With its incoming recruiting class and the addition of treasured graduate transfer in Kerry Blackshear Jr., the Florida Gators are expected by many media members to make the Final Four and truly compete for a title this season. We detailed earlier this offseason how the conference favorite in Kentucky might not win the SEC and Florida was one of those reasons. Here’s why.
Upgrade in talent and depth
Florida might have a few new faces this season, but they should make this team better than last season’s. Bringing in Blackshear gives the Gators an inside offensive threat they haven’t had since Billy Donovan’s days as coach. He can also step out and shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, which should put some serious stress on defenses. The freshmen in Omar Payne, Jason Jitoboh, Tre Mann, Ques Glover and Scottie Lewis will make this team a much faster and more athletic team as well.
Tre Mann is a much different point guard from Nembhard and will surely give the Gators different looks on offense when he takes over from Nembhard and could make the game easier for him if they are in together. However, the biggest freshman addition was five-star forward Scottie Lewis who competes with Keyontae Johnson for title of “most athletic” player on this team. Florida should have a ton of lineup versatility with the options available to them and this will give them depth they haven’t seen in a long time as well.
This team should run two or three players deep at every position and assuming Gorjok Gak stays healthy, they will have a big body in the middle that they haven’t seen since he stepped on campus. He could be the rim protector they’ve been needing for a couple seasons now and could give Blackshear some rest without losing anything on defense.
Can play big or small with shooters or drivers
As mentioned earlier, the Gators will have plenty of lineup versatility and should be able to play with any kind of team over the course of the season. If you want to go big on the Gators, they’ll throw out Blackshear, Gak, Nembhard, Johnson and Bassett or Lewis. You want to go small? They have a counter for that too. Nembhard or Mann, Noah Locke, Lewis, Johnson and Blackshear will see the floor.
Then you get into the dilemma of whether Florida should throw out a lineup of shooters or playmakers. They’ve got those too. You want some drivers with a shooter or two? Locke is the knockdown shooter surrounded by playmakers in Nembhard, Mann, Johnson and Blackshear who all happen to be able to shoot it too. The Gators will even be able to throw out an all-defensive lineup of Nembhard, Johnson, Lewis, Gak and Bassett. This is the kind of adaptability that will make them a dangerous team not only in the SEC, but in the national landscape.
Will be able to get up and down the floor quickly
Last year’s Florida team was 291st in the country in average length of possession — meaning they went deep into the shot clock — but this year’s team won’t have any issues getting up and down the court and getting up a ton of shots. Almost everyone on this roster is a fluid athlete and won’t have any conditioning issues.
Mike White also has a bevy of guys who excel in transition like Nembhard, Mann and Lewis who should all take advantage of any transition offense opportunities this team can get its hands on this season.
Before last season, Florida under White had not finished worse than 110th in average length of possession so a return to that kind of play should be expected with this team. And of course, getting up more shots than the other team will always give you the best chance to win the game.
The Florida Gators were 20th in the country last year in points allowed per game and they might have gotten even better on that end this season. Better defense should lead to more live ball turnovers or good leak out chances off rebounds for this team and you can expect they’ll do something real flashy with those opportunities.
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