SEC Morning Five: 01.26.12 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on January 26th, 2012
- The SEC will expand to at least 18 games next season, and a 19-game schedule is a strong possibility. The additional games would enable the league to keep the same scheduling format, and help SEC teams add marquee home games (and potential TV games on ESPN and CBS) to the schedules. Every team (sans Kentucky because of the potential to be forced to discard a marquee game with North Carolina or Indiana) is likely to favor the additional league games. Expanding the SEC format should help keep the conference strong in the RPI category, by playing in-conference games against Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri or Florida rather than Radford, South Carolina State or Alabama A&M.
- Kentucky and Florida are two of just nine schools that will unveil new Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms during one conference game this season. According to Nike, these aren’t just for the futuristic look, but are “designed to create a new level of performance based on superior innovation.” The uniforms will feature “advanced ventilation and a unique platinum color that speaks to the exclusivity of those chosen to wear it.” And don’t you worry, fans will be able to purchase t-shirts from the new Elite Platinum brand. Both schools have chosen to wear their new unis against Tennessee. Kentucky will unveil its new duds on January 31, while the Gators will break them out on February 11. Why Tennessee? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the Volunteers have a strong relationship with Adidas. Well played, Nike… well played.
- Vanderbilt’s 65-47 drubbing of Tennessee on Tuesday night showcased again what a solid season senior Jeffery Taylor is having for the Commodores. Taylor put up an impressive 23 points, nine rebounds and four steals, bringing his averages to 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on the season. Most SEC fans consider junior guard John Jenkins to be the premier three-point shooter for Vanderbilt and the entire conference, but Taylor is second in the league with a 48.6% three point rate. In fact, Taylor hasn’t shot less than 50% from beyond the arc since a January 2 win over Miami (Ohio), and was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range against the Volunteers. His recent play reminds us how important center Festus Ezeli is to the Vanderbilt offense. Ezeli’s return to the lineup coincides with Taylor’s improved play because of the attention given to the big man inside. The Commodores have won nine out of their last 10 contests after a disappointing 6-4 start.
- Arkansas freshman Hunter Mickelson enjoyed a breakout game against Michigan with 11 points off the bench. Mickelson’s contributions are much needed considering the Razorbacks’ thin frontline. Coach Mike Anderson was happy with what he saw from Mickelson, but hopes for more. “Sometimes when you make that first shot, man, you get confidence,” Anderson said. “I thought that relaxed Hunter. He looked more relaxed than anything else in the game against Michigan. Hopefully we’ll see much more of that Hunter Mickelson.” And we just might. Arkansas has just three healthy scholarship players in its frontcourt after the injury bug hit the Razorbacks hard. Forward Marshawn Powell is gone after a season ending knee injury, and forward Marvell Waithe is doubtful for Wednesday’s game after a calf strain sustained in the Michigan win.
- When coaches say to take each game “one game at a time,” it is really more of a practice of the old saying “do as I say, not as I do.” Gator Zone takes an interesting look at the scouting habits of the Florida Gators. The effects of the quick turnaround (Thursday/Saturday combination) of conference games has forced the Gators’ coaching staff to be more prepared for upcoming games. Florida’s staff is looking five to 10 games out as each coach has an assignment to scout a future opponent. Billy Donovan wants what he calls “absolutes,” which means, “we absolutely have to do these things to win the game.” Just because scouting requires a lot of patience and energy doesn’t mean Donovan just accepts what his staff comes up with. “I ask a million questions,” Donovan said. “My favorite is, ‘Why?’ I want to hear why. I want them to explain to me why we’re going to do that. I want answers.” The article is an interesting read on an area of the game that we don’t often hear much about, and displays an inside look in how the Gators took down the Tigers on Saturday.