Ga­tors over­haul of­fense, seek new course

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS MONDAY - Egth­omp­[email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com

they in­stalled dur­ing the sum­mer in fa­vor of a scheme with strictly de­signed of­fen­sive sets.

“More struc­ture, more calls … just more rules,” White said. “This is who’s go­ing to ball-screen when and where. When this guy has the ball, this is what we’re do­ing. You can see it; a lot of times it’s, ‘Here’s our call; this is what we’re run­ning right now.’”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the Ga­tors con­tinue to ad­just to the changes. Yet there also have been some en­cour­ag­ing signs, in­clud­ing last Satur­day’s 76-62 loss at un­beaten But­ler.

Fol­low­ing the one-sided de­feat, UF’s coach caught many off guard when he show­ered praise on the Ga­tors’ per­for­mance on of­fense. On Fri­day, White dou­bled down on those com­ments.

“Some­times in basketball it’s about whether it goes in or not,” White said. “We missed a lot of re­ally good looks against a re­ally good de­fense. We haven’t made it of­fen­sively. We’re not there.

“But we did some stuff and ex­e­cuted of­fen­sively, ball moved a lit­tle bit … got to step up and make a shot.”

The Ga­tors are shoot­ing just 29.1% from 3-point range, 301st of 350 teams na­tion­ally.

A sea­son af­ter set­ting a UF fresh­man record with 81 3s, Noah Locke is hit­ting 33.3% of his 3-point at­tempts. Touted by White as the most tal­ented of­fen­sive player on the Ga­tors’ ros­ter, McDon­ald’s Al­lAmer­i­can Tre Mann is 4-of-19 shoot­ing (21.1%) from be­yond the arc.

Highly touted grad­u­ate trans­fer Black­s­hear, a 6-foot-11 post player, is 6-of-23 shoot­ing from 3-point range. At But­ler he was 1-of-6 from long range but made his other four field-goal at­tempts.

Black­s­hear’s shot se­lec­tion is ev­i­dence of his ver­sa­til­ity but also a sign even the team’s most ex­pe­ri­enced player con­tin­ues to search for his role within the Ga­tors’ at­tack.

“He’s good at a lot,” White said. “He’s not strictly a low-post, bang­ing pres­ence; he’s not strictly a 3-point shooter. Per­haps his best as­set is his abil­ity to pass the ball, to play through him, to catch it, to make de­ci­sions, to move it.

“So is he in a great, great rhythm? No. We’re still try­ing to help him in that re­gard.”

Black­s­hear, a na­tive of Or­lando, said he is not con­cerned about where he finds his shot or where he fits in. He is con­fi­dent the pieces even­tu­ally will fall into place for the Ga­tors.

“I don’t think there’s a ceil­ing on what we can be­come,” Black­s­hear said. “I think we’ve got to work ev­ery day and it’s not some­thing we can talk about or en­vi­sion with­out be­ing able to work ev­ery day. If we do that, we’ll get to where we want to go.”

The Ga­tors have en­coun­tered their share of ob­sta­cles this sea­son. Then again, four teams have reached No. 1 only to lose. Mean­while, North Carolina and Se­ton Hall — pre­sea­son top-12 teams like UF — each has four losses, too.

Head­ing into the fi­nal weeks be­fore SEC play opens Jan. 4 at home against Alabama, White re­mains re­al­is­tic — but also op­ti­mistic — about the Ga­tors.

“At the end of the day, let’s get bet­ter to­day,” White said. “That’s all we can do and we all know we’re not a great basketball team. We’re just not. We’re de­cent, com­pet­i­tive. We got a chance to get bet­ter but we gotta get bet­ter.

“How good? Who knows?”

JOE SKIP­PER/AP

UF coach Mike White’s Ga­tors en­tered the sea­son ranked No. 6, but have since fallen out of the na­tional rank­ings and are search­ing for an­swers.

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