UF women's hoops opens season against Fairfield
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 8:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 8:58 p.m.
The preliminaries are over.
■ Fairfield at Florida, 4 p.m.
■ Stephen C. O'Connell Center
■ Radio: 99.5 FM
It's time to officially start the 2012-13 campaign for the Florida Gators, and with six of UF's 10 players expected to dress out for Friday's game against Fairfield for the first time, head coach Amanda Butler will be looking for some specifics when the two teams tip off their seasons in the O'Connell Center.
“I just want to see us go hard,” Butler said. “That's always first and foremost for us — that we play just consecutive, hard, 30-second possessions — whether that's offensively or defensively.
“I'd like to see a really consistent performance from beginning to end and just show progress from the scrimmages that we've had.”
There are plenty of unknowns, but Butler does know she has a pair of proven veterans in senior All-SEC forward Jennifer George and junior guard Jaterra Bonds.
George, UF's lone senior, appears more than ready to pick up where she left off last year when she was a double-double machine and led UF in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg).
“I'm very motivated,” George said. “When I heard all those seniors say how different it is your last year, now I definitely understand what they meant. This is my last year, so I'm not taking anything for granted.”
Bonds, who was the only player to start all 33 games for UF's 20-13 squad last year, will be looked to for leadership both on and off the floor.
The former P. K. Yonge star is ready for the challenge.
“I'm still the same,” she said. “You can't put too much pressure on yourself. You have to take it one step at a time, one day at a time and just get better at each and every thing you're doing.”
Redshirt junior forward Lily Svete and redshirt sophomore guard Kayla Lewis are the other returnees, and both will have increased roles.
Friday's game will mark the debut of the tallest player in program history in Oklahoma State transfer Vicky McIntyre, a 6-foot-7 junior, who will join redshirt freshman Carlie Needles and true freshmen Chandler Cooper, Sydney Moss, January Miller and Christin Mercer in playing their first games as Gators.
Butler's squad returns to the O-Dome Sunday at 1 p.m. to face Georgia State in the first game of a doubleheader with the 10th-ranked UF men.
A player UF won't have is redshirt freshman Victorija Dimaite from Lithuania, a former local standout at The Rock School. She suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in practice last Saturday and is out for the season.
“I think everybody loves Vikta so much,” Butler said. “She's just such an important figure on this team, and last year went through a hard year redshirting and being very diligent in the weight room while waiting on her opportunity. Now her opportunity got here, and for there to be something so unfortunate as that to occur is just great evidence that we can have great plans as players and coaches, but sometimes our timing is not what matters. Vikta understands that. She's a really tough kid.”
Tickets for Friday's game are $5 for reserved seats, $4 for adult general admission and $2 for youths (17 and under). UF and Santa Fe students are admitted free, and anyone with a ticket for tonight's Gator Growl will also be admitted free of charge.