When some people get mad, they may yell or scream. Others may break or throw things. Or maybe silently stew.
Sure, I may bang the keys with a bit more ferocity . . . and anyone on the basketball message boards knows I’ve certainly been typing with more fervor in recent days.
That %*#@! South Carolina game!
Yeah- I am still not over it, and so here I am typing again… this time offering my couch-potato insights for Coach White. If he reads, well – he may throw things, namely a crumpled up column.
So be it. And that segues perfectly into my first suggestion . . .
- GET MAD: Coach White has often said some of his players are nice . . . too nice. “Again, these guys aren’t really animated. Really, really nice guys. Too nice of a group, really,” he lamented last season. But is there a nicer guy than Mike White? I’ve been privileged enough to attend practice, and I’ve seen him get angry. He has it in him, and is a rather intense, extremely focused guy. He is also a pretty good leaper. Heck, he nearly jumped out of his shoes during the game against FGCU a few weeks ago, drawing a well-earned technical. He was wildly animated – and I loved it! And so did that fans sitting nearby. “Did you see White? He went crazy”. It was refreshing. Much like White has pined for his players to “one day tear up a locker room after we lose”, fans would like to see him do similar BEFORE we lose. Coach, summon your inner Knight. Let’s not choke anyone, but throw a chair (no potted plants, please) . . . smash a clipboard. Hell, I’ll settle for another high-jump. And there was plenty reason to get mad Saturday night. Silva was hooking on nearly every possession. Yet ironically, it was Martin who was erupting on the sideline. And that dude is menacing! Now, I am not a fan of constant berating of players or officials, and I think Martin frequently oversteps. But I do think there are times a coach needs to infuse some passion, some energy . . . some ANGER! I’d like to see Coach White pick his spots and do so with a team that sometimes is in desperate need.
- HAVE A QUOTA SYSTEM: This will sound absurd, and perhaps it is . . . but I think some of White’s players need to be put on a quota. I’m serious. White has implored . . . begged and pleaded. . . KeVaughn Allen to shoot 12-15 shots per game. Against South Carolina he took 6. SIX! And he made four ‘em! Worse yet – his FINAL SHOT of the game was 8 seconds into the second half. Are you kidding?!? A player Florida so desperately needs to aid an ailing offense went entirely M.I.A. on that end of the floor for an entire, fateful half! It seems Allen either does not recognize or have the self-assertion to heed White’s requests. And so requests must evolve into demands . . . quotas. Don’t take 12 shots in a game? Sit the next one. That may sound harsh or even silly, but sillier is that it has even come to this. Florida needs Allen to shoot, and if he is unwilling to do so . . . he is, by extension, unwilling to help his team. There is a place for that – the bench. Allen is a good a player and a nice kid (too nice!), so it is hard for me to even type this critique. But I honestly think it is necessary.
And while we are at it . . . Keith, I am penciling you in for 5 rebounds per game. And Jalen – 6 free throw attempts. The good news, fellas – there is a bonus tied to your quota. It’s called “winning”.
- KEEP THE ENERGY ON: Stagnant. It’s a word used often a descriptor for Florida’s offense. Coach White recently acknowledged what appears as players sometimes simply spacing and standing on offense. And while he attributed some of it to personnel and offensive shortcomings, White also took ownership of these slow-downs as an occasional strategy. “Sometimes it’s by design … me saying ‘whoa, whoa, whoa’ because we have been on defense so much”. And Florida is on defense a lot . . . MORE than any other team in the country. And for that reason White has sometimes found need to “slow it up” for the purposes of letting his guys catch their breath and make the opponent defend. But is the opponent really defending when Florida is standing? And if guys are winded – sub ‘em out. Deaundre Ballard played 12 minutes versus USC, and Okauru notched only 3 minutes. That seems way too few for a team exerting a ton of defensive energy.
The larger concern is White’s hope for his players to be aggressive/assertive jiving with this ‘slow down’ strategy. Those attributes are tough to turn on and off. And so when White flips the switch to “energy reserve” mode, I am not sure some these guys can turn it back on. Use the bench . . . use timeouts . . . but don’t artificially slow a team that has a hard enough time finding its pace and aggression. Keep the energy on, and when it flickers . . . replace the bulb.
And so there you have it, my couch . . . or Coach Potato observations. Here’s hoping Coach reads its, gets super mad and punches his computer screen. I’m joking – sorta.
-Brent J. Mechler II