What do we know?
Gainesville, FL- Coming into the 2015-16 campaign, a veil of uncertainty surrounds the University of Florida Mens Basketball Team, the squad is coming off the worse season in nearly two decades and no longer have Billy Donovan to lead the Gators to victory. So the biggest question is really generic, simple and the farthest thing from complexity: How much better will the 2015-16 Gators be in comparison 2014-15 team? Now some people might say the biggest question is how will they replace Michael Frazier’s 12.1 PPG, or how will Mike White fill the shoes of the most successful basketball coach UF has ever seen, or maybe even Will the Gators get back to the tourney anytime soon? The fact of the matter is that this Gator team, for the first time in years, is surrounded by more questions than answers. There is a brand new coach who has never been in a major athletic conference, a brand new system that nobody has seen, three new freshman who look to be an integral part of the team, and Dorian Finney-Smith’s final season in Gainesville.
If you take a look at the Gators’ struggles last season, or where they need to improve, there are too many aspects to count. The Gators ranked outside the top 100 NCAA teams in Field Goal %, 3PT %, Free Throw attempts and %, Rebounding, Assists and Points per game. Their highest ranked part of the season was three point shots attempted(84th in the NCAA), which can be attributed to both Billy Donovan’s shoot at will offense and Michael Frazier’s willingness to shoot threes.
Now that the weaknesses have been identified, next let’s look at where we can expect to see improvements. Michael White’s former team, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, actually excelled in some of the places the Gators struggled. The Bulldogs ranked 8th in steals, 6th in blocks, 80th in rebounding, 36th in assists and 26th in points scored. Knowing this and knowing the high energy style White runs, we can expect a major boost in hustle points, rebounding and defense.
Almost perfectly, of the Gators three most important freshmen, the two forwards Stone and Hayes are elite rebounders and defenders and the guard Allen is an excellent overall scorer and playmaker. Optimism is a theme this offseason but there still leaves a lot to be proven. The only way to know for sure is to head down to the O-Dome and check out the Gators in action this winter.
Tyler Murtha ’19
All stats from sports-reference.com
photos from http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball/article_426fa570-025f-11e4-9e91-001a4bcf887a.html