Rushed Reactions: #1 Florida 67, #16 Albany 55Posted by rtmsf on March 20th, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Florida’s Defense Failed to Impress. If what we saw in the first half of this game is the defense that Florida expects will win it a national championship this season, they probably want to rethink that notion. Albany came out as the more poised offensive team, shredding the Gators’ defense for much of the half by shooting nearly 60 percent. A late cold spell finally pushed the Great Danes below 50 percent, and the defense really picked up in the second half when Kasey Hill entered the game (see below), but for a group that prides itself on great team defense rather than an individually great rim-protector, you have to wonder how physically-similar teams (ahem, like Pittsburgh) will be able to navigate the pressure. Without a single great offensive talent on this team, defense has necessarily been the Gators’ calling card, but another performance like today for an entire half will probably sink Florida.
- Why Isn’t Patric Young Dominant? This question has probably been asked several thousand times during Young’s four-year career in Gainesville, but it really doesn’t hit you in the face until you see this guy up close. There’s really no excuse for Young to not be a consistent 15/8 guy, given his size and athleticism, but he remains the same 11/6 player that he’s been for the last three seasons at Florida. Tonight: a solid 10/10 line, but it doesn’t make sense why he isn’t featured in the offense more given his gifts. And especially so against much smaller teams like Albany. He’s played well in his last three games, so maybe we’re starting to finally see him emerge.
- Kasey Hill Needs More Run. Billy Donovan has taken a careful, wait-and-see approach with his two precocious freshmen this season, preferring the experience and consistency of his seniors like Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young over the likes of Kasey Hill and Chris Walker. With a record of 33-2 and the overall #1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, who can argue with his decision? Still, Florida became a different team when Hill came into the game in the second half, as a team that had a tendency to get bogged down got out on to the fast break for easy points. Hill fueled things with his defense, ripping off two steals and finishing a couple plays himself, but even in the half-court, he was the only Gator with the quickness to dart right into the lane for finishes near the rim or kickouts for jumpers. Hill’s development on both ends of the floor provides an element to the Gators’ attack that they simply didn’t have last year, and it makes them all the more dangerous as a result.
Star of the Game. The statistics might favor Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith (16 points, three rebounds) or Casey Prather (14 points), but the game changed when Billy Donovan inserted Kasey Hill into the game at around the 16:28 mark. From that point on, Florida went on a 14-6 run that effectively put the contest out of reach. Hill keyed the surge with a couple of steals that led to buckets, a block on the defensive end, and ultimately, a perfect 10-point second half (3-of-3 FG; 4-of-4 FT).
Sights & Sounds. The Florida-centric crowd didn’t get to a sellout (around 4,000 short), and frankly, the Gators didn’t give them much of a reason to get too rowdy anyway this afternoon. So we’ll go with a mascot Gator climbing into the crowd — that’s not something you see every day, right?
What’s Next? Florida advances to play a Pittsburgh team on Saturday that looked very impressive in its opener against Colorado this afternoon. The Gators had better play much better in that one if they hope to advance to Memphis next weekend.