Panic has not yet set in for the Gators, but at 0-2 in the SEC, perhaps it should. Tonight, the Gators (11-5, 0-2 SEC) face LSU (9-7, 0-2) in Gainesville. The Gators, with 0-2 UGA, can also look up at the rest of the SEC East tonight. Kentucky, Tennessee, Vandy and South Carolina are all unbeaten in SEC play. A loss tonight and the Gators can start putting together their NIT bid book.
Andy Katz wrote about the Gators this week and came away with the idea that UF needs a sense of urgency. Billy Donovan brought up something that has been missing on this team, post National Championships;
"I'm anxious to see how this team responds against LSU," Donovan said. "It's critical for us to separate ourselves. Do they come together as a group? How will this team come together for practice Thursday? What kind of effort will we have? There are external motivational things that happen, like playing Michigan State or Kentucky. But how internally motivated are you?"
No one disputes that UF can play or has talented guys. But there is either a lack of motivation or toughness. Yes,Vernon Macklin is getting in foul trouble, but he's not a kid anymore. He should know how to use his body without getting called. Erving Walker can chuck it with the best, but he also needs to learn to find guys in space. UF's failure to find scorers is a failure of the players and Donovan. But it is also a failure of the offense. In the last two games, Walker and Kenny Boynton have taken a combined 63 shots. The three other starters (Werner, Tyus, Macklin) have taken 41. I think we all agree Werner should not be within 10 feet of the ball on offense, but only Tyus (20) is close to Boynton's 38 and Walker's 25 shots attempted in SEC play. Chandler Parsons, who needs to replace Werner, is 6-10 shooting in his last two games. That's not enough shots for a kid who is at least willing to go to the rim, even if he gets knocked off on his way in.
The toughness question is not to be taken lightly. A lot of UF fans thought Matt Walsh wasn't tough, but he played his entire junior year with an infection that peeled the skin off his feet. You don't really know who is tough and who isn't unless you're in the locker room. But, watching this team after being spoiled with assassins like Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer, you can't help but thinking if these guys have the extra gear needed to win. They can start proving that they do have that something extra with a win tonight, kicking off a solid winning streak.