Mike White focused on the game at Ole Miss

The story line is nice. New Florida head coach Mike White heads back to the school he played for and coached at for the first time to take on his old team. But, for Mike White and the Florida Gators there is business to take care of.

Florida Gators (10-6, 2-2) vs Ole Miss Rebels (12-4, 2-2)

Saturday, January 16, 2016; 8:00 p.m.

Oxford, Mississippi; The Pavilion at Ole Miss


For Mike White, this is much more than going back to a place where he played college ball. He also coached at Ole Miss as an assistant for seven years, five of which were current Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy.

Despite all of that, White says that he is staying up late at night trying to figure out how to stop senior guard Stafon Moody and the rest of the Rebels.

“It will be interesting,” White told the Florida media on Thursday. “I haven’t experienced anything like this, it is very unique. I don’t know what to think. It’s going to be odd. I’m excited to go back, but I have a Stafon Moody headache. I am more nerve-racked about how to defend that guy and this team and really any one of Andy’s teams. He is a terrific offensive coach and terrific motivator. They are always going to be prepared.

“They’re a good team who is undefeated at home who is playing their third game in a brand new beautiful facility.”

That brand new arena is evidently something else, a $96 million facility that is state of the art and far from the old Tad Smith Coliseum that sits dormant on campus now. White said he spent most of his personal time working on his game in the old building


“That’s where I lived when I wasn’t in class,” he said. “It’s shut down of course. I may make a trip over there and try and get a couple of shots up. It will be neat to be back on campus.”

There are a lot of old stories about the old fabled gym, lots of jokes people used to make about the place.

“I didn’t know better as an 18-22 year old. We loved it and appreciated it. It seemed to be the brunt of a bunch of jokes from other coaches in the league and the media in the league. I have a lot of great memories there.”

White is also very fond of Kennedy. The coach at Ole Miss in his 10th season with the Rebels has a 204-118 mark at the school.

“Andy is a terrific communicator first and foremost,” White said. “He’s a really good motivator, but when I talk about communication, for the most part, I am talking about how well he teaches and gets his points across. He’s very articulate, very consistent with his intensity level in practice. He’s good with defining roles and always finds a way to get his guys going offensively and be one of the better offensive teams in the league.

“He’s a relentless recruiter. He’s an 18 hour-a-day guy and has a big time motor as a coach.

“There is so much that I learned and just being around and a lot of times things just rub off without you even knowing it. There are a lot of things that I am sure I do or say or certain ways that I teach or act that probably came from ‘AK’ without even realizing it.”

As for Kennedy’s team, defending them starts and pretty much ends with Stafon Moody. Scoring 24.4 points a game, the senior guard leads the SEC in that category whole also dishing out over four assists per game.

“He’s really good, really fast, and really quick,” White said of Moody. “He shoots the heck out of it. When he gets off the bus he’s in range. They do a good job of getting him looks. The guys around him understand that their roles are to get Stafon as many shots as possible. They get offensive rebounds off of him, they screen for him, they pass it to him, and they run good actions to get him good looks.

“He’s really flourished at the point guard position. He’s been incredible coming off of ball screens and makes good decisions. He’s arguably the best scorer in college basketball. Pound for pound, I know he’s the best scorer. For a little guy he’s phenomenal.”

The Gators enter the game with the SEC’s top defense and his team prides itself on playing that side of the ball. As for defending Moody, White says that it can’t be a one man show, the entire team has to be mindful of the different things he can do.

“It’s going to take a great effort from whoever gets in the game to always know exactly where he is and what our responsibilities are, just to slow him down a little bit,” White said.

As far as how to guard him, you can’t be too aggressive.

“We have studied a bunch of numbers from all of their wins and losses,” White said. “In terms of in their wins this is how many shots he has gotten off, this is how many free throws he’s gotten off, this is how many fouls he’s drawn. You can study all of those numbers to death. I know you have to do a good job on Moody and do a good job on the other guys. I think they’re capable of winning either way. You just have to pay attention to all of it. I don’t think we could lock in on one thing.

“If we try to hold Moody to only getting 8-10 shots, we could do that, but he’s probably likely to get 15 free throws. His ability to draw fouls is incredible, especially off of ball screens. He seeks contact, draws contact, while maintaining his handle and making good decisions.

“At the same time, you have 2-3 other guys in some of their better offensive outputs, 2-3 of their guys stepped up and hit 2-3 three’s a piece. I’m not sure he gets 24 every single night, but numbers tell you it is almost impossible to keep him from getting 20.”

The Gators face another stern test and their second in a row on the road. They have managed to win or play very close to winning in all of their recent games except the road loss in Knoxville 10 days ago. They will have to keep up their work ethic to come away with a win in Oxford.


Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.



F Justin Leon (JR)

6-8, 196



F Dorian Finney-Smith (SR)

6-8, 220



C John Egbunu (SO)

6-11, 255



G KeVaughn Allen (FR)

6-2, 183



G Chris Chiozza (SO)

6-0, 175




Ole MIss Projected Starters




F Sebastian Saiz (JR)

6-9, 240



F Anthony Perez (SR)

6-9, 226



G Martavious Newby (FR)

6-3, 218



G Rasheed Brooks (JR)

6-5, 201



G Stefan Moody (SR)

5-11, 179



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