A few hours after Florida's loss Saturday, my friends and I began the acceptance level of the five stages of grief. At that point, we mentioned that if someone had told you in December that Florida would get to the Elite Eight, you would have taken it. If someone told you the Gators would win the SEC regular season, you would have taken that too.
We have been too quick to judge these Gators on our championship seasons, which is incredibly unfair to Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and the rest of the team. During the back-to-back championships, it was obvious that Al Horford and Joakim Noah would be NBA standouts and Corey Brewer would be a serviceable role player. With this Gators team, only Parsons has a shot at getting drafted. This team never had the talent to win the title, and they only lost to Butler because another team was better than Florida in grinding out victories.
But, Parsons and the rest can take pride in that they got as far as they did. The last image of Tyus will not be what might have happened last season and happened to Walsh: having your draft night party end without you being drafted after a less than stellar junior season. Vernon Macklin might not have played in the mighty Big East, but in the SEC, he was able to grow his game and hook shot. These three seniors might join Walsh and Anthony Roberson in Europe, but at least they didn't finish with a disappointing exit in the first week of the tournament.
Judging on the impossible standard set by the Oh Fours, these Gators fell far short of the bar. But, otherwise, these Gators outperformed their predecessors. That won't make losing to Butler any easier, but it should allow us a greater appreciation and understanding for what this team has done.