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  • Feb 18, 2017; Starkville, MS, USA; Florida Gators guard KeVaughn Allen (5) handles the ball during the second half of the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum. Florida won 57-52. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 18, 2017; Starkville, MS, USA; Florida Gators guard KeVaughn Allen (5) handles the ball during the second half of the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Humphrey Coliseum. Florida won 57-52. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators basketball heading
into tough week: Podcast

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  • Florida Gators basketball heading into tough week: Podcast
Written by Andrew Spivey, February 21, 2017, 0 Comments,

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we look at the Florida Gators basketball team’s tough week ahead as they compete for the SEC championship.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down what the Gators must do this week, plus how they did against Mississippi State over the weekend.

Andrew and Nick also recap how the Gators did on the baseball and softball field this past weekend at home in Gainesville.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, good weekend on the diamond for the baseball team. Not so good for softball, but went 4-1, won the tournament. Just not up to standards.

Nick:                         You win the tournament, but you do get your first loss of the year. Baseball had to come back on Friday, but looked pretty dominate against a William & Mary team that was a regional team last year.

Andrew:                 I didn’t get to watch very much of it because of softball going on, but did get to catch a little bit of Sunday’s action, and it seemed like Kowar was on. It seemed like the offense was going. I know you said that JJ Schwarz did well over the weekend. Five runs, eight runs and 11 runs, you’ll take that any day of the week.

Nick:                         Yeah. The thing with JJ that I really took away from this week is that he’s really not pressing, and he’s hitting the ball where it’s pitched. JJ had hits where he’s pulling the ball, he’s taking the ball the other way, he’s going back up the middle. It looked like he was more relaxed. He kind of struggled, didn’t have a great game Sunday, but throughout the weekend, last year you saw him trying to pull everything, trying to kill some balls, and this year it’s kind of maybe a more mature approach where you’re thinking, “I’m just going to hit it where it’s pitched. Everything’s not going to be a homerun. If I get a ball low and outside that I can hit, I’m going to take it the other way, shoot it past the second baseman.”

Andrew:                 I noticed, I believe it was Saturday or Sunday where it was first and second, and he drove one to right center. That was something you didn’t see. Looked like overall the protection behind him was there. That’s something we’ll talk about here in a second with softball, having a five hole hitter is one of the biggest things in sports, to have someone protect your big hitter overall.

Just a quick look at the stats here. Looks like overall a lot of guys had productive weekends. Dalton Guthrie supporting a .412 batting average after the first weekend, and JJ at .400. Overall, a lot of positives. Any surprises at the box for you?

Nick:                         Nothing really surprising. I thought Alex Faedo would have a better outing on Friday. He kind of struggled to find his spots. I think Brady Singer got into a little bit of trouble too. I think those two guys will be better. Nothing really surprising. I think what we really learned this week is that this team’s going to hit.

I really liked the lineup to start, and I think Jonathan India is going to be the key this year. Jonathan India, your third baseman, sophomore, hitting third. That’s going to be your guy. I called his homerun on Saturday. I said, “India is going to be the first one to hit a homerun. He’s going to hit one today.” We were all taking bets on who would be the first. I think he’s going to be your key. He’s going to be a guy you need to hit probably 8-10 homeruns, and he’s going to be hitting third. Need him to hit high .300s, mid .300s. He’s capable of that. He’s taken a big step forward from a great freshman year.

I love one, two, three. Guthrie, Liput, India. Then you’ve got JJ hitting fourth, and you’ve got options for five. Austin Langworthy, the kid just hits. He might only be 5’10” and 170 pounds, 180 pounds. I don’t know what he’s listed at, but he’s right around my size. He can hit the ball. I shook his hand on Sunday. That kid’s got some grip strength. It’s all in his grip, his hands, his wrists, his forearms. That’s where he’s got all of that, and I think that’s where his power is coming from. He smoked balls left and right. I gave him my player of the weekend, and he’s going to pitch a little bit too.

It’s not fair. You got Brady Singer, who’s throwing 94, 95, touches 97, and then you bring in this lefty, Austin Langworthy, who’s throwing 84. His fastball, sinkers, changeup, and now you’re getting a 78 mile an hour changeup. I think that will be Langworthy’s spot on the mound. It’ll be that change of pace guy. I don’t think you’ll ever see him really go through a lineup twice, but this kid is going to hit. That’s your everyday left fielder. He’s going to hit. He can hit fifth.

Keenan Bell hit a homerun. He can hit fifth. Mike Rivera, he had a big two RBI game on Saturday. He could hit fifth. They kind of just have guys everywhere that can hit. We’ll see if they can continue to hit. They faced some good pitching on Friday, Saturday. Sunday, the guys on Sunday weren’t great, but they’ll get right back to it Tuesday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and then Miami comes in. Miami just lost to Rutgers bad.

Andrew:                 A couple surprises over the weekend with FSU losing to VCU. I’ll say this. I think that FSU is down a little bit overall, but to see that is there. I mean, it’s baseball. You’re going to lose to teams that are not as good as you are. That’s part of the game. When you look at this pitching staff, Nick, that’s what I wanted to kind of get to a little bit. We all know about Jackson Kowar. We all know about Brady Singer. We all know about Alex Faedo, but the bullpen was the biggest question mark heading into the season. I’m looking at it, and it looks like 11 guys pitched overall this weekend for Florida. Who maybe stood out in the bullpen for you outside of the three starters?

Nick:                         Coming out of the bullpen I’m really impressed with Andrew Baker. This kid, he came in and closed the game out on Saturday, pitched again after Kowar on Sunday. He’s in line to be the closer, and this kid has a lot of fun. He’s out there dancing. He has a ton of energy. He’s another guy that can play in the field, and that will hit as well. He had hand surgery on his glove hand, his right hand. He’s a lefty. It’ll probably be about a month before he can hit and play in the field, but he’s going to pitch. He’s going to pitch a lot.

Then, Tyler Dyson comes in. He’s someone who I think is going to challenge to be that weekday starter. He comes in, and I’m sure you can attest to this. You’re a freshman, you got some adrenaline going. First pitch, 96. I’m like, “Okay. He’s probably a little excited.” Second pitch, 97. I’m like, “Alright, that’s just what this kid’s going to throw.” He just threw 96, 97.

The three guys that we saw on Friday I think are all starters. It’ll be interesting to see how they come out of the bullpen on the weekends, or how it shakes out once SEC play starts. Nate Brown, big righty. Tyler Dyson and Nick Long, I think those three guys are really the guys in contention to start those midweek games. Then, Andrew Baker could be your closer.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         It’ll be him and Rubio, and that’s a lefty. Baker’s kind of got a low three quarter release, and then Frank Rubio’s the side arm. It might be a situation where you’re up one in the ninth, and you kind of look to see what they have coming up. If they’ve got three lefties coming up, Baker’s probably going to get the nod to go in there. If they’ve got three righties coming up, you might give Rubio that nod.

Andrew:                 Right. Look ahead. What’s this week? Who they got?

Nick:                         This week Tuesday is at Jacksonville. I’m going to make the trip up there tonight, as you’re listening to this. Then Jacksonville at home on Wednesday. Then they host Miami for the three game series.

Andrew:                 Okay. Who do you think may get the start Tuesday, Wednesday?

