Florida head coach Amanda Butler addressed what the women’s basketball team needs to do to prepare for wins in the upcoming season at the team’s annual media day on Wednesday.
During the 2011 season, the team ended 20-15 overall and 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference. In the 2012 season, the players are looking for more success on the court.
The answer to improving for this season was a no-brainer for Butler.
“Well I guess we need to win more games,” Butler said. “That would be the easy answer, because we felt like our resume was really strong last year, but we really didn’t win, and that’s the way it goes.”
UF senior guard Jordan Jones said that the team always has a preseason goal of winning the Southeastern Conference championship, but she feels more confident this year.
“I feel the most confident about it with five seniors coming back,” Jones said. “Personal goals will take care of themselves. When the team is having success, then the personal goals will come with that, so I am not worried about personal things. We’re just focused on the SEC Championship.”
Senior forward Ndidi Madu is eager to make her final season at UF her most successful.
“I am definitely approaching it differently,” Madu said. “This is my last go-around, so I am more focused than ever and have more urgency because I really just want to get things done and reach goals I haven’t accomplished yet.”
Madu said that the current team is the best she has played on.
“I think so, because we are returning just about everybody and everyone knows each other after a year of experience with each other.”
Butler will look to draw upon the experience on her team during fast-paced games.
The coach isn’t concerned with mistakes such as turnovers as long as the players are pushing the ball and making aggressive plays.
“One of our rules in our program is that we don’t get too concerned with mistakes as long as they’re aggressive mistakes,” she said. “Mistakes are going to happen.”
In order to improve, Butler wants to forget about last year and focus on the upcoming season.
In order to make this year stand out Butler wants the team to focus on having no close losses even though the level of competition will not become easier this season.
“I think our seniors just really want this to be a special year, a historic year, and they know that that means no close losses,” she said. “We need to fulfill that.”
In order to pull off close wins the players know what they need to bring to the court.
“We’re going to see some efforts and some play where you’ve got some young ladies who are very determined to show how good they are, not just how close to being good they are,” Butler said.
An area the team will pay close attention to is defense.
“To play a really tough and stingy defense where we’re disruptive, we’re loud, and a lot of our presence as a team is rooted in how we are on D,” Butler said. “I think that’s an identity our team really likes having, and I think it’s something we really want to establish a foundation of.”
The team will also rely on the experience of the players this season, something missing from last year.
Butler said the team lacked experience and cohesion because the team consisted of young players. This year, she will take advantage of having a majority of returning players.
“We have people that have played a lot of different roles and now have at least a year of experience underneath their belt, and I think all those hard lessons that we learned, we’re going to take them to heart,” she said.
The key for the 2012 season is for the team to be able to make its own path.
“We just want to put ourselves in the position where people aren’t making decisions for us,” Butler said. “We want to be in control of our own destiny.”