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The Bitter Truth About Florida Basketball

I don't really want to talk about it. You know what it is, even without clicking on the link. However this blog is where many of you come to learn the sometimes unpalatable truth about college sports. So here goes: Florida's 2006 and 2007 teams deserve to be considered among the best of the past 20 years. Gosh that hurt.

I say this because last night they faced the guy widely acknowledged as the best college player in the country, and quite possibly the best center to come out of college in the past 10 years in the form of Greg Oden. And he had a monster game. Really, going for 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in the National Title Game is just phenomenal. And his team still lost. They lost because Billy Donovan pulled off a coaching clinic. He gave Oden his points, staunchly refusing to double team the big guy, because this would have freed things up on the perimeter for Ohio State's guards.

Donovan displayed confidence in his backcourt to hit the shots they had to hit to lift the Gators down the stretch. Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green hit those shots, going a combined 7-10 from behind the arc. The Gator guards hit 3's that were not only clutch, they were downright malevolent. The baskets seemed to come at the absolute most inopportune times for Ohio State, on time, every time.

Clearly Donovan's strategy was to throw big bodies at Oden and see if he would get himself in foul trouble early. Even the yutz who covers basketball for this site forecast that strategic maneuver. However it didn't work early. Despite a couple of questionable calls (like the elbow to Brewer's solar plexus that literally put him on the floor), Oden stayed out of foul trouble.

And the Buckeyes still lost. It wasn't because of the heroics of Joakim Noah, who played a generally abyssmal game offensively and an average game on the defensive end. Even Billy Packer was moved to remark repeatedly on how exhausted Noah looked. And when octagenarians start chastising you for sucking wind, believe me, you're sucking wind.

This Florida squad beat an Ohio State team that was clearly their closest challenger with the likes of Chris Richard and Marreese Speights, who came off the bench to beat Greg Oden into submission. Oden said of Richard "I swear he plays on the football team."

Oden was better, but Florida was deeper, and by the end of the game it showed. Oden looked like he could barely keep his feet the last 4 minutes as Florida gobbled up rebound after rebound to keep Ohio State from threatening.

Florida even beat Ohio State from the free throw line, where they shot 88% (22 of 25). In short, Florida beat Ohio State just about every way they could, even without everything going according to plan. It really pains me to admit it, but this Florida team was better than anybody else even on their bad days. And when Joakim Noah's the third man off the bench for the Grizzlies next year, and Taurean Green's burning it up in the NBDL, I'm glad they'll have that to remember.

Sorry, just couldn't resist. This is by the way the last time that I will acknowledge the existence of Florida's basketball program until October. Thank God.