In his introductory press conference six months ago, first-year women’s basketball coach Cameron Newbauer said he thought the bats at the UF bat house were cool.
His love for flying mammals flipped to a preference for swimming reptiles on Tuesday.
“The bats weren’t that cool,” Newbauer said. “The gators are amazing.”
At his second press conference since being hired in March, Newbauer gushed about the alligators in Lake Alice, the respect he has for his new players and the process he wants to put in place as the Gators look to level out this year following a sub-.500 record for the second time in three seasons.
But Newbauer said all previous records, efforts and perceptions don’t mean anything to him.
“How many turnovers we averaged last year, this, that and the other, I can't even tell you that because I'm not concerned with that,” Newbauer said. “I'm concerned with who we are today and where we're going tomorrow.”
Newbauer, the former coach at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, said he isn’t even sure yet what kinds of roles his players will have this season.
“That's the great thing about practice right now,” Newbauer said. “We could go right down the list and you could ask me about 13 of the players, 14 of the players, and I don't know if I know their roles, because when you have individuals throughout the summer, you see what they can do individually.”
Delicia Washington, a sophomore from Macclenny, Florida, has a chance to fulfill the role as one of the team’s leaders this season. The 5-foot-10 guard was voted by coaches as the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year last season, the first such honor in Gators history. In her first season at UF, she averaged over 11 points per game while shooting above 40 percent from the field.
Washington said the transition from former coach Amanda Butler to Newbauer has been a smooth one.
“It’s been a real good experience,” Washington said. “Coach Cam knows what he’s talking about. I’m learning a lot of new things.”
Gators players have all been busy with their own routines during the offseason. Paulina Hersler, a graduate transfer from UCLA, recently wrapped up play in the World University Games in Taiwan. The 6-foot-3 forward from Sweden scored 9.7 points per game over six starts for her home country, good for second on the team.
Hersler met Newbauer before departing to play for her country in August. She said while her new team is a bit younger, she believes she and her teammates can buy into Newbauer’s concepts.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing for Cam,” Hersler said. “I think he’s a great coach, and I love his basketball philosophy.”
Dyandria Anderson, a senior guard from Viera, Florida, said fans can expect Newbauer to unleash a revamped offense. One strategy she mentioned suggests the team might shoot more from outside. Way outside.
“Look forward to a team that’s ready to run and ready to play,” Anderson said. “As coach would say, ‘Chuck it from the cheap seats.’”
You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at [email protected].