Amid all the drama of suspensions and a head coach drawing a line in the sand, Alabama hosts the Florida Gators tonight in Tuscaloosa. We asked Bull Gator of Hail Florida Hail – the Fansided site for Gator Nation – five questions about Coach Billy Donovan’s team. Read what the Bull Gator has to say, then head on over before tipoff to check out our answers to his questions.
With the Gators and the Tide facing off for the only time this season on Valentine’s Day, will Billy Donovan show some love to his former assistant coach Anthony Grant?
I’d like to think Donovan is proud of Grant and all he has accomplished. Grant is going to be a head coach for a very long time and a successful one at that. Florida fans wanted him back in Gainesville when Donovan bolted for the NBA for about three seconds. I can’t imagine Donovan likes coaching against his former assistants too much (especially if they beat him), but I’m sure there’s a sense of pride there as well as happiness for his friends.
Alabama isn’t a good shooting team; they make their living in the paint. With Florida’s struggles to contain Anthony Davis, what will the Gators do against one of the best forwards in the SEC, JaMychal Green?
What will they do? Or what do they need to do? Those are completely different questions. Against Kentucky, Florida needed to put a body on Davis or whoever went into the lane. They didn’t. Against Alabama, it’s much of the same. The Gators need to be ready to bang around down low. They seemed timid at times against the Wildcats. Patric Young can be a physical player, but he has to want to be one. He needs to turn it on all the time moving forward. Florida could live and die by their performance in the paint against Bama… unless consistent three-point shooting returns.
The SEC tournament is right around the corner. Which team is better suited to make a deep run, Alabama or Florida?
On paper, I think you have to pick the Gators. They are one of the more talented teams in the nation and can be a top 10 team. And there’s where the problem comes in. During the last two games they looked anything but a top-10 team. One week, I would have put Florida firmly in the Elite Eight. The next, I have to see who they’d play in the second round before even predicting they’d go further than that. So I’d say the Gators are probably the pick for me on paper, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it’s any number of other teams playing Kentucky in the final.
Alabama has some great young guards, but they are still very green. How do you think Florida’s great guards matchup with Alabama’s young guns?
I see the Tide as a sleeping giant of sorts, almost similar to Florida in the ’90s. Alabama is a big school with a rich football history and a basketball team that can take the next step. This is where good young players sticking around comes in. If some of their younger players can make some noise and find their way to the NBA, the program is only going to continue to grow. That said, Tuesday night’s game all comes down to how mad Bradley Beal, Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker are. They shouldn’t be too down on themselves for losing to Kentucky, even if it did come in blowout fashion. The Wildcats really are that good. However, the Gators should be furious for allowing the Vols to completely control another game. Teams expected to make deep tourney runs shouldn’t lose those games – twice. If Beal, Boynton and Walker all realize what’s at stake, they should play mad and play hard. That means not only coming out of their coma on the offensive end, but also playing tough defense against the young Bama guards.
Who do you feel is the one player for Florida that will make a difference in Tuscaloosa on tonight?
Erving Walker. The senior was off during both of Florida’s losses and needs to find his game again. He doesn’t need to score a lot of points, but he needs to create for others. The assists are what the Gators need from him, the points come secondary. Walker must find the open man and take smart shots himself. Florida has other talent on the court, but Walker may be the glue in the end.