Gators prepare for Press-Virginia

The Florida Gators will have their hands full Saturday at noon in Gainesville as they take on Bob Huggins and the 9th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers

 Florida Gators (13-7, 5-3 SEC) vs #9 West Virginia Mountaineers (17-3, 6-2 BIG 12)

Saturday, January 30, 2016; NOON.

Gainesville, Florida; O’Connell Center


To hear Florida head coach Mike White talk about it, the Gators may not have much of a chance to get a shot off. Heck, they might not be able to inbound the ball to their own teammate as good as the defense is for the Mountaineers.

“Getting the ball inbounds… period,” White said when pressed on an offensive key to the game. “We can’t talk about formations and responsibilities, who needs to be here, and where the ball needs to go until we get the thing in and beat the 5-second count. They have length on the ball and aggression and they do it every day. They’re very good at denying passes and getting deflections, things we try to pride ourselves as well. They’re just better at it.”

In fact the basic style of play that White is trying to develop at Florida is what Huggins and his team will bring to the court Saturday… an in-your-face defense from basket to basket that just relentlessly pressure the ball until turnovers become habit forming.

“We hope to be in that neighborhood over time as we continue to implement our system here,” White added. “Getting the ball inbounds is really important and then we have to get it over the half court within 10 seconds … that’s the next goal. We have to simplify things. Turning the ball over just puts you at a he disadvantage against these guys.

“It makes their press better and then they’re very good in the open floor at converting turnovers into points.”

Turning the ball over has been a huge issue already for the Gators since SEC play started and now they are playing the best full court defense in the country and really the best overall defense in the country.

One thing White can point to is that the style of play is very similar and thought Florida doesn’t match the intense nature of the press defense that WVU brings all of the time, the Gators continuously work it however they can in practice.

“I think it will help a little bit that we press and go against press every day, although their press is probably more aggressive,” White said. “They create a lot more turnovers. They’re the best pressing team in the country. It makes for focus on valuing the basketball and making great decisions as important as it has been all year. We’ve struggled with it, so it will be the base key to the game.”

The Gators may start forward Devin Robinson in the game, or they may go with a three guard lineup. Either way we will see something different because forward Justin Leon is likely out for the contest due to a head injury.

“Mainly because of Justin Leon’s probable absence,” White said to a possible three guard lineup dominating the game for Florida. “That more than anything, while you’re at it, you’re playing West Virginia. You might as well at least strongly consider playing three guards… at least at times. They are equally as impressive on the offensive glass, so that is scary as well. They are elite in 4-5 different areas.

“I think they lead the nation in fouls, yet they’re still first or second in the country in defensive efficiency, which is amazing. They play extremely hard. They are very physical, very quick, very fast, and very disciplined. They are an elite defensive team.

“This is going to be a very physical game, so Devin will have to play with more physicality to be able to be effective in this game.”

‘We will try it all. A lot of times, with this team we find ourselves searching, especially offensively. As long as guys are playing well there’s a chance that all three of our little guys could log a few more minutes. Then Brandone Francis-Ramirez, there is a chance we throw him out there and see if he can be effective for us. The guards in this game, what is scary about playing small, is as good as they are on the offensive glass, when you are small it makes it even harder on you They just pound the offensive glass.

“1-5 we have to play as physical as we’ve played all year just to hold the physicality. We aren’t going to be more physical than them, but just to be in the fight.”

The Mountaineers work as a team an as a team they are second in the country in offensive rebounds averaging a whopping 16.7 offensive rebounds per game. They also force 19.8 turnovers per game, tops in the country. It is all about being a really physical team. Expect a lot of whistles because as a team, they also are next to last in the country in the number of fouls they commit in a game.

“(They’re) very physical,” White said. “They play extremely hard. I think year in and year out Coach Huggins’ teams are going to be incredible on the offensive glass. He’s sold out over the last 3-4 years, I am not sure when he changed, but it is remarkable what he did… they revamped the roster. We as a staff have tremendous respect for what they’ve accomplished. Being able to do that it is amazing.

“Their press is the most effective press in the country. They have the best offensive rebounding team in the country. Physicality, shot selection, everything, they are just really good.”

The Gators will try and keep up.



Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.



F Devin Robinson (SO)

6-8, 195



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




West Virginia Projected Starters




F Jonathan Holton (SR)

6-7, 220



F Esa Ahmad (FR)

6-8, 225



F Devin Williams (JR)

6-9, 255



G Jevon Carter (SO)

6-2, 195



Daxter Miles Jr. (SO)

6-3, 195



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