Adrian Moss wasn't the best player on the 2005-06 Gators team that delivered Florida its first national championship in basketball. He wasn't the best shooter, or rebounder, or defender, and slotted into Billy Donovan's frontcourt rotation behind Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Chris Richard.
But he was always the best quote, and remains a great quote and avid Florida fan to this day. So I reached out to him and he graciously answered a bunch of questions about this Florida season ... and the Gators' chances of winning another title.
Adrian! How's Japan man? What time is it where you are?
It's not home (laughter). It's about 12:30 AM.
What team are you on and how's the season going?
Bambitious. It's getting towards the end.
Man, the last time we spoke I was amazed that Joakim took the time to read the post and retweet it on Twitter. That tweet got picked up by ESPN and NBA.com! And speaking of your boy Jo, how about the job he is doing right now in Chicago?
He's a monster right now! Dude's a competitor.
Did you ever think he could be doing what he is right now?
I never thought he couldn't! I never thought he couldn't.
Amen. All right, two questions I need answers to immediately: How many of the Gator games where you able to watch this season and dude, did you see the Senior Day Kentucky game!?
I didn't see the Kentucky game. I've probably been able to watch about 10 to 12 of the games. The time difference makes it difficult.
How many of the 18-0 SEC season?
Probably only five or six.
Thinking back to your Senior Day, how hard was it to keep the emotions in check or do you feel that the extra emotion helps?
I really don't remember too much about the game -- I remember Jo had about 35 on Georgia!
How big is it that of all teams the Gators beat Kentucky?
Kentucky has always been my rival. Those at UK probably didn't view it that way at the time, but they were our rival.
Before we move on, I have to touch on a couple points from our first interview that I feel you called and want to give you credit. First, you predicted big things from Casey Prather. Kudos on that prediction!
I've always liked Prather, always liked Prather. You have to get your confidence and the coaches' confidence.
What do you think he did to earn the coaches' confidence?
It had to have been his practice habits. He stopped shooting jumpers. Going to the hole, put the ball in the hole and you get the coach's confidence. And it just snowballed! Complete monster this year. I'm happy for him.
Yeah, Casey is a monster! OK, second, you mentioned that sometimes you need a little luck to get through a championship season. Many Gator fans might think of our Auburn game at home as lucky; Auburn kind of self-destructed late in the game and we pulled it out. Is that the kind of luck you were referring to?
That's a part of it. It could be a call that goes your way, maybe a lucky bounce. Anything that helps things go your way that you don't control, that's the luck in a basketball game.
The Gators have an impressive win streak going on. During your championship run, what do you think were the biggest keys to winning those six straight games?
Preparation and legs. The coaching staff will have them prepared. The travel back from the SEC Tournament and to the NCAA Tournament doesn't allow much time to prepare. You have mandatory media, mandatory practice and that travel gets into the legs. Coach Donovan will have them rested, he's done this before.
Strictly in your opinion, how important is it to NCAA tournament success to win the SEC tournament? If the Gators don't win the SEC championship, does that spell trouble for the NCAA tourney?
The way they're playing, the pressure is not building. If they lost in the SEC, it's an extra day of rest. They have four guys who have been there before. I personally don't feel like they feel the pressure. They look like they're playing loose. And the senior point guard always helps.
Scottie has been unbelievable this season. You know, sometimes when I watch Kasey Hill fly up the court coast-to-coast, I get a flashback of Taurean Green pushing the ball bullet quick. How important do you think it will be for the Gators to push the ball in March?
It really depends on the matchup of the other team, but that early offense is always effective and difficult to stop. In the NCAA tournament anyways, the game slows down a lot. The defense picks up and nerves take over. Teams on average probably score eight points less. If you can keep your team identity, you'll do well in the tournament.
That makes a lot of sense. Have to say to, Mike Frazier is bringing back shades of Lee Humphrey with the outside shooting. In fact, he's setting records from three-point land. What's it like watching a guy catch fire like that?
I've seen Lee get hot before (laughter). You say to him "Next time you touch it, shoot it. Let's see how hot you are." You set up your teammates with good screens and get them open.
Kind of like Patric Young did at the South Carolina game where Frazier set the record.
Exactly. This is the most unselfish team in college basketball in season. No one cares who gets the credit.
Is basketball more fun when it's played that way?
It is. Winning is fun. It's not much fun when you're losing.
The NCAA playoffs are like another season. If the regular season is on a level 10, what level is the NCAA Tournament on?
It's just a totally different animal. Media picks up, exposure picks up. You can become a household basketball name. I remember watching Harold "The Show" Arceneaux growing up and Rhode Island with Tyson Wheeler and Cuttino Mobley. You've got to stay together as team, you got to do the little things, and remember what got you there.
Can you describe what the tournament atmosphere is like during a game and how exactly it's different from the regular season?
It's a blur. You're just so focused on what you have to do. The teams are so close together talent wise, skill-level. Go through a bad stretch and you can lose. Your focus is on the highest. Everything is just laser-focus and you have to get over mistakes quick. You have to get over mistakes quick. You can't have mistakes compound over each other.
What are the most promising signs of this current team that you feel will help them during their tournament run?
They defend. And they rebound. If you defend and rebound, you will always give yourself a chance to win especially in the tournament. You may have a bad stretch where you can't make a shot, especially on a team that shoots a lot of 3s. That's why Pat Young is gonna be big this tournament.
Right on. Last season, you mentioned that Erik Murphy's development was one of your favorite things to watch over the course of the season. What has been your favorite part of watching this Gator season?
Casey. Definitely Casey Prather. Watching him blossom and mature. A legit ballplayer, but I always knew he had it in him.
Here's a lighthearted question: A recent article about the Gators compared Kentucky coach John Calipari to a McDonald's French fry cook and Billy Donovan to a master chef who prepares his meal, seasons and marinates it to perfection. If that analogy is accurate, what would be the dish you feel is Billy D's specialty?
What would be his specialty? (Laughter) Hmm, something slow cooked like a bouillabaisse.
Ha! I don't even know how to spell that. Can you help me out?
I have no idea; I'm the world's worst speller.
You and me both. I don't even know what that is!
It's like a tomato-based stew with a really specific order of ingredients. You can't overdo a certain ingredient and you have to cook it slowly to get all of the ingredients out.
Sounds good and it sounds like a great analogy for this squad. I know you to have an awesome, eclectic taste in music Adrian. What are three songs you would put on a playlist for the Gators to listen to during warm-ups to get pumped?
If they like listening to Chief Keef and all the trap music, I don't really listen to a lot of trap music! (Laughter)
I know we have some Chief Keef fans; his music has tons of energy. How about sharing what you listen to?
Hmmm, what did I listen to last? I think I had some Anita Baker, Otis Redding. Some Schoolboy Q. I listened to Sonic Youth the other day.
I knew it would be eclectic! I know Pat likes soulful stuff so he can vibe with the Otis and I know Mike Frazier likes Kendrick Lamar so he'll dig Schoolboy Q.
Joakim, Chris Richard, and I talked about music a lot!
Oh yeah, with the dreads I'm going to guess Chris enjoyed some dancehall and reggae?
Any genre, Chris knew a little about everything. Chris is one of the smartest guys I know, great guy. Great guy.
That's awesome, always dig the 2006 memories! Adrian, we're going to wrap up this tournament edition Q&A but I know I'll be back for more insight down the road.
Sounds good. Go Gators!
Timothy Rasmussen is a freelance writer and the mind behind Bricks & Palm Trees.