Todd Golden says the Gators played with purpose for 40 minutes

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team picked up a season-opening victory on Monday night in head coach Todd Golden’s debut. The 36-point margin of victory marked the largest in a Florida coaching debut, topping UF’s 34-point win in Tommy Bartlett’s debut (93-59, 12/1/66 at Jacksonville).

Seven players made their Florida debut, including transfers Trey Bonham, Alex Fudge, Kyle Lofton and Will Richard and freshmen Denzel Aberdeen, Riley Kugel and Aleks Szymczyk. 

Alex Fudge, Will Richard, and Colin Castleton led the Gators to a 81-45 victory over Stony Brook. 

These three players along with Todd Golden met with the media after the game to discuss their performance. 

“It feels great. I thought we did a really good job of playing with purpose for forty minutes,” Todd Golden said in his opening statement. “They obviously went zone for forty, we weren’t exactly expecting that. We thought they would show it, but we weren’t expecting it for forty minutes. It just changed the complexation and kind of the way the game was started. After the first eight minutes of the game, I thought we did a good job of not settling for quick threes and really work the ball into the high post. Alex [Fudge] did a great job attacking in the first half in the high post. Collin [Castleton] did a really good job finding good shots for us. And then in the second half, we went 7-10 because we took the right ones. We did a good job going inside out. All of our threes in the second half were off of catch and shoots. We didn’t finish as well in the second half, but we played with good purpose for forty. Every guy that came in did a good job of staying within themselves and continuing to guard and rebound, which was really important.”

Golden placed an emphasis on rebounding upon his arrival in Gainesville. Florida took care of business on the glass Monday night, out rebounding Stony Brook 44 to 28.

“We dominated the paint,” Golden said. “We did a really good job on the glass, and we did a great job taking care of the ball. Those are the areas that don’t require a lot of talent, it’s more about being physical and having will and desire to go get it.”

Golden said he was pleased with his team’s performance in the 2nd half; Florida outscored Stony Brook 43-23 after halftime. 

“My initial takeaway is really pleased in the second half. We are up by thirty and guys are still trying to play the right way,” Golden said. “We don’t have guys going out there trying to get their baskets, being lazy defensively, trying to shoot lanes, gambling, and putting other guys in bad positions. We played really solidly for forty minutes.”

This next quote was my favorite of the presser. Golden was asked about the team’s depth and having to rotate players in the game. This was his response.

“It’s the talent that holds everybody accountable. When you are trying to play a lot of guys, if one guy rolls his eyes or isn’t happy with his role, great. It makes my life easier. Then I only have to play ten instead of eleven and then it trickles down. That’s kind of my mentality,” Golden said. “These guys have a lot of pride. Obviously, they’re all really talented, good players. We’ll see how long we can go with this kind of mentality. I think we can do it, but there’s going to be nights where we are only playing eight or nine guys. Once we get into that we’ll learn more about ourselves.”

Senior forward Colin Castleton shared a similar message with the media. 

“You got to be all for the team…that’s the biggest thing coach Golden tells us, not everything’s going to go your way with basketball, that’s life too,” Castleton said. “Everything’s not going to go your way so, you just got to come in every day with the right mindset, the right attitude, and it’s just basketball at the end of the day so when you get your opportunity you got to be ready, and that’s what he just preaches, everybody has to be on the same page. That’s just the biggest thing we try to do is teach the other guys is you may get your shot this night, but then the next night you may not play as much, so being able to just be ready is good. Like you talked about depth, it’s going to help us throughout the year and you really need that when conference play comes. That’s like the biggest thing is just having the right mental mindset about it.”

Alex Fudge scored 16 points off the bench in the victory, but says the team takes pride in defense. 

“I feel as if we take pride in defense, and that’s something that we want to pick up in this program, we want to build on that and probably be one of the national leaders defensively…it’s a good thing when you playing defense,” Fudge said. 

Belmont transfer Will Richard said winning this game for Todd Golden meant a lot to the team. 

“Everybody’s bought into everything he’s been teaching us the past few months,” Richard said. “Seeing how he believes in every one of us, the energy in practice every day is elite. Going out there and playing well for him that means a lot. We drenched him in water after the game, it means a lot.”

The Gators are set to take on Kennesaw State this Friday at 7:00




Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.