Florida Gators (3-0) vs Belmont Bruins (1-1)
Tampa, Florida; Amalie Arena
November 21, 2016; 7:00 P.M.
TV: SEC NETWORK
In their season opening loss at Vanderbilt, the Bruins launched an incredible 41 three-point shot attempts. They bounced back in game two with a win over Western Kentucky shooting another 34. On the season they are making a third of their shots from behind the arc and Florida head coach Mike White knows his Gators are going to have to really patrol the perimeter.
“With this one it’s such a simplistic approach,” White told the Florida media on Sunday. “If we don’t defend the three very well, they’ll beat you. They are terrific with their ability to really spread you from several different positions. They shot the ball very well last night in a home game against Western Kentucky. Their backup center comes in and hits six three’s, so they’re very hard to defend.
“How do you defend it? You stress it and stress it and stress it again. We’ll stress it today (Sunday) for another hour and a half, doing everything we can to try and defend the three point line in several different areas.
“It starts in transition. Off makes or misses they really push, they really run. They’re a really good passing tea, they find each other. They throw a bunch of skip passes and pitch ahead passes. They have several different guys get their feet set behind the arc. Several long rebounds, they’re really good with offensive rebound and kicking it back out to three.”
To make things difficult or the Gators, the Bruins counter with the nation’s best shooting percentage big man. Forward Evan Bradds is a Hoss in the paint, but he also has skill you don’t see in a big guy. Florida centers John Egbunu and Kevarrius Hayes are going to have their hands full.
“The matchup with Bradds makes it even more difficult in that he’s one of the better offensive players we’ll face all year,” White said. “He’s the highest field goal percentage guy in the country in the last couple of years. If you provide too much help on him on the interior, it puts you in jeopardy in defending the three that way as well.
“(Bradds is) extremely smart, tough, and skilled. He’s almost like a wing with physicality and an ability to post you. His footwork, ball skills, he’s an unorthodox big in that he finds a way to dribble into a really good shot or get someone else a good shot. Then he’s just as dangerous before and after the dribble with his pivots and shot fakes and things like that. He’s a terrific offensive player.
The Florida offense will counter with what White hopes is a new and improved three point shooting team as well. The percentage is up a little bit from a year ago as the gators are shooting 35.1% from beyond the arc compared to 31.9%. They look to be a little more versatile in terms of different guys doing more from beyond the arc.
“Kevaughn Allen is our best shooter,” White said of his sophomore offensive star. “It was nice to see him get going the other day. Canyon Barry adds more firepower to us of course and he really got it going in a good win against St. Bonaventure. Devin Robinson is another guy that can make shots for us and is shooting it at a high percentage right now. Justin Leon, I like the percentage he’s shooting the ball at. Chris Chiozza had a good fall shooting the basketball, I imagine one of these games here sooner or later he’ll make some shots as well.
We’ve got a few guys that can make the three ball and we have to continue to hunt for really ones, making sure we’re taking the right shot. At the same time we have to continue to get paint touches and drive it and throw it to the interior. Our bigs have to make good decisions down there.
The gators will have to make their fair share of threes if they are going to keep up with a tea that isn’t afraid to shoot them every time down the court, yet can dish it inside if they need to.