The three point play returns with our three main writers (Joey, Tanner and Neil) sharing their two cents on Florida’s 78-69 win over Alabama on Saturday:
Joey Vizzi: Another Day, Another Second Half Turnaround
I was most impressed by Florida’s second half bounce-back. I was not surprised, but I was impressed. After a fast start, the Gators hit a wall and couldn’t get a bucket for nearly 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Alabama point guard Trevor Releford seemed to slip on his Superman cape and take over for the Tide. Releford was hitting everything he threw up, and Florida had been punched in the mouth and was wobbling. Despite a late half offensive blitz, the Gators seemed like they could very well drop a mid-February game to a far inferior opponent.
But in the second half, the Gators gave themselves one simple mission. Do not let Trevor Releford score. And after a quick three to start the second half, he did not score again from the field (though he did hit on six free throws). In addition, Florida’s ball movement was much better in the second half. They came out and easily handled Alabama’s pressure, assisting on the first eight made baskets of the frame. Then Bama’s Nick Jacobs hit a jumper six minutes into the second half cut the Gators edge to 50-44.
This was the point where, in years past, Florida would choke and blow a game they should win. But not this time. Florida calmly responded with a 6-0 run, highlighted by Chris Walker’s dunk. The Gators then dominated the rest of the game by having a double digit lead for much of the remainder of the game. Right there, that response run, is exactly why I believe this team is so special. This team is winning games that in years past it would lose. This team has some fight in it that we haven’t seen in about 7 years.
Tanner Dennie: Frazier Remains Lone (But Damned Good) 3 Point Shooter On New Look Gators
As I’ve stated before, this Florida Gators team does not have the “live by the three, die by the three” mentality that they have in the past. That being said, they do have one guy that can light you up from outside.
That guy would be Michael Frazier II. Though he has struggled in a lot in the first half this season, his second half numbers are off the charts. Just to compare, Frazier is shooting close to 19% in the first half, and is shooting just shy of 50% in the second half. And while he actually hurt those numbers with his performance against Alabama, he did connect on two clutch threes in the second half, the first of which gave Florida the slightest bit of breathing room early in the half and the second of which put the Crimson Tide away late.
One thing I love about MF2 is his undying confidence in his shot, and he keeps right on firing away no matter how on or off he is (and he’s usually on). When he catches fire, I really don’t believe there is anybody in the country that can stop him. No matter how many defenders are in his face, his quick release is too fast for the opponents’ defenders to stop. If Frazier can score early and play consistently through the first half and transition well into the second half, this Gator team will be just as dangerous as they have been this season.
Me: Chris Walker Has Work To Do
I love Chris “Sky” Walker. Like most Florida fans, I see him as an incredible talent, and someday (soon), I think he can be one of the game’s most feared big guys.
But the talent only shows up in spurts. Sure, one possession he’ll throw down a dunk that will bring the house down, but on the next possession he’ll be completely out of position and the offensive possession will ultimately go nowhere. It’s not really surprising to me, because of his lack of game experience, but I think it’s what’s costing him more minutes on the floor. He’s got to learn positioning, and that there’s more to being on offense than the point guard throwing up a lob and him slamming it home.
On the bright side, I think he’ll get there quickly enough, because he won’t really play until he does. And he likes minutes (who doesn’t?). On the brighter side, Walker not playing more means Will Yeguette and Patric Young will play more, because that’s where Walker’s minutes would come from. You can’t tell me you’re unhappy with not playing Walker more and playing Yeguette and Young the way Billy Donovan currently does. On the even brighter side, this means that Donovan will get a full offseason to work with Walker, and focus more on him in practice, so that he’ll know what he’s doing more next year, when Florida will really need him.