Shooting woes leave Florida unranked, searching for answers
By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Mike White insists his team can shoot. The stats say otherwise.
The Gators (2-2) rank last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, averaging a paltry 62.5 points a game, and are 331st in the nation (out of 350 teams) in 3-point shooting (24.1%). They've missed 60 of 79 shots from behind the arc, a dismal start that led to two losses and resulted in White's team dropping from No. 6 to out of the rankings in less than two weeks.
"We are just very dysfunctional offensively right now," White said. "We all know that."
White expects it to get better beginning with Thursday's game against Saint Joseph's (2-2) in the Charleston Classic. Florida will play three games over four days, a chance to find something - anything, really - to build on moving forward.
"We're just in a slump right now," point guard Andrew Nembhard said. "I think we've all shot our worst kind of game so far. So, I think you can only go up from there."
White never expected this kind of start to the season. After all, his guys make shots regularly in practice, in scrimmages and in shoot-arounds. It's just not translating to games.
He said shot selection and tempo were among the most concerning problems in losses to Florida State and UConn. But don't look for him to make any wholesale changes before the tournament that also includes Miami, Missouri State, Xavier, UConn, Towson and Buffalo.
"I don't think it's in our best interest to hit the panic button," White said.
White believes the shots will start falling, confident that Nembhard, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Noah Locke, Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann are capable of shooting a much higher percentage.
White is making one tweak, though.
After ignoring all the preseason hype that surrounded the team for weeks, the coach has decided to hold a team meeting and ask a variety of questions in hope of creating an open dialogue about dealing with expectations, pressure and adversity. It's an about-face from how White's handled outside noise for years.
"I was sticking with the same philosophy. At what point does it become stubborn?" he said. "So we're just going to get it out. We're going to get it out and talk about it. It may be detrimental, but I'm going to try it. This whole thing is trial and error, right? I don't know that we can shoot it more poorly than we're shooting it.
"We're just going to have an open conversation. When we've done that in the past with these guys about other topics, it's been great. It's been really healthy conversation. It's a great group. We'll figure it out."
White hopes the talk will help his team's confidence, too.
"The biggest thing I've learned lately is that if they're not getting messages from me, they're getting them from someone else, somebody else, some device, what have you," White said. "And not that I think it any way decreased their level of work or focus 'cause we've had great practices. ... But the body language, the lack of confidence, the 'Oh, no, the sky is falling look' on some of these guys' faces lets me know that it definitely has affected us. It definitely has.
"So where do we go from here? Let's talk about. We'll see how it works."
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Updated November 20, 2019