Florida Gators guard Will Richard shoots a free throw against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum. [Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports]

Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: Key For Florida Is Avoiding Bad Losses

The Back Nine comes at you after a wet weekend that included another win by Florida’s suddenly en fuego basketball team.

 10. You can look at these Gators as a team that is making you run out of Tums or a team that keeps winning close games. No matter how you want to look at them, imagine if I had told you four weeks ago that Florida would win seven of the next eight games and the only loss would be by a point on the road. Unless you are crazy, you would have been ecstatic. This team is as flawed as the NET Rankings, but it is winning tough games. OK, they make them tougher than they should be, but they are still winning them.

11. What I particularly liked about the Georgia game was that guys who didn’t do everything well still found a way to affect the game. Like Will Richard making only one shot, but making all of his free throws (Richard, Zyon Pullin and Walter Clayton Jr. were 17-for-17 in this one). Or Riley Kugel going 2-for-10 but still getting six rebounds. And, of course, the hero of the game was freshman Tommy Haugh because if he doesn’t play like he did, well, I agree with Todd Golden that Florida doesn’t win that game. That guy is only going to get better.

12. I mentioned the flawed NET Rankings, but no Gator fans should be angry because Florida added another Quad 1 win when Pittsburgh slipped into the top 50 (neutral site win). Certainly, the Gators have a shot at another Wednesday night when they travel to Alabama, but the key right now for this team is to avoid bad losses. They still have three Quad 1 opportunities before the SEC Tournament, but it’s almost as important to win those other three games (two against Vandy, one against Missouri) to keep your place in line.

13. It was an interesting weekend to watch basketball with some amazing games, including Kentucky boat-racing Auburn in the Jungle. And, of course, John Calipari being all cocky about it after the game, like he knew his team was going to figure it out and “you need to leave my players alone.” I’m sorry, Kentucky players, did you choose where you wanted to go to school because you want to be left alone? I didn’t think so.

14. It wasn’t the kind of weekend the Florida baseball team thought possible, losing your opener and then getting rained out of your next two games. But a baseball season is a grind and I promise you that sometime during regional you’re going to ask yourself, “Who did we open the season with?”

15. So, the NBA was wanting a more competitive All-Star Game. Instead, the final was 211-186 and it sounds about as boring as everyone says it was. There are no answers to making all-star games matter in any sport. Baseball probably comes the closest, because it doesn’t require the same effort as the other major sports. But I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch an All-Star game in anything. Maybe they should have them all at the end of the season. Naw, I wouldn’t watch then either. After all, I had to finish watching “Ted: The Season”.

16. Man, I was all settled in to watch Tiger Woods on Friday and the next thing you know I’m watching a 10-minute ride with him in a golf cart after he withdrew in Los Angeles. He said it was the flu and we all know how painful that can be. But what I was able to watch was Just Another Golfer – a JAG, if you will – on the holes he did play. You can never count him out, but the countdown has started.

17. It’s really a bummer that we have lost two of the greatest Gators of all time in the last few weeks. Bill Carr’s celebration of life is today and Allen Trammel passed over the weekend. It feels like my teenage years are Marty McFly’s photograph, just fading away. Imagine how Steve Spurrier feels to lose his center and then one of his best friends. RIP to two Gator greats.

18. I spent Saturday in my home office, watching basketball and writing while the chilly rain came down outside. It sounds like the beginning of a song I’ll never finish. This playlist, however, contains nothing but finished products:

WRUF.com sports columnist Pat Dooley can be heard on “The Tailgate” along with Jeff Cardozo from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday on 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF.

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