Mike White continues to harp that he has an overall young team. Lots of freshmen and sophomores and first year division one players are on the court talking up the most minutes. Knowing that, the Gators should be getting more consistent play in some areas of the game as they progress through the season. White says he is seeing that.
“I do think we are a lot more consistent than we were earlier in the year,” White said following hi team’s 81-78 win over Mississippi State Tuesday night that allowed Florida to move to 4-2 in conference play. “I think Dorian has helped with that. Dorian is now a guy that I feel like night in and night out I know what we will get. I thought Chris Chiozza struggled tonight, but other than tonight he was another guy that was as consistent as anyone else. Justin Leon we know what we are going to get from an energy and consistency standpoint.
“In our guys defense again we aren’t overly experienced. We have seven new players. Dorian is the only senior that we’re playing. Consistency with the approach to practice and scouting reports, consistency defensively, consistency with free throws, consistency with making three’s, we are streaky with all of it.”
One area he would like to be more consistent is in turnovers. It was a point of concern very early in the season, then his team made a conscience effort to fix the problem. They went on a tear and were one of the top teams in the country in terms of few turnovers. But, since conference play started, the Gators are averaging 13.5 turnovers per game and way too many live-ball turnovers for White’s comfort.
“In the first half the live ball turnovers led them to making 14 points,” he said of the Mississippi State contest. “We can’t do that. It is like 3-4 games in a row now, we can’t do that.”
“We started the season in the first 4-5-6 games chunking the ball all over the gym. Then we went 8-9 games where our turnover percentage offensively was off the charts, we were making great decisions. Our numbers nationally were pretty good. For whatever reasons in the last few games we have gotten back to throwing the ball to the wrong jersey.”
The need to press…
For White it is all going to be about the matchup whether they decide to press a team full court or not. With the Bulldogs four-guard lineup Tuesday he didn’t think it made sense until certain situations. He still sees that being a key ingredient of his team’s future down the road.
“Our press has been really good at home,” White said. “We came off a game when we didn’t press because Stafon Moody (Ole Miss) is so good in the open floor. We didn’t press at all in Oxford.
“Coming into this one with them starting four guards and as good as these guys are in the open floor and in transition offense, I was concerned with the press. Maybe the lack of energy in the first couple of minutes had to do with the fact that we didn’t start the press. I’ve got to evaluate that.
“I know when Craig Sword went out of the game, we thought, ‘let’s try it now’. Then when Craig Sword does get back in the game, he went one-on-five and went and got a basket. He’s unbelievably fast. He got right to the rim in a couple of seconds and he got us out of the press in a hurry.
Momentum from two wins in a row?
The Gators hadn’t won back-to-back games since the November 27 – December 1, combo of Florida Gulf Coast and Richmond. This is the first two-game winning streak in SEC play. They just haven’t been able to handle success after a successful outing and honestly almost let one that shouldn’t get away, do so.
The consistency mentioned above is needed and the guys just need to maintain a high level of energy and focus in order to keep things going.
“We’ll take one opponent and scouting report at a time,” White said about continuing any kind of streak. “The charge for this team and charge as a coach is to have your team max out.
“We are all looking to achieve that level where we are as good offensively as we can be and making shots, in a good rhythm and not turning the ball over, and defensively playing at as high a level as we can and to do all those things consistently. For us, the way we defended in Oxford and then we shot it over the last couple of games, outside of the turnovers, that is the aim. Can we get that one game? That is what we are looking for. If we can get that, maybe we can string together a few. Like most teams we are streaky and inconsistent in most areas.”