13 games in, Gators still lacking consistent effort

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Florida senior guard KeVaughn Allen (5). [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

Maybe Mike White needs Matt Foley, the iconic character portrayed on Saturday Night Live by the late Chris Farley, to give a motivational talk to his team.

Or Tony Robbins. Or a drill sergeant.

Something, anything, to get his team fired up and ready to play Wednesday at Arkansas.

The Gators (8-5, 0-1 SEC) continue to show a lack of consistency and it bit them in a home loss to South Carolina last Saturday to open SEC play. Next up, a loud environment at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark., for an 8:30 p.m. game.

It’s still early in the SEC season, but it’s getting late fast.

“We have a few guys with a sense of urgency,” White said. “We don’t have enough of them. Sometimes you feel like you’re dragging these guys a little. That’s not the sign of a great team.

“When you have to coach effort, when you have freshmen leading, that’s not the sign of a great team and that’s where we’re at.”

The loss to South Carolina still stings, especially because Florida had a 14-point lead with 11 minutes to go. Again, a lack of consistent effort was the culprit whether it was a lack of aggressiveness on offense or being in position on defense.

It’s certainly not going to get any easier against Arkansas (10-3, 1-0), which has the league’s second-leading rebounder in Daniel Gafford, the SEC player with the most made 3s made in Isaiah Joe and the league’s top assist/turnover ratio guard in Jalen Harris.

The most difficult part for the Florida coach is not knowing what he will get Wednesday night.

“We know what we’re getting from Kevarrius Hayes, Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard,” White said. “The rest is a crapshoot.

“Three guys that perform at a championship level every day. When you have seven, eight, nine of those guys, you have a pretty good team. We have upperclassmen who are not in that category and get told about it every day.

“It’s an inconsistency with this team. It’s begging of a certain level and if you gotta beg for it, you’re not going to get it consistently. It’s gotta come from within.”

One of those players White is still hoping to get going on an every-game basis is senior KeVaughn Allen, who will be returning to his home state for tonight’s game.

“It’s always good to go there knowing my family and friends can see me,” Allen said. “I play the same, just come out there and be the same, can’t just be emotional or get out of character.”

Or, maybe Allen should play out of character.

On Saturday, Allen was 4-of-5 shooting in the first half, then took only one shot in 12 minutes in the second half.

“That’s the challenge (White) gave to me, to be more aggressive, to just play hard,” Allen said.

That’s a broken record for any fans who have been following Florida basketball the last couple of years.

“I can’t explain it,” White said, “I love him. I talked to him about it again (Monday). You can’t explain it. He’s really talented. He’s hard to guard. We all see it. You see it. I see it. His teammates see it.

“When he is playing aggressive and confident he’s really good and we’re much better for it. And I don’t know how to channel it.”

Paging Psychic Hotline.

Or maybe some home cooking will help.

“He’s always been more aggressive against Arkansas,” White said. “We certainly hope that is the case. I’m sure he’s excited to see his family.

“I told KeVaughn despite everything that’s gone on he can be a first-team all-league player. It’s still so early.”

Allen scored 21 in his only game at Bud Walton Arena in 2016 and has averaged 15.5 points a game in six games against the Razorbacks.

“I’m pretty sure their emotions are going to be high,” said Arkansas junior Adrio Bailey. “They’re going to be eager to get a win because they felt like they should have won that game against South Carolina at their house. I’m pretty sure they’re going to come in and try to take their frustrations out on us.”


Today

Who: Florida (8-5, 0-1 SEC) vs. Arkansas (10-3, 1-0)

When: 8:30 p.m.

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

PROBABLE STARTERS

FLORIDA (8-5/0-1 SEC)

KeVaughn Allen; G; 6-2; Sr.; 10.3 ppg; 2.6 apg

Noah Locke; G; 6-3; Fr.; 10.0 ppg; 2.2 rpg

Andrew Nembhard; G; 6-5; Fr.; 7.35 ppg; 5.8 apg

Keith Stone; F; 6;8; Jr.; 7.0 ppg; 4.6 rpg

Kevarrius Hayes; C; 6-9; Sr.; 6.9 ppg; 6.2 rpg

ARKANSAS (10-3/1-0)

Adrio Bailey; F; 6-6; Jr.; 6.8 ppg; 3.8 rpg.

Daniel Gafford; F; 6-11; Sr.; 17.0 ppg; 9.5 rpg

Isaiah Joe; G; 6-5; Fr.; 15.5 ppg; 2.3 rpg

Jalen Harris; G; 6-2; So.; 9.5 ppg; 6.8 apg

Mason Jones; G; 6-5; So.; 13.1; ppg; 5.1 apg

NOTES: Freshman guard Noah Locke is averaging 15.5 points in his last four games, hitting 20-of-45 shots while taking 19 percent of Florida’s field goals in those games … Arkansas guard Jalen Harris ranks third in the nation in assist/turnover ratio with 80 assists and 14 turnovers … The Razorbacks are tied for seventh in the nation in blocked shots with 74 … Florida had an eight-game win streak in the series snapped last year at the SEC Tournament in St. Louis … Florida leads the SEC in scoring defense, nut ranks 13th of 14 teams in scoring offense. … Redshirt freshman forward Chase Johnson plans to transfer to Dayton, which is coached by former UF assistant Anthony Grant. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Johnson was plagued by concussions that limited him to just six games over one and and half seasons.

