The Differences is borrowed from Rob Mahoney's feature of nearly same name at The Two-Man Game, and makes a number of points equivalent to the margin of victory about games the Gators just played.
Florida 72, South Carolina 46
First, just admire all 11 of Michael Frazier II's threes, and thank your lucky stars that even ESPN couldn't screw up cutting this highlight:
Frazier has always had a really good stroke, which makes him dangerous from wherever, but he made those threes in a variety of ways that kind of surprised me.
Breaking down Frazier's 11 3-pointers: 5 from the corners, 4 from the right elbow (all in a row), 2 off Patric Young screens— Nikko Tan (@TheNikkoTan) March 5, 2014
I've thought of Frazier as a killer spot-up shooter who needs to be assisted to make threes, not a guy who can beat teams by pulling up and shooting off the dribble around screens. Three of his 11 last night were unassisted, a pretty good percentage for a him.
I've also thought of Frazier as a guy who mostly sits up on the wing, at the right elbow, and kills teams from there. He made more corner threes last night.
Basically, he's diversifying his game as a shooter, which should make him more efficient and dangerous — and he's already shooting 45 percent from three for his Florida career.
Frazier went 11-for-18 last night, so he shot 61.1 percent from three. 10-for-18 would have been 55.6 percent, not that far from his career average; 9-for-18 is obviously 50 percent. This was a really hot night, but it's two or three standard deviations above his average; over 60 games in which Frazier shoots 18 threes in a game, assuming normal distribution, this would happen maybe two or three times. He's just never shot 18 threes before.
Frazier raised his three-point percentage for 2013-14 to 44.1 percent last night, bringing it up a whopping ... 1.5 percent, from 42.6 percent coming into the game. He moved his career average from 44.1 percent to 45.1 percent. His explosion didn't change much.
It changed one thing, though: Lee Humphrey's career three-point percentage was 44.4 percent. Frazier's ahead of Hump again, just like he was after his freshman season.
I doubt Frazier can catch Joe Lawrence, the Gator whose record nine threes in a single game he eclipsed last night, for career three-point percentage. Lawrence made 64 of his 127 threes in 1986-87, the first season of college basketball with a three-point shot, good for a 50.4 percent mark that has been a Florida record since.
That single-season percentage from Lawrence's 1986-87 has only been topped once, by Kenyan Weaks in 1997-98, and literally only by a single shot — Weaks made 61 of his 120 threes, and shot 50.8 percent, so he would have fallen short of Lawrence's mark had he made one fewer three or taken, and "tied" it — Lawrence made 50.39 percent of his threes, Weaks would have made 50.41 percent of his, and the numbers get rounded to three signficant digits, so it doesn't matter — if he'd missed one more.
That's not to say that Frazier's not historically good. Andrew Moten, who, like Lawrence, only played with a three-pointer in 1986-87, made 44.5 percent of 2his shots that year, ranked second, just ahead of Humphrey, in career three-point percentage, when Frazier arrived at Florida — and Frazier topped his season as a freshman, making his threes at a 46.8 percent clip for the sixth-best season of three-point field goal percentage in Florida history.
But Frazier attempted just 111 threes (he made 52) last season, and it's much easier to shoot high percentages over fewer shots: Of the five seasons ahead of Frazier's freshman year, only three — Weaks in 1997-98, Lawrence in 1986-87, and Matt Bonner's 47.4 percent campaign in 2002-03 — included at least 100 attempts from beyond the arc.
And there's more to their stories. Weaks was a sophomore, like Frazier is now, but he was on a team that revolved almost entirely around taking threes, leading the nation in threes made per game; that team still holds the school record for threes made per game, despite the 2011-12 team that led the nation in threes made per game becoming the first Florida team to take more than 25 threes per game. Weaks never shot better than 41.5 percent in his three other seasons.
Lawrence was a senior in the first year of the three, and played with Moten, a fellow senior, who was almost as deadly from beyond the arc. They teamed to establish a school record for three-point percentage — 43.9 percent — that has never been threatened, and never will be. They also played with Vernon Maxwell, now the wraith whose final two years never happened in Florida's eyes; Mad Max wasn't quite the shooter that Lawrence and Moten were, but he definitely got them open, I'd imagine. (By the end of the 1986-87 season, my parents had still not even married, though, so I'm sort of postulating.)
