After Sunday’s loss to LSU marked Florida’s fifth straight defeat, UF women’s basketball coach Cameron Newbauer spent the opening moments of his press conference with his head down as he spoke to reporters.
“We have to make plays to win games, and we didn’t make enough plays,” Newbauer said. “We became hesitant to shoot, and then we stopped sharing the ball.”
Down by 15 with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Florida women’s basket…
The problems Newbauer speaks of are just a few of the ailments that have plagued the Gators in the early portion of conference play.
For one, Florida is struggling to shoot the ball as a team. Since UF began its journey into SEC play, it has shot 40 percent or below from the field in all five of its games.
Coming into the season, Newbauer talked about wanting his team to “chuck it from the cheap seats,” something it has done plenty of this year. During Florida’s five-game losing streak, the team is averaging just under 30 attempts from the three-point line.
The only problem with UF shooting perimeter jumpers at a high frequency: its shots just aren’t falling. In conference action this season, the Gators have made 28.3 percent of their three-point attempts.
With subpar shooting comes an offensive flow that has difficulty building momentum. For weeks, Newbauer has emphasized the importance of fighting throughout the game and staying focused for 40 minutes. That was no exception following his team’s letdown against LSU, one in which it led by 12 in the middle of the first half.
“It’s what we see with this team,” Newbauer said. “We make shots, we fight. We don’t make shots, we just stand there and watch. We wait for someone else to do something. It’s our M.O. It’s nothing new.”
UF has also lacked a true floor general to run its offense and facilitate plays. While guards Funda Nakkasoglu and Delicia Washington have made fair attempts running the point this season, that isn’t their style of play. Nakkasoglu is a catch-and-shoot type of player, while Washington, the reigning SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, works best in the paint and attempting to draw fouls on her drives (94 free-throw attempts last season).
“That’s the frustration,” Newbauer said. “Wanting someone to just take it and be courageous with it and say ‘whatever happens tonight, lets go and let’s fight for 40 minutes.’”
Until Thursday, when they play against Arkansas in Fayetteville, the Gators will practice with a five-game losing streak on their shoulders.
“It’s tough right now,” Newbauer said. “We gotta keep fighting, keep figuring out a way to get better.”