Did you forget about Angel Rodriguez?
The former Kansas State point guard left after his all-conference sophomore season, spending the 2013-14 as one of the few players that voluntarily sits out his mandatory one year as a transfer.
He didn’t apply for a waiver that he could have gotten as he returned home to Miami because he wanted to be able to play at full health on a team that was as full strength. That would be the best way for him to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament, and on Monday night, the Hurricanes took a huge step in that direction.
Miami erased a 15-point second half deficit on the heels of some electrifying shooting from Rodriguez, knocking off the No. 8 Gators, 69-67, thanks to this three from their new point guard:
Rodriguez finished with 24 points, three assists and three steals, scoring 22 of those 24 in the final nine minutes of the game. He had 20 in the last 6:47, including five threes and all three free throws after being fouled shooting a three.
Their performance itself was up and down, as the Gators kept control of the game for the first 30 minutes, before Rodriguez took over. The ‘Canes held their own defensively, but none of the guards that entered this season with hype — Sheldon McClellan, Manu Lecomte, JaQuan Newton or Deandre Burnett — did much of anything. Couple that with the fact that Miami’s already week interior will be without their best big man for the first semester, and that’s what you get.
But Rodriguez certainly made a statement.
As Jay-Z would say, “allow me to reintroduce myself”.
For Florida, their issues on the offensive end of the floor were once again a red flag. They have no low-post presence right now without Chris Walker on the floor, and there’s no guarantee that Walker will be able to provide that once he does return to action; he’s suspended for the first three games of the season.
The other question mark is who takes the shots at the end of the games. Last year, the ball was in Scottie Wilbekin’s hands, and he was as good as anyone at ensuring that the Gators would be getting a good look at the rim.
Is it Kasey Hill, who hasn’t proven capable of consistently hitting a shot beyond 15 feet? Or Eli Carter, who sat out last season as he recovered from a broken leg? Can Michael Frazier do enough to create his own shot?
Florida was overrated at No. 8 in the country. If you looked at our Top 25, you would already know that. And frankly, losing to a team when Rodriguez puts on the kind of performance down the stretch that he did is not as bad as it will look on paper.
But that doesn’t mean the Gators don’t have some serious red flags, although it is worth noting that Florida was without Walker, Dorian Finney-Smith (injury) and Alex Murphy (eligible in December).
Billy Donovan is going to have his work cut out for him this season if the Gators are going to compete with Kentucky for an SEC title.