UF women's hoops rested, ready

Gators guard Jordan Jones celebrates after a Nov. 17 win over Florida State at the O'Connell Center.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 12:06 a.m.

With 10 games under their collective belt and a welcomed 11-day break from competition, the Florida Gators hope to use the final three games of their non-conference schedule to fine tune their overall play heading into the rigors of Southeastern Conference women's basketball action.


Gator GameTime

Who: Charleston Southern (6-3) at Florida (7-3)
What: Gator Holiday Classic
When: 7 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center
Radio: 99.5 FM

It starts with the 21st Annual Gator Holiday Classic at the O'Connell Center, which begins today with host UF (7-3) taking on Charleston Southern (6-3) in the 7 p.m. nightcap after Duquesne (9-1) and Maine (3-7) square off in the tournament opener at 4:30 pm.

“I think that we've seen a lot,” fifth-year head coach Amanda Butler said. “First and foremost, I think that we've seen some nice wins and some nice performances, and we're very close to being the kind of team we want to be every day. We've also seen some disappointment and some areas where there's room for improvement.”

One of those areas is defense.

“I think we've known from the beginning that we have the potential to be a very, very solid defensive team, but we've probably seen the most inconsistency in that area,” Butler said. “We have seen some fantastic defensive performances, but then we've also had some defensive performances that have been just average. That's one of the things that we've got to continue to kind of expand on is our ability to maintain consistency in that area.”

Tonight's game will be UF's first since a disappointing 78-73 loss to Pacific on Dec. 9. That loss wrapped up a two-game West Coast swing that opened with a 91-68 win over San Francisco.

“We're obviously not where we want to be,” senior guard Jordan Jones said. “After the road trip to California, we've changed some things and made a lot of new rules, as in team stuff. There's no phones allowed out in the locker room and things like that to make us more disciplined, so I think that's a step in the right direction. We've got a few more games in non-conference to figure things out before we get into the biggest part of the season.”

“It's the little things that hurt us, which is what happened against Pacific,” senior center Azania Stewart added. “I think we just need to come out strong. Being a starter and being a senior, I'm one of the people who have to set the tone for everybody to follow.”

Seeing her seniors assert their leadership is something Butler is glad to see.

“The seniors are the group that, outside of the point guards, gets the most heat from me, and they have the most responsibility placed on them,” she said. “So to see them responding is very important.”

Tickets for tonight's action are $5 for reserved seats, $4 for adult general admission and $2 for youths 17 and under. Admission is free for UF and Santa Fe students, and the first 500 fans will receive a free 2011 Gator Holiday Classic t-shirt.

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