Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports

Florida Gators Bait & Bits: Florida-UAlbany Observations, Busted Brackets, Women's Swimming & Diving at NCAA Championships, and Weekend Preview

Welcome to Bait & Bits, a series on Hail Florida Hail that will feature one “bait” about an opposing school and some bits about the Gators. Have any links that you want on Bait & Bits? Tweet it at us @HailFloridaHail or @BrettKaplan13 or email it to us at [email protected].

Bait

SEC Basketball Coaches. With Thursday’s win over the Albany Great Danes, Billy Donovan moved into a tie for second place on the SEC’s all-time winningest coach list, tying him with LSU’s Dale Brown with 448 wins. With a win against the Pitt Panthers Saturday, Donovan will only be behind Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (876). Donovan still has plenty left to catch Rupp: He’s only 48 years old. He has 483 wins overall.

Bits

Florida-Albany Observations. I was lucky enough to go to the Amway Center to watch the Pitt-Colorado and Florida-UAlbany games, and here’s some of my takeaways. Apologies for not tweeting more. My phone died right after tip-off for the Gators game:
1. Florida just seemed off. They weren’t able to get any momentum going and any time they did, there was a, what feels like, 20 minute TV timeout. These NCAA games are getting a little ridiculous with the media timeouts, even when they’re not the under 16-12-8-and-4 minutes timeouts. They stretch it out as long as possible. After every media timeout, Florida was on the court a good 30 seconds to minute before the game played on. I get the tournament is a huge cash cow for the NCAA, but they need to respect the game and let it flow a little better.
2. If this is Kasey Hill with turf toe, then I’d hate to see him fully healthy if I’m the opposing team. Hill was the best player on the floor Thursday and he showed his lightning quickness on numerous occasions. Hill’s worked his way into some solid minutes and it looks like he may be the X-factor on this team. Now all he needs to do is work on his shooting from eight-feet out.
3. Billy Donovan did something I have never seen nor heard of towards the end of the game. Florida took a shot-clock violation with 14 seconds left up 12 points so Albany could sub-in players. I think Donovan appreciated how the Great Danes played and how important it was to Albany to let every single player log some minutes. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these players, and Donovan made one of the classiest gestures to tip his hat to them. Albany head coach Will Brown definitely appreciated it, thanking Donovan at the post-game handshake. It’s indicative of this team. Everyone’s unselfish and we should be grateful to have such a wonderful coach on and off the court.
4. Tons of Gator Greats showed up at the game Thursday. Some of the notables I saw were Jason Williams, Chris Richard, and baseball player AJ Pierzynski. Also on hand were those you would expect: Jeremy Foley, Bernie Machen, Christine and the younger Donovans, Svend Wilbekin, and Bill Donovan. UCF head coach and former Florida assistant Donnie Jones showed his support as well, something that speaks volumes on how much of an impact Billy Donovan had on him. Good to see so many come out on a Thursday afternoon to support the Gators.

How’s Your Bracket Doing? Mine’s pretty much busted. 11-seed Dayton beating six-seed Ohio State to start off the day made me lose out on the $1 billion immediately. I’m OK with it, however. Other notable games: (12) Harvard over (5) Cincinnati, (5) Saint Louis beating (12) NC State (even though they were the higher seed), and really the big upset of the day, (12) North Dakota State upsetting (5) Oklahoma and former Florida coach Lon Kruger.

Women’s Swimming and Diving at Day 1 of NCAA Championships. Three UF-records went down on the first day of competition at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Florida set the records in the  200 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay and 50 freestyle. The Gators currently sit in eighth place. (GatorZone)

Weekend Schedule. Very busy weekend for Gator sports:
Friday
Track & Field @ FSU Relays
Women’s Swimming & Diving @ NCAA Championships
5:00pm Men’s Tennis vs Auburn
5:00pm Women’s Tennis @ #20 Auburn
6:00pm Softball vs Alabama
7:35pm Baseball @ Texas A&M
Saturday
Women’s Swimming & Diving @ NCAA Championships
12:15pm Men’s Basketball @ Pittsburgh (NCAA Round of 32)
1:00pm Softball vs Alabama
1:00pm Lacrosse @ Ohio State
3:00pm Gymnastics @ Southeastern Conference Championships – Session I
3:05pm Baseball @ Texas A&M
7:00pm Gymnastics @ Southeastern Conference Championships – Session II
Sunday
1:00pm Men’s Tennis vs Alabama
1:00pm Softball vs Alabama
2:00pm Women’s Tennis @ #8 Alabama
2:05pm Baseball @ Texas A&M
3:00pm Women’s Basketball @ Dayton – NCAA 1R

How’s your bracket doing? What did you think of Florida’s struggles against Albany? How about Louisville against Manhattan? Sound off in the comments section or let us know on Facebook and Twitter for all things NCAA Tournament and #GatorMadness.

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Tags: Billy Donovan Florida Gators Kasey Hill NCAA Tournament Swimming & Diving

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