Don't want to see Jimmer Fredette scoring on your Gators Thursday night? Easy. All you need is to go to New Orleans with a backpack full of the following items: a can of Red Bull, a fake beard, a roll of $1 bills and a camera. Kidnap him, drug him and take some compromising photos of him at a Bourbon St. strip club. That's three BYU Honor Code violations right there (just make sure it's an odd number of violations, as an even number would cancel out via the old double-negative rule).
Pretty easy, right? And if you fail, you still have all the necessary items for a classic night in Nawlins. Point is, there's really no stopping Jimmer, and I don't think it matters too much. Obviously, Florida can't afford to let him score 50 in their Sweet 16 matchup, but even in last year's 99-92 double-overtime loss to BYU in the first round, Fredette's 37 points didn't do all the damage. Michael Loyd, Jr. came off the bench to score 26 and actually had more points (12) than Jimmer (10) in the two overtimes.
Good news: Loyd is gone, and third-leading scorer Brandon Davies is suspended for the rest of the year for some out-of-wedlock lovemaking. Bad news: Fredette is better now than he was last year, and the Cougars still average more than 80 points a game, meaning that's about 52 points per game from non-Jimmers.
"It’s not like we’re going to say, ‘Alright, face-guard him and he’s not going to score,'" UF forward Chandler Parsons said. "He’s going to get his, he’s going to score points. The biggest thing is, he’s going to hit some ridiculous shots and we just gotta smack him on the butt and go down to the other end because we can’t hang our heads on shots he’s going to hit like that."
The likely man in charge of the early-game ass-slapping will be Kenny Boynton, who was full speed in practice Wednesday and ought to be fully recovered from the left ankle sprain he picked up against UCLA. Last year, Boynton did pretty well on Fredette (about as well as anyone can) and scored 27 himself, but all the work wore him out, and he ended up fouling out. Billy Donovan wants to avoid that this time around, so he'll also lean on Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather to help off the bench, in addition to likely support from Parsons and Erving Walker.
As far as BYU's approach, No. 2 scorer Jackson Emery is the next in line, but depending on how UF handles Fredette, anyone could go off. This is a good team, and coach Dave Rose said the Cougars' strategy in recent months has been to watch how opponents deal with Jimmer, then plan an attack strategy. If the Gators double-team Fredette on the perimeter, it's open season for the rest of Stormin Mormons. Take him one-on-one, and he'll probably burn you.
If it's me, I rotate Boynton and Wilbekin on Jimmer and focus on locking everyone else down. Let Fredette get his, but keep the Cougars from finding a solid second option. That sounds like the approach Donovan wants to take.
"They're getting over 80 points a game," he said. "Eighty points a game would lead the SEC in scoring, and it's because of the other guys around him, and that's what makes them such a great team is you may look at the scoring differential, but in a lot of ways they're balanced."
Two interesting moments from the press conference, when Parsons and Donovan were asked about the Davies' suspension.
Parsons: "I mean, rules are rules, so he knew what he was doing. I mean, it's something that we can't worry about really because he's not playing in the game tomorrow and that's really none of my business. Yeah, that's it." Laughter ensued.
Then, Donovan was asked how tough recruiting would be if he had to tell kids they weren't allowed to have premarital sex: "I'm not going to get into that. I mean, I don't know. First of all, I don't really talk about any of that stuff, either. I'll pass on that one."
Alright, it's all set up for Thursday night's showdown. Florida is one step away from an Elite 8 matchup with either Wisconsin or Butler, and I have to say, I like the Gators' chances of getting to the Final Four. A lot can happen in March Madness, but I think an average defensive night and good offensive night gets UF through this next game, barring some transcendent performance from Jimmer (very possible).
How do you feel? What would you do about guarding Jimmer? And let's all pause for just a second and marvel at the fact that BYU has assembled a No. 3-seed caliber team despite that Honor Code. I fancy myself a pretty decent person, and my recent evaluation of those rules had me breaking seven of nine in a week. Is there a bigger recruiting handicap out there?