The Russell Report: Wrapping up the Gators Men’s Basketball season

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:49 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - March Madness is in full swing! We’ve reached the Sweet 16; a lot of upsets, a lot of excitement, just like March Madness is supposed to be-- by the way, how’s your bracket today?

Sadly, Florida has reached the end of its season after losing to one of the Cinderellas of the tournament, Oral Roberts. What a season it has been; full of ups and downs, highs and lows-- A roller coaster of a season for sure. Despite getting a tournament win, some will still not believe Coach Mike White did a good job this year. He did a tremendous job and I think that was there for the nation to see when the Gators beat Virginia Tech in the opening round.

No Keyontae Johnson, Tyree Appleby goes out with a bloody face in the second half and would not return and no Omar Payne; but the Gators found a way to win. It was a gritty, tough win against a Virginia Tech team that was gritty as well--they fought and scrapped and wouldn’t quit. Many criticized White for sitting Payne, who threw elbows in the Tennessee game and was kicked out. He was eligible to play against the Hokies but White decided to teach him a life lesson and sat him. The social media reaction was mixed.

Many people didn’t think the gators would even win a tournament game, but they did. Given all that happened this year, from losing Keyontae Johnson, to all the COVID-19 stops and starts, this team kept fighting. At times it was frustrating, and at times it was hard to watch; but in the end, it was an NCAA tournament team. Many of you don’t think that’s good enough, that White has only had one year where he has advanced to a deep tournament run, and that’s a fair assessment. But, it boils down to what your expectation for the program is, and that’s a debate for another time. We’ve probably seen the last of Tre Mann as well. It sure was fun to watch him develop right before our eyes. Good luck young Mann!

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