A midweek bye is just what the doctor ordered.
Coming off their first loss in 10 games, the Gators now have time to rest and tinker with their game this week.
“You have to use your bye weeks really strategically, especially if you’re going to put in something new, maybe something you haven’t utilized as much that you kind of want to amp up a little bit,” coach Amanda Butler said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to add a few wrinkles. The rest portion is really important for us, so we’ll take two days off of our feet and start watching some film [Tuesday].”
Florida had a rough go on Sunday in Baton Rouge, La., losing to No. 12 LSU 82-68.
In their past two games, the Gators have struggled shooting the ball. Florida has shot a combined 35.8 percent from the field in that stretch, well below their season average of 44.3 percent.
Rather than make specific adjustments to a player’s shooting game, the only thing Butler can do is hope for the best.
“How you shoot the ball is hard to adjust for,” Butler said. “I pray about it every night and every morning when I wake up. But other than maybe praying more about us hitting more shots, I don’t know how we can adjust to getting better shots.”
Shooting is a player-specific entity. That is, what technique works for one player may not work for another.
“We have to have a great understanding of what’s a good shot,” Butler said. “What’s the shot clock got on it? What’s the time and score of the overall game? We just need to make sure to make the best decisions. Jaterra (Bonds)’s good shot looks very different than Lily (Svete)’s good shot, looks very different than Kayla (Lewis)’s good shot. They’ve got to make their own plays. That’ll be something we’ll continue to reinforce this week.”
The Gators’ trademark this season has been the team’s ability to have any player step up on any given night.
The recent winning streak was proof of it.
Lewis led the team with 19 points against St. Francis. Cassie Peoples put up 23 against Mississippi State. Against then-No. 6 Kentucky, Bonds scored 23 points.
In those games, however, Florida shot 55.1, 46.8 and 49.1 percent from the field, respectively.
“You hope you shoot the ball well,” Butler said. “You hope you shoot the ball consistently. But, if you watch enough basketball, it doesn’t matter how great of a shooting team you are. There’s going to be nights it doesn’t fall.”
The Gators are also without sophomore forward Christin Mercer, who has been suspended indefinitely. Mercer has been an integral part of Florida’s success so far this season, as she is second on the team in points (11.8) and third on the team in rebounds (5.8) per contest.
One could argue her absence on Sunday was tough to overcome, as the Gators were outscored by 14 and outrebounded by a 50-29 margin against LSU.
“It’s hard to say,” Butler said on whether Mercer’s absence was a factor in the loss to LSU. “We’re just speculating. Certainly, having one less person in the rotation that we’re used to … you’ve got to account for that.”
“I really thought it was just a few folks having an off night. The slow start really hurt us.”
Follow Gordon Streisand on Twitter @GordonStreisand
Sophomore Christin Mercer scores two of her career-high 31 points on a layup during Florida's 90-74 win over FIU on Dec. 21 at the O’Connell Center. The Gators claimed their fourth straight Gator Holiday Classic championship.