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Not much can truly be taken away from the start of Florida Gators basketball’s 2016-17 season as Florida has outscored its opponents by 21.5 points and simply been more talented than the teams its faced to this point.
One change that is apparent, however, is the Gators’ improved accuracy and confidence at the free throw line, which looks to be a 180-degree change from a season ago (with the caveat that it’s still early).
Florida is currently 36th nationally in free throw shooting, hitting 78.6 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe (44-of-56). That’s a drastic change from the 2015-16 campaign when UF was ranked 328th (out of 351 teams) at 64.8 percent.
“I think you can see their body language, a little more confident at the foul line,” explained head coach Mike White this week. “… It’s a big factor for us. It kept us out of the NCAA Tournament last year, single-handedly. Hopefully this year we can continue shooting like this.”
White attributed the Gators’ problems from a year ago to a combination of mental and physical issues. He said the coaches tried whatever they could in practice last year, but they simply could not rectify the situation.
Some players spent the offseason tweaking their shots, while others met with a sports psychologist that visited the team not only to work on the mentality of taking free throws but playing basketball and sports in general. White believes the psychologist got Florida “in a pretty good place” and noted that senior point guard Kasey Hill, senior forward Justin Leon and redshirt junior center John Egbunu all benefited most from the visit.
Florida will look to keep its hot start from the charity stripe going when it hosts St. Bonaventure in Lakeland, Florida, on Thursday night.
Florida Gators football looks to maintain its SEC East lead in its first home game in nearly a full month. And the Gators will try to do it against a familiar face.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-South Carolina.
Location: The Lakeland Center – Lakeland, Florida [Capacity: 6,267]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|Florida Gators||St. Bonaventure Bonnies|
|Head Coach||Mike White||Mark Schmidt|