Between the largest freshman class in the 39-year history of the program and junior transfer Vicky McIntyre, the Gators have had a busy offseason meshing new talents and personalities.
With Florida set to open its season against Fairfield on Friday at 4 p.m. in the O’Connell Center, things are about to get even busier.
Having spent the offseason solely focused on improving themselves, the Gators are now tasked with learning the tendencies of upcoming opponents.
Junior Jaterra Bonds said the transition from focusing on Florida to studying opponents will be difficult for UF’s seven freshmen.
“As a freshman, it is going to seem like it’s another class,” Bonds said. “Not only do you have to know our plays and where to go, but you have to know the other team and their plays and their strengths and their weaknesses.”
Players spend significantly more time watching film in college than they did in high school. They are responsible for knowing about six plays the opponent might run, as well as which players have a tendency to drive, shoot or pass — an understanding that develops through hours in the film room both individually and as a team.
“It’s going to be different for them,” Bonds said. “But after a while, they will start to get used to it. They will be able to adapt.”
Because freshmen make up a majority of the roster, the coaching staff has placed high expectations on each one.
There is no learning curve for this team.
“They don’t get to be freshmen,” coach Amanda Butler said. “That’s what is going to be next to their name on the roster, but they are going to have to play and play important roles for us.”
To help the newcomers get comfortable with the process, the coaching staff put together a scouting report for two recent scrimmages.
Though the scouting reports were for games that did not count, they were more extensive than any the freshmen had ever seen.
“You have to know who is a shooter, who is their best defender and if they like to run man-to-man or [zone],” freshman Christin Mercer said. “It is really challenging.”
Freshman Chandler Cooper said she has noticed a difference in intensity as the season approaches.
The coaching staff expects the newcomers to have a strong understanding of the game.
“Basketball is more than coming out here and playing,” Cooper said.
“It’s a lot more intellectual than people realize. It’s not just go out here and make a play.”