Year 2 of the Cam Newbauer experience promises more of the same as far as the style of play for UF: fast pace, an active defense and, of course, attempting three-pointers at a clip that would make Steph Curry jealous.
The only thing coach Newbauer wants to be different is the results. He said that while he hadn’t discussed specifically how to do that, he kept busy keeping in contact with his players.
“The offseason, a lot of times, we just talk about trying to get better every possession, every drill than what we just were,” Newbauer said. “But that will be something that we focus on when you go into game situations.”
One of the issues that plagued Newbauer and the Gators last season was a lack of offensive firepower in the first quarters of games. Florida was tied or trailed at the end of the first period in 10 of its 16 regular-season SEC games in 2017. It didn’t win a matchup under those circumstances.
Closing out games was also an issue with the Gators in 2017. In the six games it held a lead after the first quarter, the team only won two. Newbauer chalked these issues up to an inability to impose a physical presence among opponents.
“You want to be the aggressor,” Newbauer said. “You don’t want to sit back on your heels and wait to see what someone else does.”
The Gators aren’t returning many players for the 2018-19 campaign. Guards Funda Nakkasoglu and Delicia Washington are the only two players coming back who played significant minutes last season. Both Washington and Nakkasoglu expect to handle a good chunk of the leadership responsibilities.
“I’m going to try to guide and help (the new players) as much as possible,” Nakkasoglu said. “We need to be eager to learn and just take in as much as possible.”
Washington, a 5-foot-10 junior, said she thinks Newbauer will have a newfound energy with the roster turnover.
“He’s not treating anybody differently,” she said. “He shows everybody the same attention, no matter if you’re a freshman, a transfer or a returner.”
Florida’s roster reflects a key aspect of Newbauer’s coaching tendencies. He wants shooters and lots of them.
He scoured the globe for players to fit that system for the last two years and has come up with eight players outside of the southeastern U.S. Four of those women are from other countries, including Nakkasoglu (Australia).
Paige Robinson, a 6-foot-4 JUCO transfer, spent time playing for her native England in the U18 and U20 European Championships as well as spending three years playing in Spain.
“That prepared me a lot with the workload,” Robinson said. “We practiced every single day out there. Playing for Great Britain has helped me with my nerves and stuff because that was a big thing for me.”
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Guard Delicia Washington (00) is one of two returning Gators starters for the 2018-19 season.