This week, FanHouse is taking a look at the top teams heading into 2008 with a BlogPoll decided on by our college hoops bloggers. To help with the team capsules, we've brought in some of the top fan bloggers around the internets to give us insights on their teams.
Today, we have enlisted MLMinTampa of the Alligator Army to break down the Florida Gators.
Last season was a disappointment for the Gators not just for the fact that they did not make the NCAA Tournament, breaking a streak of nine consecutive appearances. But the reaction of head coach Billy Donovan after the Gators bowed out of the SEC Tournament first round ("They're not committed to it," in speaking of his team) led fans and outsiders to believe that this group of players was beyond saving. After rallying in the NIT, there is some optimism for this year's edition despite subtractions. The Gators' only front line presence, Marreese Speights, is in the NBA. Sophomore guard Jai Lucas, after playing the first preseason game, will transfer. UF hopes they can overcome both losses.
Point guard Nick Calathes will have to lead the way with fellow sophomores Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus seeing time up front. The Gators have two freshmen who can contribute at the five, Kenny Kadji and Eloy Vargas (both 6-10). If Florida wants to be successful they have to not only play better but play with a passion that was missing for much of last season.
Why they should be ranked here: Florida will finish in the top half of the SEC, even if they struggle against an out-of-conference schedule that includes decent mid-majors like Bradley and Winthrop as well as NC State and Syracuse. They were not tested at the start of last season, which led to the delusions of grandeur that followed in SEC play. The Gators should make the NCAAs and the Sweet 16 is a real possibility in 2009.
Why they should be ranked higher: Talent. The Gators have plenty of it. Followers of the team see it up close and Donovan has always been a great recruiter. The challenge is been applying the talent.
Why they should be ranked lower: It is entirely possible UF is still a year away from being a great team when their young bigs have a year under their belt and Calathes becomes a true point guard. Donovan's patience finally expired at the end of last season when he made his team practice in an intramural gym instead of their $12 million practice facility. If Donovan makes them practice outside, you know this team is going nowhere.
Thanks to MLMinTampa of the Alligator Army for coming into the 'House to break down the Gators.
FanHouse NCAA Hoops BlogPoll: No. 21, Florida Gators originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Mon, 17 Nov 2008 14:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.