No. 23 Gators looking to take it up another notch

The 12-3 and No. 23 ranked Florida Gators Men’s Basketball Team has bene playing really well so far this season and yet Mike White knows there are things that can be better. Undefeated in the SEC at 3-0, the Gators are a terrific defensive team with an excellent transition game on offense. He’d like to see the halfcourt portion of both sides of the ball make strides to continue the growth of this team.

Florida’s lack of offensive prowess in the half-court is reflected in their shooting percentage. At 45.8%, the Gators are ranked number 119 overall in shooting percentage, one of their poorest stats as a team. Given that they are a very good transition offensive team, those numbers seem to indicate even more of a deficit when the Gators go to set their offense.

Florida head coach Mike White knows that they have to continue to work on this for when games come down to crunch time.

“I think when it comes down to it and we’re stuck playing late games in the 60s, getting deep into the clock, when defenses are really set against us how do we respond, what do we go to? How can we become better executing in the halfcourt?” he pondered out loud to the Florida media on Monday. “That’s definitely a concern. We’ve been really good in transition of course, especially lately. Been shooting the ball better as we talked about earlier, we’ve been really good on the offensive glass, I like our decision making, our assist to turnover ratio are all pretty good.”

“Scoring in the halfcourt is an issue and then defensively our numbers have gotten better with defensive rebounding, our block out percentages are increasing, there’s been much more of an attention to detail there. Carry over from practice has been really good.

“I was really pleased with watching the film against Tennessee with the level of hitting, of what we call hit and go, and we laid bodies on bodies and defended the paint really well, but that’s one game and we’ve got to do that more consistently. So, probably the two biggest factors right there are one offense and two defense moving forward.

“As we study ourselves and you always take a few hours as a staff until you move on to the next opponent, but we talked about our turnover percentage defensively has been pretty good and especially at home. We’ve got to find ways to rely upon that even more defensively to get us out in transition offense even more. And we’ve just talked about different ways where we can give different looks to guys to try and get our hands on basketballs and try and create a little bit more havoc defensively if we can.” 

The Gators hit 45% from the three-point line in the win over Tennessee and White feels they have been more consistent of late getting open shots from behind the arc.

"I think we're in a pretty good state… I think we're all being pretty aggressive right now, not overthinking it,” he said. “When shooters have open looks, they're letting it fly with confidence. I like our confidence level right now.

“I think probably another factor is that we're playing some home games now. Some of those arenas that we played in, neither team shot necessarily very well in those neutral-site games. We had a few games there where, heck, you don't even get in for a shoot-around. I think just playing at home, probably getting deeper into the season, role identification has gotten a little bit better as it has probably with most teams as you get deeper into the season. Certain guys taking probably better shots for themselves than they were certainly in September's practices and carrying over into October and November. We're shooting it pretty well right now. We need to continue to shoot it well."

Hill performing at a high level…

If you watch the broadcasts of the games so far this season almost every commentator in the last several games has talked about how important senior guard Kasey Hill’s play has been to the ascension of the team. His frenzied play might lead to a mistake made out of suddenness sometimes, but there is little doubt Hill has stepped in where he left off at the end of the year last season and is playing at a high level for his team.

White says Hill’s success comes from focus and not letting things get to his head. That’s why when he struggled early in the game against the Vols on Saturday. He was able to put that aside and still keep attacking until there were positive results.

“He’s grown a lot, he really has,” White said of Hill. “He’s a senior and he’s come a long way from his freshman year and a lot of guys don’t take advantage of that process and with freshman you don’t see a lot of growth when they’re seniors, but Kasey’s had times where he’s had his ups and downs like most guys have throughout a four year career, but the one thing I think we can say about him right now is that he’s in a different place mentally, he’s in a different place in his level of maturity than he’s ever been.

“He’s leading, he’s vocal in the locker room, he’s vocal during timeouts, it’s very, very important to him to finish the right way and I think that was probably a microcosm of a lot of that growth right there in that he didn’t get off to a great start, but he didn’t freak out, he didn’t lose confidence, he didn’t sulk, he kind of manned up and got himself going and really affected the game in a huge way defensively to help us get that win.”


Robinson’s play versus Tennessee an aberration…

A few Gators have stepped up their game from a consistency standpoint in recent weeks, but one guy that has been there almost game-in and game –out from the beginning of the year has been junior forward Devin Robinson.

Usually a double figure scorer and almost double figure rebounder every night, Robinson finished with four points and two rebounds against the Volunteers. He also turned the ball over four times and played just 14 minutes because of his struggles.

White said Robinson approached him since the game and vows not to repeat that performance.

"He's really, really been playing well,” White said. “Devin came in yesterday and was in a good place. He was humbled, said 'Coach, this wasn't my game. I didn't play well. I've got to get myself going.' He had a really good practice yesterday. That's growth. He had a really good approach yesterday and I don't anticipate him having the same type of game at Bama.

“I credit Tennessee. We could play Tennessee tomorrow and Devin might be a completely different guy, give us completely different production. As you all know, sometimes certain matchups are better for this guy as opposed to this guy and that guy. Certain guys play better against certain types of teams. For whatever reason, the pressure, the foot speed, the physicality that Tennessee came out with from the tip, although Devin had a couple offensive rebounds put backs I believe early, got out in transition and got an easy one, but in the halfcourt he was unsettled. He's hoping for a bounce back. Hopefully he has a good practice today like he did yesterday."

Fightin Gators Top Stories