Fresh off a 2-1 record in the Advocare Invitational which featured wins over two of last years’ NCAA Tournament teams and a close contest with No. 11 Gonzaga, the Gators (6-1) leaped back into the polls and are just ready to carry on business as usual.
“I think it speaks to trending in a positive direction, White said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s exciting for our fans and players, but ultimately it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Obviously it has nothing to do with the next game or the rest of your schedule, never a predictor of how you finish the season or how you compete in league play. But, have we been pretty good thus far? Yeah, we have. But we’re still getting focused on a daily basis and focused on North Florida.
The rankings really aren’t anything they discuss.
“We haven’t talked about it,” he said. “We’re not going to talk about it, because it doesn’t mean much. We have a saying in our program ‘No Noise’. I walked in yesterday as we were preparing to watch film and we simply wrote it up on the board, enough said and our guys know where I am getting with that. It’s about some of the deficiencies we need to improve upon, specifically defensive rebounding, continue to stress turnover margin, continue to get better with execution offensively, and then lock in on Dallas Moore and the North Florida Ospreys.
“That’s where our mindset is right now, that’s where it needs to be. I can’t guarantee we’re going to have an incredible mindset now that we are ranked, but that’s where it should be. I don’t anticipate us veering too far from where we were heading into last weekend with our focus. We have a great group of guys. I’d be surprised if we get out of character tomorrow night.
Starting five or not…
The Gators have stayed with a starting lineup of center John Egbunu, forward Devin Robinson, forward Justin Leon, guard Kasey Hill, and guard KeVaughn Allen. Mike White likes that group to start, but he has also grown fond of the group that comes off the bench and makes things happen.
“I’m pleased with it, but also going to remain open to change things up,” White said of the starter group. “I don’t foresee (change) happening, because we’ve been pretty consistent in practices as well. I like the way our guys coming off the bench are playing thus far. We’ve been in a pretty good rhythm in that regard.
“We’ve got a guy (swing man Canyon Barry) coming off the bench right now who’s arguably our best offensive player potentially on certain nights. He’s got an argument of course. He’s coming off of a game where he didn’t get into a rhythm quite as much.
“We like having that firepower off of the bench. I like where we’re at right now, especially with (forward) Keith Stone coming into his own a little bit, showing us all what he can be and hopefully a little more consistently.
“Keith Stone has to continue to fight as well because (forward) Justin Leon and (forward) Devin Robinson are pretty good and a little more experienced.”
“I am open to it, but not itching to change it either.”
Improving defensive rebounds…
One area of concern for White and his staff has been in the area of rebounding the ball on the defensive end of the court. Too many times so far this season teams are getting second shots that he believes they shouldn’t get. It is something they are going to continually work at.
“We had a drill that we were going to do today that we’ve been doing a little bit more of,” White said. “We have to be careful the day before the game we don’t want tons of bone on bone today (Wednesday), but we’re going to continue to emphasize it a bunch. We have to defensive rebound better.
“I’m really pleased with every other defensive area other than that. Moving forward, it’s our biggest team emphasis right now. We have to make shots. Have to shoot a higher percentage from three. We don’t want to stress it too much. We’re a better shooting team than we’ve shown I think. We can control a little bit easier defending our glass and that will be an emphasis this afternoon.