Let’s make one thing clear. First-year Florida coach Mike White is not adverse to establishing a low-post offense.
But due to a number of factors on Friday night, Florida shied away from feeding the post during its 59-41 season opening win at Navy. The Gators tried some post feeds to center John Egbunu and forward Dorian Finney-Smith early in the game that resulted in some turnovers while figuring out the best way to attack Navy’s match up zone defense.
The point was raised during the CBS Sports Network broadcast. If Egbunu was the most physically dominant player on the court at 6-foot-11, 249 pounds, why didn’t he get more post touches? White said it’s not for lack of ability.
“(John’s) come a long way as a back to the basket guy,” White said. “We want to throw it in there to him. I thought he missed a couple of seal opportunities, (backup center) Schuyler (Rimmer) did as well. In their defense, I thought Navy was really good with their defensive effort, their gameplan, their unorthodox, if you will, zone. Not sure if I should call it unorthodox, but unique, a zone that we don’t have an ability to simulate every day in practice because we don’t do that.”
Egbunu finished with 4 points on just 2 shot attempts (he missed a chance for a three-point play with a missed free-throw) and also dealt with foul trouble that limited him to just seven first-half minutes. Rimmer, on the hand, showed decent touch down low, scoring 6 points on 3 of 3 shooting.
White said he wants to see his guards to try do a better job establishing the post on Monday in UF’s home opener against North Carolina A&T.
“I’m demanding our guards to throw it in there and sometimes we’re telegraphing passes, sometimes we don’t see it as quickly as we should see it,” White said. “And now we’re trying to throwing in there a little too late, so those guys aren’t getting enough post touches, they didn’t the other night. They didn’t get it in there cleanly a bunch. That’s partly on me, that’s partly on our guys, and it’s partly on our bigs. So collectively, we’ve got to get better at it.”
— White was asked that based on coming off Friday night’s performance against Navy, if sophomore forward Devin Robinson would remain in the sixth man role or move into the starting lineup. Robinson posted his first career double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) and would up playing a team-high 28 minutes despite coming off the bench. “I’ll say it over and over, and I’ll say it to our guys: I don’t care who starts,” White said. “I don’t care who are sixth man is. It might change game to game. I just want everybody to continue to improve and to be pulling in the same direction Devin happens to be coming off a couple weeks where he’s really playing well, playing at a different level for him. He’s coming off the bench now. In playing all those minutes, I guess he would be the guy after one game you would perceive to be the sixth man. But heck, Devin may end up starting tomorrow night, he may start five games from now or he may never start. It’s up to Devin and the rest of these guys.” White said he felt starting junior forward DeVon Walker played at a high level defensively against Navy despite scoring just 2 points and finishing with just 1 rebound. “Of course, Dorian (Finney-Smith) playing the 4 (power forward), I expect to start a lot of games,” White said. “So Devin is fighting those two guys, but there are a couple other guys in that competition as well.”
— White was asked whether Finney-Smith, who picked up two early offensive fouls, may have been pressing from playing a homecoming game in front of family friends. A Portsmouth, Va., native, Finney-Smith had his mother and other family members at the game. “He was excited to tip it up, it’s his senior year, he came back for all the right reasons,” White said. “I felt bad that we couldn’t get him into an offensive rhythm, but again, credit Navy with knowing when the ball is in his hands.” White said he was pleased Finney-Smith came back in the second half and impacted the game with his rebounding. Though scoring only 4 points, Finney-Smith had a team-high 12 rebounds. “He stuck his nose in there and played really physically and got some man rebounds that we needed,” White said.
— White said he was happy to see walk-on guard Lexx Edwards score his first career point on a free-throw in the fourth quarter. Edwards’ first career point came in his 22nd game for UF. A fifth-year senior, Edwards is in his third year on UF’s roster as a walk on. “He’s a fan favorite and he’s a staff and program favorite, too,” White said. “Great guy, brings it every day. I was happy he was able to break through.”