Florida basketball: Todd Golden on how Gators played in secret scrimmage with Miami

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

Florida hosted Miami in a secret scrimmage over the weekend, the first of two contests to prepare for the 2022-23 season.

While specific stats weren't revealed, first-year coach Todd Golden said some strengths and weaknesses were exposed in facing a Hurricanes squad that returns two starters from a team that reached the Elite Eight last season under head coach Jim Larranaga.

"We competed pretty well," Golden said. "They had some really impactful players that we did a really good job on, which was encouraging. And we did a really good job on the offensive glass, which was an area I believe this team can be really good at. And, again, going up against a team like that, and rebounding offensively like we did, leads me to believe it can be an area of strength for us.” 

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Todd Golden's coaching staff talks to the players during the Gators' practice on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 at the Florida Basketball Practice Complex in Gainesville, FL.

Florida went with a starting lineup that included Colin Castleton at center, C.J. Felder at forward, Kowacie Reeves at forward, Trey Bonham at point guard and Riley Kugel at shooting guard.

“We didn’t take care of the ball well," Golden said. "That was an area that is very important to us and something that’s a little to be expected. In the first scrimmage of the year, it tends to be a little more sloppy than you want it to be."

The Gators will hold their second closed-door scrimmage on Saturday at Jacksonville. Golden chose to have two secret scrimmages against Division I opponents rather than host a Division II or III opponent for a scrimmage at the O'Connell Center. The Gators will hold an open intrasquad scrimmage on Nov. 1 at the O'Dome before their season opener Nov. 7 against Stony Brook.

"Jacksonville on the road, good club," Golden said, "Coach (Jordan) Mincy who was here has done a really good job. It'll be interesting for our guys because a couple of their former teammates (Osayi Osifo, Omar Payne) are on that team, as well."

Here are some other observations from Tuesday's open practice:

Point guard Kyle Lofton returns

 Senior point guard Kyle Lofton returned after sitting out more than two weeks with a groin strain and was effective running the first-team offense during the scrimmage portion of practice. The 6-foot-3 St. Bonaventure transfer had a steal and pretty give-and-go play to Castleton, one of his handful of assists during the scrimmage.

C.J. Felder shines inside

 Senior forward C.J. Felder also was active on the offensive boards during the Tuesday scrimmage, establishing position and scoring on putbacks. Felder has overtaken Alex Fudge on the first team at power forward. Fudge did show good shooting range during the scrimmage on Tuesday with a pair of 3-pointers.

Colin Castleton continues to play at  high level

Castleton made a strong move along the baseline and one-handed dunk during Tuesday's scrimmage along with several finishes in the post and a blocked shot in the lane. He looks poised to be Florida's go-to option inside again this season.