Needless to say, today’s game against Sourh Carolina did not go the way we hoped. While the first half was a well-fought battle, the second half is something that will stay with the players, the coaches, and Gator Nation for the entire off season. We couldn’t shoot threes the way we had in the first half, and we had too many fouls. As much as it hurts right now, hopefully it will be the motivation to come back and attack next season with a vengeance.
It was hard to watch, knowing we weren’t playing as well as we could have. What was even harder to see was the pain on the boys’ faces as the clock hit zero. They wanted it. They wanted to go to Arizona; they wanted to continue our season and they wanted to show the country that they had underestimated the University of Florida. They wanted to keep fighting. But it was not meant to be.
With only a few precious seconds remaining on the clock, we were down by seven. The two missed shots summed up the second half: things were not going our way. My heart broke for the boys who had worked so hard; it broke for the team who had overcome so much adversity to be playing in Madison Square Garden. But as much as this loss hurt, I knew it wasn’t the end. It was a beginning.
It was the beginning of what will no doubt be a hard-work filled offseason; it was the beginning of more wins and more success for the Florida Gators. This postseason gave our guys priceless experience, and this loss will give them a drive they wouldn’t have otherwise. They’ll remember this; they’ll remember this feeling. They’ll remember this, and there’s no doubt in my mind it will show on the court next season. What hurts now will be the source of excitement and success next season.
So yes, the Elite Eight is the end of something magical. But it’s the beginning of something wonderful. It’s the beginning of something bigger, something better, something….. beautiful.