And they’re off!
Well, not yet.
“Post time” for Florida’s opening round game is officially 7:27 on Friday, but the Gators are already preparing for a horse race.
“We are playing against a team that is leading the country in scoring. So they get up and down the floor,” Donovan said of Northwestern State.
To suggest the Gators early opponent likes to run may be an understatement. In fact, famed rankings guru Ken Pomeroy lists the Demons as the fastest tempo team in the nation.
“I think the game is certainly going to be played in transition. And they are really good in transition. They can score quickly,” Donovan said.
Hailing from Louisiana, Northwestern State has sprinted past 23 opponents this season while averaging a nation-leading 81 points per-game.
Three teams the Demons did not run-by, however, were Texas A&M, LSU and Arkansas. The Gators opponent is 0-3 versus SEC competition this season, and lost those contests by an average of nearly 13 points. Still, Donovan takes little comfort in such results.
“I think because you are so far removed from when they played those games, I don’t know how much value they would bring as much as watching most recent games,” Donovan said of the early-season outings.
Recent games have, of course, been against the caliber of competition offered by the Southern Conference — certainly weaker than that of the SEC. Still, Northwestern State has runoff four straight victories to help capture its conference tournament and date with the Gators.
Though only a first date, both teams will be looking to score. And don’t expect the Gators to play prude.
“Well, we like to play fast too,” Donovan said.
And though I am tempted to insert a pun here about Northwestern State being “loose” with the basketball, I will instead simply state that the Demons conceded 21 turnovers and 102 points during a November rendezvous with LSU.
Okay, I need to pull in the reigns a bit on this column.
Perfect— back on the horse racing analogy.
Florida will indeed look to get out of the blocks quickly against Northwestern State, and likely welcome a fast pace. Despite its own scoring propensity, the Demons yielded far too many points to SEC opposition. The 86 point average conceded to the Tigers, Aggies and Razorbacks make it very difficult to see the Demons being able to keep pace with the Gators.
But Northwestern State has heard that before, and faced a similar seeding scenario when it shocked a 3-seeded Iowa team in 2006.
“That was that year. I think our guys are understanding and smart enough that at any given time that can happen,” Donovan said.
2006. I recall it going quite well for Florida.
Let’s get this dance, date, horse race — or whatever other absurd analogy I have thrown in here— started.
It’s post time.