Whoops

Great post players like Shaquille O’Neal, Tamika Catchings and Brittney Griner all share one trait: strength.

Faith Dut, a forward for the Gators women’s basketball team, has spent her time during the COVID-19 pandemic becoming stronger so she is more of a force near the basket.

The rising sophomore said strength was a factor for her lack of time on the court.

“A lot of it is my strength, like coming from high school to college,” she said. “That's the biggest difference between forwards at this level. That was probably 80 percent of what I needed to get on the court.”

Even after dedicating her first season to gaining weight and building muscle, Dut still thinks she has room for improvement.

Dut was only a freshman last year, so she didn’t have the opportunity to go through a normal offseason. And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she’ll now have to wait until 2021 to experience an offseason in Gainesville.

However, like fall sports, Dut said most of the training the team goes through are positional workouts and weight lifting.

But, this offseason is different due to the pandemic.

Dut elected to return home to Vancouver, British Columbia, when UF classes went online and spring seasons were canceled.

Because she lives in an apartment north of the border and doesn’t have anywhere to play basketball, she usually goes out running. Besides that, she practices her ball handling and completes workouts the team’s strength coach sends.

To stay in touch with each other, the team hosts a Zoom conference call.

“We do a lot of Zoom calls and film sessions,” Dut said. “We talk about what everybody is going through.”

Occasionally, she added that the team will use FaceTime and do yoga together.

Dut shared coach Cameron Newbauer’s message to the team during the pandemic.

“He’s very realistic, but he also has a lot of faith,” she said. “He always tells us, ‘Listen, we don't know what's going on, we don't know what's gonna happen, we don't know how it's gonna be. It might not happen for another couple months, but you still need to take care of business and make sure you guys are still training.’”

He has also emphasized for the team to stay in contact with each other because team chemistry is critical to success in any sport.

When she isn’t training, Dut likes to play video games and watch Netflix.

“I recently got my PS4, so I’ve been playing a lot of video games,” Dut said. “I play Fortnite, Call of Duty and (NBA) 2K.”

After a three month hiatus, sports are beginning to return. However, most of these events have been played without fans. With the women's basketball season starting in October, there is a good possibility that there will be no spectators.

Dut said it would be a nightmare come true if the team played without fans because they provide extra motivation when on the court.

“It's (playing without fans) gonna be weird, but at the end of the day, if it's going to be safer for everybody, it'll be fine and feel like a huge pickup game,” Dut said. “I think if it's safer for people, it's a good idea. But it's obviously going to be weird and uncomfortable to not play without Gators Nation.”

With the women’s college basketball season several months away, she wonders how it’ll be possible to play her sport.

“I want to get back on the court, and I’m excited to start playing with people, but (basketball) is a very contact sport,” Dut said. “That's why I'm so confused as to how they're going to go about this because COVID-19 is a very infectious disease and super easy to contract, so I don't know how it's gonna happen. Of course, I'm a little bit nervous, but at the end of the day, I have to do what I got to do.

“As long as I’m keeping myself safe and doing what I need to do to not spread it. If everyone has that mindset, we’ll be ok.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter @zacharyahuber and contact him at [email protected]

Zachary Huber covers men's tennis for the Alligator. This is his first semester working for The Alligator. He's a junior studying journalism at UF.