Bonner was a senior, and a power forward who lived in the corner and downed easy three after three. (Imagine Erik Murphy but with more foot speed and a higher-arcing shot, you Oh-Four converts.) He played on a team with Anthony Roberson, David Lee, and Matt Walsh; it was pretty easy to ignore him while those guys operated, then curse your ignorance when Bonner made a three, even though Bonner was Florida's leading scorer.
Frazier is Florida's starting shooting guard, and is really the only guy in Florida's starting lineup who you can neither sag off nor leave. Scottie Wilbekin's a very good shooter, too, but he's the point guard, and usually has the ball in his hands; he also goes cold more often than Frazier, and jacks more awful shots. Dorian Finney-Smith is the only other Gator other than Frazier and Wilbekin to have taken more than 100 threes, and, uh, he's not a particularly good shooter from distance. Both Scottie and Doe-Doe combined have taken 226 threes this year, or just slightly more than Frazier's 213, and no other Florida player has taken more than the 55 DeVon Walker has hoisted. And the Gators aren't shooting or making a bunch of threes this year, something I wrote about at length a couple weeks ago, but they are scoring about as well as they ever have, because they score very efficiently inside.I have never seen a team play worse perimeter defense than South Carolina played last night, and doubt I ever will.Basically, if you're going to get beaten by Florida, you want it to be from the arc, but you want it to be by anyone but Frazier. South Carolina figured out that first part, but completely, totally, abysmally, unforgivably failed on the second, despite Frazier making the first shot of the game and the last basket of the first half, Frazier taking as many shots as the rest of Florida's starters combined — 21 — and no other Gators making a three.
I try not to work in absolutes when writing about sports. No, a team doesn't "need" to do something; believe it or not, that player stepping up isn't a "must"; actually, that coach can do the thing he "can't" do. Those things only get "need" and "must" and "can't" attached by lazy writers and fans who want things to be black and white and refuse to consider that there is a near-infinite range of possibilities for even something as granular as a possession of basketball. For that reason, everything is "acceptable" to me, too: Anything is possible, and I accept the things that happen as outcomes within that range of anything, but some things are more and less likely than others. (Florida's 2013 football season: Acceptable as a thing that actually happened, if hard to stomach.)
But things can definitely be unforgivable, I think — certainly, that 2013 football season seems unforgivable to many Gators! — if they fall beneath standards and expectations. And if I were a South Carolina fan, I would consider that Florida was the No. 1 team in the country, that South Carolina was limiting Florida to nothing worthwhile in its half-court offense other than Frazier, that my Gamecocks trailed Florida by two points at halftime and lost by 26, and that Frazier's 11th three was the easiest one of his night, and conclude that allowing 11 threes to the only truly scary shooter on a team that doesn't shoot threes all that well is an unforgivable offense.
Let me expound on the above: There's a theory in basketball analytics, espoused at that link by Ken Pomeroy, dean of college basketball analytics, that teams have very little control over how well an opponent shoots from three, and that we should instead measure how many threes a team allows.
I don't buy into it, at least not totally, partly because I've been watching a team allow a lot of threes over the past two years as a result of its smothering interior defense, big leads that force other teams to shoot threes as a last resort, and great defense that leads teams to launch desperation threes at the end of the shot clock — which those teams seem to make a lot of. Is that a result of bad defense on Florida's part, or design? And doesn't the kind of three — contested or uncontested; guarded or open; corner, wing, or above-the-break; shot by a 45 percent shooter or a 30 percent shooter — matter, too?Why, oh why, would you leave Michael Frazier open?That all considered, I have never seen a team play worse perimeter defense than South Carolina played last night, and I genuinely doubt that I ever will.
Frazier's threes are statistically the best shots Florida gets in a game; at 42.6 percent, they carried an expected value of 1.277 points per shot entering Tuesday night. Twos taken by Casey Prather, who is an insanely efficient two-point scorer, and on track to potentially have his second straight season of top-10 field goal percentage in Florida history — Prather made 62.2 percent of his shots in 2012-13, good for 10th all-time, and is making 61.8 percent of his shots, and, hilariously, 62.2 percent of his twos in 2013-14 as of March 5 — were worth 1.236 points per shot coming into Tuesday night. Frazier's threes are unequivocally the worst shots to allow to Florida.
