The Florida Gators basketball team played in its ugliest game of the young 2017-18 season against the Florida State Seminoles on Monday night.
A team that earned its spot as one of the best in the country in the first weeks of the season left a lot to be desired in the 83-66 home loss.
The Gators sold out on their usually-outstanding offensive talent and let all other aspects slip. When the shots that usually go weren’t falling, they had no answer and crumbled.
“We’ve gotta just figure out what we’ve got in our tanks and how bad we want it, how willing we are to pay the price to be really competitive if we’re not making shots,” said head coach Mike White. “Again, last night, it wasn’t a surprise to myself and to our staff. It happened to us against New Hampshire, if you’ll remember. This just happened to be a higher level, more talented version, and it caught up with us. When we’re not making shots at a high level, our deficiencies are exposed.”
While a game like that early on in the season to an in-state rival hurts, it is by no means to end of the world. There is no way to know just yet, but a few weeks from now, it could be looked back on as a blessing in the skies.
The first weeks of the season showed that Florida has the skill level to run the score up and beat good teams without giving that same attention to other parts of the game. Now, it has the perfect example to go back to and prove that is not always going to be the case.
“We are too comfortable with being comfortable and going at speed-eight, missing an assignment or two,” White said. “Some of it has to do with the fact probably that we’ve gotten away with it by outscoring people, by hitting 15 threes. So, hopefully today will be sobering for our guys as we watch the film here in an hour. If we don’t learn from last night, then shame on us, because there’s plenty of opportunities to learn.”
Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson both echoed the same message following Monday’s game. They said they believed the game was a major reality check for themselves and the rest of the team.
The Gators heard the noise following the PK80 tournament and saw that ‘No. 5’ next to their names in the latest AP poll and felt a little too good going into the game. That led to a lull in some of last week’s practices, which translated directly to the performance Florida put on the court.
It may have been a wakeup call for the Gators, but White wants to see his players actually walk the walk in the coming games.
“We’ve got a group of guys that say the right things,” he said said. “We’ve got good guys, and they’re people-people, but saying something and doing something are two different things. We’ll see.”