After an 18-point road win against a top-10 team, THE Ohio State may be THE team to beat in the Big Ten. Yes, I know, I have been hyping Illinois the whole preseason. I am not totally jumping ship, but I just never expected Aaron Craft to be so ready to lead or for this team to be so cohesive so soon.
I saw Jared Sullinger in high school several times. Every AAU guy and college coach raved about how he was/is the real deal. Perfect big man, the anti-Renardo Sidney (big man who floats to shoot 3s). The Buckeyes team I saw tonight was a balanced, prepared, well-coached machine -- and one that has everything needed to win the national championship.
Every time Florida pressed it seemed, the Bucks broke it to score and got a layup, a 3-pointer (at times still too quick), or even a put back off the 3. Man, is the Big Ten going to be a war or what? I struggle to find a member of the Illini who can/will be able to handle Sully in the low block. And if you double, they have shooters to make you pay and Dallas Lauderdale to dunk a rebound on the weak side. Wow.
Look, Sully is a beast. And I mean that in a good way. It is the highest compliment you can give to a post. He has soft hands, a great set of moves and he can pass. William Buford, who was very selfish at times last year, played well at the point and David Lighty just looked like the game was in slow motion.
As for Florida, this group doesn’t look all that different than last season. Maybe the Buckeyes exposed the real Gators. There is still no real point guard as Erving Walker leaves his feet in the lane too much. And though Kenny Boynton looked better shooting the ball, did he really make anyone else better? Not really.
Moreover, UF’s big men looked pedestrian at best. There is a distinct lack of effectiveness in their press. So from the lack of size of Boynton and Walker, to the lack of effectiveness of Chandler Parsons or any of their big men -- Erik Murphy still looked young and Patric Young looked like an athletic freak who was lost offensively – Florida’s vulnerability was certainly exposed on Tuesday.
All is not lost for the Gators, but with no point guard, average big men and an inability to make the press effective, I may have overstated their chances of winning the SEC. Yes, they returned five starters, but this is the same team that lost five of their last six games and lost five overall in the O’Dome last season. Billy D and his program may be further from “back” than I would have thought.