South Carolina allowed 18 of them. The Gamecocks allowed some of them without even contesting his shot — his 11th made three of the night was wide open. Florida was basically not even trying to do anything but feed Frazier at that point. The combination of spotty effort and "Huh?"-worthy scheme was the single most baffling thing I have seen in college basketball this season, and I have watched scores of college basketball games this season, dozens involving SEC refs essentially making shit up.
Like I said, if I were a South Carolina fan, it would be unforgivable. Today, I am very glad that I am not one.
Frazier: The greatest offensive weapon in Florida history?
Frazier's Offensive Rating — which loosely corresponds to how many points per 100 possessions Florida scores with him on the court — is 128.0 as of today, March 5. That's incredibly good, and it has him ranked 30th nationally at the moment; it would be the best Offensive Rating of any Florida player in the KenPom era.
30th isn't the best Offensive Rating ranking in Florida history — Lee Humphrey was 10th in 2005-06 — because of some macro-level issues: Offenses have evolved into three-eating machines, scoring is up, and defense has been (theoretically, anyway) made more difficult by the introduction of rules that are designed to make for freer, and more free-wheeling, basketball. And KenPom dates back only to 2002-03, so it doesn't capture Offensive Ratings from bygone eras — and calculating them is a pain, even if it did allow me to compare Prather favorably to Michael Jordan last season.
But considering that he is on a team with less pure talent than the Oh-Fours had, is that team's lone shooter, shoots more often than Humphrey did, and isn't playing in the first year of the three-point line, Michael Frazier II is, right now, the best offensive weapon in the history of Florida basketball.
Oh, and Frazier's shooting from behind a three-point line that is 20 feet and nine inches from the hoop. Humphrey, and every great Florida shooter before him, was shooting on one that was 19 feet and nine inches from the basket.
Oh, and Frazier is turning the ball over less this year (at a 13.8 percent Turnover Rate) than Humphrey did in either his 2005-06 or 2006-07 season, makes the free throws he gets (84.6 percent this year; 84.3 percent for his career), something Hump (63.0 percent for his career) didn't, and provides a threat to drive to the rim.
Oh, and Frazier's 11 threes last night game in the 30th game of this Florida season, while Lawrence made his nine in the 10th game of the three-point era and in a loss. Frazier scored more than half of his Florida team's points in a win. This was the greatest three-point shooting display by a Gator — ever.
We will probably never see anyone hit 11 three again at Florida, not if even nine had never happened under Billy Donovan before. Frazier might get a chance to take 18 threes again at some point, and an NCAA Tournament opener against a No. 16 seed that turns into a laugher might be one of the better opportunities for it, but he won't be the lone shooter on a team this good again, not with how Florida's roster will change in the coming years. Frazier will probably add more midrange efficiency and driving to his game, and even if it makes him a better player overall, it probably won't add to his efficiency, because a steady rain of threes is the diet of all but a few of the most efficient players in college basketball.
But can you imagine Frazier topping himself by making 12 threes?
Lest this seem only like hagiography: Frazier also fouled Brenton Williams on a made three last night, and doing that might actually be dumber on a microcosmic level than what South Carolina did with him all night. Williams makes better than 42 percent of his threes, so I get trying to close — but he makes 95 percent of his free throws. At that rate, fouling Williams on a three has an expected point value of 2.85 points, more than twice what just letting him shoot an open three should have — and Frazier managed to affect the shot so minimally that it went in, so it wasn't even an effective foul.
Even a night as great as the one Frazier had has flaws.
And a night as great as Frazier's didn't make this a great offensive night for Florida. The Gators actually scored more points per possession against LSU (1.18) last Saturday than they did against the Gamecocks (1.13). Florida immolated South Carolina by 26 points without shooting 45 percent from the field or 60 percent from the free throw line, and only barely shot 35 percent (the Gators shot 35.3 percent as a team) from the three-point line.
Um, y'all? Florida can do better than it did last night.
And, um, Frazier could, and maybe should, have had more than 37 points.
