Kan Li / Scout

Florida Gators preparing to press

The pace of practice has surprised some Florida players this season.

Mike White’s style of basketball is aggressive. When the Gators get the ball, he wants them to run it up the floor and move quickly. After they make a basket, there will be a lot of times when the Gators are in a full-court press.

The first-year coaching staff inherited an athletic team that should thrive in the press. The Gators aren’t short on long, athletic wings that can get up the floor and eliminate passing lanes with their long arms. White’s plan is to use his team’s athleticism to their advantage and try to create chaos for opponents with the press.

The first press that was installed in practice was more familiar to the players than it was to the coaches. While watching film from last year’s team, White noticed how well former coach Billy Donovan’s ‘man-to-man, run and jump’ press worked for Florida. White called his team’s press “very much a work in progress” as they continue to practice, but he expects them to be a good pressing team this season.

“We hope one of them becomes a bread and butter for us, but what our strengths are in terms of presses or even if pressing itself is a strength and something we're going to sell out to,” White said. “We're pretty optimistic we can be a good pressing team, but again we're trying to steal some of the concepts from Coach Donovan and his staff with his man-to-man run and jump.”

Using Donovan’s press is only part of what White and his staff have installed. They had success at Louisiana Tech with zone pressing, and that will also be something the Gators use this season. The most important part of practicing the press is finding which one Florida uses best. They’ll mix it up during games, but when it’s late in a close game and the Gators need to force a turnover, White wants to have one that works the best.

If the first half of preseason practices is any indication, the Gators are optimistic about the impact their press can have.

"Oh, it’s going to be great,” Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez said. “We want to play fast. One of the things I think we want to do is slow (the opponent) down and have a fast tempo. When the (opponent) comes back into the half court, they’re only going to have 19, 18 seconds. That’s what we’re trying to do."

Florida forward Devin Robinson added, “It’s going to be a big weapon. There’s a lot of smaller guards and he puts the bigger guys in the front, so you can’t really see up the court. So it’s going to create a lot of problems in the press.” 

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