Nick:                         Not sure Wednesday. Michael Byrne, who was one of my co-pitchers of the week, he threw three shutout innings on Friday. He’s going to get the start on Tuesday. Then I think it’s going to be one of those freshmen. I think it’s going to be, my guess would be Tyler Dyson or Nick Long on Wednesday. Each of them only threw, Dyson came in in the ninth, got the first two outs, and then Long came in. You know that. You know Sully. It’ll 11-6, two outs in the ninth, let’s make a pitching change.

Andrew:                 Got to prepare for that. You guys took a 3-0 record over the weekend. Florida softball went 4-1. Had a disappointing loss to Maryland on Saturday, 4-2. It was one of those games, Nick. We always talk about this with rain delays. It can be good for you, it can be bad for you. Florida’s trailing 4-2, just loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and the rain comes. It’s an hour and a half rain delay. Florida comes out of the rain delay down 4-2, and hits two weak ground balls to end the threat. They go to the seventh, shuts Maryland out, and don’t score in the bottom of the seventh. They lose 4-2.

Had the rain delay not happened, Florida probably scratches out two runs and ties the game, but what ifs. Some people were calling this was Florida’s worst loss ever in softball. Walton needs to figure out offense. Like I said, softball, baseball, you’re going to lose a game. You’re going to lose to an East Carolina, Western Carolina. You’re going to lose to bad teams. It’s the way the ball goes. First loss of the year. Was it great? No, but it might have been a wakeup call for this team that is still looking for leadership.

Nick:                         How is Maryland?

Andrew:                 That was their first win of the year. A great first win of the year. Like I said, it was a game that they should have won, and there’s no doubt they should have won. Never want to give a team their first win, but it’s preseason, or nonconference, 4-2. Not good, but it was a wakeup call. One thing that is a little bit concerning for me is just really how Aleshia Ocasio has been beaten up this year. Third in the nation last year in ERA, and her ERA this year is creeping close to 2. You say 2, and you start laughing, but after what she did last season it’s a little crazy the way it is.

This team is still trying to figure out offense right now, and pitching’s letting them down. I say, pitching is letting them down. I mean, they still didn’t give up but eight runs over the weekend, but it let them down in the Northwestern game when they gave up a 3-0 lead, and they tied it at 3-3. Then it let them down in the Maryland game where they had four runs on 13 hits. The offense is just really trying to come around.

I said, when you talked about Langworthy and guys backing up Schwartz in that five hole, that’s kind of what softball’s looking for right now. They really have that set lineup of McLean leading off, Lorenz batting second, and DeWitt third, and Kayli Kvistad hitting fourth, but they’re really looking for that five hole hitter to protect Kayli. Through 11 games she has 14 walks, Nick. 14 walks. That’s not good for your cleanup hitter.

Nick:                         No. Then you start getting into a situation where I was talking about with JJ last year, where you start pressing those pitches that you’re taking that are leading to those walks, that are borderline, close. You start swinging at those, and then now you’re missing them, and your strikeouts start piling up. Now you’re weakly grounding out. It’s not just they’re taking the bat out of her hands. Then you get a player who you’re counting on that starts pressing, and that can mess them up for the entire year.

Andrew:                 Exactly. One thing for me that stood out, and we kind of talked about this on Friday’s podcast, getting some situational hitting going, and that’s what Florida did a lot of this weekend. They kind of had someone break through that could end up being that five hole hitter, and that’s freshman Jaimie Hoover. Had two grand slams already this year, has 12 RBIs on the year, and two homers on the year. Starting to maybe take that lead to be that five hole hitter for Florida heading into another tournament down in Orlando, and then they go out to California for a tournament before they get into SEC play. I think she right now is probably starting to be in that leading spot to be that five hole hitter heading out.

Another surprise for Florida was Sophia Reynosa, the redshirt freshman shortstop. In softball, shortstop is kind of like a second baseman in baseball, where you don’t expect them to be a great hitter. You expect them to be a really good defender, but Reynosa’s hitting .435 on the year, second on the team in batting average, and is starting to drive in some runs. Now with eight RBIs, six this past weekend, from that nine hole spot. Really starting to showcase it a little bit, putting on the bat, two triples this year. Starting to show off a little bit.

Nick:                         Quick question. Who do you think can be that person behind Kvistad?

Andrew:                 I think it’s got to be Hoover. In my opinion, and I think you would agree with this, Nick, in that five hole hitter you want someone that teams are scared of. They’re scared, if there’s two on, this could very well be a three run homer. You know what I’m saying? I think that’s kind of what you want in a five hole hitter, someone that they’re worried about having base runners on. I think that’s with Hoover. You show up with two grand slams, you definitely don’t want to have any runners on when she comes up. I think you start to pitch to Kvistad a little bit more. With her being a freshman, Hoover, I think you still will pitch carefully to Kvistad, but you got to have someone there to protect her.

Nick:                         That five hole hitter you’re really looking for somebody that is going to make the other team say, “We have to pitch to Kayli, because we’re not going to pitch to this next girl, this next person, with an extra person on base.”

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Jaimie Hoover, just a freshman, it’s hard, because we want to say it takes time for a freshman to come in and to get used to it, to get their feet wet, feel comfortable. It’s hard to say that when you see so much freshman success in baseball and in softball. Still, it’s the case. Girl from Georgia, she might get it, and she looks like she has a little power too.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the biggest thing. Two grand slams in your first two weekends of competition. The thing I’ll say is this. That is that in the circle Kelly Barnhill is really turning into that #1 player in the country that she was heading into last season. Over the weekend, Nick, she didn’t allow a run, picked up three wins in 21 inning pitched, and she’s only striking out 51 batters this year. 51 batters in 27 innings. Close to two hitters an inning for her. I hate to say this. I mean, I don’t hate to say this, but I hate to say it so early, she very well might be Florida’s ace. Heading into the year I thought she was a three.

Gourley still is being Delanie Gourley, she had that one rough outing against Maryland where she gave up the four runs. Like I said with Aleshia Ocasio, she’s really struggling. He biggest thing is she’s more of a location pitcher, relies more on location, and it just seems that over the period of a game she loses that control at the end of the game, where it gets to fifth, sixth, seventh inning. I’m not sure how much longer Walton goes with her as that two pitcher when he has Barnhill, who is consistently overpowering hitters and is doing well. The control was still a little bit of a question mark. This weekend in 21 innings she walked nine batters, but when you’re striking out two batters a game, you can almost get away with that.

Nick:                         Yeah. I remember you texted me. I was walking into baseball, and you texted me that she struck out the first 10 she faced.

Andrew:                 Then struck out 14 of the first 15 she faced.

Nick:                         That’s filthy.

Andrew:                 It’s crazy. It’s like I said, and maybe it did take her that year to adjust. I think we talked about this last year, Nick. There was a game in high school where she pitched seven no hit innings and struck out all 21 batters.

Nick:                         That’s wild.

Andrew:                 I don’t care if you’re playing softball, baseball, t-ball, whatever you’re doing, if you do that, get out of here. Get out of here. That’s crazy.

Nick:                         Who are some of the girls that are struggling a little bit? Looks like Nicole DeWitt, Chelsea Herndon, Amanda Lorenz, Justine McLean, some girls. Definitely some familiar names there that fans have been around. Chelsea Herndon is a senior now, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Some names that maybe you thought or you expected to do certain things that aren’t early on.

