“I’d like to have 12 who are playing unbelievably well. That would be a nice problem to have.”
Florida Gators basketball head coach Mike White may just have a good problem on his hands.
Granted White’s Gators squad is only two games in and with a lot of questions still unanswered, but while White tinkers with his rotation, a noticeable routine has arisen.
“We have such parity,” says White.
“We don’t have six or seven guys who have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack, so, why not take advantage of it when we can, as long as guys are playing well.”
Guys are playing well and together, sharing the offense with a fast paced tempo that has begun to suit this team.
The Gators had eight different players hit a 3-pointer against North Carolina A&T, the most since the team tied an NCAA record with nine players hitting from long range on Nov. 18, 2006, vs. Chattanooga.
“I think we have, I feel good about the health of our mentality in the locker room right now and I’m just trying to take advantage of our depth,” explains White.
All in all the Florida Gators basketball team put 14 different guys on the court in their last matchup against North Carolina A&T, 11 that played significant minutes.
This is something that White could continue to do for the foreseeable future, as it’s an “issue” he’s been dealing with the past couple of weeks.
Back on November 10, White made the comment, “I just think with this team, it’s got so much parity and we have some inconsistencies right now. There’s so much unproven that I think it’s in our best interest to throw guys in and out, and give guys opportunities, do our best to hold them accountable by substituting for mistakes.”
With a new coach and bench of fresh faces, it makes sense to play around with the lineup through these guarantee games, but heading into the third game, this is usually the time we start to see more of a skeleton of a lineup.
The Florida Gators have the luxury of taking some more time though, and will continue to do so until Mike White is forced to do otherwise.
“I just think it’s our strength right now,” says White.
“We have such parity. We don’t have six or seven guys who have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack; so, why not take advantage of it when we can, as long as guys are playing well. If there’s an 11th guy out there and he’s not playing hard, or he’s taken a couple of bad shots, or had a couple of unintelligent turnovers on plays he shouldn’t have made, then maybe that game, you play 10 guys, he doesn’t have an opportunity to come back in.”
A bench full of talented guys makes this possible, as pointed out by point guard Chris Chiozza, including one bench player—Devin Robinson—who notched a double-double in the season opener against Navy, and is second on the team overall with 17 rebounds.
“We have great depth,” explains Chiozza, “so when you have players off the bench that can come in and contribute, it makes it so much easier. Like, Devin comes in and…he gives us a lot of extra possessions, and that’s good for our offense. And Brandone [Francis-Ramirez] comes in, he’s a playmaker and he can score when he wants and he’s a good defender, too, so that makes it a lot easier when you have people come off the bench to bring energy.”
Having those guys come in off the bench and post such great numbers is one of the reason the Gators still find themselves playing with a long lineup, because while it may mean minutes go down, the quality of each individual minute seems to be going up, resulting in nights like the one this Florida Gators basketball team had against North Carolina A&T, winning 104-54.
“It’s nice having a deep team like this this year,” admits Chiozza, “because you don’t have to worry about getting too tired, you’re in for five to six minutes at a time, play hard, and then you know you got good people coming in to relieve you. It’s a little different if you’re used to playing a lot, you don’t get as many minutes, but it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality you put in. I like the system.”
The Gators take this deep roster to the Northeast next, where they will face St. Joseph in the 2015 Tip-Off Tournament. The game can be seen on ESPN3 at 2:30pm.