Kan Li / Scout

Florida Gators need more from point guards

Florida point guards Chris Chiozza and Kasey Hill need to improve quickly for the Gators.

Shooting issues have been the most important factor in Florida’s offensive struggles, but subpar point guard play isn’t helping. 

Kasey Hill’s athleticism was a major reason he came to Florida as a five-star recruit. The 6-1, 180-pounder is electric in the open floor, challenging even some of the best defensive guards in the country. It’s the rest of his game that needs work, and there hasn’t been a lot of it that has improved since Hill came to Florida.

Eight games into this season, his field goal percentage is three points lower than either of his first two seasons on campus. After shooting 52.6 percent from the free throw line last year, he has upped it to 57.1 percent, still far too low for a point guard. Even with his elite quickness, Hill has struggled to finish when he gets to the rim.

“I thought he took good shots, just didn’t convert,” Florida coach Mike White said of Hill’s 1-7 performance in a loss at Miami on Tuesday. “He made a couple of decisions, I know, he wished we had back, offensively and defensively, a couple of fouls.” 

Behind Hill, White said Chris Chiozza has been solid this season. The sophomore is shooting 44.1 percent (15-34) from the field and 42.9 percent (9-21) from behind the three-point line. His 23-9 assist-to-turnover ratio is better than Hill’s 25-14. White said Chiozza still can improve in multiple areas, but he’s proud of the season his sophomore is having.

Could that lead to lineup changes? White didn’t rule it out before Florida heads to face No. 1 Michigan State on Saturday at 6 p.m.

“We’re always contemplating changing lineups, probably will have some changes as we head to Michigan State and probably just try something new coming off a game that we didn’t play very well,” White said.

The first-year Florida coach said both point guards have played better in practice than they have in games. The goal is to get that to show up in games, something White took responsibility for and said the staff has to find ways to get it done.

But ultimately, it falls on the shoulders of the Florida point guards to help set up the offense for more success than they have through the first eight games this year.

“We knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight,” White said. “A lot of it is just decision making offensively and defensively. Those are things that are happening right now with our point guards that are happening with other guys as well. Offensively, we a miss cutter every now and then, going fast when I wish we’d go a little slower, and going slower when I wish we’d push it.

“These guys are playing for a new coach, new staff. It’s the hardest position to play. Both these guys, Chris and Kasey, are great young men. They’re awesome guys to be around that want to win and are very receptive to everything we have to say. They’re both going to [practice] for an hour and a half today or two hours, they’ll work really hard.”

The hope remains that they’ll break out of their funk and be able to transition better play into game situations.

“They’re better players than they’re showing,” White said. “We’re better shooters than we’re shooting right now. We have faith that we’ll be better offensively in a month than we are now.” 

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