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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

In two years at the helm of the UF women's basketball program, Amanda Butler has turned in one of the best turnarounds in school history (2006-07) and a top-10 ranking en route to a return to the NCAA Tournament (2007-08).

That beckons the question: Where will Butler's Gators go from here?

The upcoming season will certainly be an uphill battle with the departure of four seniors (Sha Brooks, Kim Critton, Marshae Dotson and Aneika Henry).

The 2008-09 Gators tied a program record with 24 wins and set a new school mark with a 15-game winning streak.

Brooks was the team's go-to player on the wing, while the 5-foot-11 Dotson was one of the best undersized post players in the country.

Butler has shown the ability to make her players continually fight over the last two years, but the Gators still only managed a No. 4 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament with one of their most talented teams in recent history.

One reason was UF's 7-5 road record. And despite the gaudy overall record of 24-8, the Gators were still guilty of failing to show up to play on certain nights &ndash they lost their season opener at Florida Gulf Coast and later lost at home against Arkansas.

But even if UF is without two of its best players in recent history, the Gators have a chance to still be a talented team.

Three-point specialist Jordan Jones, a South Carolina transfer, is eligible after sitting out last season. Rising senior guard Jennifer Mossor will be back after missing most of last season with a torn right ACL. Rising sophomore Trumae Lucas earned more and more playing time as her freshman campaign wore on and will likely find a starting spot in the backcourt.

And Butler did well on the recruiting trail, signing 2009 Ms. North Carolina Basketball Christal Caldwell. The 5-foot-11 guard led West Charlotte High to the 2009 4A state championship. Joining her in the backcourt will be 5-foot-7 guard Tessah Holt, who was named The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's 2009 Georgia Class 4A Girls' Basketball Player of the year. The Gators also signed 6-foot-2 forwards Jennifer George and Lily Svete.

The Gators will now have five players taller than 6 feet, compared to two in Butler's first year.

This year's schedule has not yet been released, but it was announced earlier this month that UF will play at powerhouse Rutgers on Dec. 7.

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It's certain to say that the Gators will not sneak up on anyone after their two-year revival. They have outperformed their preseason expectations each year in the SEC.

Now as the bar gets higher, will UF be able to keep topping it?

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