Butler's Gators Rolling

In just her second season at the helm, Florida women's basketball coach Amanda Butler has her team setting records. Florida established a new school standard Tuesday with a 75-56 win over Miami-Ohio. The victory was the Gators' 13th straight; the longest such streak in the history of the Florida program.

It improves the 18th-ranked Gators to 13-1 on the year with one game remaining before SEC play begins.

It sure didn't start out well for this Gator team which dropped a road game at Florida Gulf Coast to open the campaign. That 88-86 setback seemed to set the tone for a long season, but Florida's young coach and her staff turned it around in a heartbeat. A 72-57 win at No. 21 Florida State changed the mindset significantly and the Gators followed that with wins over two other ranked opponents. Florida beat No. 19 Arizona State in the Bahamas and added a 90-83 decision over No. 16 Pittsburgh just before Christmas.

Now the Gators ready for a journey to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio University Bobcats before SEC play opens with Mississippi State in the O'Dome on January 8. The Bulldogs are 11-1 and promise to make the SEC opener a difficult one.

Florida is excelling despite often having a lineup on the floor that lacks a single player over six feet tall. That lack of height is offset by two incredibly tough forwards in Marshae Dotson (11.9/6.9) and Sharielle Smith (9.1/7.0). They regularly go up against player three-to-six inches taller but never back down. Florida does have some height coming off the bench, and a key to how they will do in SEC play could well come down to those players. Florida must get contributions from 6-3 Aneika Henry (4.6/3.4), 6-4 Azania Stewart (5.0/2.9) and 6-1 Ndidi Madu (3.8/2.9).

On the perimeter the Gators are solid, led by senior guard Sha Brooks (13.4) along with Jennifer Mossor (8.9) and Steffi Sorensen (7.9). The team is making 36 percent of its shots from three point range.

Amanda Butler is in her fourth season as a collegiate head coach, having spent two years at the helm of Charlotte before returning to her alma mater a year ago. Each of Butler's three teams made it to the WNIT, but the way things are going now it looks like Butler's ladies can plan on being back in the big dance this spring.


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