While so much of the talk concerning the Florida Gators basketball team leading into this year has been about their new up-tempo offense that head coach Mike White brought with him from Louisiana Tech, that might not be what they are known for by season’s end. That distinction could be on the Gators’ new pressing schemes. According to “The Coach’s Clipboard,” pressing is a style of play that extends your defense into the opponent’s backcourt.
Regarding the schemes, “we hope one of them becomes the bread and butter for us, but what our strengths are in terms of pressing, or even if pressing in itself is our strength and something we’re gonna sell out too,” commented coach White.
And White’s hope for the team is not completely unfounded. There are three major factors that he discussed in Thursday’s press conference that will greatly influence how well they press.
Right from the start, the communication of the team will be improved due to two players who are now playing that were not playing last year. And in the words of Coach White, these players “talk a whole lot.” They are John Egbunu and Brandon Francis-Ramirez. It also helps that the coaching staff always speaks glowingly of Egbunu, and that Brandon was a highly touted player out of high-school with an additional feeling of something to prove. Besides these two, there is the veteran of the team in Dorian Finney-Smith, who challenged himself to be more vocal and lead by example. Egbunu, Ramirez, and Smith are going to be vital to the team so the increased communication will be key to their success
“I think we have solid depth at every position,” added White. “You wish you had more proven depth or more experienced depth at a few positions but I think there’s a bunch of parity.” And the players are only unproven because of a combination of NCAA transfer rules and veterans occupying those players’ positions last year. Now the young bucks get a chance to show why they came to Florida. As with any sport, when there is great depth at a plethora of positions, it allows more substitutions for players to stay fresh and aggressive until the final buzzer.
The final piece of the puzzle to be gathered from Thursday’s press conference is the influence the scheme itself will have on the play of the team. As Coach White stated, “we piggy backed Coach Donovan’s man-to-man run-and-jump” and “now we’re going to try to introduce some new things.”
While Donovan’s system was more complex, coach White’s zone press scheme is more simplified. That is crucial as it can generally be more difficult for a team to adjust to a new coaching staff’s play style and playing in a simpler system allows players to just go out and play as opposed to having to think.
The fast-paced offense; an advantage of setting the tempo, the influence imposed by your offense often spreads to your defense. Together, these give Coach Mike White and his Gators a legitimate chance of making their new press scheme their “bread and butter.”