The Florida Gators aren’t anywhere near where they hoped or expected to be at this point in the season. It’s been an uphill battle from the very start, and things haven’t gotten any easier.
After three straight losses, the Gators are just trying to pick up the pieces and salvage these last few weeks of play.
There is no point in trying to predict what this team is going to do from night to night or where it is mentally, but it seems to be recovering well from a rough performance at Tennessee and ready to move on to Vanderbilt.
The first day back after a loss and a day off can be less than stellar, but Mike White was pleased with what he saw from his guys on Monday.
“The season is far from over,” he said. “I liked our approach yesterday. This is a team I’ve fought at different times in the film room, in practices. We’ve had to coach effort at times with certain guys, with certain veterans, which has been discouraging at times. Our culture hasn’t been where it’s been in the past … They’ve been challenged for a while. I will say yesterday was our best practice in about a month.”
One of the biggest issues Florida has struggled with this season is culture. White said there have been days that players who aren’t getting a lot of minutes come to practice sulking and acting entitled.
That was not the case on Monday. The players who really stood out were Deaundrae Ballard and Mike Okauru, who White said were the best they’ve been in a month.
He also noted that Jalen Hudson was the best player on the floor, coming off one of his strongest offensive games of the season.
“Our character’s pretty good,” White said. “It’s got to be better, and it’s got to be from the entirety. And it hasn’t been that. Yesterday was the first day I felt in a while we had everyone all-in and pulling in the same direction. So, it’s a positive. We’ll see where we go from there.”
The bounce back practice was no fluke. Hudson said the team got together in the locker room beforehand and made the conscious decision to pull it together.
“It’s kind of like a newfound energy,” he said. “We kind of went through a rough patch here in the last couple weeks, I would say, more so the last week-and-a-half. We’re just really not happy with where we’re at right now as a team, so we just want to be able to control what we can control, and one of those things is energy.”
One great day doesn’t solve anything. The Gators are still on a three-game skid and trending in the wrong direction for postseason play.
However, it does show that this team hasn’t totally checked out. There are still opportunities for big wins ahead that could keep tournament hopes alive.
If Florida can find some leadership and leave egos at the door moving forward, it can put itself in a much better position.