Like most of you living in Gainesville with a Twitter account, Tuesday night was a return to every household Gator fan’s favorite pastime: the blame game.
After an uninspired performance by the UF men’s basketball team, the Gator Twitterverse exploded yet again, as accounts with no profile picture and no more than 27 followers called for coach Mike White’s job.
The childish outbreaks became especially tantrum-like when White spoke to the media after the 78-71 home loss to Mississippi State.
“We don’t play extremely hard right now,” White said after the game.
Naturally, fans would strongly agree after UF dropped its third game in a row, falling to a 12-8 record.
White would go on to place some of the onus on himself and demonstrated some accountability.
“I’ve done a poor job with this team defensively, to say the least,” he said.
White was perplexed when reflecting on this team’s inability to consistently defend, and the Florida faithless let him have it on social media.
The problem that I find with this narrative is that there’s not just one reason for UF’s struggles. It’s not like the 42-year-old father of five is air-balling open three-pointers, although a starting lineup of his kids might perform better than this team has lately if given meaningful minutes.
There’s plenty of blame to go around on this team.
In its last three losses, UF has given up at least 70 points and quite frankly has been devoid of any leadership on either end of the court.
It’s easy to look at this roster and blame a coach for losses as is often the case when teams with high expectations fall short of them.
White acknowledged that he could do a better job with this squad, but ultimately the players need to show up.
Guard Andrew Nembhard, who had a strong freshman campaign last season, was pegged to have a breakout year, and his upside was a major factor in the team’s preseason No. 6 ranking.
The sophomore just hasn’t made the jump. He’s averaging 11.2 points per game and a respectable six assists.
Respectable isn’t going to cut it in March, and I don’t see this team elevating its stock if Nembhard doesn’t become the 6-foot-5 playmaker that I think he can be.
UF’s leading scorer, forward Kerry Blackshear Jr., has been the one constant for the team offensively but has fallen short in this recent stretch of losses when it comes to corralling rebounds.
He has only grabbed 16 boards in this string of losses as UF has been consistently out-hustled on the glass. The team’s rebounding margin is 106-80 in its last three games.
Not to mention Florida's recent struggles from behind the arc, especially seen in its starting backcourt.
Guard Noah Locke, who is shooting an impressive 40 percent from three-point range this season, is just 2 for 9 in his last two games. While Nembhard is 0 for 7 in his last two contests and is an atrocious 2 for 19 in his last six games behind the arc.
While an APB is out for UF’s jump shot, this team as a whole needs to look in the mirror and be accountable for its recent performance.
On Saturday, the Gators will travel to face an 8-12 Vanderbilt team, and if Florida finds a way to drop its fourth in a row, the blame game’s latest iteration will be the worst yet.
Follow Joseph on Twitter @JSalvadorSports and contact him at [email protected]