Gators looking to restore confidence after Alabama loss

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Egor Koulechov, Collin Sexton
Florida guard Egor Koulechov and Alabama guard Collin Sexton scramble for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game. (AP Photo/Ron Irby)

Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza admitted the confidence level for the Gators has been up and down throughout the 2017-18 season.

“We’ve been trying to work on that to keep it consistently going up, but we haven’t found a way to do it,” Chiozza said. “But we know what we’re capable of so, you know, I don’t think we’re going to lose confidence in ourselves.”

The reeling Gators, who dropped back out of the Associated Press Top 25 rankings on Monday, are in desperate need of a win Wednesday at home against LSU. Florida (15-8, 6-4 SEC) has lost three of its last four games, including a 68-50 home loss to Alabama on Saturday in which the Gators were outscored 41-17 in the second half.

In reviewing the film, Florida coach Mike White said numerous breakdowns early in the second half set the tone for the final 20 minutes.

“Early second half, our transition defense really failed us,” White said Monday. “It started with our floor balance. Our guys did a very poor job getting back on the release of shots. Alabama is really good in transition in offense and we didn’t get a chance to set our half-court D. Some of it was a little bit effort. Some of it was a little bit of wind. But most of all, it was our guys weren’t in the right spot that they were supposed to be in. Just a lack of discipline. That’s on me. We’ve got to fix our floor balance. And then our shot selection early second half was not very good.”

White said he doesn’t view the final eight games as a make or break stretch, but rather is focused on just having two good practices heading into the LSU matchup.

“As a staff, you want your team to max out,” White said. “This team’s not close to maxing out, unfortunately. That’s discouraging. We’re not playing nearly as well as we’re capable of playing. We have some deficiencies, of course. We’re coming off a couple games where we looked good in spurts and we weren’t very good at all in other spurts. I guess as a head coach, my goal is for this team to max out. My short-term goal is to be really good today, and we’ve got a ways to go to do that.”

Florida showed the ability to bounce back from a rocky stretch in December, winning six in a row after losing four of five games. In an interesting symmetry to this season, the Gators started 5-0 in non-conference play before dropping to 6-4, then started 4-0 in SEC play before falling to 6-4.

“The urgency is higher than it’s been all year,” Chiozza said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get out the three-game (conference) skid. We only got eight games left and we want to put ourselves in a good position for the postseason, the conference tournament and everything. We want some momentum going into that.”

To do that, Florida needs to iron out its problems with defense, rebounding and shot selection. In their last two games, the Gators struggled scoring down the stretch against Georgia and Alabama. Florida scored just nine points in the final 10:49 against Georgia and seven points in the final 11:56 against Alabama.

“The discussion at time outs offensively, was guys let it come to us, we can’t press, we’ve got to take good ones,” White said. “But this team continues to struggle with guys trying to do it all on their own at times offensively, not doing it together, not helping each other out. That will be a big point of emphasis moving forward.”

Defensively, the Gators allowed Alabama to shoot 58.1 percent from the field in the second half and forced five turnovers, after forcing 14 turnovers in the first half. White said some of the breakdowns have to do with a lack of communication. In the first half, White and his staff can direct traffic defensively from the bench. In the second half, it’s up to players to communicate with one another to be in right spots on the floor.

“We’re not a great communicating team,” White said. “It’s hurt us in second halves. We’ll continue to stress it.”

Said Chiozza: “We’re away from the bench so that’s when, you know, the scouting report and just being connected comes into play more. You know you can’t really hear the bench at all when you’re on the other end of the court, especially with our crowd. So it’s just important with the guys close to you that you’re always talking.”

White said he anticipates making some lineup changes following the Alabama loss, but will judge it based on how players perform in practice the next few days. It does not appear that any of the three injured big men will be ready in time for LSU. White said freshman center Isaiah Stokes is continuing to lose weight and freshman forward Chase Johnson is continuing to make progress from concussion protocol. Senior center John Egbunu did not warm up before the Alabama game after not making the trip earlier last week to Georgia.

