We lost at home to the least talented Florida team in the last decade. Billy Donovan is a good coach, and he absolutely owns Coach Gottfried.
There were some positives in this game. In the first half, we did a fantastic job of breaking the press. We had only 3 turnovers, and I think we had about 11 assists, which is an excellent ratio. One area that we improved on since the Clemson game, is that when we did break the press, we attacked the basket and took advantage of our numbers. Defensively, we did not play very well. Riley and Gee consistently lost their man. Florida's guards and wing men killed us driving the lane. We did not have any answer for their pick and roll. On several occasions, the player guarding the screener would switch to defend the ball, and the on ball defender would go through the screen, leaving the screener wide open. At other times, it was just the opposite. As a result, their guards were able to get plenty of space to penetrate our defense. Hendrix continues to not play aggressive enough on defense. He did a good job of defending Florida's bigs, but he would not step up and help out when Rico, Gee, or Riley got beat off the dribble. Despite this, we executed so well on offense we were able to build a 10 point lead in the first half.
Give a young, well coached Florida team credit for not losing their composure on the road. We missed a free throw at the end of the 1st half, then Florida made a 3 at the buzzer for a 4 point swing to cut the lead to 7. The Gators scored on the first possession of the second half, then immediately forced a turnover. Suddenly the comfortable lead had evaporated.
As good as we were against the press in the first half, we were equally inept in the second. Combine this with continued poor defensive play, and the disaster was inevitable. I can't understand why we go from making good, quick passes and attacking the pressure in one half to making lazy lob passes and not moving to get open in the second. For some reason, the concept of faking a lob pass and going with a bounce pass is a foreign concept to this team.
Due to the aforementioned problems with Florida's screens, we switched to a zone defense. This did not prove any better, as Riley and Gee played undisciplined defense and were constantly out of position allowing Florida's shooters to rain 3's.
The offense seemed to bog down with Torrance running the point in the second half. He waited too late in the shot clock to call the play, and we often ended up having to force a shot. At one point in the second half, we got a little too 3 point happy. We missed about 6 in a row but kept shooting. Hendrix had a very good game in the paint, but Florida resorted to fouling him every time he got the ball and he couldn't make a free throw.
In my opinion one of the keys to the game came in the second half when Alonzo Gee made a 3 pointer to tie the game at 71. The officials called a timeout to review the play to see if Gee's foot was on the line. During this break in the action, Donovan had his team huddled on the sideline. Presumably setting up the press and scripting the next 2 or 3 offensive possession. Meanwhile, all 5 of our players stood on the opposite end of the court from our bench, while Gottfried stood there looking pretty in his red jacket. Finally, with about 20 seconds left in the timeout, he called the team over, probably because he realized it looked bad that coach Donovan was actually coaching his team while Gottfried was not. After this official's timeout, Florida promptly went on an 11-0 run.
The effort was much better tonight. I was afraid the team would quit like they did when they fell down by 10 to Clemson, but to their credit they turned it up a notch and got back into the game. Thanks to some good shooting and some defensive stops, we were able to cut the lead to 3. With about a minute to go, Florida spread the floor and their small forward flashed toward the wing. The point guard faked the pass, Gee bit on the fake, and the forward cut backdoor for a wide open layup, after Hendrix was late on his attempt to steal the pass. Another crushing blow came when Florida finally missed a free throw, but it took a bad bounce and they were able to get the offensive rebound and make 2 more free throws for a 3 point play.
I cannot understand why we did not press more in this game with Florida's youth. We did not even press when down 10 with 3 minutes to play. We were badly outcoached tonight, but most teams will be outcoached when playing against a Donovan team. Still, with our talent, we should have been able to win this game at home.
Up next, we travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks Sunday. After suffering through the 40 point debacle up there last year, I have decided to stay at home and watch this one on television. Hopefully we can get back on track.