Andrew:                 I think with Lorenz, she’s hitting .290 on the year, three homers, 10 RBIs. I don’t think she’s struggling, per say, as in she’s maybe pressing a little bit. It’s a situation where she’s in that two spot, and I feel like she’s just pushing it a little bit. She is stressing to swing the bat instead of walk. Only with 10 walks on the year, I say only, but she probably could have 20 easily. Seems like she’s pressing a little bit.

The hitter that is struggling the most is Janell Wheaton, Nick. That just is what it is. It’s really hurting Florida. She’s supposedly going to be the starting catcher on the year, hitting .107 on the year. She was that five hole hitter that Walton really thought was going to be, and he had to bench her twice over the weekend. It’s not so much even that it’s the contact, it’s the strikeouts. Just piling up the strikeouts. Nine strikeouts, five of those looking. You just can’t have that happen.

I don’t know what it is with her. Maybe it’s just a slow start to the year, but it’s really how she finished last season as well. At some point or another you have to look at other options there if that’s not going to go well. Like I said, being your five hole hitter that you thought she was going to be, and going to be a power bat, that’s really hurting this lineup.

Nick:                         That throws Tim Walton off, or any baseball/softball coach. You have somebody who has a great fall, then they have a great spring, and you kind of pencil them in. You’re still looking at players that can be there, that can still hang out and be those potential backups, but if somebody, especially a senior, you think you know what to expect from them, to have them struggle early on you’re kind of, “Shoot. What is my backup plan there?”

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         How early am I supposed to go to that when I’ve got a player who I know what they can be?

Andrew:                 It’s one of those things where, and Bobby Cox used to say this. I say Bobby, because that’s the guy I know the most about and was around the most, but he used to always say, “You’ve got to keep putting them in, hoping they break that streak, break that curse.” One Texas Leaguer, as we call them, can get you going, but it becomes a situation of how long do you go? You’re through 11 games now. Like I said, five strikeout lookings. You almost got to look at Plan B. I say that tongue in cheek, because I think that Florida’s going to need her if they’re going to make a run, but how long do you go?

Nick:                         That’s why they pay Tim Walton the big bucks. He’s got to figure that out.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I know if it was me, I don’t know. I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know. Like you said, it’s a good thing they make the big bucks. Let’s go on, and we’ll talk basketball. Man, oh Man, poor Mike White. Feels like he’s got everything going, the Gators are on a six game winning streak. Get back from Auburn, and learn the big man has got a torn ACL. Just terrible news.

Nick:                         It’s really tough. It kind of happened last year where John Egbunu had the hand injury, and missed some of the last year, but you get back, at least you get one game. You played one game without him, so you can kind of figure things out. It’s going to be Kevarrius Hayes and then Rimmer time after that, #RimmerTime. Not great, Bob. Not ideal. Not an ideal situation to lose Egbunu when you’re coming into a week where you can win the SEC this week. That doesn’t change, because you don’t get points added to your score before the game starts because they feel bad for you. No one feels bad for you. You’re going to have to play South Carolina, and you’re going to have to play Kentucky this week.

Andrew:                 Then the news kind of got worse a little bit on Saturday. Canyon Barry twisted his ankle, sprained his ankle a little bit. It’s a game time decision for that South Carolina game on Tuesday night. For me, Nick, and I think I speak for everyone when I say this, Florida has to have Canyon Barry. They cannot play Tuesday without Canyon Barry.

Nick:                         No. They did say after the game that he would have been fine to come back in, that he would have been able to play, but that game was pretty well in hand by the time he would have been able to come back in.

Andrew:                 Just a tough break overall. It kind of showed a little bit on Saturday at Mississippi State where Florida, in the first half in particular, was just really get beat up on the boards. That’s something they’re going to have to do better with, especially in this South Carolina game, because that’s what South Carolina does. They breed on that defense, getting the loose balls. That’s what they did in Columbia, and that’s exactly what Frank Martin team’s going to do on Tuesday in Gainesville.

Kevarrius Hayes has got to step up big time, and, for me, the other guy is Keith Stone. Schuyler Rimmer’s never going to be good for Florida. Never, ever, ever is he ever going to be good for Florida. He’s a body out there, and that’s all you can expect is him to be a body out there. Anything he gives you is extra, is a plus. I think they’re going to really need Keith Stone to really get back to pre-sickness Keith Stone. I know Mike White talked about that on Monday a little bit, saying that he’s still a little off because of that sickness. Florida needs Keith Stone to start playing like Keith Stone again.

Nick:                         That’s interesting. What is it exactly? We haven’t really gotten an answer as to what it is, as to why it’s affecting him so much. Now you’re looking at someone who I think it’s affecting him mentally. I think it’s starting to hurt his confidence.

Andrew:                 Mike White said something about he was still off balance from the viral infection. I don’t know too much about that.

Nick:                         He mentioned that it’s kind of like vertigo, and vertigo will make you feel dizzy, almost make you feel like you’re on a ship, like you’re standing on a canoe in a lake and rocking back and forth, and you can’t stand straight.

Andrew:                 That’s what I’m saying. I’ve never been through that, so I can’t attest to what needs to happen, but Florida needs the guy to be ready to go this week. Like I said, it’s a tough week for Florida. They moved up to #13 in the AP poll, and really it’s a week where if they were to sweep this week at home against South Carolina and then at Rupp on Saturday, if they were able to figure out a way to win those two games, Florida basically locks up the SEC with just a few more games left, and with a tiebreaker over Kentucky. It’s just a big week.

For me, and I say this, and I hate to say that, but I think for me best case scenario for Florida is to split this weekend, just because I’m not sure they can go to Rupp and win without Egbunu.

Nick:                         Which makes Tuesday all the more important.

Andrew:                 You can’t get swept by South Carolina.

Nick:                         No. I will make a bold prediction.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Florida will not miss 17 three pointers tomorrow.

Andrew:                 No. I don’t think so either.

Nick:                         Bold prediction.

Andrew:                 I don’t think so either. That streak has restarted again. Speaking of that, I noticed that Kentucky has made a three in over a thousand games now. My thing is this, Nick, and I’ll admit I’m not a huge basketball follower, but it just seems like that that streak would be something that would be a little higher for teams. You think about how many threes a team shoots in a game, you think some team would rattle off streaks like that, but these streaks of long three pointers made are starting to get a little crazy, where they’re not happening very much.

Nick:                         I don’t know, especially the way the game is being played now, right? You almost don’t need big men. You just jack up some threes. Look at a team like Golden State, everyone’s shooting threes. I’m with you. Maybe we sound stupid right now. Who knows?

Andrew:                 I mean, like you said, Florida shot 17 threes in the game. How many games do you realistically go 0 for 17?

Nick:                         I think it’s hard. It’s probably hard to go 0 for 17.

Andrew:                 You would think that one would hit off the backboard.

Nick:                         Something. The banks got to be open at some point.

Andrew:                 You ain’t got to call it, so it’s not like it’s being taken away. Speaking of which, Nick, let’s talk about something here. This podcast is one of the few that we don’t have a ton to talk about, but is the slam dunk contest gone? Is it history?

Nick:                         I haven’t watched the slam dunk contest in years. I’m done with it. I just don’t know what it is. The past couple years it seems like they’re kind of turning it into like marketing. It’s like, “Look, we’re doing a drone thing. Now, let me zoom into this drone. It’s an Intel drone. This dunk’s brought to you by Intel.” It’s just become too commercial. The guy’s are afraid, some of the guys that should be competing in it are afraid to ruin their reputation. Mr. LeBron James probably should have competed in one at least, one dunk contest while you were in the NBA.

