Florida is due for better luck next season, and so are four others
The two biggest memories of the 2009-10 Florida Gators are
So it's safe to assume Florida was pretty lucky last season, right? Statistically speaking, not even close.
In fact, according to
Credit the national perspective on the Gators, then, to a more traditional syndrome: selective memory.
"I think those were such big plays and big wins," Parsons said by phone Monday of his shots and point guard
This season, the Gators look primed to take their first real strides backs toward the level of the illustrious "'Oh-Fours," who set the table for what many believed would be an extended run of national prominence. Florida returns all five starters from last season's 21-win team and adds a handful of talented freshmen to the mix. The most crucial newbie is forward
"We have someone coming in at every position pushing the guy in front of them," said Parsons. "Just because all five starters are returning doesn't mean they're going to start this year. If coach decides to go with Pat or another freshman and that's going to put our team in the best chance of winning, I think we have guys who are willing to do that."
You'd expect the incumbents will get the first crack, though, so it will help if talented-but-erratic sophomore shooting guard
Improvement in Boynton's jumper (and shot selection) would help bring the Gators' numbers back closer in line with a typical
"It's going to have to start with defense," Parsons said. "Our team is really going to have to lock up and improve on our defense this year. We know we can have guys who can score and put the ball in the basket."
If things break right for the Gators, they should find themselves in far fewer close games this season, which is key because blowouts help marginalize luck. After two seasons of relatively bad fortune and with the talent now on hand, simply needing no luck would be a welcome development in Gainesville.
Florida is not the only team that got a bit less than its fair share record-wise last season. While the pool of candidates for 2010-11 isn't as robust as some past years (with last season's Georgetown and Georgia Tech and 2008's Missouri, Illinois and LSU as prime examples), here are four other teams that could see an improvement in the win column with some better luck and growth in their personnel:
If -- and these are two big ifs -- a trimmer
Anyone who followed the A-10 last season knows how many close games the Flyers dropped on their way to missing the NCAAs. Anyone who saw Dayton subsequently win the postseason NIT knows how much talent was on the roster. The primary cause of those league pratfalls was Dayton's sloppiness with the ball (turnovers on 21.4 percent of possessions), a carelessness that often seeped into game-deciding possessions. Now, two of the leading offenders -- point guards
The Illini pretty much return everyone from a team that was mildly unlucky last year, finishing about a game and a half worse than expected, which likely cost them an NCAA tournament bid. Do-it-all guard
The Nittany Lions went 3-15 in the Big Ten last year with a points-per-possession margin of -0.07 after going 10-8 the year before with a margin of -0.04. Overall, Penn State finished nearly five games worse than expected last season, making it the second-most unlucky team in Division I. The young Nittany Lions did some things very well. They led Division I in defensive rebounding percentage and very rarely put people on the free-throw line, both of which are strong positive defensive indicators. They didn't block any shots or force many turnovers, though, which means opponents simply got too many good looks at the rim to overcome. Penn State won't be an NCAA team, but with star guard