A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning.
WITH 24 DAYS UNTIL SPRING PRACTICE BEGINS
Here are two questions that will have to be answered during the 15 days in March and April that the Gators are allowed to practice: (1) Adam Lane is built like a fireplug (5-7, 222) but when healthy he has breakaway speed. He averaged 12 yards a carry as a high school sophomore and gained 1,624 yards as a high school senior. Mack Brown is a grinder, Kelvin Taylor picks up yards but hasn’t shown breakaway speed and we won’t know Matt Jones’ status until August. Can Lane show he’s capable of being a big play back and earn a spot in the rotation? (2) Marcus Maye has the big hitter’s reputation, something you want from a strong safety. But can he develop the kind of consistency in coverage to be on the field every down? There aren’t many options at safety so it’s important that he steps it up.
AND THESE QUESTIONS FOR THE REST OF THE SEC
Texas A&M averaged 538.4 yards and 44.2 points per game in 2013. The Aggies could score on anyone. Of course, nearly anyone could score on the Aggies, too, especially in the air. The Aggies gave up 31 touchdown passes last year. Now that Johnny Manziel is gone, do the Aggies have enough offense to keep scoring at such a high rate or will their defense have to actually get some stops? … Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson is being touted as the next great thing after a season in which he averaged more than 10 tackles per game. Can he lead a revival for a defense that gave up 29 points per game last season?
GATORS IN THE RANKINGS
This could be a spring to remember for Florida sports. Currently, there are four teams holding #1 rankings and we haven’t even gotten to the outdoor track season where both the Florida men and women will be among the favorites to bring home both SEC and national championships. As of Monday night, here is a list of Florida’s currently active ranked teams:
Men’s basketball: 1
Women’s Gymnastics: 1 (Gym Info)
Men’s Swimming: 1
Women’s Softball: 1
Men’s Indoor Track: 2
Women’s Indoor Track: 2
Women’s Tennis: 5
Women’s Lacrosse: 5
Women’s Swimming: 8
Men’s Tennis: 9
Women’s Golf: 14
Baseball: 21 (Collegiate Baseball)
WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF SUPPORT?
Ivan Maisel of ESPN makes a valid point about the proposed “Saban Rule.” When the “Saban Rule” was proposed, Rogers Redding, the editor of the college football rulebook, claimed there was plenty of support for the change that would prevent snapping the ball until 10 seconds had run off the play clock. Maisel asks – quite appropriately – where are the voices? Indeed. Other than Nick Saban and Bret Bielema, who have used the flimsy excuse of player safety, and Troy Calhoun, who was the chairman of the rules committee, who backs this idiotic rules proposal?
TOO BAD OREGON ISN’T AVAILABLE
The bowl formerly known as the Weedwacker has a brand now sponsor. Duck Commander, the family-owned company of the “Duck Dynasty” Robertsons, is the new sponsor of the bowl game played on New Year’s Eve in Shreveport as well as a NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Duck Commander Independence Bowl will match teams from the SEC and the ACC. If there were such a thing as true justice in this world, then Oregon would play in the inaugural game. Quack!
BAD RAP FOR SEC HOOPS?
Does SEC basketball get a bad rap nationally? With all the talk that the league might be lucky to get a third team into the NCAA Tournament (Florida and Kentucky are locks), here is a look at how the league stacks up against the rest of the country. The Pac-12 has 10 teams ranked in the top 100 RPI while the SEC, ACC and Big Ten all have nine. The Big 12 has eight. Head to head with the ACC, the SEC is 9-5 and that includes Tennessee’s 87-52 blowout win over Virginia, which leads the ACC with a 14-1 record. Florida has a win over #1 RPI Kansas while Kentucky has a win over Louisville and Missouri owns a win over UCLA. What creates the perception of weakness in the league is that too many teams guarantee wins by scheduling bottom feeders from other leagues and there are occasional games scheduled against DII foes (Alabama and Tennessee did that this year).
WHERE ARE THEY NOW
Here are the former Gators currently playing professional basketball somewhere other than the NBA.
TAUREAN GREEN, Limoges (France): Averaging 9.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the #1 team in the French League.
ERVING WALKER, Chalon (France): Walker played 15 games with Stelmet ZG in the Polish League but just signed to play for Chalon in France. He is averaging 12.0 points and 2.5 assists per game through two games.
LEE HUMPHREY, BC Kyiv (Ukraine): Even with the political unrest in the country, basketball goes on. Humphrey is averaging 12.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He’s hitting 33.9% from the 3-point line.
MIKE ROSARIO, Ponce (Puerto Rico): The season is three games old and Rosario is averaging 11.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He scored 17 points in his most recent outing.
WALTER HODGE, Areceibo (Puerto Rico): Hodge began the season playing for Laboral Kuxta in the Spanish League where he averaged 6.5 points per game. He just signed a contract to play for Areceibo in the Puerto Rican league.
MATT WALSH, Granarolo BO (Italy): Walsh is having an outstanding season, averaging 16.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He had a season high 33 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Vanoli.
JAMES WHITE, Grissin Bon RE (Italy): White is averaging 14.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in Italy after spending last year on the New York Knicks roster.
BONELL COLAS, Randers (Denmark): Colas has helped Randers to a 17-5 start, good for second place in the league, averaging 19.3 points and 14.4 rebounds per game.
ADRIAN MOSS, Bambitious Nara (Japan): Through 33 games, Moss is averaging 9.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for a team whose colors are dark green and pink.
KENNY BOYNTON, Galil Gilboa (Israel): Boynton is having a good rookie year, averaging 11.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
NIMROD TISHMAN, Galil Gilboa (Israel): A teammate of Boynton, Tishman averages 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
ALEX TYUS, Maccabi-Tel Aviv (Israel): Tyus is the starting center for the league’s #1 team, averaging 9.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
ANTHONY ROBERSON, Ikaros (Greece): Roberson began the season playing for Al Jaysh in Qatar where he averaged 16.6 points per game. He is now with Ikaros in the Greek League where he has scored 23 points in his first two games.
JUSTIN HAMILTON, Spirou (Belgium): Hamilton is in his eighth year with Spirou, where he averages 5.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
MOHAMED ABUKAR, Spirou (Belgium): Abukar is a teammate of Hamilton, averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
BRENT WRIGHT, Oostende (Belgium): Wright is in his third year playing for for the #1 team in Belgium, where he is currently averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
DONNELL HARVEY, Shandong FB (China): After spending last season in The Philippines, Harvey returned to China where he is averaging 13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game for Shandong.
KENNY KADJI, Rio Grande Vipers (NBDL): Kadji has gone from the Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) to NY Phantoms (Germany) to the NBDL all in one year. Through nine games in the NBDL he is averaging 7.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
My introduction to Otis Redding was the summer of 1965 when “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” got significant airplay on the pop charts. He was already a superstar on the rhythm and blues charts, but this song just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Two and a half years later he died in a plane crash in Wisconsin along with his backup band, The Bar-Kays, just three days after recording “Dock of the Bay,” which became his only #1 hit on both the pop and rhythm and blues charts. This is “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which still grabs me.