Steve Spurrier called plays until the final years of his coaching career at South Carolina. Why? Well, drawing up ball plays and calling them on game day is what made him a head coach, and if you were good enough at something to get you the job, why would you turn that responsibility over to someone else?
Mike White’s high-flying, fast-paced offenses at Louisiana Tech got him the opportunity to be the head basketball coach at the University of Florida but the Gators haven’t looked like White’s Bulldogs.
It was apparent with the roster that he had in 2019-2020 that White wasn’t confident to run and play in transition. He was quoted several times saying that the Gators were better in the half-court and executed more efficiently there then when running and in transition.
The roster in 2020 will look vastly different from the loss of point guard Andrew Nembhard and big man Kerry Blackshear Jr. The pace at which Florida played was a major point of contention throughout the fan base as the Gators’ struggled through the 2019-20 season but change is coming.
“Playing fast is really in my DNA. It’s what I want to do. It’s what our guys want to do. I know it’s what our fans want to see as well. At the end of the day, you’ve gotta do the best with what you’ve got,” White said. “We’ve been able to attract some really good players here that have all been a little bit different. Going into this season I feel like, for the first time in a while, we’ll have a high level of speed, quickness, and athleticism from our whole roster, and I think we’ll be very deep. We look forward to playing fast, pressing, and just playing to our strengths.”
Florida, at least on paper, looks fast. There will be a spirited competition at point guard between Tre Mann, Ques Glover, Noah Locke, and Tyree Appleby. Florida is also loaded with athleticism on the wings with the return of Keyontae Johnson, Omar Payne, and Anthony Duruji, not to mention Scottie Lewis and how athletic the rising sophomore is.
Year six for White in Gainesville looks to finally deliver what fans were promised and expected when he arrived.
“From the first workout we’re going to start, as a team at least, we’re going to go in with the mindset that this is going to be a pressing team and therefore you’re going to be cross-matched more often than you normally would be. But I think we can get away with that a little bit more with this level of athleticism, speed, and quickness again, and depth,” White said. “Offensively I’d like to play a little more downhill and be a little more continuity based as opposed to call based. I look forward to implementing that stuff. We’ve done it before, and I think this team could have success doing it.”
Players will return to campus starting Sunday. After their COVID-19 testing and a 10-14 day acclimation period they will get back on the hardwood and begin practicing for the upcoming season. When that season will begin, White isn’t sure but he’s hopeful it will be on time and he’s committed now, more than ever, to get back to his roots as a coach and have the Gators’ playing a new style of basketball.