Then you get these videos from guys who are just playing street ball, and it’s like 10 dunks that would have won the dunk contest. I watched them doing that. Then, the other thing is it’s almost like an opposite to my point, but these guys that are missing dunks, and missing them bad. It’s like, I’m not impressed. I’m sure it’s very difficult, but I’m not impressed when I see you try it for the fifth time.

Andrew:                 Another for me is let’s stop giving out 50s. 50s are for the elite of the elite. No dunk on Saturday was a 50. Zero dunks were a 50. Michael Jordan would be, if you could ask him for his honest …

Nick:                         I can’t remember who it was, dunk over a guy on a guy’s shoulders was impressive, not a 50.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Glenn Robinson had a few that were cool, but none of them were a 50. That’s another thing, can we just get rid of jumping over people? I mean, if you or I were to jump over someone, that’s cool, but these guys that are 6’8” with verts that are ridiculous, it’s not impressing me anymore. I’m not impressed by you jumping over a cheerleader and a 5’ guard, or jumping over Paul George by himself, where you’re holding on his shoulder. I’m not impressed anymore. Come on.

Nick:                         Not impressed. I remember you had Blake Griffin jumping over the Kia. Why? Kia sponsors the NBA.

Andrew:                 That was different. That was at least different.

Nick:                         It’s not different. People have been jumping over cars for dunks out in the streets, Andrew. They’ve been doing that.

Andrew:                 I know.

Nick:                         That’s just too commercial.

Andrew:                 It was different for the event. You know what I’m saying? That was the one time deal. Now every time we’re doing the same thing. I don’t know. It’s like you kind of said, you see, was it Derek Jones, Jr.?

Nick:                         That was a great dunk.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You saw him have one of those cool dunks in pregame warmups where he did like 360s in the air and windmill, and then he has these lame dunks in the slam dunk contest. It’s kind of like, you had cooler dunks when it didn’t matter.

Nick:                         I think that between the legs one might have been dunk of the night though.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Then he had another couple dunks where it took him four tries to get it. I’m not impressed after four tries. Like the drone one, the drone one would have been cool, just because it was a drone, but after you tried it four times, it wasn’t cool no more.

Couple more things, real quick. Over the weekend a couple guys get invited to the Opening. They have the Opening for the first time in Orlando this year. Couple of Florida guys got Opening invites. That was safety Amari Burney got an invite. You had Tyreke Johnson, the corner out of Jacksonville, get an invite. You had Reuben Unije also got an invite. You had some guys that got an invite, and then also the quarterback that Florida’s very high on is the quarterback committed to Penn State. He won the MVP of the event on Sunday in Orlando as well. Starting to get some camps going, some numbers going for these guys, so you can get a little bit better idea of who’s the best of the best. Then Florida has that Junior Day on March 25th.

Nick:                         Junior Day on March 25th. Where will you be next weekend, or this weekend?

Andrew:                 I am going down to spring training, my good friend. Going down to spring training, and going to enjoy myself, my man.

Nick:                         What are you looking for on the Braves? What do you need to see?

Andrew:                 Just the sweet sound of the baseball bat, my friend.

Nick:                         What do you think the Braves will be this year?

Andrew:                 I said it, Nick, and you laughed at me when I told you.

Nick:                         Last year you thought that they had a chance to win the wildcard.

Andrew:                 I did.

Nick:                         Before the season last year you started talking some kind of mess about getting to the wildcard. I told you you were crazy.

Andrew:                 I really believe this year is a 500, right around 500, and they’ll be in the mix for the wildcard. I do that, with the veteran pitching staff coming back that they’ve got, the young players. I think they can battle for a wildcard spot.

Nick:                         I will make a bet with you. We’ll figure out terms, and we’ll finalize the bet Friday. I bet the Braves are not in the playoffs this year.

Andrew:                 I didn’t say that they’d be in the playoffs. I said they’d be in the mix.

Nick:                         You said they’d be. They’re in the mix for the wildcard, which means if they win the wildcard, they’re in the playoffs.

Andrew:                 Your Marlins surely ain’t.

Nick:                         Good Lord, no. I don’t know if you thought that was going to help you with your argument, but, no. Good Lord, no, the Marlins aren’t, but that’s not our bet.

Andrew:                 I’ll decide on this on Friday.

Nick:                         The Marlins are just a hot dumpster fire.

Andrew:                 Are they getting sold?

Nick:                         I hope so. Jeffrey Loria is the worst owner, right next to James Dolan with the Knicks. Jeffrey Loria is the worst owner in sports.

Andrew:                 James Dolan, come on, man. You don’t pick a fight with some of your most famous guys that play for your team. Charles Oakley is one of the most outspoken guys that fans loved, wasn’t smart to pick a fight with that guy.

Nick:                         Especially since the fans already hate you, Dolan. Fans already hated you, and then you pick a fight with Charles Oakley, who’s beloved by Knicks fans. You’re a moron. Loria is a moron. He ran the Expos into the ground. He’s been stuffing money into his pockets for years. The money that he gets because his salary cap is so low, the money he’s getting from the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, all these teams who are actually spending money on their team. He’s pocketing that, keeping his payroll at nothing.

I commend him for how classy the Marlins handled the whole Jose Fernandez situation last year. Kudos to you, but that doesn’t change the fact that the city of Miami is going to pay. When it’s all said and done, the city of Miami is on the hook for $400 million for that stadium. Jeffrey Loria’s on the hook for nothing. By the time they’re done paying off the interest and paying off the stadium, the city of Miami will have paid over a billion dollars for that stadium, and Jeffrey Loria’s just running out of there giggling. He shouldn’t be allowed to own any professional sports franchise, and if Trump wants to make him the ambassador to France, I hope he lives over there and never comes back.

Andrew:                 Lordy. Nick, we’ll get out of here. With spring ball on the tracks.

Nick:                         A week away, less than a week away when you’re listening to this.

Andrew:                 We’ll get some previews sent out, and we’ll be back on Friday. We’ll preview baseball, softball, and we’ll do some previewing of football then as well. We’ll do all that. Tell the people where they can find us, Nick. Again, if you’re still looking to make the move to Gator Country, let us know. We got a couple coupons to get you on board for a better deal.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript and audio form. You can also check the podcast out on iTunes. Go to the podcast section, go ahead and login there, subscribe. Never miss a podcast. Do your social media thing. It’s @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and him @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. If you’re going to be in Orlando Saturday through Wednesday of next week, hit me up. I’ll be at Disney at the Wide World of Sports.

Nick:                         You’ll get to see the new stadium they’re building there for you guys.

Andrew:                 No. They’re not building us a new stadium.

Nick:                         They’re building a new baseball stadium at the Wide World of Sports.

Andrew:                 But that is for tournament ball. The Braves are moving. The Braves are moving down to Ft. Myers, I believe.

Nick:                         Fort Misery.

Andrew:                 No, not Ft. Myers. They’re moving somewhere else. I forgot. They’re moving somewhere down south for spring training. They’re getting away from Disney, because it’s such a far drive for them for spring ball.

Nick:                         Ft. Myers isn’t much closer.

