The Russell Report: Gator Men’s Basketball on a roll and a congrats to Gator soccer coach Becky Burleigh

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:46 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Florida Men’s Basketball team is on a roll. It’s now won four in a row, including last weekend’s big road win at West Virginia.

A lot of coaches don’t like playing non-conference games this late in the season but I absolutely love the SEC/Big 12 Challenge concept. It gives you a chance to see how you stack up against a good team outside your league and it also prepares you in a small way for the NCAA tournament as well.

At times, the Gators didn’t handle pressure well, but in the second half, their transition to offense was better and they hit some big shots and scored 85 points against a good defensive team. Big win. Now back to SEC play with South Carolina at home Wednesday.

The Super Bowl gets played this weekend and the local Tampa Bay Bucs get to play in their own back yard for the game.

We’ll see if it provides any advantage. Hard to bet against quarterback Tom Brady, who, of course, has won this game a bunch of times. But as nice a story as this is, how about the one Kansas City can write?

The Chiefs can win back-to-back Super Bowls and that isn’t done very often. Eight times in fact, but not since 2004-2005 when, you guessed it, Tom Brady helped the Patriots beat Carolina and Philadelphia. Do you go with the guy who knows how to win it, or with the team that won it last year? I’m taking the chiefs.

There are some Gator football fans who are not exactly overwhelmed with the hires that have been made on the coaching staff after several coaches were either let go or left, as Brian Johnson did to coach in the NFL.

Garrick McGee is the new quarterback coach, a former head coach who was an analyst on the staff last year. Another coach comes from USF and another came from the Auburn staff. The big question will now be not just how they coach, but also how well they can recruit. Many believe that’s what is holding Florida back from being an elite program and we’ll see if these new guys can get some big-time talent on campus.

Finally, a big shout out to Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh who announced she would be retiring at the end of this spring season.

In this day and age of coaches coming and going, she has been the only coach the Florida soccer program has ever known. She’s won a national championship, 14 SEC titles and has made the NCAA tournament in 22 of the last 25 years.

Can’t tell you how many times I have interviewed her on my Sportscene radio show and it’s always been a fun and educational conversation as she put up with my questions about soccer strategy which I knew next to nothing about. I hope this spring season will be a great one for her. Thanks for everything Becky!

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