Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gators = Commie Bait

By far the most memorable aspect of Saturday's 61-58 win over Florida was the deafening "BOO" that filled the stadium every time Nick Calathes touched the ball after his little spat with Metcalfe. It was only fitting that when the game was on the line, it was Calathes who committed the over-and-back violation that prevented his team from taking advantage of a go-ahead possession and ultimately sent Red Gordon to the free-throw line for the second time to give Vanderbilt the final margin of victory.

Let's be realistic: we didn't play very well for most of the game. Shots were not falling like we need them to be and we allowed points in transition and back doors that kept the Gators in the game. 13 turnovers isn't too bad, but there were key moments when we didn't protect the ball that led to momentum swings (e.g., the lazy Ogilvy pass that Werner picked off and dished to Calathes for the and-1). Down the stretch, we did everything possible to give the game away, going 0-fer from the field for the last 7:17 after building a 12-point lead that could have put them away.

Still, hitting 9 of 10 from the line, including the ones that really counted as time was winding down, should make us feel good about what this team is capable of in close-game situations. While it was Gordon who put the game away with four straight clutch FTs (note: he's 22 of 24 from the stripe in conference play), I was particularly impressed with Ogilvy's poise at the line with those two late free throws under pressure given his breakdown in a similar situation at South Carolina.

I'm increasingly impressed with the way Shan Foster has turned around his game after hitting a slump in SEC play. He's found a groove and is moving around on offense and scoring off of dribble penetration and rebounds in a way that I wasn't sure he was comfortable--or even capable of--as recently as a few games ago. This is a good time of year for him to be coming into his own as the playmaker who can be counted on to come up big even when heavily guarded. In a low-scoring game where Jermaine and the bench did not play particularly well, we didn't stand a chance without the big shots from Shan.

Finally, notwithstanding the absurd amount of time the commentators always seem to spend quipping about the unusual and difficult layout of Memorial Gym, it's clear to me that we have one of the best home-court advantages in the country. 16-0 at home on the year and 29 of the last 30 in Memorial -- not many programs can boast those numbers. There were definitely times when the shot clock ran down and there was miscommunication among the Gators that was probably attributable to gym characteristics. But much more important, in my opinion, was the volume produced by the fans and the merciless berating of key opposing players that seemed to me directly related to mental breakdowns like the Hodge technical foul and Calathes backcourt bungle. Would love to hear from those of you who actually attended the game as to your take on the crowd's impact. Post liberally.


Marv said...

The Who Ya With team was there, and Memorial was in rare form. Some new cheers since the last time I was there. Great crowd atmosphere, and it seems that the student body is really behind this team.

Anonymous said...

crowd has been great for last two games. my brother told me stallings said he's glad people came the last two games but that he hopes everyone shows up for georgia and that fans come to see vandy, not other teams. as a season ticket holder who goes to every game i agree. since i was there i didn't get to see why calathes wouldn't give the ball to metcalfe but apparently he hit nick pretty good and calathes was wanting a foul. either way, that started the boos and it was awesome.

J.B., M.D. said...

Rankings? I'd say 16 and 20.

J.B., M.D. said...

And that is why they call me doctor. Perfect ranking estimates.