Andrew:                 No. It’s not Ft. Myers, but they’re moving somewhere else, as far as playing teams. The closest team for the Braves and Tigers is like an hour and a half away.

Nick:                         Got you.

Andrew:                 As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark and Butch, you know the drill.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey

About Andrew Spivey

Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.

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GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we look at the Florida Gators basketball team’s tough week ahead as they compete for the SEC championship.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down what the Gators must do this week, plus how they did against Mississippi State over the weekend.

Andrew and Nick also recap how the Gators did on the baseball and softball field this past weekend at home in Gainesville.

TRANSCRIPT:

Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, good weekend on the diamond for the baseball team. Not so good for softball, but went 4-1, won the tournament. Just not up to standards.

Nick:                         You win the tournament, but you do get your first loss of the year. Baseball had to come back on Friday, but looked pretty dominate against a William & Mary team that was a regional team last year.

Andrew:                 I didn’t get to watch very much of it because of softball going on, but did get to catch a little bit of Sunday’s action, and it seemed like Kowar was on. It seemed like the offense was going. I know you said that JJ Schwarz did well over the weekend. Five runs, eight runs and 11 runs, you’ll take that any day of the week.

Nick:                         Yeah. The thing with JJ that I really took away from this week is that he’s really not pressing, and he’s hitting the ball where it’s pitched. JJ had hits where he’s pulling the ball, he’s taking the ball the other way, he’s going back up the middle. It looked like he was more relaxed. He kind of struggled, didn’t have a great game Sunday, but throughout the weekend, last year you saw him trying to pull everything, trying to kill some balls, and this year it’s kind of maybe a more mature approach where you’re thinking, “I’m just going to hit it where it’s pitched. Everything’s not going to be a homerun. If I get a ball low and outside that I can hit, I’m going to take it the other way, shoot it past the second baseman.”

Andrew:                 I noticed, I believe it was Saturday or Sunday where it was first and second, and he drove one to right center. That was something you didn’t see. Looked like overall the protection behind him was there. That’s something we’ll talk about here in a second with softball, having a five hole hitter is one of the biggest things in sports, to have someone protect your big hitter overall.

Just a quick look at the stats here. Looks like overall a lot of guys had productive weekends. Dalton Guthrie supporting a .412 batting average after the first weekend, and JJ at .400. Overall, a lot of positives. Any surprises at the box for you?

Nick:                         Nothing really surprising. I thought Alex Faedo would have a better outing on Friday. He kind of struggled to find his spots. I think Brady Singer got into a little bit of trouble too. I think those two guys will be better. Nothing really surprising. I think what we really learned this week is that this team’s going to hit.

I really liked the lineup to start, and I think Jonathan India is going to be the key this year. Jonathan India, your third baseman, sophomore, hitting third. That’s going to be your guy. I called his homerun on Saturday. I said, “India is going to be the first one to hit a homerun. He’s going to hit one today.” We were all taking bets on who would be the first. I think he’s going to be your key. He’s going to be a guy you need to hit probably 8-10 homeruns, and he’s going to be hitting third. Need him to hit high .300s, mid .300s. He’s capable of that. He’s taken a big step forward from a great freshman year.

I love one, two, three. Guthrie, Liput, India. Then you’ve got JJ hitting fourth, and you’ve got options for five. Austin Langworthy, the kid just hits. He might only be 5’10” and 170 pounds, 180 pounds. I don’t know what he’s listed at, but he’s right around my size. He can hit the ball. I shook his hand on Sunday. That kid’s got some grip strength. It’s all in his grip, his hands, his wrists, his forearms. That’s where he’s got all of that, and I think that’s where his power is coming from. He smoked balls left and right. I gave him my player of the weekend, and he’s going to pitch a little bit too.

It’s not fair. You got Brady Singer, who’s throwing 94, 95, touches 97, and then you bring in this lefty, Austin Langworthy, who’s throwing 84. His fastball, sinkers, changeup, and now you’re getting a 78 mile an hour changeup. I think that will be Langworthy’s spot on the mound. It’ll be that change of pace guy. I don’t think you’ll ever see him really go through a lineup twice, but this kid is going to hit. That’s your everyday left fielder. He’s going to hit. He can hit fifth.

Keenan Bell hit a homerun. He can hit fifth. Mike Rivera, he had a big two RBI game on Saturday. He could hit fifth. They kind of just have guys everywhere that can hit. We’ll see if they can continue to hit. They faced some good pitching on Friday, Saturday. Sunday, the guys on Sunday weren’t great, but they’ll get right back to it Tuesday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and then Miami comes in. Miami just lost to Rutgers bad.

Andrew:                 A couple surprises over the weekend with FSU losing to VCU. I’ll say this. I think that FSU is down a little bit overall, but to see that is there. I mean, it’s baseball. You’re going to lose to teams that are not as good as you are. That’s part of the game. When you look at this pitching staff, Nick, that’s what I wanted to kind of get to a little bit. We all know about Jackson Kowar. We all know about Brady Singer. We all know about Alex Faedo, but the bullpen was the biggest question mark heading into the season. I’m looking at it, and it looks like 11 guys pitched overall this weekend for Florida. Who maybe stood out in the bullpen for you outside of the three starters?

Nick:                         Coming out of the bullpen I’m really impressed with Andrew Baker. This kid, he came in and closed the game out on Saturday, pitched again after Kowar on Sunday. He’s in line to be the closer, and this kid has a lot of fun. He’s out there dancing. He has a ton of energy. He’s another guy that can play in the field, and that will hit as well. He had hand surgery on his glove hand, his right hand. He’s a lefty. It’ll probably be about a month before he can hit and play in the field, but he’s going to pitch. He’s going to pitch a lot.

Then, Tyler Dyson comes in. He’s someone who I think is going to challenge to be that weekday starter. He comes in, and I’m sure you can attest to this. You’re a freshman, you got some adrenaline going. First pitch, 96. I’m like, “Okay. He’s probably a little excited.” Second pitch, 97. I’m like, “Alright, that’s just what this kid’s going to throw.” He just threw 96, 97.

The three guys that we saw on Friday I think are all starters. It’ll be interesting to see how they come out of the bullpen on the weekends, or how it shakes out once SEC play starts. Nate Brown, big righty. Tyler Dyson and Nick Long, I think those three guys are really the guys in contention to start those midweek games. Then, Andrew Baker could be your closer.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         It’ll be him and Rubio, and that’s a lefty. Baker’s kind of got a low three quarter release, and then Frank Rubio’s the side arm. It might be a situation where you’re up one in the ninth, and you kind of look to see what they have coming up. If they’ve got three lefties coming up, Baker’s probably going to get the nod to go in there. If they’ve got three righties coming up, you might give Rubio that nod.

Andrew:                 Right. Look ahead. What’s this week? Who they got?

Nick:                         This week Tuesday is at Jacksonville. I’m going to make the trip up there tonight, as you’re listening to this. Then Jacksonville at home on Wednesday. Then they host Miami for the three game series.

Andrew:                 Okay. Who do you think may get the start Tuesday, Wednesday?

Nick:                         Not sure Wednesday. Michael Byrne, who was one of my co-pitchers of the week, he threw three shutout innings on Friday. He’s going to get the start on Tuesday. Then I think it’s going to be one of those freshmen. I think it’s going to be, my guess would be Tyler Dyson or Nick Long on Wednesday. Each of them only threw, Dyson came in in the ninth, got the first two outs, and then Long came in. You know that. You know Sully. It’ll 11-6, two outs in the ninth, let’s make a pitching change.