Frazier missed a three early in the first half that barely went four feet from his hand, and no South Carolina player was credited with a block. I'm pretty sure it was a foul that wasn't called, so Frazier should've been shooting three free throws.
37 points is the record for a player under Donovan, held by Joakim Noah and set in 2006 against a terrible Georgia team, and it is also the most points any Gator has scored since 1982. Frazier almost topped it, and if it wasn't for those meddling refs, he might have.
A word on those refs: Laughable.
Another bunch of words: South Carolina averaged 23.2 fouls per game coming into last night. The 'Cocks had committed 20 or more fouls in its last six games. And yet they were called for 16, their new low for SEC play.
Besides the fact that Carolina committed probably six or seven more fouls than that, at a minimum, the refs called a foul on what looked like a clean strip by Dorian Finney-Smith, failed to call goaltending on a Florida layup that touched the backboard, and, unbelievably, called Florida, now tied for 341st in fouls committed per game this year, for one more foul than the Gamecocks.
Remember this the next time you see someone speculate that the best teams in the SEC get all the calls: No. 1 Florida, the SEC team that fouls least (by far), was playing the SEC team that fouls most (by far), and literally got fewer calls.
Florida's first SEC game this season was a home game against South Carolina. Here's a snippet of what I wrote about that game in an edition of The Differences later on:
A 16-point win over South Carolina at home is a very good result, even if South Carolina's just average, but it feels, even to me, like a step back from last year's team. I think we need to recalibrate our expectations, if only a bit: That was a near-perfect Billy Donovan team on offense ... but it also played ferocious defense.
Florida just beat the same South Carolina team, which has improved significantly since that game and had just beaten Kentucky, by 26 points, on the road, with one player scoring more than 50 percent of its points. If we needed to recalibrate our expectations back then, we definitely need to recalibrate them now: After seeing Frazier go to 11, isn't it pretty clear this team can, too?
Wilbekin had two points last night, his fewest since the final game of his sophomore year. Prather took three shots, his season low. Patric Young had nine points. Will Yeguete went 0-for-5 from the field. Finney-Smith went 1-for-5 from the field. These are all proud, talented players; with the exception of Yeguete, they've all led Florida in scoring this year, and with the exception of Doe-Doe, they've all put in tons of work as four-year seniors.
This is how they reacted when Frazier got to the locker room.
And here's one thing Frazier, minutes after the best night he will probably ever have, said about it:
"That’s why I love the offense," Frazier said after his lights-out performance made him just the 10th Donovan player to go for 30 and the first since Erving Walker in 2012. "It could be anybody. Tonight it was just my night."
This damn team, man. Unselfish isn't close to strong enough.
With the win, Florida finished unbeaten on the road in SEC play for the first time in school history. The Gators won nine SEC road games to do it, two more than they had ever won before.
The SEC has the best home winning percentage in conference play in the nation this year, at 71.1 percent. Home teams have won 81 of the 114 SEC games played this season.
Put another way, of the 33 road wins by SEC teams in conference play in 2013-14, Florida has nine, or 27.3 percent of them.
Put yet another way, SEC teams not named Florida have gone .229 on the road. Florida is batting 1.000.
Florida is now just the second team ever to be 17-0 in SEC play, joining the 1980-81 LSU Tigers.
Florida's senior class has won 54 SEC games. That's an average of 13.5 per year.
I woke up this morning to this tweet. It is a good one.
Florida is the only team in the country right now to rank in the top ten in BOTH adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. Bodes well.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 5, 2014
That stat about being in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency should already be familiar to anyone who has read my 2013 piece on Florida's defensive revival, where I broke out the fact that, since 2003, only 18 teams had finished in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and six had won the national title, in service of praising Florida's newfound balance. Florida wouldn't win the 2013 national title, but it also didn't finish in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, falling to 12th at season's end. Louisville, which rose past No. 1 Florida in KenPom's ratings entering the Final Four, did finish in the top 10 in both, and won the national title, bringing the number of national champions in the last 11 years to have finished in the top 10 in both stats to seven.
I reused that stat two weeks ago in my power rankings over at SB Nation proper, with Florida sitting within the top 10 in both categories again. It's a telling, good stat, especially when differentiating one national title contender from another.If you don't care about the ethics of journalism and writing on the Internet, you can probably skip to the comments.
