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Deana Allen gives Gators a spark

Written by phillipheilman, January 19, 2012, 0 Comments,
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With her team plagued by slow, turnover-filled starts game after game, Florida head coach Amanda Butler began tinkering with her team’s starting lineup.

For much of the season, the status quo had been Lanita Bartley, Jaterra Bonds and Jordan Jones in the backcourt, with Azania Stewart and Jennifer George anchoring the frontcourt.

With her team plagued by slow, turnover-filled starts game after game, Florida head coach Amanda Butler began tinkering with her team’s starting lineup.

For much of the season, the status quo had been Lanita Bartley, Jaterra Bonds and Jordan Jones in the backcourt, with Azania Stewart and Jennifer George anchoring the frontcourt.

However, the results were just not there. Winnable games early in conference play had been wasted by lackluster starts.

Butler began shuffling the lineup in the team’s game against South Carolina. Deana Allen was inserted into the starting lineup to replace a banged up Lanita Bartley.

In the team’s last two games against Georgia and LSU, Allen continues to find herself on the court for tipoff. Ndidi Madu has been alongside her in the starting lineup.

The combination of Allen and Madu in the lineup provides the team with a level of athleticism it otherwise lacks to start the game. This athleticism has led to more confidence opening up games.

“They’re a huge spark, you know, they both bring different things,” Jordan Jones said. “Obviously Ndidi is one of our best offensive players, and Deana is probably our most high-energy player. The last couple of games we lacked that energy at the beginning, so coach Butler tried to switch it up, and obviously it is working for us right now.”

Butler has insisted she will not commit to a particular starting lineup. More changes are likely to come.

While the mixing and matching may continue, one thing is for sure. The Gators are a better team when Deana Allen sees more time on the floor.

She has a unique talent set in that she has the ability to score points in bunches on the offensive end, while allowing the team to not lose anything defensively. Both teammates and coaches have lauded Allen for her rebounding ability on both ends, especially for a perimeter player.

Allen knows the importance of cleaning the glass.

On defense, it allows the team to get in transition. Layups and quick baskets from a fast-paced attack augment an offense that has struggled at points this season.

Offensively, the ability to provide the team with second-chance opportunities is crucial. Not only does it lead to putting more points on the board, but causing a team to have to continue to play strong defense often wears out an opponent.

“That’s very important because George is going to get her rebounds and stuff, but we just can’t rely on her to bang against those other post players,” Allen said. “I think that is what separates our guards from the rest of the guards in the SEC, not many of those teams have guards that are great perimeter rebounders. I think that is something we are really emphasizing more.”

For someone with the background Allen has, the ability to not overlook an aspect of the game such as rebounding shows a level of maturity that comes from having been through the fire.

Coming out of Ellender Memorial High School, Allen was rated as one of the top high school players in the state of Louisiana.

Her talents were recognized as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association named her Miss Basketball in the state of Louisiana in 2008. She was also named the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year for Louisiana.

Despite her achievements, Allen still plays the game with a level of humility that draws respect from her teammates.

She doesn’t overlook rebounding. She won’t complain whether she is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.

It is all about the team.

“Whether I’m starting or not, I just want to get out, help the team win and just do whatever coach (Butler) needs me to do,” Allen said. “I kind of like coming off the bench better, but if she needs me to start the game and give us that spark that I give us when I’m coming off the bench, then I will do that.”

Through 18 games, Allen has come off the bench in 15 and started three. Her 19.7 minutes per game average is sixth on the team.

Despite a lesser number of minutes than the conventional starting lineup, Allen’s numbers have been impressive.

She is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points per game. Her 6.2 rebounds per game are second on the team to Jennifer George’s 9.6

Allen has connected on nine of her 27 threes this season. While beating her defender off the dribble is a strength for Allen, the ability to hit a jumper is something she knows keeps the defense honest.

“Just not giving the defense one way to guard us,” Allen said, describing the importance of a multi-faceted game. “They have to worry about us crashing the boards, they also have to worry about us hitting our perimeter shots, as well as getting to the basket. Just trying to keep them on their toes about everything.”

While her scoring and rebounding numbers are strong, Allen often sparks the team most with her quick hands. Her 34 steals on the season lead the team.

As a senior, her focus is not leading the team in any individual statistics, but leading them to more wins. To the NCAA Tournament.

After spending her first two collegiate seasons at Pensacola Junior College, Allen elected to transfer to Florida for her final two years of eligibility.

The 2010-11 season, her first at Florida, was a strong one for Allen. She appeared in all 35 games, including 16 starts.

In her first SEC Tournament, Allen was tied for a team-high in scoring at 12.5 points per game and rebounding at six per.

While the Gators made it to the postseason in the form of the WNIT, it was a season that left more to be desired for Allen. This season, she spoke about seeing more focus throughout the team as they fought to better their position for a more serious postseason run.

“This year, I sense more of an urgency of wanting to get in the tournament. Just to get a taste of that,” she said. “We were shy of it last year, so it was a hurt feeling to sit back and just watch all those teams go on, so it’s just more urgent for us this year. Especially with five seniors, with this being our last year, we’re valuing it more with each game.”

With 11 games left in the regular season including Thursday night’s contest against Alabama, it is yet to be determined whether this team will do enough to earn a tournament bid. If they do not, it will not be from a lack of effort from Allen and the other four seniors on the team.

“(We are) valuing our last chance here and just to be the first to get into the tournament in a long time.”

