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Gators had the shots, just didn't make them

Kenny Boynton said it best: "Couldn't ask for anything more."

Boynton and backcourt partner Erving Walker had three late chances to win, take the lead and then tie Florida's Elite 8 matchup with Butler on three-pointers. They missed all three, handing the Bulldogs a 74-71 win and second straight appearance in the Final Four. Obviously a lot happened, and like with any NCAA Tournament game, a ton of factors could have changed the outcome. But those three shots will get the most attention, and I'm in what I can only assume is the minority in thinking the Gators handled them OK. Poor planning and execution, but Florida ended up with open shots and just didn't make them.

-The First Shot

With the game tied and 30 seconds left in regulation, Butler's Matt Howard missed a go-ahead free throw to set up a game-winning attempt. Walker dribbled the clock down to about five seconds, got a screen near the top of the key and threw up a shot from the right wing that just missed to send it to overtime.

A few things here. First, Florida didn't call a timeout, which I don't like at all, but there was a play on. The idea was for Walker to get a screen from Patric Young and either pull up or drive based on what his defender did. Butler's Andrew Smith backed down a bit, but at that point it didn't really matter since Walker had little time to drive. He pulled up from a few feet behind the arc but was open, and even though Walker had yet to hit a shot on the night, we've seen him make those before. There's no one on this team you'd rather have taking that shot than Walker -- I don't care what kind of game he's having.

Going inside wasn't a great option either. Chandler Parsons had zero points after the half, and while Alex Tyus looked good with 14, I'll take Erv anyday. The single best option was center Vernon Macklin, who had 25 points and dominated whenever he was on the floor, but he was on the bench because his poor free-throw-shooting makes him a liability late in games. Perhaps you could call time out, sub Macklin in at the beginning of that possession and get him the ball, but I'll take Big Shot Erv from three ahead of Macklin's knuckleball free throws.

Macklin said after the game that the combination of his four fouls and form from the charity stripe pretty much left Billy Donovan no choice but to sit him out.

-The Second Shot

Then, in overtime, the Gators again had the ball with 30 seconds left. This time they were down 1 and called a timeout, and the result was less of a play than the first time around. Walker got Boynton the ball on the left wing, and he launched a deep three that was just long with 19 seconds to go. Donovan said his only complaint would be that he'd like to see Boynton drive, but he was OK with the shot. So am I.

-The Third Shot

And for the final heave, down 3 with 10 seconds left, Walker came straight down and fired a bomb from straight away that came up short, and Butler wisely chucked it downcourt to pretty much end it. This shot had to be a three, and getting it up quick leaves time for a rebound and second shot if possible. Walker's shot was from pretty far out, but he's made them before. Sink that one and he's a hero who saves his best for the end of games. Miss and it's "Dammit Erv always takes stupid shots!"

That's what this came down to. Two players took three shots they're perfectly capable of making, and they didn't go down. Obviously any strategy that fails is subject to criticism, but the bottom line is that the top scorers on a No. 2 seed had chances to lift their team to the Final Four. They just didn't hit them, and that happens.

Guarantee you that if it ended on a missed turnoaround from Tyus, everyone would be complaining that it should be Walker taking the big shot. Everything gets second-and-third-guessed when it doesn't work out, but I think any of those three situations could have gotten the job done. One of those goes in and it's a different conversation.

All in all, great season and great run for this team. Next year will be very interesting as well since the starting frontcourt is graduating and guards Mike Rosario and Brad Beal join the fold, but what did you think about the way this one ended? Furious about the late-game management or are you on my side? I haven't found anyone who agrees with me yet, so I'd welcome you with open arms.

 

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Good job Gators! Elite 8, who 'da thunk it back in November?!

Now, can we talk about the gridiron?

BTW -- 'sucking' is not making the tournament.

Good run Gators!

GO GATORS!

Where was 6'9" PARSONS? The SEC Payer of the Year had 5pts in 43 minutes; a games design to get the ball to the BIGS. The guy defending him was only 6'4"... Chandler disappeared and shribbled up when Macklin got in foul trouble. He didn't score in the second half or OT, sad!

Too many 3's at the end, and not enough going inside at the end. Erv and Boynton are not pure shooters, when they're off, they 're way off. But they kept chucking the ball.

Congrats Billy D and Gator roundball. You guys went deep in the tournament this year. I think we can expect to go deep again in the tournament next year with the new kids coming in.

Billy D -- building a tradition on the b-ball court!

I am with you Mike-MIke:

Good team; great season; fitting end. Setting aside Butler's outstanding strategy, execution and hustle -- which were critical -- UF played true to this season's form.

I thought the Gators would have been well served to go inside more persistently and to have played more bench minutes. I thought this team went according to the results the starting guards produced -- both in shot and playmaking. I also thought Scotty W could have been encouraged to drive to the hoop a couple of times to make his man play him more closely.

Overall, my hat is tipped to Alex and Chandler for their growth as TEAMmates from their freshman/sophomore to their Junior/Senior campaigns. However much I agree with Alex T that the bigs should have been "looked for" by this teammates more, I HATE that he publicly makes the comment. As much as Alex/Chandler helped themselves develop, I think they made a huge contribution to the UF program, along with Vern and Adam, by mentoring the underclassmen.

I though that the freshmen collectively made as big a contribution for UF as any since Miller/Haslem/Dupay. Scotty17's efforts were huge for a freshman his age and critical to this year's team's overall success.

The most promising observation for UF from this season is that the Gators are in great shape with BillyD as coach; when it has mature enough players to understand and unselfishly execute his coaching.

Thanks for your coverage -- from your time with the Agitator, your straight and your blog work for the Herald (who are lucky to have snagged your services) and even your punking of the UT gatorbait (err ... student media representative) on ESPN's pregame TV for the UF-Vol game several years ago. Rock on ...

Just wanted to check out what was going on with this blog - FYI, you have one single annoying UM douchebag.

Try checking out the UM blog sometime and thank your lucky stars that you only have one immature obsessive loser trolling you.

great season for sure. couldn't help but be disappointed but after thinking about where the team stood back in nov/dec you can't complain too much about an elite 8 appearance!

Bottom line - Macklin and Tyus could not be stopped inside, yet Florida tries to win the game from the NBA 3-pt line without giving them even a touch inside - especially on the last possession. How can Billy not call a timeout and get Macklin in the game? Poor foul shooting? who cares, the game was tied with UF having the last shot.

The other problem - Boynton thinks he is Brandon Knight. After playing with him all throughout high school and watching him win for Kentucky, he took that ridiculous shot with 19 seconds left thinking he's a good outside shooter...oops

Actually, the last play of regulation reminded me of watching the Heat so many times this season where Lebron stands at half court, watches the shot clock run down, then heaves a difficult shot at the end....

Thanks Mike for killing all the ghetto-drivel-hate posted earlier.

Looking forward to the spring football posts!

Now if you would only kill the trailer-drivel hate, this blog would work nicely.

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