What Gators want . . .
the Bonnies got.
What they need . . .
you know Bonnies got it.
Sing along with me, Gators — All we’re askin’ for is a little respect!
But alas – the ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ has been rather elusive for a Florida team once hyped by the media, and now largely dismissed.
Heck, analyst Seth Davis chalked-up an opening round loss for the sixth-seeded Gators before even knowing its opposition.
“I say right now, the winner of that St. Bonaventure/UCLA matchup will beat Florida,” Davis said, shrugging off the Gators for a second consecutive season.
But he didn’t stop there.
“Florida has good guards. Bonaventure and UCLA both have better guards, and Florida is certainly weak down low,” he continued.
Good? Better ? Weak?
If hell has no fury like a Gator scorned, the Bonnies may face a furious Chris Chiozza, KeVaughan Allen, Jalen Hudson and Kevarrius Hayes on Thursday night.
May? Such a slight would certainly enrage the ultra-competitive Chiozza, uber-talented Allen and Hudson, as well as the hardworking Hayes.
Or maybe not.
“These guys are hard to tick off,” White half-joked at a recent press conference.
A lack of fury wasn’t an issue a year ago when Florida made Davis put his foot in his mouth — smacking opening round opponents East Tennessee State and Virginia by a combined 41 points, before slipping past Wisconsin and into the Elite Eight.
“I was appreciative of Seth. He helped us last year,” White said of the motivating factor. “Who knows how much of a factor it will be with these guys,” he then cautioned.
The Gators seemed to step back toward complacency last Friday night with an uninspired performance and opening loss to Arkansas. It was another dip in a season full ‘em– and a game that opened yet more seats on a once crowded bandwagon.
The growing media dismissal of his team isn’t lost on White, or misunderstood.
“I don’t disagree with these national guys that come out and say they are picking anybody over the Gators. I don’t blame ‘em,” he said. “We have been average and we have been really good. We are going to have to be really good to beat either one of these teams.”
Add former players and current analysts Brendan Haywood and Candace Parker to the list of naysayers.
“Even though I am SEC, I’m gonna have to go with St. Bonaventure,” said the famed Lady Vol hoopster.
Ugh. Et tu, Candace?
“They (St. Bonaventure) are gonna walk into that game against Florida and be like, ‘ya know what- we can beat these guys’,” Haywood said of the Gators’ opponent. “You are looking at a team that is very, very dangerous. They can shoot the three. They can get hot. They play fast . . . . I’m picking St. Bonaventure to beat Florida.
That was Florida.
Was, but will it be?
“The hope is that it will kick back in, because we had it there —really for the first time all year – we strung together 4 or 5 games,” White said a high-intensity stretch that preceded Florida’s SEC tournament flop. “Maybe we have another positive chapter in us where our urgency will pick back up.”
Florida fans desperately and devotedly cling to such hope. If the media and its experts have given up on the Gators, its hoops fans seemingly have not. Yahoo’s bracket challenge revealed the Gators to be its most popular 6-seed selection.
Alas, a glimmer of…. respect.
Florida has one remaining chance to earn it back in spades – a reality not lost on White’s team.
“I think our guys understand right now – if we lose, it’s over. And the legacy of this team will be what it is at that point.”
The Florida team may not get mad, but perhaps it ultimately gets even.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – We will find out what it means to ‘em.
Sock it to ‘em! Sock it ‘em! Sock it to ‘em, Gators!