A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.
FROM HERE ON OUT, IT’S A ONE-GAME SEASON
Now that the Gators are past the regular season and SEC Tournament, it becomes a one-game season, which is the beauty of the NCAA Tournament. You are only guaranteed one game. Win and you advance. Lose and your season comes to an end. The national champion is the team that can handle the pressure of compartmentalizing the entire season into one game, figuring out a way to win, then advancing to the next round where the pressure amps up several more notches. Florida, perhaps more than any team in the tournament, is prepared to handle the pressure because Billy Donovan has become the best coach in the country at getting a team to focus in on the next team, then once that game is over, starting from scratch to build the focus to the next game. The Gators are one team you won’t have to worry about getting too far ahead of themselves. They do just fine playing them one at a time.
MORE HONORS FOR WILBEKIN, PRATHER AND DONOVAN
Scottie Wilbekin was a unanimous choice for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year when the Associated Press announced its All-SEC teams Monday. Wilbekin was joined on the first team by Casey Prather. Both Wilbekin and Prather were named first team All-SEC by the coaches a week ago. Billy Donovan was selected SEC Coach of the Year. Patric Young was named second team All-SEC. Joining Wilbekin and Prather on the first team were Julius Randle (Kentucky), Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) and Jabari Brown (Missouri). Joining Young on the second team were Jordan McRae (Alabama), Trevor Releford (Alabama), Johnny O’Bryant (LSU) and Jordan Mickey (LSU)
Jon Halapio, who continues to gain back the strength that he lost with that torn pectoral muscle, turned in an impressive 32 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. His strength and power as a straight ahead blocker will likely land him a spot on an NFL roster … Solomon Patton ran an unofficial 4.31 40. His size will keep him from being an every down receiver in the NFL, but he is a more than capable returner who would double as an extra receiver, which should help him land on somebody’s roster. Patton also bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times.
DO PURIFOY, ROBERSON HAVE BETTER “FOOTBALL SPEED?”
Neither Loucheiz Purifoy nor Marcus Roberson significantly improved his 40-yard dash time from the 4.61 run at the combine Monday even though they were running indoors on a track due to the rainy weather. Roberson ran an unofficial 4.59 while Purifoy had an unofficial 4.53. It is a fact that some players run faster in competition on game day than they do running a 40 on a track but will that show well enough on film that the scouts will take either one of them in the first two or three rounds? Right now, those 4.61s are costing these guys a ton of money.
QUESTION OF THE SPRING
Alabama has begun spring practice, which leads us to the one question that everyone will be asking from now until the Crimson Tide starts playing the games for real in the fall – can Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban co-exist? Most Tennessee fans will tell you no, but that’s probably some holdover sour grapes since the Vols haven’t had a winning season since Lane left after one year. And, there are a lot of Kiffin haters out there for any one of a dozen reasons. Kiffin might not have hit it off big as Southern Cal’s head coach, but there has never been anything wrong with this offensive mind and he’s a fine quarterback coach. With Bama breaking in a new quarterback and the need to perhaps amp up the offense to keep up with the trend to higher scoring, Kiffin might be just the right fit for Alabama … that is if he can keep his mouth shut.
MIZZOU’S BACKUP POINT GUARDS ARRESTED FOR POT
What can only be described as a monumentally disappointing season for Missouri basketball took another turn for the worse Saturday night when backup guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector were arrested along with two defensive backs from the football team for marijuana possession. The two were immediately suspended from practice although Coach Frank Haith did not suspended them immediately for Tuesday night’s opening round game in the NIT against Davidson. If Haith suspends them for the Davidson game, he won’t have any backup guards. Missouri is already playing without power forward Tony Criswell, suspended for undisclosed reasons. Since going 30-5 with the team he inherited from Mike Anderson, Haith has had a declining record the last two years. This season’s team missed the NCAA for the first time in six seasons.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY, BASKETBALL VERSION
The latest to get the axe is James Johnson, canned after only two seasons at Virginia Tech. Johnson took over for Seth Greenberg and posted a 22-41 record with a poor 6-30 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference … Southeastern Louisiana University fired Jim Yarbrough, who went 133-135 in nine seasons including 37-53 in the last three … The three names surfacing in the coaching search at USF are former UCLA coach Ben Howland, Buzz Williams of Marquette and Andy Kennedy of Ole Miss. Another name to watch is UF assistant head coach and former South Alabama and Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey … At Auburn, former Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury seems to be pulling his name out of the search. Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl doesn’t seem as interested today as he did back on Friday. Auburn likes Buzz Williams of Marquette but it’s hard to imagine he would leave that job for Auburn. Keep an eye on Chuck Person, a former Auburn All-American and NBA assistant who is head coach of a pro team in South Korea.
THE SHOE ON THE OTHER FOOT
Funny, but Mike Kryzyzewski has never seemed to mind when Duke goes to the foul line significantly more than an opponent. Yet, when Duke was outshot at the line 38-11 by Virginia in Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, he got irritated and got a technical foul. Monday on the John Feinstein show, Coach K vented about all the folks who seem to think Duke always gets all the calls. “We’re not a state school so you don’t have a press corps protecting you, you know what I mean?” Coach K asked. “You’re out there. That goes with the territory. Not only that, but announcers and talk shows and whatever. They will not say anything about yesterday’s game. … Obviously, there were 38 free throws to 11. There were things that, if you’re trying to homer for somebody, you could homer. We don’t get that at all. Ever. So that does get old.” Maybe he doesn’t have the press corps protecting him, but he sure has Dick Vitale in his pocket.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
“Between the Sheets” was one of the hottest albums in the country on the R&B charts in 1983, which revived a fairly stagnant career for The Isley Brothers, whose two previous albums didn’t produce a single memorable song. The title track from this album shows off some serious vocal work by Ronald Isley, who I have always thought was one of the more underrated soul singers of his generation.