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Tuesday, December 07, 2021
<p>Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.</p>

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.

It must feel pretty good to be a member of the Florida women’s basketball program right now.

The team has already racked up a huge win against rival and top-10 opponent Florida State, avenged last year’s loss to Savannah State and is off to a 5-1 start.

But last year’s team also started 5-1 before dropping three in a row and finishing 8-16.

While UF’s early-season success turned out to be unfounded, this year’s team will have a chance to get off to a better start than last year when it travels to Mobile, Alabama, to face the South Alabama Jaguars tonight at 8.

Head coach Amanda Butler knows that a 5-1 record doesn’t mean anything so early in the season.

“We’re really just focused on where we are right now and the next challenge we have in going on the road to South Alabama,” she said. “(It’s) another great challenge for us with not a lot of time to prepare.”

As Butler alluded to, working on limited rest could prove to be important in tonight’s game against the Jaguars.

The Gators just wrapped up a road trip to Boulder, Colorado, for the Omni Hotels Classic in which they took first place. It was certainly good for confidence, but coming back to Gainesville after the tournament on Sunday and then going on the road again on Monday night could be taxing.

Fortunately for UF, Butler is not worried about mental or physical fatigue for two reasons.

“We feel like one of our strengths is that no matter what the lineup is, there’s not a big drop-off,” she said of the team’s depth.

“We have a group that everyone can contribute in different ways and they all have unique roles.”

Butler also added that the mental fatigue should be addressed by her team’s senior leadership.

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“I think this team’s returners and seniors have got to lead that charge of how important it is to know our opponent on paper and video and then be able to apply that with less reps in practice,” she said.

While Butler will need large contributions from her seniors, she was impressed most by sophomore Haley Lorenzen after the forward earned the Omni Hotels Classic Tournament MVP. Following her breakout performance in the first game of the tournament against Ball State, Lorenzen is now third on the team in points per game with 10.2 and second in rebounds per game with 6.0.

Her emergence is no surprise to Butler.

“I think Haley is just a different woman than she was last year,” Butler said.

“She’s a kid that works really hard and prepares really hard but I think last year played with a lot more worry, and this year she’s playing with a lot more confidence. And that’s all the difference in the world.”

 Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Jacksonville.

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