Wise Words on UConn

Mark Wise joins us again with his insider knowledge on the Florida basketball team to answer questions about Saturday's Final Four match up with UConn. The Gators are in their first Final Four in seven years and are facing a familiar foe in UConn. The Huskies are one of only two teams to beat Florida in the 2013-2014 season and the last one to beat Florida on December 2, 2013.

A color analyst for college basketball for Gator Basketball, ESPN, FOX and others Mark Wise goes in-depth with his analysis on the game and his answers from our subscribers here at FightinGators.com.

For clarity, here is a list and statistics of the probable starters for both teams…

Connecticut

G Shabazz Napier (Sr., 6-1, 180) 18.1 PPG, 5.9 Reb., 4.8 Asst.
G Ryan Boatright (Jr., 6-0, 168) 12.0 PPG, 3.4 Reb., 3.4 Asst.

F DeAndre Daniels (Jr., 6-9, 195) 13.0 PPG, 5.9 Reb.
F Niels Giffey (Sr., 6-7, 205) 8.2 PPG, 3.0 Reb.
C Phillip Nolan (So., 6-10, 212) 3.5 PPG, 2.4 Reb.

Florida

G Scottie Wilbekin (Sr., 6-2, 176) 13.1 PPG; 3.9 Assists.
G Michael Frazier II (So., 6-4, 199) 13.1 PPG; 3.5 Reb.
F Casey Prather (Sr., 6-6, 212) 14.2 PPG; 4.9 Reb.
F Will Yeguete (Sr., 6-8, 230) 4.9 PPG; 5.1 Reb.
F Patric Young (Sr., 6-9, 240) 10.9 PPG; 6.3 Reb.

Here some questions we offered Mark Wise.

Q. Both UConn and Florida are not the same teams that met in early December. Daniels, Giffey and Kromah seem much better and UF has improved, as well as getting back Chris Walker and Kasey Hill. Which team has come farther and how will it affect the outcome of the game?

Mark Wise: "I think they have tweaked their lineup and who gets minutes, but it is basically the same team and same sill set. I think there is familiarity in terms of who can do what, but from a team standpoint both teams have changed a little bit, certainly Florida has.

"The obvious one is that Florida didn't have as many bodies. Kasey Hill dodn't play because of injury, Chris Walker wasn't eligible. They basically played six guys and Dorian Finney-Smth did not play as well in the game. If you are looking at which team has changed more form the first game to this game it is Florida."

Q. Do you think DeVon Walker will be used some on Napier to bother him with length?

Mark Wise: "That could be a possibility, but I don't know who can guard Napier. He has almost been un-guardable in the NCAA Tournament. It doesn't seem to bother him whether he has length on him or not because he can kind of push you back a half step and shoot that—I don't want to call it a fall away three—but it is certainly is leaning back and almost impossible to get to. He does it with speed and does it with NBA range. So, from that standpoint, the argument is the same a lot of caches have to ask and that is do you try and slow him down or slow down others.

"The coach in me says you try to do a little of both. I know that UConn made 11 three's in the first game and if they make 11 three's in this one Florida will be in trouble. But, they got a lot of three's off of kick outs and dribble penetration. I think Florida is better at denying that now than back then, of course they have more bodies. UConn gave them trouble, especially in the back court. The lack of bodies early on and 30 games later, Florida is better defensively.

Q. How is UConn a better team than the last time Florida played them?

Mark Wise: "I think they are better because Deandre Daniels is playing dynamite in the NCAA Tournament. He is averaging like 17 a game, which is better than his seasonal average. Giffey in the starting lineup gives them an instant three-[point threat as a third shooter out there. They do a lot of pick-and-pop with both of those guys, Daniels is also not afraid to take the three. They have four legitimate three-point shooters in their starting lineup and that is pretty impressive.

Q. Have the Gators improved enough in their three-point defense to where that can be a difference?

Mark Wise: "The first half of the season you almost have to chalk it up to what happened in each individual game because the lineup was always different. There was never any continuity and continuity is just as important on defense as it is on offense.

"Until the Dayton game, over the previous eight games they had some ridiculous number for defending the three at 22.5%... now Dayton made a number of three's and they fell back into their earlier season form. They have gotten significantly better at guarding the arc, but when you play a team like team like UConn that has multiple threats, it becomes a more difficult task."

How much of an edge does last years' experience in Jerry's World bring for the Gators especially for shooters?

Mark Wise: "You would like to think it would be an advantage, just the familiarity with how the court is laid out and the enormity of the building. Everyone talks about the difficulty of shooting in domes and I know there is statistical data to back it up, but in the SEC Tournament, not only did Florida shoot the ball lights out, I think they were 47% form the arc in the dome, but a lot of teams shot the ball well. I don't know what to attribute that to, but I think playing here last year and playing in the Georgia Dome a few weeks would help as well.

Q. Do you expect UF to go inside to Young and via the drive to score early because of the back drops for shooters?

Mark Wise: "I think Florida will try and dominate block to block. UConn is a much better defensive team than they were the first time around. A lot of that has to do with Boatright because he is kind of a ball-hawking guard, plays in passing lanes, and gets out and creates a few steals here and there. I do think they are better defensively, but I think Florida will try and pound the ball inside either with Patric Young touches or getting on the offensive glass."

Q. What are the keys to winning the game for Florida?

Mark Wise: "I think first and foremost you have to guard the arc. UConn is making 8.5 three's per game in the NCAA Tournament. They have a variety of guys that are knocking them down. If you were asking me for a number, I would say seven or fewer. If they can hold them to seven or fewer three-pointers that is a recipe for success."

"When you get to this point there are a lot of keys. Teams are really, really good. Aty the end of the day, you have to make shots. Coaches can harp all they want about defending and rebounding. If you ask any of the coaches here about what they have to do, they will say they have to defend and rebound. At the end of the day, you have to make shots, because the last time I checked there are just as many offensive possessions as defensive possessions.


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