“He’s discouraged, but he’s just doing his best to get back and help these guys,” White said. “I hope here at some point he’s got that opportunity.”

Up next

Who: LSU (13-9, 4-6) vs. Florida (15-8, 6-4)

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: O’Connell Center

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

28 COMMENTS

  1. Memo to Mike White: Time to recruit some “Bigs”, because if you are planning on continuing to recruit shooters, you will live by the 3 and die by the 3. Spoiler Alert: It will be the latter.

  2. Effort and toughness is there, what is not there are the players to match the players in the other team. It is very discouraging when you see the other team getting 10-15 offensive rebounds and converting them into second chance points. And even more discouraging is watching a 6’4/5″ guy trying to rebound against a 6’8/9″ guy. It’s not fair at all. But that’s all we got.

  3. It is pretty discouraging to me, when I keep reading comments by all these bleeding hearts defending coach White, when he has put us in a recruiting hole that will take the team three or four years to recoup from. You can not keep recruiting shooters against well rounded teams and expect to win in a consistent way. It just not going to happen!!!

    • Mr. Alfred Rose, (please tell Axl ”hello” for me), what should be discouraging to you, because our ”defense of Coach White” who’s 4th on the ALL TIME LIST OF ”MOST WINS IN THE SEC in the 1st 2 years” coaching in the league, behind ONLY U.K.’s: Calipari, Smith, and Sutton ISN’T ENOUGH for you, is your bogus and public disdain of Coach White. And how it really does HURT his recruiting & public image. Imagine how your hypocrisy looks to us, the very TOPIC YOU PROFESS TO CARE ABOUT is what you’re, in fact, hurting.
      ”Oh what a wicked web we weave…”

        • Since you know me so well, show yourself, I DID!
          That is ME with a real ”Al”… where ya’ at?!?!?
          I got your ”future”, too…. the GATOR FUTURE’S ”so bright, we gotta’ wear shades!” How’s that for nostalgia, Alfred? And if you DON’T KNOW YOUR PAST, then you’re DOOMED TO REPEAT IT, but they don’t teach that in school anymore, do they!?!?

          • I don’t know you at all, . As for me, I Retired US Army in Dec 1975. At present leaving in Las Cruces, NM, Prior to that, lived in Ocala, Fla 19 miles south of Gainesville from 1979 until 2006, attended every football, basketball and baseball game that I could whenever I was not to busy making a living for my family. Attended St Petersburg Jr college. My wife has both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Business administration earned at FSU And my son Edward, graduated UF’s class of 2004 in computer sciences. That’s were I am at. For your info, YOU NEVER FORGET THE PAST, BUT YOU SHOULD ALWAYS STRIVE FOR A BETTER FUTURE!!. I have always believe that people have a right to form their opinions, you have yours about coach White. and I have mine, he is a good man, but has dropped the ball lately.

    • Get serious, these are two Great BASKETBALL institutions. They don’t need Cal or KR to recruit. Just the names Duke and UK suffice. That’s what I have always envisioned for UF, and maybe coach White will get us there someday if he forgets that he no longer is recruiting for Louisiana Tech were they do win with fast guards and shooters and remembers that now he is competing with the big boys.

  4. Florida has a boy coaching now. Until they get a man, it ain’t gonna work. Players talking, this late in the season, about regaining confidence is a joke.

    • Sounds like the football team at the same stage. The funny thing is that who made last year’s team at the late stages so much better than this team? Couldn’t have been Hill or Barry. Don’t believe it was DRob. Justin Leon? Strange. The shots taken this year are very similar to the bricks put up last year.

  5. Pump the brakes boys…You don’t turn a program around after 2 seasons. Lets remember where we started the Mike White Era. Billy left the program after a losing season (16-17). Coach White starts and takes that team to the NIT then to the elite 8 the next year. The coach isn’t gonna blame this season on injuries…I sure am. Hell, if Egbunu stays healthy we are playing in the final four. I for one love coach white. He is gonna get it done. And we would be fools to try to drop a great coach for who?

