Oh, you thought the scholarship situation was the only Florida hoops story of the week?
Return game at Miami set for December 8
Florida's two-game home-and-home series with Miami began last year in Gainesville, where Angel Rodriguez shot down the Gators and ended a record home winning streak. The Gators will get the chance to repay the favor in Miami in early December in 2015:
Miami will host Florida on Tuesday 12/8/15, source told @CBSSports. Return game of home-and-home series.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 16, 2015
I think Florida and Miami should eventually have home-and-home games on a more regular basis in basketball, especially if Miami continues to improve under Jim Larrañaga, and I'm genuinely curious about going down to Miami for this game.
But I also like the idea of playing it in early December, rather than having it as the second game of the season. Florida was without Dorian Finney-Smith for that game early last season because of injury, but was also without Chris Walker thanks to a suspension, and could miss more players in the first few games of any season, given how its suspensions for off-season offenses have been administered in recent years. Florida was without Finney-Smith and Scottie Wilbekin, due to suspension, when it traveled to play eventual Final Four team Wisconsin in its second game of the 2013-14 season — a game that produced just one of three Florida losses on the year — and the Gators didn't have Wilbekin, again due to suspension, when they played Georgetown in the opener of their 2012-13 season.
There's just no good reason for Florida to schedule a potential NCAA Tournament team in that penumbra of doubt. The third game of a season? Okay. The sixth? Absolutely. But scheduling non-conference games that will truly tax a team or build an NCAA Tournament resume doesn't require scheduling them early enough to risk a depleted team.
Florida to play Saint Joseph's in Hall of Fame Tip-Off
The Hall of Fame Tip-Off is one of the lesser-known non-conference tournaments of the college basketball slate, but Florida will become one of the few big-name programs to take part in it when the Gators play in the 2015 version.
This is technically old news that dates back to a November 2013 report by Andy Katz, but the field's composition has changed very slightly since, as CBS Sports's Jon Rothstein reported last week, and I caught it via the inestimable Chris Dobbertean of Blogging the Bracket noting it last week in his roundup of the early-season events of the 2015-16 season.
Florida will play four Hall of Fame Tip-Off games total: It will play two home games against teams from the so-called Springfield Bracket (comprised of Buffalo, North Carolina A&T, Niagara, and Vermont), and then two games against teams from its own Naismith Bracket (Florida, Old Dominion, Purdue, and Saint Joseph's) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut on consecutive days. As Rothstein reports, the Gators will start that latter segment by meeting Saint Joseph's on November 21.
Nabbing Saint Joseph's, customarily a high-RPI team, is a fine start for the Gators in the tournament, and meeting Purdue would likely give the Gators the maximum benefit from the Naismith Bracket. If Florida can also somehow avoid playing North Carolina A&T, one of the worst teams in Division I last season, it will probably be a successful Tip-Off Classic for the Gators, regardless of results on the court.
Women's basketball hires two assistants
Shortly after Amanda Butler got a contract extension to remain Florida's women's basketball coach, despite a second straight season without an NCAA Tournament appearance, SB Nation's women's basketball blog, Swish Appeal, reported that assistants Angela Crosby and David Lowery would not be retained.
On Tuesday, Florida announced that Bill Ferrara and Shimmy Gray-Miller are the new assistants who will join Gators great and former WNBA player Murriel Page on Butler's staff.
Ferrara's a Florida alum, had worked as the Gators' video coordinator under Carolyn Peck, and comes to Florida from George Washington, where he helped the Colonials win the Atlantic 10 and set a school record for wins in 2014-15. But Gray-Miller is the star hire here: She helped Nebraska (Nebraska) reel in top-10 recruiting classes over the last two years, the successive best classes in school history, under Connie Yori, and had previously been the head coach at Saint Louis.
Also, her website (the fourth word is "corny"!) and blog are great, she's good at Instagram, and she's already quoted the second-best Big Pun song on Twitter. I like her.
It won't matter at all if a random blogger likes an assistant coach if Florida doesn't eventually show improvement under Butler. But Ferrara and Gray-Miller are, at minimum, new blood for a program in need of an infusion of something.