Written by James Brown, Co-Founder of Gatorsfirst.com
Beating LSU doesn't mean we are tourney bound or anything dramatic.
However, the way we came out after starting 0-2 in the conference says a lot about this team.
The Florida Gators basketball team defeated the LSU Tigers 72-58 on Saturday night. And the win said some important things about our team for the rest of the season...
While watching the Kentucky game, my friend Trey and I noticed that the ball was being passed around the arc, until someone took a shot. A defining characteristic of the Billy Donovan offense is to get the ball into the low post, and have a forward with passing skills (from Horford/Noah, to Lee, to Bonner, to Haslem...) kick the ball back out. We've had many forwards with excellent scoring skills who could score if the defense did not collapse on them, and it remains to be seen if Vernon Macklin can be that focal point. Anyway, this was not happening at all in the early conference schedule.
To open the LSU game, our three-point shooting was excellent. And a lot of this probably had to do with the great looks we were getting in the inside-out game. Once LSU defended those guys better, Macklin has at least the ability to score from the low block. You got the added bonus of Dave Neal (or maybe it was his partner, I can't remember) saying &the Macklin Effect' at least 10 times- making it great viewing for the 2010 Florida Basketball Drinking Game .
The fact that we were able to come out of the opening tip with that sort of intensity, and then retain a lead during the entire game, spoke to the focus of this team. Whether it's because of the way that Billy D has been able to accumulate some upper classmen (Werner, Parsons, Tyus)- something lacking the last couple of years- or because of departures from the program, this team seems to have bought into the system more than the last two editions. It would have been easy to overlook a fellow 0-2 (in the SEC) opponent as an expected win- especially at home- and barely escape with a W. The fact that we did it in commanding, efficient fashion was the best sign we could hope for.
As for the strength of that opponent- LSU won the SEC regular season title last year, and was the only SEC team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. No one expects them to repeat or anything, and we got them at home, but it's not like we were playing Presbyterian again.
Am I ready to pronounce everything as "fixed" with this team? No way. We will have to see them go without the mental lapses (meaning remembering how to play Billy's style of offense) against tougher opponents, on the road, and when the score is not as much in our favor.
Arkansas will be a very tough test- in a rowdy environment, on the road, this Thursday night on ESPN. It did not turn out well at all two years ago.
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