The Florida Gators will be entering the NCAA with a huge chip on their shoulder. Losing three out the last five games, and two of them being to Vanderbilt, is a major reason. Many people are viewing the 4-12 matchup between Florida and ETSU as an upset waiting to happen. The Gators are focused and ready to prove to the doubters wrong. Here are some keys to Florida being able to make a run in the tournament.
Florida has been among one of the best defensive teams in the nation all season. Smothering defense has been the reason for many wins and also for even being in games. It is no question that the loss of center John Egbunu has hurt the Gators. Egbunu was efficient around the basket all season both offensively and defensively. Egbunu’s presence is missed most in crunch time situations. The intimidating presence of Egbunu’s defensive ability was a difference maker. Even without Egbunu this team can still be good defensively. Don’t get me wrong, the Gators are not the same team without him, but they still can be a solid defensively. When a team is struggling offensively, like the Gators have recently, creating scoring opportunities from your defense is a priority. ETSU struggles turning the ball over so the Gators must bring the pressure that we are accustom to see seeing. Potential 2nd round opponent Virginia has a hard time scoring as well.
Effective shooting from behind the arc is crucial in this tournament. It is also crucial for a team who doesn’t have a true inside scoring threat. The 3 ball opens up the game offensively and can give the Gator big men an opportunity to get things going inside. ETSU really applies the defensive pressure and plays the passing lanes aggressively. Swinging the ball and kicking the ball out after penetration will give the Gators plenty of opportunities to shoot the 3 ball against ETSU. Florida has shot the ball .362% this season from behind the arc.
Allen is the most dynamic scorer for the Gators. I personally think that Allen needs to shoot the ball more. Florida has been a very balanced scoring team and that has been a vocal point in the team’s success this season. However, I think the Gators are much better when Allen takes more shot attempts. When the guy gets going, Florida is on a whole different level. I think Coach Mike White will make it a key to get him going early. Other guys will get more shots and better looks once teams key in on him and look to shut him down.
Despite a rough ending to the season, Florida is still a dangerous basketball team. The gators are ready to get back on the court and prove that they are still a contender. If Florida can focus on these 3 keys then I believe that there is a chance for a tournament run.