Tonight is Senior Night for Dan Werner the only remaining player from the Class of 2006. I have not met nor interviewed Werner, so I will tell this story as an example of Werner's influence on Gator basketball.
On Nov. 14, 2008, Florida defeated Toledo 80-58 on Opening Night. Leaving the O'Dome, I was walking behind two frat guys who were having this conversation.
"Man, Werner played good tonight. He had 19 points."
"Nahhh, man. You can't say that, or Werner will keep shooting."
And such is the life of Werner at UF. I think he tried hard, but he lacked the focus and skill to be a starter in the SEC. This isn't his fault, as he never should have been put in this position in the first place. But rather than embrace it, he turtled. It created an unstable situation for him as some nights, Werner was Lee Humphrey and others he was in witness protection. That trickled to the team and made it seem as if UF was playing shorthanded with Werner on the floor.
Werner has been seeing a sports psychologist to address why his numbers have dropped in the last three seasons. I sincerely hope that Werner has a mental block, rather than a real mental issue. The problem is that this is too little, too late. Werner's senior season would have been successful if he took how seriously his offensive problems were and not lean back on knowing the intangibles. He is a senior, he should know the intangibles.
I also hope that Werner is not booed tonight. I don't expect him to be cheered wildly, but with thousands of empty seats again at the O'Dome, maybe silence is the most fitting tribute to Werner.