The College Basketball Notebook

November 11, 2010 7:16 AM

SEC Overview

BillyDonovanAndFloridaAreBack.jpg It's been a tough ride for the Florida basketball program since they scaled the heights in winning back-to-back national titles in 2006-07. They missed the NCAA Tournament entirely the following two years and lost in the first round last year. This year is time for Billy Donovan to return his team to the national elite. He brings back all five starters, built around a quality backcourt with Kenny Boynton and Ervin Walker. The forward tandem of Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons is equally potent. The Gators showed flashes of potential all last season, but inexperience kept them from ever putting it all together. Now they're seasoned, they have the talent and they have a coach who knows how to win championships. Florida hoops is back with a vengeance.

The Gator resurgence is going to be made all the easier by the fact this is a conference in complete rebuilding mode. Kentucky lost everyone from the team that dominated the SEC and reached the East Regional final a year ago. John Calipari continues to stock up on blue-chip recruits, with Brandon Knight being the latest gem. So we can't write the Wildcats off, but there's a big gap between them and Florida as the season gets underway. Elsewhere in the league, the story is also about who's missing. Tennessee lost Wayne Chism, their big post presence as they came within a basket of the Final Four. LSU loses power forward Tasmin Mitchell and guard Bo Spencer. Vanderbilt is missing Jermaine Beal in the backcourt and A.J. Oglivy at center. South Carolina lost Devan Downey, perhaps the conference's MVP last year. It's such a state of flux that teams who just return one or two component parts can move up quickly in the league race. Hence, we keep an eye on Georgia & Alabama, with great power forwards in Trey Thompkins and JaMychal Green respectively. And Arkansas with Marshawn Powell down on the blocks.

Ultimately though, November and December in the SEC are going to be about watching coaches fit new pieces in place and see who can do it the quickest. Florida is the only real constant this league has as the season tips off.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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