The Back Nine comes at you after a warm and wonderful weekend here in America’s City, and now we start working on excuses not to go to work Friday when the Madness really begins.
10. Apparently, Florida’s game against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament didn’t mean anything. In fact, I’m not sure that this won’t go down as anything more than a tournament for television inventory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. So, LSU gets to the final and loses by one point and the Tigers are seeded one spot lower than a Florida team that got a win over Vandy and then didn’t put up much of a fight (except Omar Payne’s nasty elbow). So, in the end, that win at West Virginia was bigger than I thought. Interestingly, Florida was the last No. 7 seed and LSU the first No. 8 seed so it was that close. Maybe the committee gave Florida the benefit of the doubt and stuck it a little bit to the Fighting Damn Fine Offers.
11. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because we talk about the seeds and who got left out for a day and then we really need to concentrate on the matchups. Florida certainly didn’t draw an easy first game with an under-seeded Virginia Tech team. The Hokies were 5-6 in the Quad 1 and Quad 2 department, did not have a bad loss and won three true road games, but remember this team missed a good chunk of February when it had to pause. Florida was 8-8 in Q1 and Q2 games, had one bad loss and won five true road games. Eh, I’m tired of talking about the NET Rankings. Let’s get this thing started.
12. There is a part of me that is thinking about sending in my bracket (you are allowed as many as you want, but only one is your official bracket and you must make that declaration by Thursday; that’s just a rule I have) and filling it in with total chalk. During this pandemic, we see teams win that are supposed to win. There won’t be crowds of any substance and we have no idea how some of these athletes are going to react to being on the road for such a long time. Of course, we also have to wonder if the team we pick to win it all will suddenly have to forfeit because COVID-19. So, as usual, I will use my basketball knowledge to decipher all of this and burn my ballot on Monday.
13. It was kind of a mixed bag when it came to the sports that use bats and balls with both the baseball and softball teams going 2-1. Softball had a shot at a sweep, but lost the third game in nine innings. Baseball started with a bad loss and then played well the rest of the weekend. For Kevin O’Sullivan, here we go with FSU Tuesday night and then Texas A&M in for three. I think he has solved some of the pitching woes but not all of them.
14. So I am watching golf on one TV (and basketball on the other) and this commercial comes on for an interview with Drew Brees talking about retirement. Man, they were ready with that because he had announced it five minutes earlier. Kind of caught me by surprise with the timing, but I certainly understand it. And so, it begins, the question about Taysom Hill becoming a full-time quarterback. The quarterback landscape is certainly changing in the NFL, especially if the Seahawks follow through a trade Russell Wilson.
15. Listening to experts talk about Kyle Pitts kind of warms the heart, doesn’t it? I still go back to that day in Atlanta when we were asking the players on the 2018 team at the Peach Bowl who would be the breakout star in 2019. And they all said Kyle Pitts. They saw it then. We got to see it over the next two seasons of 97 catches and 17 touchdowns. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network even said Pitts is the draft pick that has the best chance to make the NFL Hall of Fame. Yikes. Dude hasn’t even played a professional game. But we are all rooting for him to do just that.
16. I have to say that watching The Players Championship over the weekend was the closest I have felt to watching a normal sporting event in a year. That crowd was not only bigger than I expected – 10,000 a day was the limit – but the course played like it is supposed to play and there was high drama. Maybe it is a major since Lee Westwood came up short again. Have to admit, I was kind of rooting for him. We tend to demonize some golfers because we root so hard against them in the Ryder Cup, but there was something about the way he interacted with his caddy/fiancée that was endearing. Maybe I’m just getting old.
17. This past weekend did live up to my expectations in terms of having so many things to watch. This coming weekend will be even better. I think back to where we all were a year ago and it seems surreal that we have so much going on in sports right now. For a guy who loves sports like I do, it feels like a miracle.
18. For the “Florida Four”, we bring you this – the four Florida Gators who scored the most points during his career. Go ahead and guess the top four before I give them to you.
I’ll give you a minute.
Most of you included Lee Humphrey in your List of Four, and he may be the all-time NCAA leader in three-point shots made, but he is fifth on total points Humphrey played in 15 tournament games. Here are the top four:
No. 1 – Corey Brewer, 198 points in 14 games.
No. 2 – Kenny Boynton, 175 points in 13 games.
No. 3 – Joakim Noah, 166 points in 13 games.
No. 4 – Taurean Green, 164 points in 14 games.
So yes, four of the top five in school history were starters on the two national championship teams. The only one missing is Al Horford, who is barely short, and amazingly played two games and 48 minutes in the 2005 tournament and didn’t score a point.