Florida headed off the Amway Center court in stunned silence following Wednesday night’s 57-54 loss to UCF.
At 5-2, the Gators will probably tumble out of both major college basketball polls by Monday. The loss at home to Ohio State a was understandable. Poor halves at home against Morehead State and Florida Atlantic were acceptable, because the Gators found a way to win.
But UF’s loss to a UCF squad that missed 14 straight shots in the second half was numbing. Gator Nation was left with the same sinking feeling that came following the FSU football loss.
Who’s to blame? There’s plenty to go around, but let’s take a look at the two basic elements.
— Is it the coaching? Some have suggested that Florida’s offense doesn’t play to the strengths of its players. It’s a fair point, and a refrain heard in football with quarterback John Brantley trying to run a spread offense. Running a pick-and-roll offense requires the threat of a perimeter shot, an so far Florida has been lousy from the field (48 percent) and 3-point line (33.1 percent) this season. But it’s hard to re-invent an offense seven games into a season, and the Gators don’t have enough players with the ability to take defenders off the dribble and create offense. If anything, the coaching staff deserves criticism for players regressing instead of progressing in recent years. It happened with Dan Werner, who peaked as a sophomore. Alex Tyus’ production has gotten progressively worse since his sophomore year. Chandler Parsons had an outstanding junior season, but so far has been a disappointment seven games into his senior season.
— Is it the players? Florida coach Billy Donovan suggested a chemistry issue following the UCF loss. My observations are of a team that’s not doing the little things for each other — screening, cutting, making the extra pass, etc. Instead, we are seeing point guard Erving Walker continue to dribble into trouble, Alex Tyus loft ill-advised 3-point attempts and Chandler Parsons make reckless drives to the basket. Florida hasn’t been as 3-point happy as some would think, of their 383 shot attempts, only 30.8 percent (118) have been from beyond the arc. But at times, Florida has settled for mid-range shots instead of pounding the ball inside. Kenny Boynton had a decent look on a 15-footer with the Gators down 53-52 with 33.7 seconds left against UCF, but could a shot closer to the rim have been more effective? Florida also is failing to cash in at the free-throw line, which is a sign of a lack of practice and lack of focus. The Gators are just 99-150 (66 percent) from the line this season.