Ball security big for Gator basketball

Mike White called it early in the year and before the season. The Florida head basketball coach said his first Gator team looked to be very good defensively this season but were going to have to find their way on offense through the season. We are starting to see some sparks along those lines, and a lack of turnovers is really helping the cause.

This version of the Gator basketball program plays the game frantic. Up and down the court they run and run and run, until they hope the other team can’t run any more.

They try and utilize the pace of the game and get points in transition, especially at this point when the ball doesn’t easily go in the basket. But, such a quick pace can lead to many turnovers as we saw early in the year.

The staff has spent time correcting that issue and now the Gators are tops in the league, turning the ball over fewer than anyone else. It is something they can handle as they still try to find their way offensively.

“More than anything our guys have embraced that as something we can control,” White said of the turnover stat.  (It is) one of our offensive strengths as we search throughout this process for an identity offensively.”

On Saturday the gators beat Georgia handily at home and the turnovers got away from them a little bit, but White is slowly seeing his team turn the corner on offense and start to do some nice things.

“Saturday was one of our best performances against a team that is very good defensively year in and year out,” he said. “It was actually one of our worst games in terms of throwing the ball around like we were early in the season. If you could take away some of those turnovers and maybe some more made free throws it would have been one of our best offensive performances.

“Our guys have been good about just valuing the ball, making sound decisions. Another one of our strengths is to press the offensive glass. We have the length and size for that. (Not turning the ball over) needs to be continue to be one of our strengths.”

The Gators have had a few games this year that got away from them in the end. Before the Georgia game, they had a chance to beat Florida State at home and that one fell by the wayside after a not so great finish. The Georgia contest was different where the Gators got a big lead, gave up a little bit of it, but then closed for a 12 point victory and a solid conference opening decision.

“I thought it was really important the way that we finished it,” White said. “We had some adversity with Devin going out and a couple of guys out. We had some foul issue s in the first half. I thought that a lot of guys made contributions. John Egbunu of course had a good game, KeVaughn of course had another good game, and Chris Chiozza had a good game. To finish strong against a very quality opponent should only give us confidence moving forward.”

Chiozza has been solid for Florida for most of the season. The point guard has really grown as a player from his freshman year and has become an all-around player for the Gators.

“He’s been really sound,” White said. “Chris has been really good defensively. He’s getting his hands on basketballs He’s attacking the paint. He’s getting guys shots. Some of the post feeds that John Egbunu caught deep were from Chris. He executes our stuff. Like KeVaughn, he’s an even keel high intensity guy consistently. He’s having a good year. There are some things he’ll continue to get better at… shooting as good percentage, making good decisions. He’s playing well right now for us.

“I like the speed and quickness and his ball handling ability. I thought with us pressing a little bit more it might be advantageous for him and Kasey to be able to utilize their speed and quickness. After Chris’ first few workouts with us I was surprised how well he shot the basketball. Not that he didn’t shoot it well last year or show on film that he didn’t have a nice stroke. I thought he was a really good shooter and has been that way for us… as consistent a shooter as we have. We will urge him to be aggressive we want him to shoot the basketball when he is open.


Injury to Devin Robinson doesn’t sound serious…

White talked about Devin Robinson as a guy that was really stepping up and playing well also. The sophomore forward can do a lot of things on the floor, but had to leave the game early on Saturday with a chest injury. From the sounds of it, Robinson should be back very soon.

“He’s day to day right now,” White said. “We might know more by today, but it is just a chest contusion.” 

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