Andrew:                 Got to prepare for that. You guys took a 3-0 record over the weekend. Florida softball went 4-1. Had a disappointing loss to Maryland on Saturday, 4-2. It was one of those games, Nick. We always talk about this with rain delays. It can be good for you, it can be bad for you. Florida’s trailing 4-2, just loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and the rain comes. It’s an hour and a half rain delay. Florida comes out of the rain delay down 4-2, and hits two weak ground balls to end the threat. They go to the seventh, shuts Maryland out, and don’t score in the bottom of the seventh. They lose 4-2.

Had the rain delay not happened, Florida probably scratches out two runs and ties the game, but what ifs. Some people were calling this was Florida’s worst loss ever in softball. Walton needs to figure out offense. Like I said, softball, baseball, you’re going to lose a game. You’re going to lose to an East Carolina, Western Carolina. You’re going to lose to bad teams. It’s the way the ball goes. First loss of the year. Was it great? No, but it might have been a wakeup call for this team that is still looking for leadership.

Nick:                         How is Maryland?

Andrew:                 That was their first win of the year. A great first win of the year. Like I said, it was a game that they should have won, and there’s no doubt they should have won. Never want to give a team their first win, but it’s preseason, or nonconference, 4-2. Not good, but it was a wakeup call. One thing that is a little bit concerning for me is just really how Aleshia Ocasio has been beaten up this year. Third in the nation last year in ERA, and her ERA this year is creeping close to 2. You say 2, and you start laughing, but after what she did last season it’s a little crazy the way it is.

This team is still trying to figure out offense right now, and pitching’s letting them down. I say, pitching is letting them down. I mean, they still didn’t give up but eight runs over the weekend, but it let them down in the Northwestern game when they gave up a 3-0 lead, and they tied it at 3-3. Then it let them down in the Maryland game where they had four runs on 13 hits. The offense is just really trying to come around.

I said, when you talked about Langworthy and guys backing up Schwartz in that five hole, that’s kind of what softball’s looking for right now. They really have that set lineup of McLean leading off, Lorenz batting second, and DeWitt third, and Kayli Kvistad hitting fourth, but they’re really looking for that five hole hitter to protect Kayli. Through 11 games she has 14 walks, Nick. 14 walks. That’s not good for your cleanup hitter.

Nick:                         No. Then you start getting into a situation where I was talking about with JJ last year, where you start pressing those pitches that you’re taking that are leading to those walks, that are borderline, close. You start swinging at those, and then now you’re missing them, and your strikeouts start piling up. Now you’re weakly grounding out. It’s not just they’re taking the bat out of her hands. Then you get a player who you’re counting on that starts pressing, and that can mess them up for the entire year.

Andrew:                 Exactly. One thing for me that stood out, and we kind of talked about this on Friday’s podcast, getting some situational hitting going, and that’s what Florida did a lot of this weekend. They kind of had someone break through that could end up being that five hole hitter, and that’s freshman Jaimie Hoover. Had two grand slams already this year, has 12 RBIs on the year, and two homers on the year. Starting to maybe take that lead to be that five hole hitter for Florida heading into another tournament down in Orlando, and then they go out to California for a tournament before they get into SEC play. I think she right now is probably starting to be in that leading spot to be that five hole hitter heading out.

Another surprise for Florida was Sophia Reynosa, the redshirt freshman shortstop. In softball, shortstop is kind of like a second baseman in baseball, where you don’t expect them to be a great hitter. You expect them to be a really good defender, but Reynosa’s hitting .435 on the year, second on the team in batting average, and is starting to drive in some runs. Now with eight RBIs, six this past weekend, from that nine hole spot. Really starting to showcase it a little bit, putting on the bat, two triples this year. Starting to show off a little bit.

Nick:                         Quick question. Who do you think can be that person behind Kvistad?

Andrew:                 I think it’s got to be Hoover. In my opinion, and I think you would agree with this, Nick, in that five hole hitter you want someone that teams are scared of. They’re scared, if there’s two on, this could very well be a three run homer. You know what I’m saying? I think that’s kind of what you want in a five hole hitter, someone that they’re worried about having base runners on. I think that’s with Hoover. You show up with two grand slams, you definitely don’t want to have any runners on when she comes up. I think you start to pitch to Kvistad a little bit more. With her being a freshman, Hoover, I think you still will pitch carefully to Kvistad, but you got to have someone there to protect her.

Nick:                         That five hole hitter you’re really looking for somebody that is going to make the other team say, “We have to pitch to Kayli, because we’re not going to pitch to this next girl, this next person, with an extra person on base.”

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Jaimie Hoover, just a freshman, it’s hard, because we want to say it takes time for a freshman to come in and to get used to it, to get their feet wet, feel comfortable. It’s hard to say that when you see so much freshman success in baseball and in softball. Still, it’s the case. Girl from Georgia, she might get it, and she looks like she has a little power too.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That’s the biggest thing. Two grand slams in your first two weekends of competition. The thing I’ll say is this. That is that in the circle Kelly Barnhill is really turning into that #1 player in the country that she was heading into last season. Over the weekend, Nick, she didn’t allow a run, picked up three wins in 21 inning pitched, and she’s only striking out 51 batters this year. 51 batters in 27 innings. Close to two hitters an inning for her. I hate to say this. I mean, I don’t hate to say this, but I hate to say it so early, she very well might be Florida’s ace. Heading into the year I thought she was a three.

Gourley still is being Delanie Gourley, she had that one rough outing against Maryland where she gave up the four runs. Like I said with Aleshia Ocasio, she’s really struggling. He biggest thing is she’s more of a location pitcher, relies more on location, and it just seems that over the period of a game she loses that control at the end of the game, where it gets to fifth, sixth, seventh inning. I’m not sure how much longer Walton goes with her as that two pitcher when he has Barnhill, who is consistently overpowering hitters and is doing well. The control was still a little bit of a question mark. This weekend in 21 innings she walked nine batters, but when you’re striking out two batters a game, you can almost get away with that.

Nick:                         Yeah. I remember you texted me. I was walking into baseball, and you texted me that she struck out the first 10 she faced.

Andrew:                 Then struck out 14 of the first 15 she faced.

Nick:                         That’s filthy.

Andrew:                 It’s crazy. It’s like I said, and maybe it did take her that year to adjust. I think we talked about this last year, Nick. There was a game in high school where she pitched seven no hit innings and struck out all 21 batters.

Nick:                         That’s wild.

Andrew:                 I don’t care if you’re playing softball, baseball, t-ball, whatever you’re doing, if you do that, get out of here. Get out of here. That’s crazy.

Nick:                         Who are some of the girls that are struggling a little bit? Looks like Nicole DeWitt, Chelsea Herndon, Amanda Lorenz, Justine McLean, some girls. Definitely some familiar names there that fans have been around. Chelsea Herndon is a senior now, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Some names that maybe you thought or you expected to do certain things that aren’t early on.

Andrew:                 I think with Lorenz, she’s hitting .290 on the year, three homers, 10 RBIs. I don’t think she’s struggling, per say, as in she’s maybe pressing a little bit. It’s a situation where she’s in that two spot, and I feel like she’s just pushing it a little bit. She is stressing to swing the bat instead of walk. Only with 10 walks on the year, I say only, but she probably could have 20 easily. Seems like she’s pressing a little bit.

