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The Russell Report: Examining the transfer portal in NCAA Basketball

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The transfer portal-- Over 1100 men’s college basketball players are in it and it’s not going away! Coaches are going to have to manage it, with players that leave and those they get. Rosters will have to be rebuilt and reshaped-- It’s a coaching reality now, and no program is immune from it and fans will have to learn to live with it too.

Florida men’s basketball has lost most of its roster in large part to transfers and that has some fans upset, and on the surface of it, it’s not a good look. But take a look at some of the most successful teams in March Madness-- teams like Baylor, Arkansas and Houston-- Look how many on their rosters are transfers. Losing transfers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but why they are leaving may be more important. Are players leaving Florida because they’re not playing? Thats the reason I think most leave, or because they don’t like or believe in the coaching style of Mike White. Maybe it’s because they want more minutes or an expanded role on the team and they’re not being guaranteed that?

Fans don’t see the reasons, and maybe don’t care about the reasons...All they see is mass exodus. Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin last week said he hoped Mike White would be the coach here for a long time, and that sent social media into a frenzy. I just don’t understand the negativity and anger shown by some fans toward this program; It is a regular NCAA Tournament team, and they’ve won a game the last four years in the tournament. But for some, that’s not enough. And now losing all these transfers is the last straw.

Why not, at least for now, wait and see how White reconstructs his roster and see what the results are next year? He’s already added a guard and a rim protector forward and more are coming. If Florida wins next year and makes a nice run in the NCAA tournament, will anyone care about all these defections? Winning cures everything. Basketball season starts in seven months and it will be interesting to see what happens between now and then with Gator Basketball. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be boring.

Finally on the title game, my heart is pulling for Gonzaga. After its thrilling buzzer beating semi-final win over a tough UCLA team, I want the Zags to make history, to win an NCAA championship with an undefeated team. Hasn’t been done since Indiana in the 70′s--Go Zags--Love to see history made!

“Sports Scene with Steve Russell” airs Monday-Friday on ESPN 98.1 FM and AM 850 WRUF.

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