If the measure of a coach is determined, in part, by how his team adopts, executes and resembles his coaching philosophy – - – well, consider Florida Gators Basketball Head Coach White’s early tenure a success.
Yes— I can hear some of the naysayers groaning already, prepared to pounce on Florida’s putrid point production.
Yeah, White’s newly installed and trendy DDO has more often been “DD and no O” — but those “D’s” are the attributes White instilled at La Tech and now Florida.
And they are the very characteristics he stressed during those first months spent with his shooting-challenged squad.
“Defense, rebounding and effort are gonna determine your minutes in first and foremost,” White revealed even prior to Florida’s opening game.
Twenty contests later, the Gators rank second in the conference (behind Texas A&M) and 38th nationally in scoring defense— conceding a mere 64.7 points per game. The figure appears more impressive in light of an early schedule that included 7 opponents ranked in the top 75 nationally for scoring offense.
Saturday West Virginia invades the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, boasting its 27th rated offense and 81.6 point per game scoring average.
This Gator group has rarely backed away from one. And Coach White’s team grit has been quantifiable.
Florida ranks second in SEC in rebounding, and is the 17th best in the nation at gathering offensive boards.
These revelations should come as little surprise, as White’s Louisiana Tech teams possessed similar attributes and often paced Conference USA in identical categories. But his Bulldogs teams excelled in one area Florida has faltered — lighting up the scoreboard.
His prolific Louisiana Tech squads typically ranked high nationally in scoring offense, scoring margin and team assists. This Gator team currently ranks a paltry 11th in scoring offense in the SEC.
Why the disparity? Well, the answer is not because White had shooting stars at Louisiana Tech.
Nope. In fact, some of White’s highest output offenses shot the ball marginally better than his current Gator team.
But marginal improvements can yield massive results – - – -especially considering one statistic in which the Gators pace the SEC: field goals attempted.
Similar again to his former Louisiana Tech teams, White’s Gator squad consistently out-shoots — err — out-attempts its opposition. Within the conference, Florida trails only Arkansas in the number of shots hoisted into the air. Unfortunately, too many of those heaves have found ONLY air, iron or glass. So, while Arkansas leads the conference in scoring, Florida’s shooting woes push it waaaay down to the 11th spot.
The good news?
The most modest percentage bump in shooting efficiency would yield dramatic improvement on the scoreboard and in the W/L column.
Exhibit A: Tuesday night Florida endured a low-scoring, 1-point defeat to Vanderbilt – - – despite shooting an astounding 70 shots! Had the Gators converted a mere 40% from inside the arc, a comfortable victory would have been assured. If it matched its torrid shooting of the Auburn outing, well — to quote Dickie V., “blowout city, baby!”.
But in truth, this Gator team will rarely shoot like it did a week ago, but it need not. Florida can, has and will continue to win through its defense, determination and the resulting volume of offense.
Yes, though sometimes offensively offensive, White’s team wants and needs to put the ball in the air more often— sometimes a lot more often— than its opposition. And to that end, Coach White has effectively and successfully emphasized defense and determination.
Now we need the “O”.