WHITE NEEDS TO GET TRE MANN UNTRACKED
Tre Mann is thinking way too much on the basketball court instead of letting his instincts take over.
“He’s such a good natural scorer,” Florida coach Mike White says, adding that his talented freshman guard is “overthinking it.” When he’s got it going offensively, Mann is silky smooth with the ball in his hands, able to get his own shot practically at will and capable of scoring equally well off the bounce or pulling up to shoot his jump shot, but the month of November was somewhat of a roller coaster. The shot hasn’t always fallen and at times Mann has been hesitant to drive into the lane where he’s got a floater that is a thing of beauty when it’s dropping.
Mann missed two games completely under concussion protocol when the Gators (6-2) won the Charleston Classic and he played sparing minutes in the championship game win over Xavier. He scored five points in 12 minutes in Florida’s most recent win over Marshall. In his six games so far, Mann is scoring 4.8 points per game, hitting just 32.4% from the field overall and only 3-14 from the three-point line.
Sophomore Noah Locke can relate to what Mann is going through. Locke came to UF with a reputation as one of the nation’s best pure shooters and he had his share of struggles as a freshman.
“I try to help him as much as I can because I know I was in that situation and I know exactly how I felt,” Locke said. “I felt like the exact same way that he was feeling.”
Ideally, White needs both Mann and Locke to make shots to balance the floor and make the Gators extremely difficult to defend, particularly Saturday when UF travels to Indianapolis to face 24th-ranked and undefeated (7-0) Butler at Hinkle Field House.
“This [Butler] is a team that’s a legitimate top 20 team, going to be a tournament team,” White said. “As good defensively as any team in the country. We better go up there and space and execute and cut and share it or points are going to be very hard to come by.”
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY UPDATES There are rumblings out of Tallahassee that November 30 will come on December 8 or December 9 this year. That’s the new projection date for the head coach that was promised on November 30 and apparently winner of the FSU kewpie doll is Memphis HBC Mike Norvell. There is supposedly an agreement in principle but there won’t be a signed contract until after Memphis plays Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game. Of course, there was an “agreement in principle” for Bob Stoops several weeks ago. How’d that work out?
There are increasing reports that Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss are in serious negotiations. Florida Atlantic has made a bid to increase Kiffin’s salary and offer more money for assistants, but apparently Ole Miss has offered the job and now it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement. Florida Atlantic plays in the Conference USA championship game against UAB Saturday.
Colorado State seems to be moving quickly to name Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford as its replacement for Mike Bobo. Alford played running back at Colorado State and is married to a former Colorado State athlete.
Phil Montgomery will be back for a sixth season at Tulsa, not because he’s the answer to the football program but because they really can’t afford to fire him.
Missouri has interviewed Tulane coach Willie Fritz and apparently there is a growing fascination with Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson. Fritz makes the most sense since he’s won everywhere he’s been and he has a successful coaching history (1997-2009) at DII Central Missouri.
Fritz has also interviewed at Arkansas. Of course, so have Mike Norvell, Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin. Norvell apparently gets the FSU gig, Leach was so impressed that he signed a contract extension to remain at Washington State and Kiffin seems poised to take the Ole Miss job. Don’t be surprised if Arkansas rolls the dice and goes with Eli Drinkwitz, the first year head coach at Appalachian State, who played his college football at Arkansas Tech and worked as an assistant for Gus Malzahn at Springdale High School, just a few minutes from the Fayette Nam campus.
Steve Spurrier Jr., who is working as Mike Leach’s wide receivers coach, is getting some mention as Charlie Strong’s replacement at South Florida.
THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SOOTHSAYER
Tonight’s game Pac-12 Championship Game #13 Oregon (10-2) 24, #5 Utah (11-1) 17: Utah lost earlier in the season to Southern Calm 30-23. Oregon beat Southern Cal, 56-24. An Oregon win will send the Oklahoma-Baylor winner to the playoff, providing, of course, that Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC Championship Game.
Saturday’s games Big 12 Championship Game #6 Oklahoma (11-1) 40, #7 Baylor (11-1) 30: The Baylor that raced out to a 28-3 lead over Oklahoma in the first half of their first meeting could win this game. The one that blew the big lead and lost to Oklahoma can’t. Championship games are all new for Baylor. They’re old hat for Oklahoma which will play its way into the College Football Playoff. Mid-America Conference Championship Game Central Michigan (8-4) 41, Miami, Ohio (7-5) 27: Old Yeller’s offense never worked in the SEC but it does in the MAC where the mighty Chips scored 40 or more seven times. He gets a conference championship, something that also avoided him at Florida and at Colorado State.
Sun Belt Championship Game #21 Appalachian State (11-1) 35, Louisiana-Lafayette (10-2) 27: This is a revenge game for the Appys, who had their dreams of an unbeaten season crash and burn in Lafayette earlier in the year. This time both offenses get cranked up and Appy State has more firepower.
