The Florida basketball program underwent a major reconstruction last season when long-time coach Billy Donovan left for the NBA and the Gators hired Mike White away from Louisiana Tech.
This season, the renovation is taking part on the O’Connell Center.
The Gators’ home court is undergoing a massive overhaul that’s part of a $64.5-million project that began in July 2014. As a result of the construction, the Gators will not be able to play a home game until late December–something that presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Florida.
“It’s going to be a really unique, interesting non-conference slate for us in that we won’t be in the O’Connell Center until late December,” White said. “It provides very challenging matchups for us. It’s been very difficult on the administration with scheduling to get these games. I think we are far from finished in terms of finishing that non-conference schedule.
“Just all the logistics involved with what gyms are available on what dates at what time and how we can potentially draw and what opponents at the same time are willing to consider that matchup. It’s been difficult. We played a very difficult non-conference schedule last year. This year, with all of that considered, it should be even more difficult.”
The scenario could play into the Gators receiving a higher RPI (rating percentage index) because of the games played away from the O’Connell Center. According to RPIratings.com, home wins are worth 0.6 points, neutral wins 1.0 and road wins count for 1.4. Also, road losses are weighted 0.6 points, neutral losses 1.0, and home losses 1.4.
“Those challenges at the same time present opportunities to perhaps generate some positive computer numbers and generate some positive experience if we can have some success. They will be difficult matchups for us.”
The Gators finished with the No. 45 RPI in the country last season but did not make the NCAA tournament. Florida won two games in the NIT over North Florida and Ohio State before falling to last year’s eventual tourney champion, George Washington.
- On Florida guard Kasey Hill: “I think it gives us a little bit of confidence from a staff and roster standpoint in that our incoming, rising senior point guard and potential leader has got a lot of momentum. He played as well as anyone on the team in the last month of the season and he’s also in addition has had as good an offseason to this point as anyone on our team. He’s really put in the man hours. He’s really bought into another level in terms of everything that we are trying to do as a program. Again, I am proud of where he stands right now. Certainly we hope that that continues. We hope it continues to increase. Right now if we had a game tomorrow I would feel pretty good about Casey Hill and the direction that he’s headed.”