Florida women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler believes in quality, not quantity.
Her squad is down to nine, after redshirt sophomore Viktorija Dimaite tore her ACL again to end another season before it began.
But the nine now on the active roster are capable of stepping onto the court and contributing at any time, Butler said.
“I think we’ve got nine players that can play,” she said at basketball Media Day Wednesday. “There’s no one when I look at this roster and go, you know, maybe she’ll have it by January or she’s a step or two behind everyone else. There’s really none of that. It’s nine very talented women.’”
The team welcomes two transfers, Antoinette Bannister from North Carolina and Cassie Peoples from Texas. Both are fast offensive playmakers and good shooters, Butler said. The two bring a high energy to the court.
“They are going to have immediate roles,” she said. “I think that’s part of the reason that they chose to come here, besides maybe familiarity with our staff or having a chance to get a degree from this university. They knew that this was a place, a program that was positioned to do great things and they could add to that.”
True freshman Ronni Williams was ranked No. 13 in the country in recruiting and top in Florida last year in high school, as well as being named a McDonald’s All-American. She is the highest-ranked player UF has ever signed since prep rankings started. Butler said Williams has been a big contributor so far, taking lessons in stride and remaining humble.
UF had returned eight from its roster last year, including Dimaite. Last year, the Gators finished 22-15 (6-10 SEC) and reached the WNIT semifinals for the second time in program history. Butler said the team is carrying the momentum from the postseason berth into this year.
“For the returning group, it was really the beginning of something special,” she said. “It was really the beginning of hopefully an era of success that maybe we haven’t seen here in awhile. And I think they really are in that mindset.”
Fifteen opponents Florida will face this season competed in the 2013 postseason. Florida State, Penn State, St. John’s, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt all made it to the NCAA tournament; Florida International, Illinois State, Arkansas, Auburn and Missouri appeared in the WNIT.
Butler said she helped craft the tough nonconference schedule, which she thinks will prep the team for SEC competition.
UF opens its season against Bethune-Cookman at home Nov. 8.