The hitter that is struggling the most is Janell Wheaton, Nick. That just is what it is. It’s really hurting Florida. She’s supposedly going to be the starting catcher on the year, hitting .107 on the year. She was that five hole hitter that Walton really thought was going to be, and he had to bench her twice over the weekend. It’s not so much even that it’s the contact, it’s the strikeouts. Just piling up the strikeouts. Nine strikeouts, five of those looking. You just can’t have that happen.

I don’t know what it is with her. Maybe it’s just a slow start to the year, but it’s really how she finished last season as well. At some point or another you have to look at other options there if that’s not going to go well. Like I said, being your five hole hitter that you thought she was going to be, and going to be a power bat, that’s really hurting this lineup.

Nick:                         That throws Tim Walton off, or any baseball/softball coach. You have somebody who has a great fall, then they have a great spring, and you kind of pencil them in. You’re still looking at players that can be there, that can still hang out and be those potential backups, but if somebody, especially a senior, you think you know what to expect from them, to have them struggle early on you’re kind of, “Shoot. What is my backup plan there?”

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         How early am I supposed to go to that when I’ve got a player who I know what they can be?

Andrew:                 It’s one of those things where, and Bobby Cox used to say this. I say Bobby, because that’s the guy I know the most about and was around the most, but he used to always say, “You’ve got to keep putting them in, hoping they break that streak, break that curse.” One Texas Leaguer, as we call them, can get you going, but it becomes a situation of how long do you go? You’re through 11 games now. Like I said, five strikeout lookings. You almost got to look at Plan B. I say that tongue in cheek, because I think that Florida’s going to need her if they’re going to make a run, but how long do you go?

Nick:                         That’s why they pay Tim Walton the big bucks. He’s got to figure that out.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I know if it was me, I don’t know. I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know. Like you said, it’s a good thing they make the big bucks. Let’s go on, and we’ll talk basketball. Man, oh Man, poor Mike White. Feels like he’s got everything going, the Gators are on a six game winning streak. Get back from Auburn, and learn the big man has got a torn ACL. Just terrible news.

Nick:                         It’s really tough. It kind of happened last year where John Egbunu had the hand injury, and missed some of the last year, but you get back, at least you get one game. You played one game without him, so you can kind of figure things out. It’s going to be Kevarrius Hayes and then Rimmer time after that, #RimmerTime. Not great, Bob. Not ideal. Not an ideal situation to lose Egbunu when you’re coming into a week where you can win the SEC this week. That doesn’t change, because you don’t get points added to your score before the game starts because they feel bad for you. No one feels bad for you. You’re going to have to play South Carolina, and you’re going to have to play Kentucky this week.

Andrew:                 Then the news kind of got worse a little bit on Saturday. Canyon Barry twisted his ankle, sprained his ankle a little bit. It’s a game time decision for that South Carolina game on Tuesday night. For me, Nick, and I think I speak for everyone when I say this, Florida has to have Canyon Barry. They cannot play Tuesday without Canyon Barry.

Nick:                         No. They did say after the game that he would have been fine to come back in, that he would have been able to play, but that game was pretty well in hand by the time he would have been able to come back in.

Andrew:                 Just a tough break overall. It kind of showed a little bit on Saturday at Mississippi State where Florida, in the first half in particular, was just really get beat up on the boards. That’s something they’re going to have to do better with, especially in this South Carolina game, because that’s what South Carolina does. They breed on that defense, getting the loose balls. That’s what they did in Columbia, and that’s exactly what Frank Martin team’s going to do on Tuesday in Gainesville.

Kevarrius Hayes has got to step up big time, and, for me, the other guy is Keith Stone. Schuyler Rimmer’s never going to be good for Florida. Never, ever, ever is he ever going to be good for Florida. He’s a body out there, and that’s all you can expect is him to be a body out there. Anything he gives you is extra, is a plus. I think they’re going to really need Keith Stone to really get back to pre-sickness Keith Stone. I know Mike White talked about that on Monday a little bit, saying that he’s still a little off because of that sickness. Florida needs Keith Stone to start playing like Keith Stone again.

Nick:                         That’s interesting. What is it exactly? We haven’t really gotten an answer as to what it is, as to why it’s affecting him so much. Now you’re looking at someone who I think it’s affecting him mentally. I think it’s starting to hurt his confidence.

Andrew:                 Mike White said something about he was still off balance from the viral infection. I don’t know too much about that.

Nick:                         He mentioned that it’s kind of like vertigo, and vertigo will make you feel dizzy, almost make you feel like you’re on a ship, like you’re standing on a canoe in a lake and rocking back and forth, and you can’t stand straight.

Andrew:                 That’s what I’m saying. I’ve never been through that, so I can’t attest to what needs to happen, but Florida needs the guy to be ready to go this week. Like I said, it’s a tough week for Florida. They moved up to #13 in the AP poll, and really it’s a week where if they were to sweep this week at home against South Carolina and then at Rupp on Saturday, if they were able to figure out a way to win those two games, Florida basically locks up the SEC with just a few more games left, and with a tiebreaker over Kentucky. It’s just a big week.

For me, and I say this, and I hate to say that, but I think for me best case scenario for Florida is to split this weekend, just because I’m not sure they can go to Rupp and win without Egbunu.

Nick:                         Which makes Tuesday all the more important.

Andrew:                 You can’t get swept by South Carolina.

Nick:                         No. I will make a bold prediction.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Florida will not miss 17 three pointers tomorrow.

Andrew:                 No. I don’t think so either.

Nick:                         Bold prediction.

Andrew:                 I don’t think so either. That streak has restarted again. Speaking of that, I noticed that Kentucky has made a three in over a thousand games now. My thing is this, Nick, and I’ll admit I’m not a huge basketball follower, but it just seems like that that streak would be something that would be a little higher for teams. You think about how many threes a team shoots in a game, you think some team would rattle off streaks like that, but these streaks of long three pointers made are starting to get a little crazy, where they’re not happening very much.

Nick:                         I don’t know, especially the way the game is being played now, right? You almost don’t need big men. You just jack up some threes. Look at a team like Golden State, everyone’s shooting threes. I’m with you. Maybe we sound stupid right now. Who knows?

Andrew:                 I mean, like you said, Florida shot 17 threes in the game. How many games do you realistically go 0 for 17?

Nick:                         I think it’s hard. It’s probably hard to go 0 for 17.

Andrew:                 You would think that one would hit off the backboard.

Nick:                         Something. The banks got to be open at some point.

Andrew:                 You ain’t got to call it, so it’s not like it’s being taken away. Speaking of which, Nick, let’s talk about something here. This podcast is one of the few that we don’t have a ton to talk about, but is the slam dunk contest gone? Is it history?

Nick:                         I haven’t watched the slam dunk contest in years. I’m done with it. I just don’t know what it is. The past couple years it seems like they’re kind of turning it into like marketing. It’s like, “Look, we’re doing a drone thing. Now, let me zoom into this drone. It’s an Intel drone. This dunk’s brought to you by Intel.” It’s just become too commercial. The guy’s are afraid, some of the guys that should be competing in it are afraid to ruin their reputation. Mr. LeBron James probably should have competed in one at least, one dunk contest while you were in the NBA.

