Posted 02/28/2008 at 01:28 PM
I went to Athens last night to watch my Gators deal out an open-handed pimpslap to Georgia in the form of a 77-64 victory as one-point underdogs. Here's what I saw:
1-I had not been to Stegeman Coliseum since that memorable night in 2003, the same evening when SportsCenter’s lead was Dick Vitale’s interview with Jim Harrick, when the former coach at Pepperdine, UCLA and Rhode Island looked like the kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Nevertheless, Stegeman was electric that night, the house was absolutely packed and the student section was a madhouse. Florida led most of the night thanks to the hot shooting of Matt Bonner and the inside play of David Lee, but at crunch time Ezra Williams – the pride of Marietta High School – proved too much and the Dawgs won a thriller. The fans rushed the court, Harrick was a hero and UGA appeared on the cusp of – at least! – being a Sweet 16 team.
2-Five years later, Harrick is long gone and so are the fans. The gym was half-full (at best). I sat in the upper level with some Gator buddies in the first half. During intermission, I decided to get a better view. So I go down to the lower level and keep walking, and walking and before you know it, I’m in the third row behind the UF bench with the entire row (just four seats) all to myself.
3-I have no idea if Dennis Felton’s job is safe or not, but the empty seats were extremely telling.
4-Last week I said that Georgia’s Sundiata Gaines and Virginia’s Sean Singletary were playing on mediocre teams, but that fact shouldn’t diminish the outstanding seasons both players are having. Well, I think Gaines has now hit the wall. He has been carrying this team on this back for months, and he looked gassed (and frustrated) last night. Gaines made just 3-of-11 shots from the floor and committed five turnovers.
5-I’m fine with Florida being tabbed as a ‘bubble’ team. Even though the two-time defending national champions have won more than 20 games for the 10th consecutive year, there’s no debating that the non-conference schedule was extremely soft. Judging by UF’s resume to date, it’s completely fair for the Gators to be in that tier of teams being talked about as ‘the last four in and the last four out.’ With that said, I’m telling you there’s no doubt that Billy Donovan’s team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday. And I’ll take it a step further: UF will win at least one game in the Tournament.
6-When Florida freshman Chandler Parsons puts on some more pounds and muscle this off-season, he’s going to be a big-time player in the SEC.
7-Every time UF freshman Nick Calathes touched the ball, the UGA student section chanted, “Hair Gell, Hair Gell, Hair Gell…”
8-Cost of Jager Bombs at most bars in Atlanta: $9. Cost of Jager Bombs in Athens: $5.
9-Cost of Budweisers at most bars in Atlanta: $4. Cost of Budweisers in Athens: $2.50.
10-Good spot to down Budweisers and Jager Bombs pre-game: The Road House. Hot bartender named Jessie with double-D’s and a great Southern accent straight out of Macon, GA.