The Florida Gators finally seem to have some things figured out as the final games of the regular season are winding down.
Less than a week ago, this team had lost three of its last four games and goals for the season started fading with every poor performance. Now, the Gators are playing as well as they have all year after decisive wins over LSU and South Carolina last week.
Florida hasn’t been able to find the right balance between being energetic on the defensive end while still making shots on the offensive end. And the couple of times it did, it was never able to string those performances together.
Two good games in a row does not make the Gators a consistent team by any stretch of imagination, but it’s the closest thing to a step in the right direction to this point.
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, but it might be the first time we’ve seen it on a whole week, and that’s another step,” said head coach Mike White. “Let’s see if we can get it three games in a row. Again, win or lose, whether we’re making shots or not, we want the same effort, and that gives you the energy to start and beat anybody.”
White said he’s not going to hold his breath or get too confident in the thought that the Gators have found the winning recipe until he sees that same intensity level a few more games in a row.
Florida hasn’t always been the easiest team to read this season, but there is reason to believe this is a real turning point.
It all started after a healthy team meeting last week, and since then, guys have been talking more and holding each other accountable. According to White, many players were worried about personal offensive stats and accolades this season instead of doing what is best for the team, but that seems to have sorted itself out recently.
“Some of it might just be maturation, guys getting a little bit older,” White said. “You go through a little bit of adversity and you grow from it. The more adversity you have with a high-character team, your hope is the more you grow from it. We’ve had few to this point. In February, maybe it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. We can all see it’s coming to an end, especially for our seniors. And then it may be the fact that our guys have communicated a lot with each other here lately. We’ve gotten some stuff out, which is much needed with all teams.”
If the Gators have really found something defensively and on the boards, that changes the entire outlook of where this team’s ceiling is and how far it could go.
Yante Maten and the Georgia Bulldogs embarrassed Florida from that perspective a couple weeks ago, so Wednesday night’s game will answer a lot of the remaining questions.
“It would give us an opportunity,” White said of sustaining the edge. “Without that, we won’t have an opportunity. If we play with the same physicality and aggression and edge that we brought to Athens, we can’t beat these guys. They’re just too good on the interior, both on the glass and scoring it and defensively. They just manhandled us on the interior in Athens. We’ve got to be much better to have a chance.”