Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Thursday, May 23, 2024

At first glance of the 2008-09 UF women's basketball media guide, you can't help but notice the slogan at the bottom: Bigger and Better.

The motto looks to bode true for what is a taller and deeper Gators squad this season, one that is looking to make its way back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

UF is coming off a season that tied the record for the greatest one-year turnaround in its history, winning 19 games after only tallying nine the year before.

Much of the team's success last season can be largely attributed to then-newcomer Amanda Butler, who is entering her second season as the Gators' leader.

As a result of winning, higher expectations have been placed on this year's team.

"That's where our expectations are rooted," Butler said of the team's new motto. "We want to make sure that we're not just competing with the best but trying to be the best."

The Gators are returning four starters from a year ago while adding six new faces, the biggest (and tallest) addition being 6-foot-4 freshman Azania Stewart.

Stewart had her left kidney removed about a month ago, but she is expected to be ready to play when the season starts.

Joining her on the low post will be 6-foot-3 senior Aneika Henry, who said she still wants to become the first Gator to dunk in a game.

Redshirt freshman Ndidi Madu (6-foot-1) will return from tearing her ACL last season.

"Literally, we did get bigger," junior forward Sharielle Smith said. "Last year we went a step up from the year before, and I think that we have higher standards, and we didn't meet our higher standards last year. We could've done a lot better last year. So I think that with the people that we brought in, it's going to help us actually meet those higher standards this year."

UF will be able to go six deep at the forward and center positions, which will give the Gators more balance and a larger presence in the paint, something that they lacked a year ago.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Senior forward Marshae Dotson, listed at 5-foot-11, will no longer have to carry the team on her shoulders but will be able to move back to her more natural wing-forward position.

Dotson is still working her way back to full speed after having off-season knee surgery, but she appreciates the new height and depth on the team that will take some of the pressure off her.

In keeping with Butler's fast-paced, aggressive style of play, the deeper lineup will now allow UF to enact its up-tempo style longer and more effectively.

"(We) know that there's no shortcut to where we want to go," Butler said. "It's just going to be daily putting in the effort and putting your head on the pillow at night, dreaming about big success, waking up in the morning thinking about what you can do to get better. Trying to live a lifestyle of winning and dreaming about championships, that's what we're doing."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.