#21 Florida Gators (7-2) @Florida State Seminoles (9-1)
Tallahassee, Florida; Donald L. Tucker Center
December 11, 2016; 4:00 P.M.
Florida State likes to play a pressing, up and down the court game similar to what the Gators want to produce night in and night out. Florida head coach Mike White knows his guys have to be on their best game Sunday and protect the basketball.
“We better have a lot of poise,” White said at is Friday presser. Because, as much pressure as we saw against Duke, as much disruption as we saw, as much speed and quickness we saw, I think it’s a higher level (against FSU).
“Defensively, they’re the longest fastest, quickest, most athletic defense I think we’ll play this year. They are the second biggest team numbers wise in college basketball. They can throw 7-footers at you. 6-10 long fours, they can switch on their guards. They’re really playing hard and pressuring more than a year ago, pressing more. I have never seen a stat like this. They have 13 guys averaging double digit minutes.
“We’ll need to handle the ball, get open, play with poise, play through adversity, and play through some of their runs, without having it force us into some bad decisions offensively. We can’t have live ball turnovers. We can’t take poor shots over there and have a chance. Again, our defensive decisions need to be on point, regardless of time, score, and flow.”
Seminole guard Dwayne Bacon and forward Jonathan Isaac lead the Noles in scoring with 16.6 and 15.1 points per game respectively. But, the two are just a part of a versatile and deep lineup that Coach Leonard Hamilton likes to use.
“I’m not expecting to stop them at all,” White said when asked how to defense Bacon and Isaac. “Those guys are really talented… just make it very difficult for them is all you can do. Try to force tough two’s. They’re good.
“It’s not just those guys, but they have guards that can make shots. They’re really good on the offensive glass. They’re good off of ball screens. They’re really good in transition. They have a veteran point guard (Xavier Rathan-Mayes) who is terrific and can score as well.
“As is the plan in every game, you give the guys a scouting report. We’ll watch film a bunch in the next 48 hours leading into the game and do the best you can on these guys individually. Try and teach some tendencies. Try to make things difficult and force tough twos. And for us, let’s go block out and rebound the ball, which is our biggest deficiency defensively.”
Florida switches defenses a lot during a contest that trying to put a certain man on a particular opponent just isn’t something they do. Freshman Isaac is a tough draw because of his size and his ability. The Gators have to understand this as a group.
“We’re just so different,” White said. “He’s a wing that is playing the four. He’s a 6-10, two-three-four, whatever he is. He’s a really talented kid. I’ve been impressed with his motor for a freshman on film. He’s really playing hard on both ends. He has tremendous length.
“We switch so much that for us, matchups are less important than most teams. We’ll have Kasey Hill on him at times and Kasey will defend him a little different than say Devin Robinson or John Egbunu if he gets into an emergency switching situation. John would give him some space, while Kasey will try to pressure him and try and make him put it on the floor.
“It’s what we do. It’s kind of our form of disruption if you will. It’s what suits us best.
“Obviously we don’t want to get caught in mismatches in the post with the guards as much as possible, but what it does is it puts an added emphasis on our entire roster, knowing and memorizing personnel. We’re able to defend more actions than if we didn’t switch easier, because of the switching. But, it puts added emphasis on Kasey Hill can’t know the tendencies of Rathan-Mayes and Walker. He has to know the tendencies of those guys and Bacon and Forest and Mann and Angola and all of these guys, and that goes for our two’s, our three’s, and our four’s.”