The Florida Gators basketball team has had its share of dealing with superstars so far this season, especially during SEC play.
Ben Simmons, Stefan Moody and Gavin Ware have come in on a wave of praise; ready to present problems for head coach Mike White and his team. Instead though, the Gators have been able to handle these players with a concentrated effort and game plan.
Now the next test comes to town in the form of Kareem Canty the Auburn Tigers junior point guard.
Canty is the Tigers leading scorer, averaging 19.4 per game and shooting .408 overall. In Auburn’s last two games—in which Bruce Pearl’s Tigers beat Kentucky 75-70 and Alabama 83-77—Canty scored 26 and 25 respectively.
Based off the film he’s put on tape for opposing defenses, Canty looms as another headache for the Gators.
“You don’t have to call them Canty’s highlights, you call them Canty’s clips because they’re all highlights,” explains Mike White.
“Offensively with the ball in his hands, he’s one of the more talented guys in college basketball. He’s terrific, right hand, left hand, floaters, runners, getting guys shots, and then of course his ability to separate and get himself three looks at a high percentage that are really, really difficult shots for most everyone else. He’s really good, so we’ll start with film and then we’ll get the shell defense here this afternoon because it’s going to take a really good defensive effort for us to slow these guys down.”
Florida has been able to slow these dynamic types of player down before, with the above mentioned guys, and they strategy to approach Canty will be the same, with Florida drawing experience a lot from their matchup against the Rebels Moody.
“I think that they’re similar in a lot of ways,” says White.
“I think Canty probably shoots it even better. He can create it for himself even better, in my opinion. Moody’s had games where he just lives at the foul line and understands how to draw fouls. They’re a little bit different in those regards. Different type athletes but they’re both guys that demand the brunt of the scouting report for sure.”
The players understand these similarities as well, according to forward Justin Leon.
“It helps [facing Simmons, Moody, etc.] because guarding high-level guys that like, you get the experience of seeing how it is. Then if you do a good job on them, it builds your confidence and makes you feel like you can guard a lot of guys. Especially with Coach White, the game plan, if you follow his game plan, it ends up being a success, so that builds our confidence for the next game, being able to defend as well.”
Simmons and Moody were able to still post double digits, but held to less than their normal productive outing. Florida is coming off a game though where they held the Bulldogs leading scorer, Ware, to just five points in 15 minutes.
Building off that confidence, as Leon says, will carry the Florida Gators basketball team into their next focused challenge as Kareem Canty and the Auburn Tigers come to town.
Florida faces Auburn at 8pm on Saturday the 23 on SEC Network in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Join GatorCountry.com today to follow along for full updates and coverage!