    • I agree, White is about as good as UF can expect to hire, even after winning back-to-back NCs, BD didn’t exactly bring in or have 5 star recruits knocking down the door to get into his program. UF will always struggle recruiting McDonald All American players, get use to players like K. Hayes and hope White can develop some 3 star bigs.

    • Fo Sho….there you go again with logic. How dare you not have all the answers during the 3rd year of a coach you just led the team to an Elite 8! The nerve of you actually mentioning that Billy D did not leave the team after a championship run and in fact left a losing team with poor shooters. Why bring up factual stuff? You are supposed to be like bf and call for Tony Bennett, who also has 1 elite 8. It is his fault that 3 bigs are injured! Come one Fo Sho…get with the program!

  6. Gators have a chance to get back into it, but the schedule ahead is worrisome, at SC, at TN, at Bama, Auburn and KY at home. Expect the Gators to continue to struggle rebounding, when you put 4 players on the perimeter, doesn’t leave much inside the paint for rebounds and loose balls. I see an NIT bid in their future.

    • Yup…They may be NIT bound no doubt…if shots don’t fall…we are sunk. No one saw a drop off from Allen like this…disappointing especially the way the season started with the Zags and Duke.

      Side bar…2008…Calathes and Co had 2 MCDonald All American Freshmen, Chandler Parsons as a Freshman and went to the NIT…I guess half these cats wanted his head, How dare Billy not win a 3rd straight chip. Went to the NIT in 2009 as well..with Boynton and Calathes as McDonald All Americans, and Parsons. Barely made the tourney in 2010 and Jimmer Fredete sent us home. 2011 should have made Final 4 if not for bad shots from Walker and Boynton down the stretch.

  7. Losses this season as a FAVORITE:

    Howland — 0
    Barnes — 1
    Pearl — 2
    C. Martin — 2
    Calipari — 3
    Fox — 3
    Anderson — 3
    A. Kennedy — 3
    F. Martin — 3
    Wade — 3
    Johnson — 3
    B. Kennedy — 4
    WHITE — 7

    This really doesn’t mean much though. After all, we Gators have one of the best, young coaching minds in the business, right?

  8. Whatever…this team is done. They MAY win against LSU, but I don’t see anymore wins on their schedule. No post-season this year. They don’t deserve it anyway. Post-season is for winners.

  9. Mean-spirited, yes, but sincere question: Are the Gators players smart enough, in touch enough, to know that they aren’t going to be in the NCAA tourney this season?!

  10. I was sick to my stomach when I saw that the Gators were ranked 8 in the preseason polls. I don’t think they were good enough to be ranked at all; Especially knowing Egbunu and Stokes were coming in with knee injuries. We have a glaring hole in the middle right now…that’s painfully obvious to any watching the games. So to say ’cause they lose some games that ppl expected them to win doesn’t mean anything to me. Last year they were “expected” to lose the first game of the tourny (largest upset pick of the first round if you recall) and we see how that turned out…you can keep your “favored to win” stats…I’ll watch the games. Go Gators!!

    • Big Jon will be back. And I know he wont bring much offense with him, but he doesnt need to. Just need a solid defender that isnt slipping and slidding all over the floor on every rebound (sry Hayes, you can block some shots like a madman, but you have the hands of a girl scout)

    • Are you for real?! Vegas factors injuries into spreads. You don’t think the wiseguys know about injuries?! Money dictates that they have to know about these things! Snowflake White is making a habit of losing games he should not — he’s probably the worst coach in the SEC. Also, Fo Sho, Florida was not an underdog in the first round of the tourney last year! Have an opinion, that’s fine, but cease with the stupidity, okay?

  11. The Gators (15-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) have lost three consecutive games in Southeastern Conference play, falling out of The Associated Press’ college basketball poll for the second time this season and raising speculation about whether they can make the NCAA Tournament. “It’s crunch time,” senior point guard Chris Chiozza said Monday.

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