Florida’s Not One of the Best Ever

Yes, Florida certainly was awesome down the stretch, closing out their season with ten straight wins. Yes, their closest game during the entire tournament was a seven point 2nd round win over Purdue. Yes, they never had a moment of panic and struggle. Yes, it was extremely difficult to go from being an underdog last year and winning it, to becoming the favorite entering the year and managing to repeat. There’s no denying that what Florida did was special.

That being said, I will respectfully disagree with Billy Donovan who announced

I think you really have to look at this team, and I’m not saying they are the best team, but you have to look at them and say they are one of the best teams to play this game

I won’t annoint this team as one of the best ever. Sure, winning back-to-back titles now seems more difficult than when Duke did it in the early 90s; legacies and eras of domination are too short because players leave for the NBA too early in their college careers. But as good as the Gators proved themselves to be in the tournament, you have to wonder what business they had losing ANY games this year. Call me a cynic, call me a flaw-finder, call me a pessimist, call me a bitter UCLA fan. I’ll take it all.

But I’ll tell you this much about Florida — they were by far the best team in college basketball this year, with nobody coming in as a close second. Tell me one team that would win more than three games against Florida if they had played ten against the Gators this year? Name me one. Because I sure as heck know that I saw Greg Oden’s best effort tonight, and I saw a lot of hustle from UCLA on Saturday, and I know either team would be lucky to get one out of ten games against Florida. Disagree with me? Impossible.

Florida had every weapon, rather, Florida had no weakness. They had dominant big men, three in fact, and they had killer guard and perimeter play. It’s kind of hard to beat a team that can crush you either inside or outside, or both.

So why did they lose? What team that’s one of the best ever in college basketball has a four game stretch in which they lose three? Answer me that. If you want to argue with me and say that they played their best ball when it mattered the most, then I’ll tell you the regular season and post-season set up needs a serious overhaul where Florida would’ve had more incentive to play to their maximum potential. Either that, or I’ll tell you that the Gators weren’t worried about being considered one of the best teams ever. Because if they set their minds to it, they wouldn’t have lost more than once all year.

I’m not comfortable calling the Gators one of the best teams ever after looking at their easy draw in the Midwest Regional, and the fact that they lost to Vanderbilt, LSU and Tennessee all within a four game span during the regular season. Correct me if I’m wrong, because I don’t think I am.

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  • jed

    I hate the gators but you are wrong

  • Max

    That is the weakest reasoning I have ever heard! You’re gonna attack a back to back champion because they lost a few regular season games, on the road, in a tough conference? Tennesee made it to the Elite 8, and Vandy was one basket away from being there too! If that is the biggest fault you can find with this team, then they MUST be one of the best ever.

    Just like you said, Florida has two dominant big men, two marksman three point shooters, an athletic freak/defensive stopper, an energetic leader, unselfish and clutch play, and thats just the starting five!

    They have dismantled every team (save for maybe Purdue) that they have played in the past two seasons – UNDEFEATED in SEC and NCAA tourny play. We have thrown Kentucky to the side and become the class of the SEC. Now we have at least 4 (Noah, Brewer, Horford, Richard) guys who will be playing in the pros, and 3 of them are potential lottery picks.

    Florida is one of the greatest basketball teams of all time, without a doubt. In fact, their combination of skills and team play make them a model for every basketball team in the world.

  • http://www.dawg-pound.net Top Dawg

    Definitely a great team. As a Buckeye fan, it’s tough, but I’ll admit that the best team currently in the NCAA won…but not one of the best ever.

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  • Pawtucket Pat

    So let me get this straight: They’re not one of the best teams ever because they didn’t go undefeated? That’s it? That’s your criteria? Because they lost to a team that went to the Final Four the previous season, and two teams that made the Sweet Sixteen this year (one of whom came remarkably close to beating the National runner-up in the tourney), they’re completely out of the discussion?

    Basically, your argument is that they ARE one of the best teams ever, but they dogged it a little bit at times during the regular season, yet still were talented enough to not only get the #1 overall seed in the tourney, but to repeat as champions pretty effortlessly?

    Get real; I’m no Florida fan, but it’s pretty obvious they at least deserve to be in the discussion. Get a clue.

  • GUF

    Yeah, the fact that they lost to two Sweet 16 teams in Vandy and Tennessee after clinching the SEC title with more than three weeks left in the regular season really speaks to their lack of game. It’s obvious that the UNLV and Duke teams of the early 90s never would have lost to teams which were talented and highly motivated, right?

  • http://www.deadspin.com collin g

    if you watch or listen to the press conference Billy D was referring to Florida being the best “team”, as in no superstar, everyone works very fluidly with eachother, he was talking about the fundamental of teamwork, saying florida was the best teamwork team. he said that he didnt know if the gators could beat any of those older teams. I think what he said was right on. The gators this and last year were a true definition of a TEAM.

  • Chris

    It’s probably true, this UF squad isn’t as good as the best team Sam Gilbert’s money could by.

  • http://bottomlesschips.blogspot.com/ Mike

    I think they’re one of the best ever because of the era-argument (like the Patriots in football).

    There are only 13 scholarships, and players transfer and defect to the pros like woah. This hurts the big name schools and helps the smaller schools who can get quality players who would the 14th and 15th scholarship players on a UNC, players who transfer from big school because they have egos (Padgett from UK to UL, Abukar from UF to SDSU, the list could go on and on), and the defection argument is obvious–senior laden teams do well even if they are inferior talent-wise. Example: George Mason from last year.

    So for UF to rise to the top of a leveled playing field for all 330+ teams, that’s pretty impressive. And to do it with the same starting five should put them in the top 5 teams of all time.

  • YouAreSoDumb

    Wow great logic. Florida lost games so they aren’t that good. Brilliant.

  • tony

    you are a liar and a bad writer. they lost because the are 19 years old and occasionally lost focus. That and the fact that every away game they played all year was the biggest home game of the year for their opponents fans. they got everyone’s best and if they didn’t bring their A game, could be vulnerable in an insignificant game. oh, ucla would lose 10 of 10.

  • Steven

    You people are idiots. The best teams of ALL TIME never lose focus. They never dog it. No game is insignificant. Every opponent gives them their best and they rise to that challenge. Yes, they’re great, but if you want to be called the best of the best you don’t lose five games to anybody.

  • Rob

    Sha-la-la-low….you are a complete idiot.

    I’m not a Florida fan, so I’m not sticking up for them. You’re just an idiot.

  • Ruben

    I don’t think anyone is saying they aren’t a great team. But one of the best ever? Let’s put it this way, if you took the past 64 champs, I can see this Florida team making the sweet 16, but the elite 8 would be 6 UCLA teams and 2 Duke teams. When I think great teams, I think the 49ers in the 80’s, 71-73 UCLA, etc. The BEST TEAM OF ALL TIME would not lose ANY GAMES, just like the 71-73 UCLA teams did. Make all the “era” arguments you want, but talent wise it is not a discussion.

    And as for “the lack of superstars”, they have 5 legit NBA prospects. They are a great, great team, with incredible talent, and are well coached. I don’t know, any way you chop it, they didn’t dominate start to finish like some of the great teams have. While they did dominate 90% of the time, there have been teams that have gotten to 100%, and while that is a ridiculously high bar, that is the bar that has been set.

  • Miss Loca

    das coo

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