Dooley: Bad effort fueling long slump

6
978
Florida head coach Mike White scowls during the game against Alabama at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville. The Gators lead 33-27 at halftime, but shot very poorly in the second half and lost 68-50 to the Crimson Tide. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Mike White’s voice, on a 1-to-10 scale, never got above a two as he tried to explain the carnage we all had just witnessed.

He was in full-blown depression, a coach trying to come to grips with a second straight anemic performance by his basketball team and third consecutive conference loss.

“The identity of this team is pretty frustrating,” he said. “I’m in charge of that.”

On Saturday, the identity of this team in the second half defensively was that of a wet newspaper.

On offense, on the other hand, Florida had all of the efficiency of a broken toilet.

If there’s such a thing as special teams in basketball, the Gators would probably have blocked their own punt in the second half.

A combination of bad offense and bad defense led to a box score that looked like it was riddled with typos.

Bench points — Alabama 29, Florida 1.

Rebounds — Alabama 43, Florida 25.

And, most importantly, second-half points — Alabama 41, Florida 17.

If you threw up a little bit in your mouth watching the Gators in the second half, you were not alone. It was bad. Every time the Gators took a bad shot that clanked off the rim, it seemed like Alabama needed about two seconds to get a Donta Hall dunk on the other end.

It’s not that Alabama is some stiff team that had a good day, the Tide is typical of this league in that it is erratic. But one place it has been consistently mediocre has been on the road, not surprising for a young team.

Saturday was Alabama’s second road win.

Meanwhile, Florida lost at home for the fourth time, which is surprising only if you were like so many of us who were fooled by this team.

Raise your hand if you thought it possible that this Florida team could be held to 17 points in a half.

“I’m very surprised,” said White.

Because the Gators actually played well for a half. But as we have seen, this team struggles to play from behind and has a knack for coughing up leads and getting to that point.

The guards take questionable shots, the want-to on defense fades away and there is nobody to get an easy bucket in the paint to stop a run.

“One of our several flaws,” White said.

But wait a minute.

What happened to the team that gave Duke everything it wanted in Portland and beat Cincinnati and won in Rupp?

A distant memory.

“I know the players are frustrated, the coaches are frustrated and the fans are frustrated,” said forward Keith Stone. “We just have to play better.”

Permission granted.

Start with getting back down the court after not only a missed shot, but a made one. Mix in a little ball movement on the offensive end instead of jacking up off-balance 3s early in the shot clock.

Toughen up on both ends of the court. It seems like months ago that White was talking about how his team had to get tougher. Because it was.

Maybe this is as tough as these guys get.

Or maybe they just aren’t that good.

That’s why White was talking after this latest loss about changing things up, whether it be with personnel or strategy. The trouble is that there is only so much at the end of the bench and most of it is in street clothes.

As White said, there is still plenty of time, eight conference games to rediscover their mojo if it hasn’t already evaporated.

A 17-point second half will make you wonder where it went.

“I didn’t think I’d ever see that,” said junior KeVaughn Allen.

Who did? Because we thought this team could score 18 points rolling out of bed. We thought the rims could never be that unkind to this group of sharpshooters.

And then we saw Jalen Hudson finish off a week in which he went 6-for-24 from the field.

And Chris Chiozza, the heart and soul of the team, takes a wide-open 3 that almost whiffed on the rim entirely before banging off the backboard with all of the subtlety of Thor’s hammer.

And then we saw Hall go 7-for-7 without ever having a shot travel in the air before it went through the hoop.

Maybe we were all wrong about this team. Even when conference play started and the 100-point games stopped, we thought it would be able to do enough of the little things to make up for the misses. Even when the bigger teams rolled into town, we thought they could win on true grit and perspiration.

And there have been times when those things have been true.

Not Saturday.

Not even close.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This team is simply not that good, nor is the HC. Our entire offensive identity rests with making 3 pointers…and nothing else. If they go in, we typically win…if not, we typically lose. White has “green lighted” these guys to keep shooting 3s, regardless of if the shots are falling or not. The players “settle” for 3s instead of driving to the basket and drawing the foul…not a trademark of a tough team. Defensively…lol…they simply do not want to expend the effort needed to defend. This team would rather shoot lights out 3s…and force the opposition to play catch up. Not a recipe for success. How White has not recognized this obvious pattern is extremely puzzling and frustrating. “Wait till next year”…lol

  2. Well, our only option is to keep working and find the right combination between coaching and playing. That said, I am still troubled that we allow a player come onto our court, flex his bicep muscles, and spew profanity at everyone in the arena. Our response, continue to treat him with finesse and tolerance. Someone on this team needs to be offended and standup and bring some physicality. Oh well, let’s see…maybe the Coach should put a moratorium on the 3 point shot. We probably wouldn’t win another game if he would dare to do such a thing, but I just hate dying by the 3. Next, I love Egor’s intensity and his game, but his shot has such a flat trajectory that it’s a mathematical improbability that it will make it through the hoop at that angle. Lastly, good luck gators! It may not sound like it, but Gator Nation is behind you a hundred percent. Go Gators!

  3. Pat, agreed, they were “jellying” and coming together for about 5 games, then inconsistent efforts???Something is wrong inside this team’s brain? I’m not down on White yet, but he has a big opportunity to show he knows how to fix this mess. On the up side, we know individually, these players have the talent, but as a team something has changed? What? I turned to Golf for most of the second half when I recognized they had quit.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here