Then you get these videos from guys who are just playing street ball, and it’s like 10 dunks that would have won the dunk contest. I watched them doing that. Then, the other thing is it’s almost like an opposite to my point, but these guys that are missing dunks, and missing them bad. It’s like, I’m not impressed. I’m sure it’s very difficult, but I’m not impressed when I see you try it for the fifth time.

Andrew:                 Another for me is let’s stop giving out 50s. 50s are for the elite of the elite. No dunk on Saturday was a 50. Zero dunks were a 50. Michael Jordan would be, if you could ask him for his honest …

Nick:                         I can’t remember who it was, dunk over a guy on a guy’s shoulders was impressive, not a 50.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Glenn Robinson had a few that were cool, but none of them were a 50. That’s another thing, can we just get rid of jumping over people? I mean, if you or I were to jump over someone, that’s cool, but these guys that are 6’8” with verts that are ridiculous, it’s not impressing me anymore. I’m not impressed by you jumping over a cheerleader and a 5’ guard, or jumping over Paul George by himself, where you’re holding on his shoulder. I’m not impressed anymore. Come on.

Nick:                         Not impressed. I remember you had Blake Griffin jumping over the Kia. Why? Kia sponsors the NBA.

Andrew:                 That was different. That was at least different.

Nick:                         It’s not different. People have been jumping over cars for dunks out in the streets, Andrew. They’ve been doing that.

Andrew:                 I know.

Nick:                         That’s just too commercial.

Andrew:                 It was different for the event. You know what I’m saying? That was the one time deal. Now every time we’re doing the same thing. I don’t know. It’s like you kind of said, you see, was it Derek Jones, Jr.?

Nick:                         That was a great dunk.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You saw him have one of those cool dunks in pregame warmups where he did like 360s in the air and windmill, and then he has these lame dunks in the slam dunk contest. It’s kind of like, you had cooler dunks when it didn’t matter.

Nick:                         I think that between the legs one might have been dunk of the night though.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Then he had another couple dunks where it took him four tries to get it. I’m not impressed after four tries. Like the drone one, the drone one would have been cool, just because it was a drone, but after you tried it four times, it wasn’t cool no more.

Couple more things, real quick. Over the weekend a couple guys get invited to the Opening. They have the Opening for the first time in Orlando this year. Couple of Florida guys got Opening invites. That was safety Amari Burney got an invite. You had Tyreke Johnson, the corner out of Jacksonville, get an invite. You had Reuben Unije also got an invite. You had some guys that got an invite, and then also the quarterback that Florida’s very high on is the quarterback committed to Penn State. He won the MVP of the event on Sunday in Orlando as well. Starting to get some camps going, some numbers going for these guys, so you can get a little bit better idea of who’s the best of the best. Then Florida has that Junior Day on March 25th.

Nick:                         Junior Day on March 25th. Where will you be next weekend, or this weekend?

Andrew:                 I am going down to spring training, my good friend. Going down to spring training, and going to enjoy myself, my man.

Nick:                         What are you looking for on the Braves? What do you need to see?

Andrew:                 Just the sweet sound of the baseball bat, my friend.

Nick:                         What do you think the Braves will be this year?

Andrew:                 I said it, Nick, and you laughed at me when I told you.

Nick:                         Last year you thought that they had a chance to win the wildcard.

Andrew:                 I did.

Nick:                         Before the season last year you started talking some kind of mess about getting to the wildcard. I told you you were crazy.

Andrew:                 I really believe this year is a 500, right around 500, and they’ll be in the mix for the wildcard. I do that, with the veteran pitching staff coming back that they’ve got, the young players. I think they can battle for a wildcard spot.

Nick:                         I will make a bet with you. We’ll figure out terms, and we’ll finalize the bet Friday. I bet the Braves are not in the playoffs this year.

Andrew:                 I didn’t say that they’d be in the playoffs. I said they’d be in the mix.

Nick:                         You said they’d be. They’re in the mix for the wildcard, which means if they win the wildcard, they’re in the playoffs.

Andrew:                 Your Marlins surely ain’t.

Nick:                         Good Lord, no. I don’t know if you thought that was going to help you with your argument, but, no. Good Lord, no, the Marlins aren’t, but that’s not our bet.

Andrew:                 I’ll decide on this on Friday.

Nick:                         The Marlins are just a hot dumpster fire.

Andrew:                 Are they getting sold?

Nick:                         I hope so. Jeffrey Loria is the worst owner, right next to James Dolan with the Knicks. Jeffrey Loria is the worst owner in sports.

Andrew:                 James Dolan, come on, man. You don’t pick a fight with some of your most famous guys that play for your team. Charles Oakley is one of the most outspoken guys that fans loved, wasn’t smart to pick a fight with that guy.

Nick:                         Especially since the fans already hate you, Dolan. Fans already hated you, and then you pick a fight with Charles Oakley, who’s beloved by Knicks fans. You’re a moron. Loria is a moron. He ran the Expos into the ground. He’s been stuffing money into his pockets for years. The money that he gets because his salary cap is so low, the money he’s getting from the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, all these teams who are actually spending money on their team. He’s pocketing that, keeping his payroll at nothing.

I commend him for how classy the Marlins handled the whole Jose Fernandez situation last year. Kudos to you, but that doesn’t change the fact that the city of Miami is going to pay. When it’s all said and done, the city of Miami is on the hook for $400 million for that stadium. Jeffrey Loria’s on the hook for nothing. By the time they’re done paying off the interest and paying off the stadium, the city of Miami will have paid over a billion dollars for that stadium, and Jeffrey Loria’s just running out of there giggling. He shouldn’t be allowed to own any professional sports franchise, and if Trump wants to make him the ambassador to France, I hope he lives over there and never comes back.

Andrew:                 Lordy. Nick, we’ll get out of here. With spring ball on the tracks.

Nick:                         A week away, less than a week away when you’re listening to this.

Andrew:                 We’ll get some previews sent out, and we’ll be back on Friday. We’ll preview baseball, softball, and we’ll do some previewing of football then as well. We’ll do all that. Tell the people where they can find us, Nick. Again, if you’re still looking to make the move to Gator Country, let us know. We got a couple coupons to get you on board for a better deal.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in transcript and audio form. You can also check the podcast out on iTunes. Go to the podcast section, go ahead and login there, subscribe. Never miss a podcast. Do your social media thing. It’s @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and him @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. If you’re going to be in Orlando Saturday through Wednesday of next week, hit me up. I’ll be at Disney at the Wide World of Sports.

Nick:                         You’ll get to see the new stadium they’re building there for you guys.

Andrew:                 No. They’re not building us a new stadium.

Nick:                         They’re building a new baseball stadium at the Wide World of Sports.

Andrew:                 But that is for tournament ball. The Braves are moving. The Braves are moving down to Ft. Myers, I believe.

Nick:                         Fort Misery.

Andrew:                 No, not Ft. Myers. They’re moving somewhere else. I forgot. They’re moving somewhere down south for spring training. They’re getting away from Disney, because it’s such a far drive for them for spring ball.

Nick:                         Ft. Myers isn’t much closer.

Andrew:                 No. It’s not Ft. Myers, but they’re moving somewhere else, as far as playing teams. The closest team for the Braves and Tigers is like an hour and a half away.

Nick:                         Got you.

Andrew:                 As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp. Go Braves. Mark and Butch, you know the drill.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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