There was no soft-selling, no dampening of expectations Tuesday at the Florida basketball facility. There was the occasional of the work to do and the long road ahead.
But the loudest sound on Florida Basketball Media Day was the buzz surrounding the program. The expectations are at a new level for Mike White and he is embracing them.
“I don’t blame whoever it is out there saying we’re pretty good,” said the Florida coach. “We’ve got a pretty good roster.”
Heck, White is just happy to have a full roster entering his fifth season, one that won’t need the managers to have a full practice.
At the same time, this Florida basketball team hasn’t had a full practice yet (it happens Friday) and is trying to inject nine new players into a roster with a sophomore class that has already claimed ownership of the team.
Oh, again, the Gators haven’t had a full practice yet.
“I was talking to Noah (Locke) today and he said, ‘Some of the freshmen don’t have any idea what they are about to go through,’ ” White said. “Friday is going to be tough for them. It’s going to be a rude awakening.”
Still, everything that White has seen in the permissible workouts from this thick roster have been encouraging. Just recently, assistant coach Darris Nichols told his boss, “We haven’t had to coach effort yet.”
Enthusiasm can be infectious, especially with a team as deep and talented as Florida. The lone senior is a stud big man, the three sophomores are go-to scorers and the freshmen combined to give Florida one of the best incoming classes in the country.
What’s not to like?
“We’ve got a lot more athletes this year,” Locke said. “Guys are jumping out of the gym. It’s hard to get to the rim.”
It will be a young team with a brutal schedule in a blossoming conference. It’s one thing to make shots in the facility, another thing to make them in Lexington or Knoxville.
But this is what I heard Tuesday:
The guys who are returning to this team don’t want to go through last year’s tumult again, when a team searching for leadership was up and down like a stunt plane.
“Us going through that last year made us so much more mature,” said point guard Andrew Nembhard. “It’s all in front of us.
“We’ve pulled the younger guys up and they’ve pulled us up. The coaches didn’t have to do it.”
That’s Beatles-level music to White’s ears.
So is this — he thinks he has more leaders than he knows what to do with.
“We have more potential leaders on this team than any team I’ve coached,” White said. “If we have 14 guys who want the Gators to win, we have a chance.”
Of course, we all know how fragile the NCAA Tournament can be and how dynamics can change drastically on any team full of 18-to 22-year-old high school stars.
But it is pretty obvious White can’t wait to coach this team. The games will come. The next few weeks will be about “figuring out what we do well.”
It beats the alternative of trying to figure out what you can get away with to hang around some games.
“I don’t think the guys on this team can fathom just how good we can be,” said senior transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.
We all know that expectations can be a burden and they are real and they are spectacular for this edition of the mighty Gators.
“It’s a waste of time to talk about it a lot,” White said, “but it is sitting there.”
Isn’t it always, to a degree?
The difference is what White has in his arsenal to deal with them.
A team that can go small (and will) and go big (a novel idea). A team that can bomb 3s and rattle rims.
But, hey, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
At least wait until Friday.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.