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Sunday, March 03, 2024

The Gators have had to answer questions all preseason about their 9-22 record last season and why this year will be different.

Tonight they get the chance to finally take the floor and let their play do the talking.

In its only exhibition, the UF women's basketball team faces Warner Southern at 5:30. Warner Southern is an NAIA Division II program that posted a 10-15 overall record last season.

UF coach Amanda Butler sees two purposes for exhibition games: to provide measuring sticks for the coaches and to give the fans a chance to preview the team.

"We're excited to compete in a real, live game format," Butler said. "To play 40 minutes, and officials, and all the formal set-up, that'll be a great test for us and a great indication of where we are and what we need to get done."

The exhibition game gives the coaches a chance to experiment on the court while providing some film for them to break down after the game.

"[A game] is the only way you can truly know if those things are going to work and what positions are going to be the ones that we need to put certain individuals in to succeed," Butler said.

Senior guard Depree Bowden said she can't wait to play.

"I'm just ready to get back on this court in the O'Dome," Bowden said. "[The team is] just ready to get back on the court and show people what we have."

With the men's team playing an exhibition against Flagler right after, Butler hopes a few more fans than normal might be in the seats.

"That's a great opportunity to play against someone in front of maybe a few folks who have not come out to a women's basketball game before and show them why they should," she said.

Junior guard Kim Critton said the team is putting a big emphasis on playing well at home this year.

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"It's pride," she said. "If it don't start at the house, how can we go on to the next state and proclaim something to be ours?"

MOSSOR OUT: Sophomore guard Jennifer Mossor seems to have bad luck when it comes to early-season injuries. After missing the first two games last season with a stress fracture, the sophomore will be out for several weeks after she broke the little finger on her left (non-shooting) hand during practice Sunday. She underwent surgery Tuesday to have two pins inserted.

STARTERS NAMED: While Butler said she wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on who starts, she has finally selected her starting five for tip-off tonight.

The lineup will feature three guards: Depree Bowden, Sha Brooks and sophomore transfer Lonnika Thompson. Thompson will play the point. Marshae Dotson and Sharielle Smith are the starting forwards.

Butler said she wanted to give point guard Brittaney Thomas a chance to see the game from the bench for the first couple of minutes so Thomas can evaluate where there are openings for her to make plays.

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