JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There were any number of positive takeaways from the Florida basketball team’s season opener Friday night.
For starters, the Gators finished off an 80-59 win over an experienced Florida Gulf Coast team that had reached the NCAA tournament last season. They played good defense in the second half, got a balanced offensive performance and also shot it better from the free throw line after being dreadful in that category last year.
From an individual standpoint, though, there may have been no more encouraging sign than to see junior forward Devin Robinson active and effective on both ends of the floor and looking fully healthy after offseason foot surgery.
Robinson finished with a team-high 14 points along with 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He drained both of his 3-pointers, hit 4-of-7 shots overall and all 4 of his free throws while playing 24 minutes.
“I felt good physically. I’ve been working hard in rehab and stuff, trying to get my legs back. I’ve been practicing hard, so I felt pretty good to be out here. Confident,” Robinson said.
Robinson intended to put out feelers with NBA teams and consider leaving college after last season before a stress fracture in his left foot changed those plans.
Instead, he could be a focal point for this Gators team and will look to build off his strong start Sunday night as Florida takes on Mercer at 8 p.m. ET at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
“(He looked) really, really good,” coach Mike White said. “Devin shot it well, of course, but I thought he got a couple key defensive rebounds/loose balls there under the other basket. Displayed some toughness there by coming (up) with those balls in a scrum. And when he was (playing) the 4 for us, he was outmatched in terms of weight and strength and I thought he did a good job of holding his own.”
The Gators might like to see Robinson be a little more assertive on the offensive end. After knocking down a pair of 3-pointers within the first 2 minutes, 3 seconds with his smooth stroke, he didn’t attempt another shot from the perimeter the rest of the game.
But his contributions on the defensive end are just as much a part of his value.
“That’s the game I have to play for us to be successful. If I can talk on defense and get my teammates going, then we can be real successful,” Robinson said.
It was a good start for the 6-foot-8 forward, but the Gators believe he can do even more as he gets going this season.
“He looked really good, but he can play way better. He’ll be fine,” point guard Kasey Hill said.