As Florida freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin dribbled in the second half of Thursday night’s game against Kent State, students from the O-Dome student section screamed, “It’s OK Scottie, you can shoot it.”
Wilbekin then launched a 3-pointer, the lone one he made of the night. While shot attempts have been few and far between for the the 17-year-old Gainesville native, Wilbekin has done plenty of other things well early in his career.
Considering that Wilbekin has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team (21-6), he can be excused for being a little tentative offensively. Wilbekin has attempted just 19 shots this season, including 11 3-pointers. He’s averaging 2.3 points per game.
“I’m still getting used to when I need to take my shots,” Wilbekin said. “I want to make sure I get Vernon (Macklin) and Alex (Tyus) touches inside to balance the offense. I’m starting to get more comfortable, when I need to take shots and when I need to pass.”
Wilbekin played 21 minutes against Kent State, a game Florida coach Billy Donovan said was his best of the season.
“He played tonight because he was really good,” Donovan said. “All the little things, he was tough, he was physical, he defended. He did a nice job running our team. He got in offense. I thought he did a really, really good job tonight.”
Wilbekin finished the game with three points, four rebounds, three steals and an assist. Donovan also was pleased with Wilbekin’s defense.
“There were several times on the defensive end of the floor that something bad was going to happen for our team where he rotated or stepped up or guarded a guy or cut a guy off,” Donovan said. “He made a lot of really good plays that broke some momentum for them.”
— Looking for positives early in the Florida basketball season? One area that’s greatly improved is offensive rebounding. Through the first nine games of the season, Florida is averaging 12.6 offensive rebounds per game. Donovan said the coaching staff is charting the percentage of times big men Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus, Erik Murphy and Chandler Parsons crash the offensive glass. “If they are in the game, and 20 shots go up, and the only go to the glass 10 times, that’s 50 percent, we’re pretty disappointed,” Donovan said. “We want them to be up in the 90 percentile where shot goes up and they are going to the glass hard 90 percent of the time to try to find a way to rebound.”
— Florida’s strength of schedule currently ranks second in the country, according to CollegeRPI.com. As a result, Florida currently ranks eighth in the Ratings Percentage Index, which measures a team’s record against its strength of schedule. The remainder of UF’s non-conference schedule should keep its schedule strength high. Florida faces Kansas State (17 RPI), Xavier (31 RPI) and Rhode Island (45 RPI) in the next three weeks.