The Florida Gators basketball team has gotten off to an...ah...interesting start. Probably not the one it was hoping for.
Florida Gators guard Noah Locke let a small grin tug at the side of his lips.
The team is 3-3 as it currently stands, and it has some very glaring issues. Let’s take a dive into some of those issues and play “fact or fiction.”
Claim: Florida will continue its shooting struggles
The Gators are shooting 44.1 percent from the floor and 31.9 percent from three. For a team that’s heaving an average of 22.5 three-pointers per game, 31.9 percent isn’t ideal.
There are games where the team shows out — like against Stanford, where it shot 46.7 percent from deep — but much of the time, it hasn’t shot well.
Here’s the thing: UF is getting open shots. Not every look, but if it hits half of its open looks, Florida is probably looking at closer to 40 percent as opposed to 30.
And if it can average 40 percent from three, it would probably be looking at 5-1 as opposed to 3-3.
Will the Gators eventually find its stroke? Probably. They’re going to be a streaky team. There are going to be lots of days where they just aren’t there. But there are going to be some fun ones to watch, too.
Verdict: Mild Fiction
Claim: Rebounding will be a storyline deeper in the season
UF got absolutely embarrassed by Oklahoma in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament on Wednesday. Sure, it only lost 65-60, but the obvious reason was due to the lack of rebounding from the Gators.
The Sooners grabbed 48 boards in the contest. Florida pulled in 34.
At some level, the lack of size from Florida is going to be a problem. When its tallest player (that consistently plays) is only 6-foot-9 and he’s going up against guys who are seven-plus feet tall, he’s inevitably going to miss a few.
But when their opponents’ wing players are crashing the glass with intent, the Gators sit back and allow it to happen.
Against teams like La Salle or Charleston Southern, they can get away with it. But when they run into an Oklahoma, it’s going to be a huge problem, and one that doesn’t look like it’s going to be fixed soon.
Claim: Florida should be worried about missing the NCAA Tournament
Another interesting one. It’s pretty early to hit the panic button, but coach Mike White’s hand should be hovering over it.
Florida is a team that has very clear deficiencies, the biggest being its lack of a shot. The team looks devoid of energy when senior guards KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson are on the court.
When freshman guard Noah Locke and sophomore guard Deaundrae Ballard are inserted instead of the two seniors, the Gators find life.
Ballard is shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from three — both the team’s best from players with at least 16 attempts — while Locke is at 39.3 percent from three.
For measure, Hudson is at 19 percent from three and Allen sits at 23.8 percent from deep.
That shouldn’t be happening, especially when Hudson is an NBA prospect.
White needs to find a way to get his seniors to buy into his system and program. Right now, they look like they don’t want to be out there.
Chris O’Brien is a sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @THEChrisOB and contact him at [email protected].