Breaking down the offense for Florida Gators basketball

Though stifling defense was the cornerstone of the Gators last season, they weren’t too shabby at putting the ball in the hoop, either. Though their were some low points offensively during the season such as going 0-17 from 3-point land against South Carolina, there were also plenty of high points. Scoring triple digits twice in wins against Auburn and LSU, the Gators showed plenty of scoring pop that is pivotal in having success in postseason play. Let’s take a look at Florida’s offense last year and see what they might bring this season with some new pieces.

After coming to Florida, Coach White made it very clear that if there was an open 3-point shot available, he wanted it taken. Though we saw more deep ball attempts later in the season, the Gators only averaged 21.6 3-point attempts per game, and were 76th in total attempts. That means that 36.6% of the Gators’ field goal attempts were from beyond the arc, a percentage that we will likely see go up this season and improve from their 170th rank nationally. With Chris Chiozza taking Kasey Hill’s starting point guard position, there is an increase from Hill’s 20.5% clip to Chiozza’s 31.2%, and Chiozza’s efficiency should increase as he enters his senior year. Additionally, transfer Jalen Hudson is an accomplished shooter, as he knocked down 34.6% of his long balls in his most recent season at Virginia Tech. And of course, the Gators are bring in one of the best shooters in the nation in Egor Koulechov (already nicknamed “3Gor” by the Rowdy Reptiles) whose unbelievable 47.4% from three will give opponents anxiety. The top returning shooter is, of course, KeVaughn Allen who shot 37% on 5.9 threes per game. With 29.7% of Florida’s points coming from the 3-point shot last season, look for that number to climb steadily as the team embraces the offense White is looking to run.

Another characteristic White was determined to bring to Florida was pace. After coaching some of the fastest teams in college basketball at Louisiana Tech, speed was destined to be a part of Florida basketball. Unfortunately, last year’s squad was only 116th nationally in adjusted tempo. With lots of quick, bouncy guards and wings on this year’s roster, look for the Gators to get closer to the top 50 tempo teams White had back in Ruston.

Despite the sting of losing some key players this summer, in terms of usage rate the Gators only lost 3 of their top 7 players. This continuity should bring some confidence to the attack and allow further subtleties to be added to the offensive system, diversifying the attack. In terms of usage, Canyon Barry actually took the highest percent of the team’s shots when he was on the floor, pulling the trigger on 26.6% of possessions. Much of this was due to him being the number one option with the bench unit, and it will be interesting to see who takes that role this year. Right behind Barry was Allen, who used 25.6% of the shots. Other key returners include Chris Chiozza (17.4%), Keith Stone (also 17.4%), Kevarrius Hayes (13.2%) and John Egbunu (16.7%).

One place you’d like to see the Gators improve this season is in the assist category. As a team the Gators averaged 12.5 assists per game, putting them at 241st in the country. Yup, 241st. That’s right behind Duquesne, and right ahead of Kent State (Hey, that’s assistant coach Jordan Mincy’s alma mater!). Especially for a team that played a lot of screen and role, this number is surprisingly low and is certainly one the team isn’t proud of. An even more shocking number might be the fact that only 47.3% of field goals scored by Florida were assisted, which was 285th in the nation. The problem definitely didn’t lie with the point guards, as both Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza were in the top 100 players for assist percentage. What this means, unfortunately, is that there simply was not a lot of playmaking from other positions. Astonishingly, only 3 Gators averaged over 1 assist per game (Hill, Chiozza, and Allen). Devin Robinson (0.6), Canyon Barry (0.6), Keith Stone (0.5), John Egbunu (0.3) and Kevarrius Hayes (0.2) all were unable to help set up their teammates, which was particularly noticeable in late shot clock situations where offence needed to be created outside the normal play calling. For the Gators to take the leap from good to great on offense, they must get secondary playmaking from players other then the point guards.

Something the coaching staff was probably content with was the ball control numbers. Ranking 76th in the nation with 12.0 turnovers per game, the Gators took pretty good care of the ball. Only 16.9% of offensive possessions ended in a turnover, a number that puts them near the top of the country. When asked at SEC Media day what his number one emphasis will be on offense, Chris Chiozza said “not turning the ball over.” I can see why White is emphasizing this with players, as not turning the ball over will allow the max number of shots to go up for the Gators, and will also prevent the opposition from getting fast break opportunities.

Free throw shooting has been much discussed in Gainesville this past few years, but the Gators actually shot 2.5% higher then the national average from the charity stripe which may come as a surprise to some. With Kasey Hill and his notorious free throw struggles in the past, and Koulechov’s career 82.2% stroke incoming, hopefully the collective heart rates of fans can be lowered when the Gators go to line late in a close game.

Scoring is always exciting, and there are few feelings as good as going on a big offensive run. With a roster talented enough to have one of the best Gator offenses in some time, expectations are high when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop. Look forward to seeing how Coach White uses all the skilled returners and exciting new pieces on offense this season.