up early Wednesday organizing scout video.
And so was assistant Amit Tailor.
Video assistants Billy O'Meara (left) and Zak Elfenbein (right) set up sidelines shop Wednesday morning while Gators practice at Bishop Moore High.