19 COMMENTS

  1. My take for whatever it’s worth, the players that Coach Mike White is looking to lead this 2019 basketball team are not natural born leaders. Take Hudson & Hayes, and to some degree even K. Allen, they are ”complimentary players.” They are happiest and most productive when they are NOT ”THE MAN.” They are Scottie Pippen, and they don’t have a Michael. But Coach White better find a Michael, or else one of the few programs in the SEC with MULTIPLE Final Four appearances, Florida, will start looking like an SEC bottom dweller. So, ”Come on Gators…”

  2. To begin with, I’d be shocked if we even get a call our way in Fayetteville, where the famous “Fayetteville Fix” occurred about 12 years ago, and the refs absolutely reamed UF in that game with nearly three times as many fouls as they called on Arkansas.

    Secondly, this is a chance for White redeem himself, because if we go 0 – 2 in the SEC, the “warm” seat he’s already sitting on is going to warm up even more.

    White has got to find a strategy to bring a physical presense to the paint and improve rebounding and defense. This three-point attack strategy is one-dimensional and is quickly failing him.

    If White cannot demonstrate he can adapt, he isn’t going to be coach here much longer.

    • Great summation! Do we need more consistent effort – what team doesn’t look for that but it’s Coach White’s job to make the necessary adjustments to counter our severe lack of an inside presence especially on offense which he has not done at all instead of this perimeter three point offense. Is he that poor of a coach that he can’t see this or is he too stubborn to make changes or ? I have no idea! Whatever the reason, until we alter our lineup to a bigger more physical team the losses will keep piling up unfortunately! We may still lose a lot of games if we make changes but at least we’ll go down fighting!

  3. Problem is all players that Mike White has coached has regressed from day 1.
    If a head coach can not develop players and motivate them. It is the coach fault.
    Ask any sports analyst if the team is up 16 points late in the game and loses the game at the buzzer it is in game management and coaches fault. KaVaughn Allen scores 35 points as a true freshman. Now he can not even makes a free through.
    Keith Stone first appearance makes 4-5 3pointers in a row, now he is no show.
    Mile White might be a good man. Not a good coach.
    I wish Billy Donovan comes back.

    • Do you want the Donovan that missed postseason play his last year. In Gainesville back? Or the one that lots were bashing because his teams played soft and got knocked out the first weekend of the tourney for 5 years straight? Donovan was a great coach when he had great players….give Coach White a chance to bring in some better players before we start over.

        • Read it twice, and I still think “What you’ve just said (typed) is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard (read). At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this (chat) room is now dumber for having listened to (read) it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” Just kidding, but I don’t think you can legitimately say every player has regressed. Hudson appears to have lost confidence and maybe some desire, as well. Allen just hasn’t figured out how to stay aggressive and still coexist with Hudson. I don’t think that’s all on CMW regardless of what any “sports analyst” says.

    • Additionally, Allen is second on the team in FT percentage at 81.3%. Not great for a shooting guard but far from bad. Keith Stone still leads the team in 3FG percentage. Shooters get hot and shooters get cold. The issue is when the effort and desire go cold, that is when we fail.

      I still think White is the man. I like him and want him to succeed. At some point, if the juniors and seniors don’t take the lead, they should be regulated to garbage time. IMO, Hudson should not see the floor until he expresses himself as a team player. First selfish shot, yank him from the floor. He has the capability to pass, I have seen it. It is just that he has never seen a shot he does not like.

      Go Gators! Man I want the BB team to win. It is a long way to football season…

  4. Folks it’s not that hard to understand. Every team, whether it’s White or Donovan or Kruger coaching, needs upperclassmen to lead the team even if there are talented freshmen. That’s the case here. There’s no Chiozza, no Wilbiken, no Kasey Hill, no Patric Young… etc etc. Those team had veteran leaders and the stud freshmen filled in the gaps. This team should have leaders in Hudson, Allen, Hayes but those guys don’t have whatever it takes so the freshmen have to take over and even though Nembhard, Locke, Johnson, etc., are going to be great they’re being asked to do too much right now. Unfortunately this might be a lost season but next year the young guys will be veterans and the recruiting class White has coming in could be Florida’s best ever so they’ll be back. It happens nearly everywhere (except Duke of course). Just have to stick with the team, and remember, we have two national titles (and FSU… none).

    • Good assessment, and your point goes to what CMW said about finding guys with a consistent sense of urgency. Need Allen and Hudson to step up and play smarter and with more urgency. At this point, Hayes is what he is: an effort guy who’s a good defender and shot blocker, but with hands of stone, poor footwork, no post moves, and too little aggression on the glass. This season can still be salvaged, but it’s going to take “relentless effort” to borrow a phrase from Dan Mullen. Next year should be fun.

  5. Calling all cars. PUT out an APB for JALEN HUDSON. ALSO SEND TO FBI’S MISSING PERSON’S BUREAU.
    He shouldn’t be hard to spot. He’s the one throwing up bricks on the playground court. However, he has been hard to find at the O’Connell Center until another brick goes up.