Florida Gators basketball: Short-handed Gators head to Bahamas

With just three games into the season, the Florida Gators have been on a roller coaster ride thus far with more twists and turns heading into the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

The Gators dropped 10 spots to No. 18 in this week’s AP basketball poll and now have lineup concerns going to the Bahamas. Florida will matchup against a tough Georgetown squad and will either face the second team in the nation in Wisconsin or UAB in the following round. Following the second round, Florida could possibly play another top 10 team if they advance that far.

A part of that concern is bringing the lineup they played with against Louisiana-Monroe, which consisted starting walk-on Jacob Kurtz and freshman Devin Robinson. The combination of Kurtz and Robinson playing three games in three days and being very short-handed is an issue for the team.

“Concerns me in terms of style of play. That’s a concern for me right now because I do think this team needs to press, our team needs to press,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I don’t think we can sustain that kind of intensity never mind three games in a row, certainly for 40 minutes, just not enough depth.”

What was also noted is how deep into the lineup Donovan will have to go. The coach said if Carter and Finney-Smith can’t play, he’ll have to figure out ways of maybe utilizing Lexx Edwards and his son Billy Donovan more in certain situations.

The starting lineup hasn’t maintained a consistent setup since the season began as well, having to reevaluate the starting five three different times and could possibly change again.

Commencing the season with a three-guard lineup, Finney-Smith playing power forward and Jon Horford at center has already rotated out. Both Finney-Smith and Eli Carter are injured, which forced two bench players to replace them in Kurtz and Robinson, but with Chris Walker back and once getting some games in could see a starting role.

In addition to the lineup changes, that also creates players to play roles they haven’t accustomed to playing yet.

“Hopefully we can get a little bit more cohesive and consistent in terms Chris and Jon playing together, Devin slipping to the four some. I don’t love necessarily playing Kasey at the two, but we may have to do that until Eli gets backs,” Donovan said. “I think with Doe-Doe (Finney-Smith) being out and then Eli coming out, you’re taking 30 points basically off the floor.”

When a possible thirty points goes missing off the scoreboard that creates a huge difference between games where you blow out an opponent or a game that comes down to the wire.

Florida is obviously lacking the offensive support, which seemed to be a strong point for this team entering the season, but now the Gators might have to focus more on denying their opponent a load of points and enhance their defense.

Heading to Paradise Island for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament will continue to aid the team in facing tough competition and allow them to mold early in the season.

The tough non-conference schedule Florida will endure might be hard to tackle now, especially being short-handed, but will serve them greatly later in the season after reloading the roster.

“The last few years, we’ve had games like this. It’ll be good. It’s still November,” Donovan said. “We will have gotten, definitely, Miami and Georgetown, and have some other high-quality teams. Before December 1st, we’re going to know a lot about our team. Of course, we’ve had to deal with some injuries and some suspensions, but I still think we’re finding out things about our team, which is good.”