It’s no secret the Florida Gators have struggled this season. It’s been an uphill battle since the very first game.
But the Gators are playing their best basketball of the season right now on a three-game winning streak, and Mike White wants his team to be proud of that.
After Florida went into Baton Rouge and shocked No. 13 LSU in overtime on Wednesday, White didn’t ecourage the guys to set sights to Missouri immediately.
The Gators have shown so much growth in the last few weeks during arguably the toughest stretch of the season with postseason hopes on the line. That is something worth celebrating.
“I wanted our guys to feel good about it,” White said. “I did. And 95 percent of the time you move on. Our line is you got an hour. Let’s celebrate this for an hour and let’s move on to the next opponent. This team’s had a lot of adversity … We were able to close out. I want our guys feeling good.”
While White wants his players feeling confident heading into the final five games of the regular season, he knows there has to be a balance. Florida isn’t a team that can go into any game without an ounce of doubt that it’s going to win.
Even with three bottom-tier SEC teams coming up on the schedule, the Gators have to continue playing with the same energy and intensity they did against the Tigers.
“We stole one on the road,” White said. “We’re not a much different team all of a sudden. We didn’t win by 30 the other day. We were very, very fortunate. We’ll be fortunate to win every game. They’re all winnable. They’re all losable. We’re just one of those teams that every game is going to be close.”
The biggest thing White and the Gators are focused on in this final stretch is shutting out postseason noise.
Finally getting that signature win put Florida back in good position to make the NCAA Tournament. White knows it. The players know it. Everyone knows it.
But a couple slip-ups and all the work to get back to this point could go right down the drain.
“It can become harder for potential postseason teams this time of year, when they’re not sure-fire postseason teams,” White said. “You just do your best. I think you can make a mistake, though, and talk about it too much, talk about the external noise too much, because the more you talk about it, the more you’re focused on it. We addressed it yesterday, spent three minutes on it, and hopefully we handle in correctly in terms of continuing the process, just grinding on, improvement, development. Missouri, that’s it. And it better be or they can come in here and make you look foolish the way they spread the floor and make threes and defend you.”