Offense crisp in first UF basketball practice


Florida made it through its first men’s basketball practice of the season looking crisp offensively.

One of the highlights during the 30-minute open session of practice Thursday came when Florida senior point guard Chris Chiozza made a running, left-handed 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded during a practice segment.

Sound familiar?

“How about that shot,” Florida coach Mike White said. “That’s what he does.”

White said he was pleased with the intensity level and competitiveness of the first practice.

“In the competitions we had with some losing teams, (they) handled it well,” White said. “Handled the accountability runs and a pretty high level of coachability among teammates.”

Florida redshirt sophomore forward Keith Stone scored in a variety of ways during drills — including on a fall-away 12-foot jumper, a pair of 3-pointers and a rebound putback in traffic. The 6-foot-8 Stone is battling with incoming freshman Chase Johnson for the starting power forward job.

“He’s got to be more consistent,” White said. “He knows that, just like every young player on our team, in our league, throughout college basketball. I think it’s easier of you to remain consistent when you know what you’re gonna get, when there’s an expectation of how many minutes you’re gonna get, what your role will be. In his defense, Keith Stone was a guy that was yanked in and out of games a bunch last year as a freshman.”

Junior guard Jalen Hudson also was impressive offensively during practice drills, while graduate transfer forward Egor Koulechov was a little off shooting the basketball. Of the freshmen, Johnson had a nice practice with a driving dunk in transition and a corner 3-pointer. Freshman swingman DeAundrae Ballard had a nice driving basket in the lane but had a team-high five turnovers.

Florida did free-throw drills twice between practice segments, shooting 77 percent (83-107) and 81 percent (79-97).

Florida sophomore center Gorjok Gak (knee) was held out of practice, but watched in shorts and a T-shirt. White said they are hoping Gak will be cleared to resume practice early next week.

“It’s nothing major,” White said. “There won’t be surgery or anything, but we understand with the marathon ahead, with the six-month season, until he’s at least close to 100 percent, there’s no use in him practicing right now.”