Following a decisive loss against Purdue, the Florida men’s basketball team (3-1) will return to action today in a home game against the Vermont Catamounts (2-3).
Florida men’s basketball head coach Mike White said Purdue’s execution in the post and backcourt leadership was simply too much for a Gator team that looked deflated on defense, particularly during a 20-3 run in the second half.
Despite the 85-70 loss to Purdue, White and the Gators saw some signs of progress from big men John Egbunu and Dorian Finney-Smith.
While there was some question of Florida’s overall effort, Egbunu tallied 19 points and seven boards against an impressive Purdue team. Meanwhile, Finney-Smith found an offensive rhythm, dropping 17 points and collecting eight rebounds.
Regardless of the point differential or level of competition, Coach White says that he wants to raise defensive expectations, especially for his leaders.
Looking forward to Vermont, the Gators will need to sharpen up on defense and find their identity as a team. It won’t be an easy task for a Florida team that must go back to work directly after this game as the Gators will practice on Thanksgiving in order to prepare for Friday’s home game against Florida Gulf Coast.
Florida is in the midst of a four games in seven days stretch which should test them early in the season.
Vermont provides an interesting match up, as the Catamounts have three returning starters from last year’s 20-win season. They also played Purdue and lost 107-79 earlier this season. Vermont’s leading scorer is point guard Trae Bell-Haynes (16.8 PPG).
However, the Catamounts also have some size to contain Florida’s frontcourt, with 6-9 senior forward Ethan O’Day averaging 12.6 points and five rebounds a game.
As the Gators prepare for this taxing week, Coach White knows that the team’s focus must remain on making improvements.