After just one week of practices, a lot of changes have already started to take place on the Florida Gators men’s basketball tea. New head coach Mike White has a tough act to follow with Billy Donovan building this program from the ground up, but it seems that he is ready to make his own imprint on this developing team.
“The first week under coach White has been very competitive, very physical practices – high intensity,” DeVon Walker commented on the atmosphere of the practices. Walker also thinks that he is doing a good job of “sustaining the culture that Coach D left” while “putting his own stamp on it as well.” Essentially, he is building on the positives that Donovan left and upping the energy and competition levels.
Getting a new coach means that the players will have to learn new plays, different names for old plays and an overall new way of doing things. Breaking these habits is not going to be the easiest, especially for players who have been at Florida for a few years. However, White is trying to make that transition as quick and painless as possible.
“We’ve tried, from a schematic standpoint, to meet as much in the middle as possible with the players. Obviously, learning as much as possible, this current staff from Coach Donovan and his staffs have gone into some of the ways we approached different things and termed different things,” White commented on the changes being made. “We’ve been able to keep a lot of the same things in place when that becomes an advantage for our guys to expedite the process, the transition.”
One of the main focuses that White has been putting emphasis on in practice is communication. He said that the team has already made strides in on-court communication, yet they still have a ways to go. Transfer player Justin Leon elaborated on this saying, “…When we talk to Counselor Dewayne [we talk about] our communication as a team and as time goes by it gets a lot better because we watch film on practices from the summer and it’s kind of dead, nobody talks, compared to now and it’s a lot more vocal so we’re improving.”
A lot of fundamentals are being worked on, especially 3-point shooting after a rough season last year from behind the arc. White commented on this saying, “It’s definitely an emphasis. A lot of how many 3s we take will depend on how well we scored on the interior; how often we got to the foul line and convert at the foul line.” He said that they have been shooting it decently this early, but that it still has to improve across the board. However, they will have to find out who the best shooters are during games, because the difference between shooting in practice and during a game are astronomical.
The point guard positions is one that struggled slightly last season and right now Coach White says that there are too many turnovers in point-guard play, but they are playing aggressively. “Both Kasey and Chiozza have really pressured the basketball, played really hard and both taken leaps in their communication,” Michael White said. “Both of them are really trying to talk and lead and direct traffic.” For now, he is pleased with their performance but says that they are still far ways away from being under the lights.
One thing that the Gators have been blessed with is having a healthy team. Aside from KeVaughn Allen getting a concussion during the first practice, that is. He took a knee to the head, but is expected to be back at practice in a limited position on Thursday. Coach White is hopeful that by Friday he will be able to be fully cleared. “I’m sure he’ll bounce back quickly,” White said. “We’re fortunate that that’s been it to this point.”