KeVaughn Allen, zone defenses, highlight open practice


Florida held an open practice Thursday at its basketball facility, eight days before its season opener on Nov. 11 against Florida Gulf Coast University in Jacksonsville.

Some highlights:

— After going 4 of 10 from the field in last week’s preseason game against Eckerd, and 0 of 3 from 3-point range, Florida sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen got on a roll during the intra-squad scrimmage portion of the practice, making three straight 3-point attempts and a 16-foot jumper. “Unitl the Eckerd game, that first three weeks of practice or so, he was shooting it as well as anyone, if not better than anyone,” Florida coach Mike White said. “Last couple of days, he’s back to that form.”

— White worked on a variety of zone defenses throughout the practice, including 2-3 and 1-3-1 zone defenses. Florida was primarily a man defensive team last season, but White said he’s open to experimenting with more zone defenses with this year’s group. “It’s been pretty good to us so far,” White said. “I like our length, for whatever reason we started repping it a little earlier this season and we liked what we saw. So I think with this group, for whatever reason, we’re probably a little bit more open to throwing it out there in a game, on a game-by-game basis and seeing how productive it is, evaluating it, and maybe riding it for a little bit. It was pretty good today.”

— Redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone and senior forward Canyon Barry also had some good moments offensively throughout the practice. During one halfcourt drill, Stone hit a 3-pointer, then found center Kevarrius Hayes under the basket on a no-look pass for a wide-open Hayes dunk. “He’s probably our most versatile offensive player,” White said. “He’s at times, could end up being our best all-around offensive player. He’s just such a mismatch, he can post, he can shoot, he can drive, he can pass it. He’s good in the middle of zones. He’s got a lot of Dorian Finney-Smith offensive characteristics and at times he can be a bear on the offensive glass because he’s such a big-bodied guy and he’s learned to play at a higher intensity level.”

— White said starting lineup decisions for the season-opener against FGCU remain fluid. “I’d be shocked if we have a conventional, consistent starting five,” White said. “Not that I have anything against it at all. I think the strength of our team is our experience and our depth, and the depth of that experience. We can go a bunch of different ways.”

— White said he was pleased with UF’s approach in last week’s closed scrimmage against UAB, a team that’s picked to win the Conference USA this season. “Like Eckerd, but even to another level, our selflessness and the way that we moved the ball, popped and moved around the court,” White said. “The shot selection, defensively the attention to detail, our accountability to each other, it was pretty good for late October.’

— Freshman guard Eric Hester missed practice due to an illness, but White doesn’t expect it to sideline him long term. “Just a bug, a freshman bug, they go around little bit more often with freshmen,” White said. “I loved his intensity level the last couple of weeks.”

— At the end of practice, John Egbunu and Kasey Hill missed free throws, resulting in the whole team doing sprints. But Hill made two in a row late to end with success. In the same pressure situation, senior forward Justin Leon and Allen made two straight free throws.