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With her team plagued by slow, turnover-filled starts game after game, Florida head coach Amanda Butler began tinkering with her team’s starting lineup.

For much of the season, the status quo had been Lanita Bartley, Jaterra Bonds and Jordan Jones in the backcourt, with Azania Stewart and Jennifer George anchoring the frontcourt.

With her team plagued by slow, turnover-filled starts game after game, Florida head coach Amanda Butler began tinkering with her team’s starting lineup.

For much of the season, the status quo had been Lanita Bartley, Jaterra Bonds and Jordan Jones in the backcourt, with Azania Stewart and Jennifer George anchoring the frontcourt.

However, the results were just not there. Winnable games early in conference play had been wasted by lackluster starts.

Butler began shuffling the lineup in the team’s game against South Carolina. Deana Allen was inserted into the starting lineup to replace a banged up Lanita Bartley.

In the team’s last two games against Georgia and LSU, Allen continues to find herself on the court for tipoff. Ndidi Madu has been alongside her in the starting lineup.

The combination of Allen and Madu in the lineup provides the team with a level of athleticism it otherwise lacks to start the game. This athleticism has led to more confidence opening up games.

“They’re a huge spark, you know, they both bring different things,” Jordan Jones said. “Obviously Ndidi is one of our best offensive players, and Deana is probably our most high-energy player. The last couple of games we lacked that energy at the beginning, so coach Butler tried to switch it up, and obviously it is working for us right now.”

Butler has insisted she will not commit to a particular starting lineup. More changes are likely to come.

While the mixing and matching may continue, one thing is for sure. The Gators are a better team when Deana Allen sees more time on the floor.

She has a unique talent set in that she has the ability to score points in bunches on the offensive end, while allowing the team to not lose anything defensively. Both teammates and coaches have lauded Allen for her rebounding ability on both ends, especially for a perimeter player.

Allen knows the importance of cleaning the glass.

On defense, it allows the team to get in transition. Layups and quick baskets from a fast-paced attack augment an offense that has struggled at points this season.

Offensively, the ability to provide the team with second-chance opportunities is crucial. Not only does it lead to putting more points on the board, but causing a team to have to continue to play strong defense often wears out an opponent.

“That’s very important because George is going to get her rebounds and stuff, but we just can’t rely on her to bang against those other post players,” Allen said. “I think that is what separates our guards from the rest of the guards in the SEC, not many of those teams have guards that are great perimeter rebounders. I think that is something we are really emphasizing more.”

For someone with the background Allen has, the ability to not overlook an aspect of the game such as rebounding shows a level of maturity that comes from having been through the fire.

Coming out of Ellender Memorial High School, Allen was rated as one of the top high school players in the state of Louisiana.

Her talents were recognized as the Louisiana Sports Writers Association named her Miss Basketball in the state of Louisiana in 2008. She was also named the 2008 Gatorade Player of the Year for Louisiana.

Despite her achievements, Allen still plays the game with a level of humility that draws respect from her teammates.

She doesn’t overlook rebounding. She won’t complain whether she is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.

It is all about the team.

“Whether I’m starting or not, I just want to get out, help the team win and just do whatever coach (Butler) needs me to do,” Allen said. “I kind of like coming off the bench better, but if she needs me to start the game and give us that spark that I give us when I’m coming off the bench, then I will do that.”

Through 18 games, Allen has come off the bench in 15 and started three. Her 19.7 minutes per game average is sixth on the team.

Despite a lesser number of minutes than the conventional starting lineup, Allen’s numbers have been impressive.

She is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points per game. Her 6.2 rebounds per game are second on the team to Jennifer George’s 9.6

Allen has connected on nine of her 27 threes this season. While beating her defender off the dribble is a strength for Allen, the ability to hit a jumper is something she knows keeps the defense honest.

“Just not giving the defense one way to guard us,” Allen said, describing the importance of a multi-faceted game. “They have to worry about us crashing the boards, they also have to worry about us hitting our perimeter shots, as well as getting to the basket. Just trying to keep them on their toes about everything.”

While her scoring and rebounding numbers are strong, Allen often sparks the team most with her quick hands. Her 34 steals on the season lead the team.

As a senior, her focus is not leading the team in any individual statistics, but leading them to more wins. To the NCAA Tournament.

After spending her first two collegiate seasons at Pensacola Junior College, Allen elected to transfer to Florida for her final two years of eligibility.

The 2010-11 season, her first at Florida, was a strong one for Allen. She appeared in all 35 games, including 16 starts.

In her first SEC Tournament, Allen was tied for a team-high in scoring at 12.5 points per game and rebounding at six per.

While the Gators made it to the postseason in the form of the WNIT, it was a season that left more to be desired for Allen. This season, she spoke about seeing more focus throughout the team as they fought to better their position for a more serious postseason run.

“This year, I sense more of an urgency of wanting to get in the tournament. Just to get a taste of that,” she said. “We were shy of it last year, so it was a hurt feeling to sit back and just watch all those teams go on, so it’s just more urgent for us this year. Especially with five seniors, with this being our last year, we’re valuing it more with each game.”

With 11 games left in the regular season including Thursday night’s contest against Alabama, it is yet to be determined whether this team will do enough to earn a tournament bid. If they do not, it will not be from a lack of effort from Allen and the other four seniors on the team.

“(We are) valuing our last chance here and just to be the first to get into the tournament in a long time.”

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