Florida head coach Cam Newbauer speaks during the Southeastern Conference women's NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Intensity Ramping Up for Newbauer, Gators Women’s Hoops

After beginning practice in October, the Gators Women’s Basketball team is gearing up for the regular season. With their first game on Nov. 25 against Grambling State, Head Coach Cam Newbauer is increasing the intensity at practice.

Newbauer spoke to the media Monday to discuss the upcoming season and an update on practices. Below Newbauer discusses the increasing intensity surrounding the team at practice.

Building On Momentum

Last season, the Gators finished 15-15 with a 6-10 record in the SEC. Yet, Florida flashed brilliance at times, winning seven games by double digits in the 2019-2020 season.

So, it’s conceivable for Newbauer to believe his team is riding momentum heading into this season. However, with a mandatory shut down from the pandemic, it has become increasingly more difficult to continue the momentum for the Gators. Newbauer discussed this momentum with the media Monday.

If the Gators will continue any success from last season, it’ll be fueled by sophomore guard Lavander Briggs. Last season, Briggs became the first Gator to win an All-SEC honor since 2017, making the All-Freshman team.

As a freshman, Briggs led the Gators with 15.0 ppg, the highest scoring average by any Florida freshman since 1992, when all-time leading scorer Merlakia Jones averaged 15.1 ppg. Briggs put up double digits in 26 of the Gators’ 29 games, compiling seven double-doubles, the most by a Gators freshman since 2001. If Florida looks to improve this season, it will be led by the sophomore guard.

Update On Rainey

On Monday, Newbauer provided an update on redshirt senior guard Danielle Rainey, who missed the entire 2019-2020 season with a knee injury. However, Rainey has been practicing, adjusting her game after knee surgery sidelined her for a year. With Rainey, the Gators improve offensively, as the guard was the Gators’ second-leading scorer in 2018-2019.

Despite playing in 22 games, Rainey finished with 28 three-pointers that season, the third-most on the team. If she can stay healthy, Rainey provides Florida with a reliable scorer who’s touch around the arc is unmatched. Newbauer discussed what Rainey brings to the team and her progress from injury.

The de Oliviera Situation

If there’s one thing keeping Newbauer awake at night, it’s the uncertainty of junior forward Emanuely de Oliviera. After returning home to Brazil upon the news of the shutdown, de Oliveira has been unable to return to the United States. At this time, it is unclear whether de Oliviera will be returning anytime soon. Newbauer gave an update on de Oliveira’s situation Monday.

Florida Gators guard Emanuely de Oliveira (11) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

The dilemma with de Oliviera is difficult. At this time, many countries are not allowing individuals from Brazil in. However, de Oliviera’s dispute deals with her visa.

Currently, her visa isn’t valid to get her back into the United States. Due to the pandemic, the U.S State Department suspended all immigration/emigration from areas potentially harmful to the economic recovery of the United States on Aug. 12. Deemed a “harmful” area, de Oliviera cannot get her visa accepted to return to the University of Florida.

In fact, de Oliviera has had her visa appointment canceled 13 times. The University has contacted the White House and Florida senators, however, there is nothing anyone can do. Newbauer said de Oliviera’s status was day-to-day Monday.

Almost Hoops Time

Through all uncertainty, the Gators are gearing up for the first game on Nov. 25 vs. Grambling State. To see the upcoming Gators Women’s Basketball roster, click here.

About Sam Petosa

Sam Petosa is a Journalism major pursuing a Specialization in Sports and Media at UF. The South Florida native produces daily shows for WRUF, including "Sport Scene with Steve Russell, and "The Tailgate." In addition, Sam provides weekly sports updates for WUFT News and radio Sportscenter's for WRUF radio. Sam has been a writer at ESPN Gainesville since January 2020.

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