Conference USA Championship Game Florida Atlantic (9-3) 31, UAB (9-3) 21: Will this be Lane Kiffin’s final game at FAU? Whether it is or isn’t, the Owls have way too much firepower and speed.
American Athletic Conference Championship Game #17 Memphis (11-1) 37, #20 Cincinnati (10-2) 24: If it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt then these guys should be rather chippy by midway through the first quarter. They played last week in Memphis with Memphis winning by 10. This week the game’s in Memphis again only this time Memphis gets it done by 13.
SEC Championship Game #2 LSU (12-0) 31, #4 Georgia (11-1) 14: The Georgia defense hasn’t given up more than 20 points in a game all season. There’s a first time for everything. LSU wins and Joe Burrow cements his figure four leg lock on the Heisman Trophy.
Mountain West Championship Game #19 Boise State (11-1) 47, Hawaii (9-4) 28: Boise State is praying for Cincinnati to whack Memphis in the AAC Championship Game, which would probably make the Broncos the top team from the Group of Five and send them to the Cotton Bowl.
Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game #3 Clemson (12-0) 42, #23 Virginia (9-3) 10: This will get ugly early. When it comes to the College Football Playoff, Clemson is the elephant in the room, the team that absolutely nobody wants to play. The defense is better than last year and Dabo says Trevor Lawrence is light years better. Poor Virginia.
Big Ten Championship Game #1 Ohio State (12-0) 31, #8 Wisconsin (10-2) 17: The last time these two met, Ohio State clobbered Wisconsin 38-7. That was in Columbus. It’s on a neutral field Saturday night so it will be a closer final score but the outcome will be the same.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF Alabama (10-2): At a Thursday press conference, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, recovering from surgery on a dislocated hip, said it would be “tough to pass up” the NFL if he knew he would be a top ten or top 15 draft pick. Whether he returns to Alabama or declares for the NFL is still up in the air. “It’s something I still need to sit down and talk to my family about,” Tagovailoa said.
Auburn (9-3): Sophomore linebacker Michael Harris, who appeared in 11 games in 2019, announced that he’s leaving the team.
FLORIDA (10-2): Kyle Trask has been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2019 Manning Award. It is the only quarterback award that takes into consideration each candidate’s performance in the bowl game. Trask has thrown for 2,636 yards and 24 touchdowns this season with nine consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes.
Georgia (11-1): Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship was selected SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He has a 3.65 GPA while pursuing a master’s degree in journalism.
Kentucky (7-5): Lynn Bowden Jr. has a difficult decision facing him. Does he declare for the NFL where he will project as a wide receiver or does he return to Kentucky and play quarterback? Before he switched to quarterback out of necessity, Bowden was Kentucky’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 348 yards and a touchdown. As the QB, he led the Wildcats to a 5-2 record and ran for 1,235 yards and 11 touchdowns … Former Auburn backup QB Joey Gatewood announced he will transfer to UK. He will have to sit 2020 but will have two years of eligibility remaining.
LSU (12-0): Joe Burrow has been named winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, probably the first of four major awards he’ll win including the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award.
Mississippi State (6-6): The Bulldogs are being projected to face Louisville (7-5) in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Tennessee (7-5): Wide receiver Jauan Jennings has been suspended for the first half of the Vols bowl game for a flagrant personal foul in the regular season finale against Vanderbilt. In that game, Jennings appeared to deliberately step on the head of a helmet-less Vanderbilt player.
Texas A&M (7-5): Redshirt junior offensive lineman Kellen Diesch and junior running back Jacob Kibodi have entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal.
GOOD QUOTES FOR FRIDAY
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports on Clay Helton being retained as the football coach at Southern California: “It helped Helton tremendously that he’s been a paragon of class through a chaotic time in both the athletic department and university. New president Carol Folt has had to navigate scandals on the academic side of campus, and the athletic department has been reeling from the fallout of being directly involved in two separate federal investigations. Those included USC athletics playing a central role in the Operation Varsity Blues admission scandal and former men’s basketball assistant coach Tony Bland, pleading guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit bribery.”
Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated on the possibility of Utah and the Pac-12 getting into this year’s College Football Playoff: “It’s been three years since a team from west of Norman, Okla., made the field. In three of the five playoff interations, the Pac-12 has been left out. This is a national sport, with national interest and it would be better if the playoff is national in scope and not a regional tussle that excludes a huge swath of the country.”
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF Thursday’s games Louisiana Tech 74, Mississippi State (6-2) 67 #14 Auburn (8-0) 81, Furman 78 (OT)
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Cam Newton has probably played his final game with the Carolina Panthers. He will be in the final year of his contract extension next year and there is no guaranteed money so he’s likely to be traded … The New York Yankees are prepared to offer American League Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole a deal that exceeds the seven-year, $217 million deal the Boston Red Sox gave David Price four years ago.