Florida guard Chris Chiozza (11) walks off the court after scoring the game-winning shot against Wisconsin in overtime of an East Regional semifinal game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 25, 2017, in New York. Florida won 84-83.

Emotions still high in wee hours Saturday

Pat Dooley Staff writer
Saturday, March 25, 2017 10:01 PM

NEW YORK CITY — This won’t come as a surprise, but Chris Chiozza had a difficult time falling asleep Saturday morning.

The Gator basketball team didn’t get back to its hotel until around 2:30 a.m. after its late night at Madison Square Garden and Chiozza’s game-winning shot.

So he watched a movie — “Neighbors.”

Not the awful one from the 1980s, but the more recent one with Seth Rogan.

As a result, he was a sleepy-eyed hero Saturday as the Gators hit the court for a practice in between their Sweet 16 miracle and the Elite Eight game against South Carolina.

“I’m not sure Chris has even slept yet,” said Florida coach Mike White.

Kasey Hill said he didn’t get to sleep until 5 a.m. Some of the players put their nodding off time closer to 3:30.

But there they were on Saturday, back at it. Better to be tired than to be well-rested back in Gainesville.

“If we had lost,” said forward Devin Robinson, “we’d have probably been on the earliest flight home.”

But they did not and they live to see another day and another game. So do the Gamecocks, who played the earlier game Friday but still have to turn around and play again.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin has been through what Florida is dealing with when he was at Kansas State in 2010.

“Less than 36 hours after we arrived in our hotel, we were back playing Butler,” Martin said. “We slept walked the whole first half.”

The difference for the two teams today is that Florida was extended to overtime on Friday night, while South Carolina had a relatively easy time in dispatching Baylor.

“Already worried, not going to lie to you,” White said, “about where our emotions and our level of mental and physical fatigue. And the first thing I asked the guys this morning at breakfast, 'hey, how do you feel?'

“'Man, my legs are killing me. I’m tired.' And I’m sure South Carolina feels that way as well.”

One of the things White did when the team arrived back at the Grand Hyatt was to tell the players to shut down their phones.

“It started on the bus (Friday) night,” White said. “As soon as we pulled up to the hotel, ‘Guys we’re not going to go watch film right now. We’re not going to meet. I want you in bed as soon as possible. I don't want to threaten to take your cell phones away, but we got to turn them off. We all have a couple of hundred texts. Let’s return them on Sunday night. Let’s go to sleep.’ ”

After a game like Friday night’s that was easier said than done.

“I tried to get my rest,” Chiozza said. “It was tough though. It was exciting. So I just tried my best to get off my feet and just lay in bed and try to fall asleep.”




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