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Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Werner takes on role of Gators' most hateable player

One of my very favorite comedians is the late Rodney Dangerfield, who always complained he never got any respect.

After a few road games in the Southeastern Conference, I'm betting that the young Gators are grasping that concept.

But earlier this week, UF coach Billy Donovan said getting ripped by fans is one of the best forms of flattery.

"They're not doing it to bad players," Donovan said. "I think you have to keep it in perspective of the player. If they're doing that, then chances are you're pretty good."

While all players suffer some jabs, every team has that one guy - the one who stands out from all the rest to take the most hate.

And after attending Wednesday night's South Carolina game, I think I figured out who this year's target is - Thunder Dan.

Yes, it seems that Dan Werner is this season's Joakim Noah, taken down a couple notches.

Every time Noah entered an arena last year, I heard the chant: "NO-AH'S UG-LY" or the ridiculously popular "Noah's gay."

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of sitting in front of two strapping Gamecocks gentlemen who proceeded to scream throughout the entire night, "You're trash, Werner" and "Werner, you're so ugly."

I'm not even going to touch on the fact that the originality of the SEC astounds me.

Werner, who was around last year to hear all the negativity aimed at Noah, acknowledged that he's noticed the taunts are starting to be directed more his way.

Still, he modestly declined to acknowledge that it has any correlation with his skill.

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"[Even though] my name is on the back of my jersey, I don't think they really know who I am," Werner said in between gulps of his Gatorade. "They can't even read my name. They're calling me something else."

But there were hardly any jeers at Marreese Speights, only one mention of Chandler Parsons' baby face (they said he looked like he was 8) and zilch about Nick Calathes.

It looks like Dan's their man, and all I have to say is it's about time.

I spent the better part of last year and the earlier part of this season defending my and my father's faith in Werner's capabilities and skills on the court.

Editors note: Mr. Marina has repeatedly compared Werner to NBA legend Larry Bird.

True, Werner didn't have a particularly great shooting night at 3-for-10 against South Carolina, but he hit a big three when it counted in addition to the four steals he snatched.

He produces consistently, he has amazing court vision and the Gators gain something from his scrappy and energetic presence on the floor - sound familiar?

Noah used to shout "Keep hatin'" when the Gators were making their way through March Madness last year, and Werner might as well adopt the mantra.

Now that he's finally getting insulted, he's finally getting some respect.

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