A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.
THE HELMET CAM
Schutt Sports has developed this nifty helmet camera that fits just above the facemask. It is still in the developmental stages but it could prove to be a revolutionary teaching tool for quarterbacks because the video would allow the coaches to have film of where the quarterback looks and exactly what he’s seeing. Imagine if Kurt Roper is able to go over the practice film from each day taken with the helmet cam with Jeff Driskel and then point out what he needs to see when he surveys the field. This could be an outstanding tool for breaking quarterbacks of the habit of locking on to a single receiver. The camera won’t lie.
THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN THE NBA
That has to be Joakim Noah. Nobody in the league gives more effort and does more to affect winning. The MVP is probably going to LeBron James, but an argument could be made for Noah, who even if he doesn’t have the scoring numbers makes up for it by being the most consistent defensive player in the league and the best passing big man the league has seen in years. When he was a rookie, Noah rubbed the veterans on the Chicago Bulls raw because he was always hustling, always trying to get better and always trying to push everyone on his team to play harder in practice and in games. To his credit he has never backed down and has continued to insist that everyone on his team play as hard as possible. Oh, if only everyone in the NBA – or all of professional sports for all that matters – would adapt that kind of philosophy.
IF I HAD A VOTE FOR SEC POST SEASON AWARDS …
Player of the Year: Scottie Wilbekin. He is the leader and the glue that holds the nation’s #1 team together. He is the best perimeter defender in the nation, keeps mistakes to a minimum and isn’t afraid to take – and hit – the tough shots. For the season he’s averaging 12.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Wilbekin has only turned the ball over 48 times all year and ranks second in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Runner-up: Patric Young, Florida
Defensive Player of the Year: Patric Young. Because he isn’t a volume shot blocker, he doesn’t get the national recognition that he should but Patric Young is a beast of a defender in the post. He’s quick enough to hedge on the perimeter and still get back to his man and plays tremendous denial defense. Nobody makes the post-entry pass more difficult.
Runner-up: Scottie Wilbekin.
Freshman of the Year: Julius Randle, Kentucky. He’s averaging 15.4 points per game and leads the league in rebounding at 10.5 per game. He’s gotten to the foul line 227 times this season, far and away best in the SEC.
Runner-up: Jordan Mickey, LSU
Sixth Man of the Year: Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida. This isn’t close. Finney-Smith averages 9.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He’s played all five positions on the floor this season, often in the same game. There isn’t another player in the league who can play all five positions well at both ends of the floor.
Runner-up: Nemanja Djurisic, Georgia
Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan, Florida. This should be unanimous. He is the best coach in the league and has the best coached team in the league.
Runner-up: Mark Fox, Georgia
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida (6-2, 176, SR); Patric Young, Florida (6-9, 240, SR); Trevor Releford, Alabama (6-0, 190, SR); Julius Randle, Kentucky (6-9, 250, FR); Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (6-8, 260, JR)
Casey Prather, Florida (6-6, 212, SR); Jabari Brown, Missouri (6-5, 200, RJR); Chris Denson, Auburn (6-2, 180, SR); Johnny O’Bryant, LSU (6-9, 256, JR); Michael Qualls, Arkansas (6-6, 210, SO)
Patric Young, Florida (6-9, 240, SR); Scottie Wilbekin, Florida (6-2, 176, SR); Jordan Mickey, LSU (6-8, 220, FR); Trevor Releford, Alabama (6-0, 190, SR); Michael Qualls, Arkansas (6-6, 210, SO)
DO WE HAVE A TREND DEVELOPING?
For the third straight game the Florida baseball team (9-6) rallied to win in extra innings. Casey Turgeon’s 10th inning single drove home Josh Tobias, who led off the inning with a triple, to give the Gators a 6-5 win in the third game of the series. Bobby Poyner got the win after entering the game in the top of the tenth with one out and the bases loaded. He got a strikeout and an inning ending fly out to set the stage for Tobias and Turgeon. The Gators got 11 hits in the game but stranded 13 runners. For the three-game series, Florida left 33 men on base. Next up for the Gators is Illinois State Wednesday night at McKethan Stadium. Arkansas comes to Gainesville next weekend for the first SEC series of the season.
ELSEWHERE IN GATOR SPORTS
Florida’s #1-ranked softball team (24-1, 2-1 SEC) rode the 3-hit pitching of freshman lefty Delanie Gourley (9-0) to take a 2-0 win over Ole Miss to take the first SEC series of the season. Stephanie Toft hit her fourth homer of the year and Lauren Haeger extended her hitting streak to 11 games. Next up for the Gators is a doubleheader with Mercer Wednesday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium … Florida’s tennis team (5-6, 1-1 SEC) lost the doubles point but got it together in the singles to take a 4-2 SEC win over South Carolina. Next up for the Gators is Tennessee next Friday.
JACK’S RECORD MIGHT BE SAFE
Just three or four years ago, everyone thought Tiger Woods was going to set all the records for winning major tournaments, but those recurring back problems are probably going to keep Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins safe. Tiger had to withdraw at last week’s Honda Classic because of the bad back and he played through the pain and shot a 78 in the final round at Doral Sunday afternoon. Tiger is 38 years old, an age where the wear and tear starts taking longer and longer to heal, particularly those to the back. He may have to curtail his practice schedule and perhaps scale back on the number of tournaments in which he plays, neither of which is conducive to getting the five wins in majors he needs to surpass Nicklaus.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
When “Easy Rider” hit the big screen in 1969, I was warned by many well-meaning adults that it was a movie that could permanently warp my mind, therefore I would be wise to heed their advice and not see it. I nodded my head enough that they thought they had gotten through to me, then made it a point to go see the movie first chance I got. To the best of my knowledge, my mind was never warped. At least it wasn’t permanently. Or maybe it was. I heard “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf on the radio today and that made me think of seeing “Easy Rider” for the first time. The movie was filmed for the whopping sum of $360,000.