The Wildebeest and Beyond

Anyone watching Gator basketball?

I ask that because this season is shaping up to be some of the finest roundball we’ve ever played as a Gator team. I went back and watched highlights from the 2006-2007 teams and have to admit that they were a level-above most teams they played. The two National Championships speak for themselves.

Our team this year is much smaller and about as thin as those teams Championship teams were.  We had a great initial run in the SEC schedule winning 10 in a row, but lost last week at Arkansas.  Truth be told, Billy has never had great success at Arkansas on their home floor.  The loss, while very unexpected for this team, was not surprising overall.  We weren’t going to continue the harassing defense every game and the hot shooting from 3-point land.  We were due for a lull.  As it turns out the last three games have been a bit of a lull overall.

Our 3-point defense has been incredible all season holding opponents to 27 percent shooting…the last three games have seen opponents shoot 41 percent including the Razorbacks 8 of 18 from three point range.  That’s not how we’ve been winning games and it appears that Billy has been working the team extra hard the last few days at practice in preparation for the Kentucky Wildcats.  Both Sunday and Monday’s practices were defense-centric.  The other reason is that we will be without Will Yuegete for the remainder of the regular season.  That’s absolutely gonna hurt when we full court press moving forward because Yuegete is the centerpiece of the press and how the ball moves is dependent on how Yueget reacts.  We’ve had enormous success with our press and let’s not forget his near 7 rebounds a game.  Yep—this is going to come back to bite us.  Here’s hoping we get him back near the end of the regular season.  Yuegete’s arthrocopic surgery went well (according to his tweet) and now it is on to the physical therapy with the athletic trainers who are in the top tier of their business.

I digress.

Our defense is key to our success and that all starts with Scottie Wilbiken out front.  We have not been the same team when “The Wildebeest” is starting and playing well.  It is not strange that all three of our losses happened when we did not have the services of Wilbiken or we had poor play by him.  He’s been the bedrock of the defense and has shut down some of the best scorers in the league.  We’re getting ready to go against Kentucky at home.  If we are to contend with their talent and athleticism, we will need The Wildebeest at his most intense best.  Further we will need significant contributions from Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II.  Frazier has proven reliable at three point range and an adept rebounder.  We need Prather ball-hawking on defense.  It also wouldn’t hurt to have Patric Young dominate the middle against UK’s 6-10 and 7 foot post players (Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein).  Our inside shots will not come easy and if our 3-pointers aren’t falling our main recourse is defense….it’s has to be seriously intense.

The game tomorrow night is on ESPN at 7pm EST and 4pm PST.  If you’re not watching the Gators play this season, it might just be time to start tuning in to their games.  We are playing very well as a team.  We have some more work to do, but this team has bought into what Billy is selling.  Maybe you should buy some too.  If your local Gator Club is hosting a viewing part, that would be a great time to join them since Victory, especially over Kentucky basketball, is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Gator's Home Court

Gator’s Home Court (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

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