Basketball in Florida

NCAA Tournament proving Florida not just a football state

 

The noise UF, UM and FGCU have made in the Tournament, coupled with the Heat’s winning streak has put the state on the basketball map.

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

Who said Florida was a football state?

Don’t tell that to the three Florida schools that are making noise in the NCAA Tournament. Throw in the NBA’s Miami Heat and their 26-game winning, and basketball fever is at an all-time high in the Sunshine State.

“We’re not just a football state,” declared Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin after Florida advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 78-64 victory over Minnesota. “With Miami doing great this year, and us, and Florida Gulf Coast, we’re doing great.”

Said UF’s Casey Prather: “We definitely won’t get treated like second-class citizens, not anymore, because of the state’s success.”

The Gators believe the perception of Florida being nothing more than a football state is beginning to change. Not only did the Gators win back-to-back national titles in 2006 and ’07, but some of the state’s other schools are starting to get noticed.

Miami won the ACC championship, and beat the school’s football team to the punch. Now comes Florida Gulf Coast, a 15th seed that has become a national darling by knocking off heavily favored Georgetown and San Diego State.

Because the Eagles have captured the fascination of the nation, the Gators could feel like outsiders when they face them in Dallas on Friday. The crowd could be cheering for the young upstarts from Fort Myers.

Not that it will seem unfamiliar to the Gators.

“When we go into places like Tennessee or Kentucky, that’s basically the whole country against you, their fans,” said UF guard Kenny Boynton. “But Florida Gulf Coast … hey, they’ve surprised some teams.”

Boynton, who is from Pompano Beach and played at Blanche Ely High School, said he doesn’t think basketball in Florida has been nearly as inferior as others from around the country might think.

“Me, being from Florida, I’m biased,” Boynton said. “I’d say we’ve always been a basketball state. But, for the rest of the world, we haven’t been. Florida is having a good year with the Florida schools. Hopefully we keep it up and change the world’s opinion about Florida being a football state.”

Florida center Patric Young said that could still take some more time, despite the recent success.

“We’ve proven ourselves so much in football that basketball gets overshadowed a little bit, even though basketball does pretty well,” Young said. “If we keep this going for a couple of years, then we can say Florida is a state that can play basketball.”

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FIU Panthers’ Alex McGough (12) carries the ball against Pittsburgh during their football game Saturday, September 13, 2014 at FIU Stadium in Miami.

    FIU Football

    FIU Panthers freshman duo find rhythm on offense

    This freshman Alex on whom the FIU football offense relies rooms with that freshman Alex on whom the FIU football offense relies. Both came to FIU knowing they would have a chance to be where they are now.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Tough road:</span> Hurricanes linebacker Denzel Perryman (52), with Thurston Armbrister, relishes the challenge of playing in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday. ‘I can’t wait for this matchup.’

    UM Football

    Miami Hurricanes show no fear of going to Nebraska

    UM’s defense, better statistically this season after three games, is going into Saturday’s game against Nebraska’s explosive offense confident it can hold its own

  •  
UM quarterback Gray Crow is shown during the team's spring scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

    UM notebook

    Gray Crow moves back to quarterback for University of Miami

    “No, it’s not easy,” Golden said of Crow’s situation. “The idea behind the move back in July was give him an opportunity to play, based on our depth at quarterback. We were hoping he could help us at H-back, at fullback, at long-snapper or in some way on special teams. He talked to us [Tuesday] and we moved him back.”

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category