Tortoise to hare? Florida plans to play significantly quicker

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida coach Mike White received’t come proper out and say it. He hints at it. He talks round it. He subtly divulges one of many causes his crew was among the many largest disappointments in faculty basketball final season.

The Gators have been just too gradual. Not methodical or affected person, both. Their tempo was extra fitted to a golf course, a bowling alley or a shuffleboard court docket.

Florida ranked 326th out of 359 groups nationally in tempo of play. Sluggish-footed level guard Andrew Nembhard was the first wrongdoer, and large man Kerry Blackshear was even much less adept at getting up and down the ground.

It was noticeable to anybody watching and irritating for White, whose high-scoring offense was a predominant promoting level when Florida plucked him from Louisiana Tech in 2015 to interchange NBA-bound Billy Donovan.

Now, practically six years later, White seems able to return to his roots, looking forward to his Gators to run and press like by no means earlier than.

Nembhard transferred to Gonzaga as a result of “visions not aligning shifting ahead,” and Blackshear turned professional after spending one 12 months in Gainesville as a graduate switch. Their departures may very well be addition by subtraction for Florida, which opens the season Nov. 25 towards Maine at a resort on line casino on tribal land in Connecticut.

“We’re faster, we’re quicker, we’re extra athletic and I’m hopeful that we’re deeper,” White mentioned. “With that stage of athleticism and pace and quickness, I feel there’s an opportunity we get higher at attacking the rim, placing extra strain on the rim, drawing extra fouls and being higher within the open ground.

“We haven’t had many straightforward baskets the final two years. I feel that goes hand in hand with our potential to increase our protection, to get us out within the open ground and we’ve obtained to transform.”

Florida has a number of choices to interchange Nembhard, all of them significantly faster on each ends of the ground. Sophomore Tre Mann, who flashed at occasions as a freshman, is taken into account the front-runner. Fellow sophomore Ques Glover and Cleveland State switch Tyree Appleby are also within the combine.

“I’m capable of stand up the ground and discover teammates and simply operating provides us a bit of bit extra freedom to play downhill,” Mann mentioned. “I’m excited to see what it holds for us.”

Glover performed behind Nembhard final season and had twice as many turnovers (40) as assists (19). Appleby sat out final 12 months underneath NCAA switch guidelines after averaging 17.2 factors and 5.6 assists as a sophomore with the Vikings in 2018-19.

All three are nonetheless getting accustomed to Florida’s new follow pace.

“We’ve had extra turnovers previously 5 days than I feel we had final season,” White mentioned. “We go to execute some stuff quite a bit higher and we obtained to wash up lots of errors. In case you’re going to play quick, you’ve obtained to decelerate mentally. We’ve obtained to worth the ball at a better stage.

“If we’re going to be a strain crew and play with a ton of vitality once we get the basketball, we’ve obtained to relax. We’re not in an excellent place with that proper now.”

The up-tempo model ought to profit the remainder of the roster. Versatile ahead Keyontae Johnson was the crew’s greatest participant final season and returns for his junior 12 months. Scottie Lewis and Louisiana Tech switch Anthony Duruji might by dynamic on the break and within the open court docket.

“It feeds immediately into who I’m and my identification on the basketball court docket,” Duruji mentioned. “My recreation is high-energy, with the ability to defend, inflicting turnovers and transition is my bread and butter — simply run the lanes and get straightforward dunks.”

Added Johnson: “We’ve obtained lots of athletes on our crew for lots of quick break factors. It’s going to be a enjoyable season.”

The Gators didn’t have a lot enjoyable final 12 months. They opened the season ranked No. 6 however misplaced to Florida State and UConn within the first two weeks and by no means appeared to achieve their potential. Florida was 19-12 and the No. 5 seed within the Southeastern Convention Event when the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A scarcity of chemistry and defensive buy-in have been among the many crew’s points. Tempo of play was one other issue, one White hopes to repair shifting ahead.

“I feel our improve in tempo can be amongst the nationwide leaders,” White mentioned. “We obtained to place lots of work in to achieve success. However that’s our cost, that’s our want. And that’s what I feel provides this crew the very best probability.”

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