When the Florida Gators take the court to play the Mercer Bears on Tuesday, they should be regrouped and recharged.
Florida has had 10 days to recover from a physical matchup and close loss to Michigan State. That means time to get bodies right, work on things that haven’t been clicking (aka shooting) and gear up for the next part of the season.
While the break was a great chance to work on some health issues, it was far from a week and a half of relaxation. After several days of what Mike White called “horrific” practices leading up to the game against the Spartans, there was simply no time to take it easy.
Something must have clicked since then, because White said he saw his guys take advantage of every extra day of work they got.
“They’ve handled their business,” he said “We’ve gone long and hard. We’ve had some very, very taxing practices and our guys have responded pretty well. I think we’ve gotten a little bit better.”
Possibly the most encouraging thing that’s come out of this time for the Gators is the reemergence of Jalen Hudson.
Hudson has had a very rough start to his senior season as he fell into a hole and hasn’t found a way to climb out of it since losing his starting spot nearly a month ago. He’s played very few minutes since then and done little with his limited opportunities.
But there may finally be a light at the end of this tunnel, at least if his last week of practices are any indication.
Both White and freshman guard Noah Locke (the guy who replaced Hudson in the starting lineup) raved of how much more intensity and passion he has brought recently.
“He’s been a different guy,” White said. “He’s about business. He comes in, he’s playing with energy and he’s competing. He’s got a bunch of wins in specific drills. He’s scored it a bunch this week, and we’ll see how it carries over, but that’s a nice first step.”
That is the key. It is a good sign that Hudson has found a new and improved work ethic, but that means next to nothing if he doesn’t put it on display in the upcoming games.
Florida desperately needs his offensive capabilities if it is ever going to be a good scoring team this season, and some more veteran leadership couldn’t hurt either.
White has said since the day he took over that the players who show up in practice are the ones who earn more minutes. More minutes lead to more confidence and more confidence leads to production, so maybe this is Hudson’s chance to break out of the funk and be the player he was expected to be for this team.
“It hasn’t been his month, but he’s had a good week, so hopefully he can get it going a little bit,” White said. “And that doesn’t mean just making shots. Hopefully he can get it going by making winning plays, whether it’s scoring, rebounding, getting a big stop, helping his team win and earn more minutes because it would be good for him and be good for the Gators.”