Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown take on the Florida Gators in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday night and as usual we're bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent. Here with us to dish on all things Gators are our best blog friends from the Sunshine State, Alligator Army. Let's do this!
Happy Thanksgiving! Before we get started, are you a turkey guy or a ham guy? Please justify whither selection.
In the abstract, I like ham because it's more utilitarian, though turkey does go better with stuffing, my favorite Thanksgiving staple. So: Push?
The Gators were a nationally ranked Top 10 powerhouse to start the season but have struggled a bit out of the gate, losing a game to Miami and needing overtime to dispense of vaunted Louisiana-Monroe? What gives?
Dorian Finney-Smith's wrist and Eli Carter's foot, mostly. Finney-Smith missed Florida's loss to Miami, and both vets missed the Gators' squeaker win over the Warhawks. Sure, Kasey Hill has been bad (3-for-24 from the field!) and Florida lacks anything resembling a back-to-the-basket post player, but not having maybe the second- and third-best players on this team (Michael Frazier II is the best) has definitely hampered Florida, especially on offense.
Who are the main dudes that the Hoyas need to look out for on Wednesday night?
Probably Frazier, who cannot be allowed to get hot on a night when he is the only lethal offensive option for Florida (as he might be, if Carter and Finney-Smith miss this game), and Jon Horford, whose shooting has made him a tough cover. Frazier's threes attempted and made are down this year so far, but there's no doubt he recalls how to shoot, and Horford can stretch a defense and throw in deep daggers of his own. If both of those guys are making threes and demanding coverage near the arc, it'll open up the paint for Hill and other drivers.
Let’s talk some pigskin: In an ideal world who is the next coach of the Florida Gators?
Chip Kelly. But we don't live anywhere close to that ideal world.
Noah Dickerson, one of your Class of 2015 recruits, originally committed to the Hoyas before opening up his recruitment. Congrats! Let’s say I were a recruit visiting Gainesville for 24 hours – tell me what I’m doing and what’s the sales pitch?
Well, you're staying for 48 hours: That's just how an official visit works. You're coming for a football game, obviously, and coming in on a Friday afternoon before an afternoon game on Saturday. You go on the tour of campus and facilities with your family, maybe play some pickup ball with the team, and then you hang with a player chaperone and enjoy the Gainesville nightlife at The Swamp or Cantina or another bar that doesn't check the ID of a 6'9" dude too carefully. You watch the game on Saturday (and Florida wins, if you're lucky), and then you have another fun night, and then you talk to Billy Donovan before or after practice and workouts on Sunday, and you commit or you don't.
But the really important part is when you fly or drive back to where you were from, and it's 45 there, and you really, really miss the 80-degree "heat" in Gainesville.
Are you already as sick and tired of all the Kentucky "platoon" nonsense as I am? Since you have to deal with the Wildcats in the SEC, what’s your take on Kentucky basically being a D-League squad? Good for college hoops?
Yeah, I'm sick of it, and I wish more people called John Calipari on his BS. He's "platooning" players in an effort to get the lesser ones shots and minutes so that his glut of talent doesn't affect
his record of producing NBA players those lesser players' draft stocks too much, not because he's a genius. They'll find an eight- or nine-man rotation eventually, and a future NBA player or three won't be part of it, because he came to a school where there is literally too much talent, but no one will blame Cal for over-recruiting, recruiting over his established players, and failing to make those players viable NBA Draft prospects swiftly enough to avoid the glut, because Cal is unquestionably a genius marketer.
I think Kentucky being great, though, is cool for college hoops, because people care more about the always-compelling regular season when there's a megateam around, unless that megateam is a Florida bunch that did virtually everything "the right way" and should have served as exemplars for the rest of college sports, in which case everyone predicts it will lose to Kentucky. And I hope the Gators get at least one win over the 'Cats this year, but I'm not counting on it.
Where do you see the Gators finishing in the SEC? How far do the Gators need to advance in March for this to be a successful season?
I think Florida ends up second or third (behind Kentucky and/or Arkansas) in the SEC, depending on how quickly things gel for the Gators after Christmas. The full complement of Florida players is no worse than third in the SEC based on talent, and I'll take Donovan over every other SEC coach when it comes to approach, but the Gators' roster is thin and appears to have a Patric Young-sized hole underneath for now. If Chris Walker and Horford can fill it, I'll feel a lot better about their chances of competing with the Sequoia Squad Kentucky has.
As of right now, I think a Sweet Sixteen berth would make this a successful season for Florida. If things break right, and the team improves significantly, it's got legitimate Final Four potential, but a bad week at the Battle 4 Atlantis like the one I'm anticipating may mean Florida will end up in the middle of the pack when it comes to seeding, somewhere from the No. 3 line to the No. 5 line, and would make advancing further in the NCAA Tournament dependent on upsets.
What’s your perception of Georgetown and the ‘new’ Big East?
I think Georgetown is an austere university with a really good basketball program that hasn't been truly great since Patrick Ewing, and one that exists as a "power" more in the minds of those who loved the mean, defiant teams coached by the mean, defiant John Thompson than in the minds of those who realize his son came to Georgetown from Princeton, and went to Princeton, and has one Final Four and two Sweet Sixteens in 10 years. (Maybe you need Florida to be winning titles?)
As for the Big East, put it this way: The fear factor is gone. When the Big East was the nation's most rugged basketball conference, in the '80s and then again in the 2000s, there was no doubt that the best teams from it were stocked with some of the better players from the basketball hotbeds of the Atlantic Seaboard and New England, and battle-tested when March rolled around. Now, the conference is drawing from a significantly different talent pool, and the blue-bloods have taken a lot of blue chips with them. Villanova shouldn't really be a major conference's standard-bearer, and yet the Wildcats seem likely to be that again in 2014-15, at least for now. Creighton should never be the best team in a major conference, with all due respect to Doug McDermott, because of how many other schools in a major conference would necessarily outstrip its recruiting base and history. This Big East is a smattering of "cool" schools that basketball hipsters like, with occasional successes but little staying power among the elite.
Oh, and DePaul.
Final score prediction?
Georgetown's beaten three nobodies by about 15-20 points each this year; Florida fell to a really good team, Miami, by two, but that was when the Gators had more warm bodies available. I think Joshua Smith is a huge issue for the Gators, even though Florida neutralized him when he was a UCLA freshman in what seems like a game from another lifetime, and I think Georgetown wins a close one, 68-63.