For the first time since 2016, Florida women’s basketball has won its first two games of the season.
A lot has changed since then. No players from that team still play for the Gators, and only Serena Lamar remains on staff.
It is no secret that Florida has struggled in recent years on the court. In the 2016-17 campaign, the Gators finished 15-16, followed by 11-19 and 8-23 seasons, respectively.
But this season does bring UF its best start since then, albeit against weak competition like Grambling State and Longwood, both of which are 0-2 to tip off the year. For perspective, Grambling State faced No. 2 Baylor three days after losing to the Gators 72-65. The Tigers got embarrassed by the Bears, losing by 74 points, with a final score of 120-46.
But, nevertheless, UF is 2-0. In those two contests, Florida progressed as the game wore on. Against GSU, the Gators only scored 10 points in the first quarter. But then they went on to score 20 in the second, and 21 in the third and fourth.
Against Longwood, Florida turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter alone and was down 19-11 at the end of that quarter. Then, the turnovers dried up, and the points came falling. In the second quarter, UF had its highest point total in a quarter so far through two games with 24, and then had 23 more in the third.
“(We) just want to be more aggressive to make plays in the post,” coach Cam Newbauer said. “(The slow starts are) kind of par for the course when you have eight freshmen and sophomores.”
This team’s youth has shown its inexperience at times, like the nine-turnover quarter. But it has also showed its talent at times as well. Freshman guard Lavender Briggs had 16 points against Longwood, a 10-point increase from her six-point outing against GSU.
“You look at our backcourt and the only upperclassman is Kiki (redshirt junior point guard Kiara Smith),” Newbauer said. “That’s just the growing pains you’re going to have with a young team.”
But the obvious difference so far this season is those growing pains have not overcome the scoreboard. The first game of last season, UF lost its home-opener to Gardner Webb and then suffered through six straight losses before the season’s first win.
Heading into the weekend, the Gators face a Samford team at home that is 1-1 on the year. The Bulldogs beat Montevallo 81-60 to tip off the season and lost to Kennesaw State 60-55 last Saturday. Florida can commence a season 3-0 for the first time since that 2016-17 squad, and that would be the best start in Newbauer’s tenure.
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at email@example.com