(Edited, promoted, and time-shifted to top the front page. — Andy)
When you grow up in suburban Columbus, Ohio, there is one thing shoved at you over all else: THE Ohio State University. I grew up with a respect for the school, but developed a hatred for its fans. That still hasn't changed.
I went to Tuesday night's Florida game at Ohio State. When Erik Murphy went down hard and the guy behind me jeered, "Drag his body off the court so we can get back to playing!" I realized that that disdain, while evident in all fan bases, is the sort of thing where the few ruin something for the many. Most of the fans around us weren't bad, so that was somewhat refreshing; perhaps sitting with one of my best friends who was draped in re...errr, scarlet, helped to calm some of the jeers.
I was given this opportunity to recap the night in which our humble local alumni club of approximately 300 people got a chance to see our team take the court in person. We began with a pregame get together so 50 or so could reminisce about chompianships past and the "old days" of dominating tOSU.
In all, some 80 Columbus Greater Gators, along with another 20 or so from the Cincinnati Gator Club, took our nosebleed seats among the nearly 18,000 fans at Value City Arena. It's a real treat to be able to root on the Gators in person, as we only have a few opportunities locally to do so. Every other year we have an option to trek south to either Nashville or Lexington, and well, yeah...
My first thought walking in was "Murphy better have the game of his life in going head to head with Jared Sullinger." And, in all, he had a really good game; as arguably our best shooter of the night and a solid defensive presence, I can't really ask for much more from him.
The second thought: "Boy is Kenny Boynton/Erving Walker/Scottie Wilbekin vs. Aaron Craft going to be a huge match-up." And it proved to be as well. Craft is such a shifty player for OSU. Overall, I was impressed with our shooting, and I was upset that we went away from the three ball, but OSU did a great job at perimeter defense and took a lot of shots away.
As for the team itself, we're probably only going to see maybe two or three more defenses that can perimeter defend like this, I feel like once we are able to gel as a team, we are going to be a legit contender, especially with the way that Patric Young and Will Yequete played, and Brad Beal is going to be the real deal. The kid isn't afraid to shoot from anywhere and proved he could make them as well. One issue, or concern, was Walker's and Beal's turnovers; they seemed to be at the wrong time and costly. A total of 16 TOs is really concerning, too. And I'm guessing a few kids might be running the steps come tomorrow as we appeared a step slow at times.
The team never quit, and neither did our fans. We rooted hard — hopefully, the team noticed. The thought that the Ohio State fans in attendance were chanting for a potential new football coach over the action of the game at times is just hilarious. But it happens, you can't win them all, and a thousand other sports clichés can go here.
As the saying goes, "In All Kinds Of Weather, We All Stick Together." We will move on from this game and be ready to go again this weekend, and this game will be just a blip to most of you. However, here in the shadows of "The Horseshoe," I'll have to hear about this game from the local talking heads for the next few weeks. Hold your heads up, Gators, the months ahead are going to be very bright!