Opener fiasco a reality check
GAINESVILLE — UF coach Mike White is not going to overreact to one game, not matter how bad it was.
The key now is how his Gators respond to Tuesday night’s 81-60 loss at Florida State, a final score not nearly indicative of the onesided beating delivered by the Seminoles.
“I was shocked,” White said Thursday.
The Gators’ collapse was a reality check for a team ranked on the fringe of the preseason top 25.
White is taking the long view. The contest was the first of a 31-game, fourmonth regular season.
Next up is a visit from Charleston Southern at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I’m as disappointed as anybody that we didn’t beat Florida State,” White said Thursday. “That said, it’s just one game. It’s behind us. We better get better today. We’ve got another game tomorrow. That’s the beauty of college basketball.
“Take that how you want to take it but I want to get better today, I want to get better tomorrow, and see where it leads us. We’re 0-1.”
Even so, flopping at FSU so dramatically during the season opener felt like more than just any loss to the Gators.
“I feel like emotionally, it is kind of hard,” senior center Kevarrius Hayes said. “You've been preparing for so long and your first game kind of like tanks like that.”
The defeat gave the White and his players plenty to work on.
The No. 17 Seminoles exposed the Gators’ lack of toughness, senior leadership and offensive cohesiveness.
FSU pounced on UF and built a 35-point lead as the Gators gave in.
“When things are not going our way ... we need to find a way out of the funk,” Hayes said. “I feel like we really didn't do that and we kind of fell victim to it and it just kind of kept going downhill.”
Senior guard KeVaughn Allen, who spent much of last season in a slump, failed to score for the first time in 85 games. Fifth-year senior guard Jalen Hudson, who returned to school after testing the NBA draft waters, shot just 3 of 10 from the field, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
The Gators’ shot selection and ball movement were suspect much of the night. UF finished 6-of-24 from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, the Gators had just nine assists and 16 turnovers.
The successes and failures of last season’s team too often was dictated by whether long-range shots were falling. The tendency resurfaced in Tallahassee.
“Most of our issues throughout the night were offensive,” White said. “Not being able to score against a prolific defense and some of it was our own doing. Horrific shot selection, which I’m in charge of. “It’s got to get better.” Hayes called the FSU loss “a wake-up call.”
White hopes it sparks something in his team that has been sorely missing for too long.
Following a long bus ride back from Tallahassee and a fitful night of sleep, White met with each of his players individually and then later as a team.
White said his players, to a man, took ownership of the loss. Yet, White would have liked to see a little more emotion from his players.
The lack of competitive fire felt all-too familiar.
“Similar to last year, a lot of the same guys, we’ve got a really nice group of guys,” White said. “They’re more ... eager to hear as a staff what we have to say. I get a lot of head nods and eye contact and ‘yes sirs,’ and our guys go to work. That’s the positive and the beauty of this team.
“But, the fire in the belly, the tearing up in the locker room, you know, that alpha dog or those three alpha dogs that are going to go nuts on the team and say this isn’t going to happen again. None of that is happening in our locker room.”
Florida State’s David Nichols pressures Kevaughn Allen of Florida during the Seminoles’ win Tuesday in Tallahassee.