The decision making ability of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton bears a striking resemblance to my golf game.
I’m not terrible at golf. I’d call myself mildly capable. At 6’3″ and currently sitting on the wrong side of 230 lb, I can hit a golf ball pretty far. That said, regardless of what club I swing, 95% of the time, where the ball ends up is about 45 degrees to the right of where I aim. But the other 5% of the time, the ball goes straight. And there is no better feeling in the world than when that golf ball that I just hit is sitting in the middle of the fairway some 225 yards away from the tee.
The problem? Every time I hit a picture perfect shot, I manage to convince myself that I am capable of doing the same thing. Over and over again. Even though, deep down, I know that I actually hit a terrible shot 95% of the time.
I’m convinced that is what has happened with Walker and Boynton.
Because there is no other way to explain the fact that on Florida’s three most important possessions in their 74-71 overtime loss to Butler, those two were taking deep threes.
Its not that they aren’t capable of hitting those shots. Both Walker and Boynton have hit some big shots throughout the season for the Gators. They hit big shots in this game. With Butler up three in the overtime, Walker drove and found Boynton curling in behind him. Boynton hit the three, which tied the game at 67.
On the very next possession, after Butler had scored at the other end, Walker drilled a three off the dribble to give Florida a 70-69 lead.
Those were big shots. And they weren’t the only big shots that Florida’s guards have hit this season.
But, as is the case with my golf game, Walker and Boynton managed to convince themselves that because they have hit big threes this season, they can hit every big three they take.
And it wasn’t just Walker’s three at the end of regulation, Boynton’s three with a minute left in overtime, or Walker’s three at the end of the overtime.
Throughout the second half, the Gators got away from what got them the lead. Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin were dominant this afternoon. Tyus finished with 14 points and 10 boards on 6-12 shooting. Macklin looked like the kid that earned the nickname The Big Ticket when he was a senior in high school, finishing with 25 points on 11-14 shooting from the floor. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but Macklin dominated whoever Butler threw at him.
But down the stretch Florida started settling for jumpshots. They stopped penetrating. They stopped feeding the post. And it played right into Butler’s hands.
This isn’t a new issue, either. Leadership and decision making from their back court has been an achilles heel for the past two seasons for the Gators.
Billy Donovan put together a talented team. He outcoached Brad Stevens, who admitted as much after the game. But the Gators were flawed.
And that flaw reared its ugly head at the worst possible time.