Gators last game before home stand

It has been a long and arduous trip through the first 10 games of the schedule for the Florida Men’s Basketball team. The 7-3 record doesn’t tell the tale that says they haven’t played a home game in front of the home fans all year long. They have one left against Charlotte (6-3) in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday before finally coming home to the new Exactech Arena.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Ask Florida head coach about the new arena, and he doesn’t want to hear anything. He is a ‘task at hand’ kind of guy and that task is Charlotte.

“I haven’t been in it,” White said of the 70+ million dollar upgraded pavilion his team will call home starting on December 21. “I have seen different stuff that has been posted. My staff went over there the other day… they were blown away. Our guys won’t see it until the day before we play that last game. I don’t want to mention that team. Our focus has to be on Charlotte of course. When we get in it, we’ll be excited.”

“I don’t know, maybe a (player) or two snuck over there, I don’t think so. I’d like to think that their focus is on Charlotte right now. We’ll get there. That will be exciting when it happens.”

The Charlotte 49ers will face up with the Gators in Sunrise with a trio of high scoring guards. One of them happens to be a former Gator, Braxton Ogbueze (SR), who is second on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game. Sophomore Adrien White throws in 12.1 points per game, while sophomore Jon Davis leads the team with 20.2 points per game.

Florida has had issues with high scorer and has given up an abnormal amount of 20-point games to star players in the first ten games of the season. While an emphasis will be made to stop Davis, White doesn’t see the defense on big scorers as a real issue right now.

“I don’t think it’s a huge deal, I really don’t, I think we’ve just played some really good teams,” White said. “We’ve played a handful of really good offensive players. Our defensive numbers are better than they were a year ago, and it’s our biggest strength. I did talk about the fact that, I don’t think we have just one elite wing defender, I would agree with that. I think collectively we’re trying to get it done . . . We do a lot of switching of course, we have several versatile defenders.

“I think Kasey Hill is doing a good job at the point position and John Egbunu is our best defender and one of the better defenders, nationally, to this point. He’s got to continue and maintain his intensity and focus on the defensive end. He’s a better defender that he was a year ago which makes us better defending team, even though we lost an NBA guy, you know, and that’s perhaps Dorian’s (Finney-Smith) biggest strength was, perhaps, his versatility defensively.

“But Canyon (Barry) and KeVaughn (Allen), Justin Leon and Keith Stone, all these guys, I think they’ve got a little room for growth on the defensive end, which can only make us better defensively.”

The 49ers will be popping the ball from beyond the arc on Saturday, but White says his team works really hard at not allowing three point attempts whenever possible.

“We haven’t allowed a lot of three point attempts,” he said. “When you look at our numbers, I wish that we would’ve to this point allowed a few less. Our base defensive principles on a guy who’s at least an adequate shooter to a really good shooter is to run them off the line. You’ll see us play in scramble a lot.

“You’ll see us jumping at three-point shooters a lot. We fouled a couple, which you never want to do. We never wanna foul jump shooters. That’s our philosophy, at least with most coaches.

“We do a lot of scrambling every day in practice, a lot of rotating, because we know we’re putting ourselves in scrambles when we make shooters bounce the basketball. It helps when you have a guy like John Egbunu who can correct some mistakes that you make at the rim.”

Charlotte is a member of Conference USA ad White is very familiar with the league having coached there. He knows to expect a quality opponent.

“I think it’s a really underrated league,” he said. “They continue to show that. Middle Tennessee has been unbelievable of course. UTEP with Tim Floyd will go out and be competitive against whoever they play and I expect the same thing from Charlotte. Coach (Mark) Price is just building there. They’re just getting started. I like the young pieces they’ve brought in. I think they’re really good offensively. They have a guy (Price) that wasn’t too bad of an offensive player himself. It’s no wonder that they can really score the ball. I anticipate them being really prepared.

“It’s an athletic conference, an athletic league. The big difference between that league and ours usually is size across all five positions. We anticipate the team will be very competitive, and we’ll have to be on it as we just talked about with our attention to detail and our focus to defend their starting 1-2-3, they are all very talented players.”


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