Eyeing a faster start

Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 12:38 a.m.



  • WHAT: Georgia (9-4, 0-0) at Florida (8-5, 0-1).
  • WHEN: 3 p.m. today.
  • WHERE: O'Connell Center.
  • ON THE AIR: Sunshine Network, 850-AM, 103.7-FM.
  • SERIES: Georgia leads 31-8.

  • The Florida women's basketball team is well aware of the problem.
    Trying to fix it is another issue.
    For much of the season, the Gators have had to overcome a slow start in the first half. Sometimes they play well enough in the second half to make up for it, but that is not always the case.
    Florida (8-5) hopes to correct the first-half slump by today's game against Georgia (9-4).
    "I think the most important thing for us to do is to play two halves of basketball," point guard Sarah Lowe said. "I think that's definitely been one of our weaknesses is we come out (slow). Yeah, it shows a lot about our team character that we're going to fight back all the time. But come SEC time, it doesn't matter if you're Ole Miss or Tennessee, you have to play two halves of basketball."
    An unimpressive first half resulted in Thursday's 74-72 SEC-opening loss to Ole Miss.
    "This team, they've noticed themselves that they play around with teams in the beginning and play to win in the second half," UF coach Carolyn Peck said. "As that becomes more and more in the forefront of our minds, that's when we start making that change in the first half."
    In the past four games, all of which the Gators trailed at halftime, they are shooting 28.1 percent in the first half.
    Overall, they are shooting 36.1 percent in the first half and 43.8 percent in the second. Twice they have been held to less than 20 percent in the first half.
    "We don't come out with a level of intensity and we wait until the second half to do all that stuff that we should for the full 40 minutes," said forward Bernice Mosby.
    Pinpointing the reason why there is a difference in intensity between the two halves also is a problem.
    "Sometimes I think we may be overly excited. Other times, as a team, we may not be mentally prepared for the game," Lowe said. "I don't know if there's a reason or if it just takes us a while to get going, but I think if anything, it's mental preparation and being ready before we step out on the floor and not using the game to get us ready."
    Against Georgia, Florida cannot afford to have a slow start because of what the Bulldogs' inside game can do.
    And with center Vanessa Hayden still sidelined, the Gators may get overrun in the paint.
    "They have a huge inside presence with Christi Thomas and Kara Braxton," Peck said. "If those two catch the ball, if one doesn't score, she gets it to the other one and makes something happen on the low block. What we've got to do is try to eliminate their touches especially in the paint."
    Florida also is looking to avoid its first 0-2 start in SEC play since the 1989-90 season. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs want to prevent losing their SEC opener for the second season in a row.
    "If you lose two games, you could be out of the conference championship race," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "From that standpoint, every game is very important."
    Doris Yon can be reached at (352) 374-5052 or yond@gvillesun.com.

    Florida probable starters

    24 F Courtney Cooper 5-8 Sr. 12.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg
    33 F Bernice Mosby 6-1 Fr. 14.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg
    11 G Sarah Lowe 5-7 Fr. 12.1 ppg, 4.5 apg
    3 G Tishona Gregory 5-5 So. 7.1 ppg, 2.6 apg
    23 G Tamia Williams 6-0 So. 8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg

    Georgia probable starters

    33 F Katie Frye 6-0 So. 2.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
    42 F Marquita Driskell 6-3 Fr. 5.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
    4 C Christi Thomas 6-5 Jr. 16.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg
    31 G Alexis Kendrick 5-7 Fr. 9.5 ppg, 4.5 apg
    2 G Tina Taylor 5-6 Sr. 2.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg

    Inside Florida

    Freshmen Bernice Mosby and Sarah Lowe continue to lead the Gators in scoring, averaging 14.8 and 12.1 points, respectively. One or the other has been the team's leading scorer in seven games. Mosby also has five double-doubles this season. ... Florida's free throw shooting has improved the past two games. The Gators are converting 79.7 percent of their shots from the line the past two games, raising their season average to 68.1 percent. They shot just 62.3 percent from the stripe last season.

    Inside Georgia

    Some of the current Georgia starters may not have the most impressive numbers, but the bench is plenty potent. Kara Braxton is the team's leading scorer, averaging 16.3 points. In the four games she's coming off the bench, she is averaging 17.5 points. ... A consensus preseason top-10 team, the Bulldogs have struggled at times in their non-conference schedule and find themselves out of the AP Top 25 for the past two weeks.

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