Not 36 hours later, I heard Jimmy Dykes, who has used stats other writers have independently researched on air without credit before, cite the same stat on air during ESPN's broadcast of Vanderbilt-Florida (and butcher it, too). And now Bilas — whose sourcing I have been rightly suspicious about in the past — is noting the same stat.
I'm not accusing either guy of plagiarism, and I definitely think Bilas's use of the stat is significantly less shady, and probably amounts to no more than him reading the front page of KenPom and making an observation. And, well, there's no reason that Dykes couldn't have researched that stat on his own, or that an ESPN researcher couldn't have done as much and passed the stat to Dykes.
But, just yesterday, a Twitter account, @ItsGreatUF, that borrows its name from an official University Athletic Association campaign and is run by an anonymous person tweeted about Florida's five No. 1 teams about 15 minutes after I tweeted the link to our post explaining all that, and I tweeted about it. That turned into a pissing contest in which I was accused of buying followers — something I never have and never will do, though an understandable charge given the annoying influx of spam followers @AlligatorArmy has gotten (and I've been complaining about) since nearing the 10,000-follower plateau in January — and of "pointing fingers like (I) run the Internet," and (indirectly) told that I would "complain about pussy if I got it."
I can take all that juvenalia, even if there's no way I can "prove" that @ItsGreatUF got that stat from me, because it's a stat anyone with the time and inclination could have looked up, contextualized, and written about, because I believe firmly that original work should be respected and credited.
I realize that there's nothing new under the sun. (The name and format of this post is not original.) No one was using "In all kinds of weather" as a hashtag or a mantra for Florida's fan base in any meaningful way before 2011, when I used it repeatedly on Twitter, and in a post after Florida State beat Florida. (Note, also, that Jeff Driskel used it in 2011, one day after that Florida State game.) And I have built on it since using it as a kicker when Florida lost to Louisville in the Elite Eight, and with about a tweet per week after Florida football games. It is something I believe in strongly, and a stand-in for an ethos that has increasingly defined this site. But it belongs to everyone, is it's the name of another site, and has become a more widely accepted phrase since I first used it, and I can't do anything about that; I have no ownership of the phrase "In all kinds of weather," or of phrases like "the everything school," just a hope that the work I do will be respected and credited.
I work hard on what I write for Alligator Army, and for most anything I write. I probably make my job harder than I need to: I strive not to use facts that I can't verify, and so I link what I can from trusted sources, and look up and research what I can't; I strive not to use thoughts that I did not come up with originally without credit, and so I spend a fair bit of time finding and linking to my inspirations; I strive not to use quotes I didn't obtain, and so I use "report" and "said" very little, and "told reporters" or "said in a press conference" often, linking liberally.
That standard I set for myself makes things like this post — begun five hours ago, and my main task for the five hours since, with a break for a longish phone call — painstaking to put together, but I also think it makes them more valuable to you, the reader. Frankly, I think I would be shortchanging you to not produce work of a quality that you have come to expect from Alligator Army, and from me; I respect you too much to not work this hard.
I can't control how my work gets received, accepted, and credited, and I know that. The most I or any blogger can really hope for is a link, like the one Jonathan Bass of Gamedayr threw in his brief write-up of Florida having five No. 1 teams. But I can control how I receive, accept, and credit others' work, and, perhaps naively, I'm hoping that the Golden Rule — blog and tweet unto others as you would have blogged and tweeted unto you, or something — still applies in my work and in my life. It is, as a result, immensely frustrating and more than a little saddening to know that I live and work in a society that increasingly doesn't care as deeply about that offer of mutual respect as I do.
I'm probably not going to get into any more public debates about authorship and originality, because they are even more exhausting than the work I actually enjoy doing, and because, as Jay Z once said "A wise man told me never argue with fools / Because people, from a distance, can't tell who is who." (He was probably paraphrasing Mark Twain, who was probably paraphrasing Proverbs 26:4. Nothing is new under the sun.) But I make this pledge to you now, and hope you hold me to it: I will keep striving to credit others' work as a matter of respecting them.
I invite you to do the same.
(Jeff Blake / USA TODAY Sports)
(Jeff Blake / USA TODAY Sports)