Recapping Gators' Loss at Auburn and an Honest Take on Mike White
Much like Wednesday night's game against Alabama, almost nothing went right Saturday night for the Gators in their trip to Auburn. The Tigers depth and defensive pressure and their inability to adapt gave Florida fits all game and ultimately resulted in an 85-73 victory for Auburn on their home floor. The Gators have now completely lost their way, having lost five of their last eight games and have started conference play 0-2. What began as a season filled with much promise and excitement for Gator fans everywhere has quickly regressed to the norm under Mike White. A team that has a lot of talent and promise that just fizzles out in the meat of the season. If the Gators have any hopes to make a deep run in the dance, adjustments have to be made immediately.
In the first five minutes or so of the game, Florida looked like they were going to give the Tigers a game and were playing very well on the defensive end. That all came crashing down to earth, though, as Auburn went on a 12-4 run that extended their lead to 13 and got the crowd at Auburn Arena into it. The rest of the game didn't go much better. Offensively, the Gators have to make changes and have to make them now. The 5-out offense that Mike White instituted this season and worked so well in November has stalled, as teams are quickly figuring out how to stop it. And it's not very hard to do. Everything pretty much relies around Colin Castleton and if you get him out of the game, Florida is toast. Even with Castleton having a good game Saturday night, where he finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, the Gator offense still looked ineffective and all out of sorts. It's a very vanilla offense, with Castleton setting a high ball screen or a dribble handoff action coming off of him and then diving down to the block. Auburn knew exactly how to defend this and were doubling off of the ball screens all game and doubling Castleton when he got the ball in the block. This was causing the Gators to take a lot of 3's and poor shots early in the shot clock. On top of that, the spacing was awful as many times you would see two or three guys right on top of each other with no where to work the ball. The Tigers made Florida make plays instead of getting good looks out of their offense all game, something that has happened almost every game to the Gators during their current skid. When you don't have a coherent offense and sets that allow you to get different looks, you are put in a position to have to make a lot of tough shots to win a game. And in the SEC, that is never going to be successful.
On top of all of this, Florida shot the ball very poorly. As a team they finished the game shooting 6-22 (27.3%) behind the arc and for the year have shot the 3 ball at a 31.2% clip. Yet they continue to shoot a lot of 3's every game, averaging around 24.5 3 point attempts per game. Now I'm not a math major, but if we're shooting the ball at almost 30% as a team this year from 3 then I think maybe we should stop chucking up 3's left and right. A lot of this is caused, again, by this offense that has refused to progress or evolve at all this year. When you have everything running through Castleton down low, he attracts a lot of doubles and is forced to find shooters on the perimeter. Teams are going to continue to double him and dare the Gators to shoot 3's with them shooting the ball at this current rate. Defensively, Florida forced Auburn to take a lot of tough shots and forced 16 turnovers. The Tigers hit a lot of contested 3's and made shots. If you're Florida, you tip your cap to them and keep defending the same way. The defensive end is not the issue for this team, though. It is 100% the offensive side of the ball and Mike White's inability to make adjustments to what opponents are throwing at him.
I think I can speak for virtually the entire Gator nation when I say, I am beyond sick of Mike White. Throughout his entire tenure at UF, he has done nothing but underachieve and waste away good, talented teams. And as of right now, this year doesn't look like it'll be any different. His inability to draw up an effective offensive scheme on top of his poor talent development have came to a head year after year. Under White, I honestly don't see anything changing and as a Gator fan I am ready for us to cut the cord and move on from him. As for the team, they need to have a short memory and get focused for their game against the 21st ranked LSU Tigers Wednesday night at the O-Dome, one that would be massive in turning this increasingly disappointing season around.