Even though I can't match Andy's eulogy of the season, I'll try anyway.
I'll be honest: That 79-59 loss to Michigan was the worst performance I've ever seen from a Gator team that had any sort of championship on their radar screen, and it killed inside me to watch such a talented team — not of individual stars, but rather a team that came together to win games with teamwork, the right way — play so terribly in their final game.
But in the end, it's not about the fans' frustration. It's not about the broken glass, the hole in the wall, the punting or kicking of half-deflated footballs, basketballs, or soccer balls into the woods, or the bludgeoning of a tree with a Little League baseball bat, or any of the other psychotic acts of rage I've heard of to try to vent frustration over a Gator loss.
It hurt more than anything for the seniors — Mike Rosario (even though he wasn't eligible to play that year), Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton — to knock on the door of the Final Four in 2011, only to be turned away in overtime by Butler. Fate told those three guys, then sophomores, that they still had two more chances to make it, and to get better for the next season.
It hurt beyond words for the seniors to knock on the door of the Final Four in 2012, only to blow a double-digit lead with eight minutes to go against Louisville. Fate told those three guys, then juniors, that they'd gotten farther than they were supposed to, that they had one more chance to make it, and to get better for the next season.
It hurt beyond human comprehension for the seniors to knock on the door of the Final Four in 2013 ... well, who are we kidding, they never knocked on the door. Michigan jumped up 13-0 and it was all over. This time, fate told them that they just simply weren't good enough, never were and never would be.
In the end, this team earned the dubious distinction of the best Florida core that never won a championship. The seniors collected two SEC regular season championships, but they were 0-5 in championship games. They lost the 2011 SEC Tournament final to Kentucky, and the 2013 SEC Tournament final to Mississippi. They also lost three straight NCAA Regional Finals to Butler, Louisville and Michigan. This team won several big games, but never won the biggest one. They went 10-2 against their biggest traditional rivals, Georgia and FSU, yet they couldn't win a single game that would have hung a tournament championship banner in the O'Dome.
In this year's finale of the AA Review, Adam Allen and I try to make sense of what went wrong, discuss the individual legacies of the three seniors, and what is says for Billy Donovan to get his team to the Elite Eight for three straight years.
In addition, Adam did have some optimism for the future: "I think if Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young both return, and I think they both will, we could be a top-10 team next year. We should be able to compete for another championship right away if other young guys step up and we develop an ability to score on the wing."