Sunday, March 09, 2008

Florida Basketball Dynasty Officially Ends

After the last two amazing seasons, Florida's dynast-ish run is officially over:

With the loss at Kentucky, Florida has no shot at making the NCAA Tournament -- at least as an at-large team (and there's no way they win the SEC Tournament title).

Sure, you could argue that the dynasty ended when Horford, Noah, Brewer, Green, Humphrey and Richard all left after the back-to-back championships...

Sure, you could argue that no team since Kansas in 1989 (who lost the incomparable one-man champ Danny Manning) lost more from a title team -- that this ending was always possible (even probable)...

Sure, you could argue that Florida's 12-game NCAA Tournament winning streak is still alive until the next year the team actually makes the tournament field...

Sure, you could argue that an NIT championship could still qualify as a third straight postseason championship... (I'm kidding...)

It doesn't make it any less tough to take.

That said, you can't argue that any fan would rather win two NCAA championships in a row (hell, even one) and spend the next season in the NIT than not win a championship at all. But still...

Lots of readers think I'm a bandwagon Florida fan because they think I started rooting for them when the championships started.

Actually, my first season as a die-hard was 2001-02 (Mrs. Quickie is an even bigger hoops fan than football fan), and it was a pretty rough ride in the NCAA Tournament between that 2002 Tournament and the breakthrough in 2006.

But this is the first season I have rooted for Florida where they haven't even made the Tournament, let alone been ousted early (let alone won a championship). It sucks.

It sucks to be on the wrong side of the bubble, but it sucks worse to watch a team that -- by any Tournament resume line except "legacy" -- never played like they deserved serious consideration.

And I take little solace in the fact that even if they did make the field of 65, I had no unbiased reason not to pick them to lose in the first round (just as surely has I had no unbiased reason not to pick them to win a second straight title a year ago).

Unfortunately, Florida fans saw this outcome coming throughout the season, uneven efforts borne from rampant inexperience and near-complete turnover from a year ago. Doesn't make it easier.

But again, I'd rather win a title (or two) and be out of the Tournament the next year than make the Final Four a few years in a row without winning a championship.

That's why this month, finally, it's great... to be... a Florida Gator UCLA Bruin -- after being vanquished by the Gators the past two Dances, it's finally UCLA's time.

I'm sure the rest of the country will celebrate Florida's NCAA Tournament ouster... before the damn thing even starts! I can only retort with this lament: Enjoy it now...

With this year of experience under their belts, the entire roster returning (if Marreese Speights doesn't turn pro) and a recruiting class featuring two 7-footers, Florida's future looks very good.

All Gators fans can hope for is that this year's team uses this season's disappointment as the core of next season's motivation -- to keep that unbeaten NCAA Tournament streak alive.

-- D.S.


Johnny Bacardi said...

Geez, Dan, just because UK beat Florida doesn't mean they're ensured an NCAA berth, and I say this as a UK fan. Frankly, I don't think they deserve anything better than a NIT bid myself in this transition year...

bird said...

Sigh--I suppose I'll just watch my DVD's of the 2006-2007 national championships during the Big Dance! I think what was most frustrating about this season was the big tease from the Vanderbilt game in January. After that win, there were no "quality" victories, so today's result was no real surprise to me. The Gator Nation can only hope for better things next season, and yes, despite the less-than-stellar basketall season, it's still great to be a Florida Gator!

Steve said...

Purdue had pretty much the same turnover as Florida with 4 freshman contributing significant minutes. They didn't have any problem making the tournament.

Unknown said...

Billy D should've gone w/ the Magic.

And, the way I see it as a Tar Heel: UNC's 2005 exodus was equally debilitating: May, McCants, Felton, Marvin, Jawad, & Jackie left UNC after 2005. They made it back to the dance.

Emma Brand said...

Blech! I enjoy most of your stuff, but Gator fans are the worst!!

Toby said...

I don't get how Florida basketball was a "dynasty". The fact they are going to miss the big dance this year proves it.

They had one very nice class which won back to back titles...which makes that a great class, but certainly not a dynasty.

Trey (formerly TF) said...

UNC, Purdue, etc still have UPPERCLASS talent on the team.

Florida has one junior who sees the court. No senioes.

UNC in 06 still had Rashan Terry and David Noel (as well as Wes Miller) to help with teh freshmen incomming.

Purdue has several upperclassmen that see significant minutes.

A better comparison for this Florida team in last year's UConn. Granted UConn wasn't coming of a National Title, but they were ranked #1 for most the year in 05-06.

2006-07 UConn: They lost their top 6, was a team made up of exclusivvly Freshmen and Sophomores, played an embarssingly easy preconference schedule, in which they ran the table. Then when they got to good competition they were schooled and found themselves not in the postseason at all.

2007-8 Gators; Lost their top 6, started with an extremely Easy Preconference schedule whioch they basically walked through, didn't fair well in their conference and now are looking at the NIT. We start 2 Freshmen, 2 Sophomores, and 1 Junior. Coming off our bench we have 3 freshmen and one sophomore.

Is UF's reign done? For now, but in MOST cases a team losing the amount of players we did would struggle to dance. You have to remember its hard to recruit great freshmen to sit behind the likes of Horford, Noah, Richards, Brewer, etc knowing they might have to take a year on the bench before seeing real PT.

College basketball is a play now sport for most freshmen.

UF has a top 5 recruiting class again, one with three bigmen. Right now the team has one legit Center/PF and a couple guys who are undersized filing the void (Dan Werner)

Unknown said...

I agree with Toby. Also, if I remember correctly, Florida was in the final four around 2001, which I would still Dan the worst kind of bandwagon-jumper. Now, if he became a fan pretty much any other time, that would be understandable.