TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida coach Mike White spent longer than usual meeting with his team after the No. 21 Gators’ 83-78 loss at Florida State on Sunday.
His frustration with the result and performance was still evident when he made it to his postgame news conference.
Here’s what he had to say about the loss:
- On the decision to put guard KeVaughn Allen back on the court with 2 fouls in the first half: “Just how good they are defensively, how extended their defense was and is regularly, I didn’t want to go into the half really struggling offensively, looking at the stat sheet and having 26 points. KeVaughn, he’s not a big foul trouble guy and I didn’t foresee him picking up that third. It’s unfortunate for us obviously. We’re much better with him in the game.”
- “I thought they were terrific offensively in the second half, got off to a great start. I thought Bacon got them going, not necessarily him scoring on every one of those possessions, but early second half I thought he did a good job of getting in the paint and breaking down our defense. We were playing in scramble mode and they beat us to a couple loose balls. It’s been a common theme for us defensively in all three of our losses, in the second half it’s just not the same — (43 or more) points in our three losses, for whatever reason. We’ve got to maintain that energy level, that intensity level, the communication level when we’re away from our bench because we can’t afford to drop those levels against a team, against a guy like Dwayne Bacon. He’s not the only guy, of course, but he comes to mind first and foremost. I know Terance Mann had a great game.”
- “We didn’t take advantage. I thought potentially we could have gone into the half, we played well enough, to maybe go in up 4 or 6 or what have you if we convert from the foul line. Uncharacteristic turnovers as well. We took better care of it in the second half, but just defensively it wasn’t quite there for us and credit those guys, of course, and credit Dwayne down the stretch — a couple late-clock shots, a couple contested jumpers that he’s got an ability to make. He’s a terrific player.”
- On FSU’s offensive rebounding: “Yeah, how do you block out (7-footer Michael) Ojo? My goodness, the guy, strong, tough, physical, long, good hands and he throws his body around. He’s something else. I thought that they set a tone early first half with him and a couple other guys with him fighting. They got a couple of those loose offensive rebounds early in the game. We got off to a bad start in that regard. If you protect your rim from the tip, in my opinion most of the time you have a better chance to maintain that protection, that defensive rebounding protection.”
- Has early season schedule away from home taken toll? “I appreciate you trying to give us an excuse, but Florida State was better than us. We practice, our guys have embraced practicing hard. They work hard. We’ve shortened practices, we’ve given them plenty of days off. It’s more of a maturity, mentality, mental and physical toughness thing, in my opinion.”
- On what made FSU’s Dwayne Bacon (24 points) difficult to defend: “When he walked on the court for warm-ups. He’s really, really talented. I thought he broke down our defense again early second half, probably gained a little bit of confidence off the dribble, just making plays. Probably caught it in spots late second half where he was operating with a live bounce a little bit closer to the rim than we would have liked him to be operating. Because he’s just got an ability, again, with a high release, with an ability to fade a little bit with that release and his ability really just to jump over you as a defender. So we needed more ball pressure on him. A couple of his baskets, I want to say before going back and looking at the film were results of switches, and when you switch on a guy like that, we talk about switching high and not letting him get a head of steam. Whether it’s to his left hand, to his right hand or downhill. We’ve got to switch higher to guys like that.”
- On center John Egbunu facing taller, bigger defenders last two games: “Which is hard to believe, I know. John needs to understand that he was close, unfortunately for him, on three or four plays where he’s got an angle and he’s just got to come up with that ball, and maybe the pass can be a little bit better. He was close, in my opinion, to having better looks, but you’ve got to credit their length and their discipline on the interior, their physicality. They’ve got an ability to throw three different guys at you.”
- Is Florida State a Top 25 team? “That’s hard for me to say. I think in college basketball you’ve probably got a handful there of 10-13 or 14, just off the top of my head, especially this early in the season, that you know are legitimate Top 25 teams. And then I think you’ve probably got another 30, so all the way to 40-50 where you’ve got a big pool of teams and programs — like us, like Florida State, like Miami — that are all potentially good enough to be in the conversation. As we just finished talking about, it’s not what we’re ranked this week, what we’re ranked last week. None of that matters. It’s about learning from this game, learning from the Duke game, learning from the North Florida game and I’m sure Coach (Leonard) Hamilton is talking about the same type things. Basketball season is such a long season. Obviously we really, really wanted this one, but it is a process and it’s a journey and we’ve got to get better tomorrow.”
- On Kasey Hill getting off to faster start in the first half than the second: “I thought he had more touches. I thought they did a good job in their full-court pressure of denying him the basketball, which sometimes it allowed other guys to get out in space. And we made some of those plays correctly; a couple times we made incorrect decisions, rushed decisions. Again, credit Florida State’s defense. In a perfect world for us in a press attack, the ball’s in Kasey’s hands or KeVaughn, Chris Chiozza. But the rhythm that Kasey was in in the first half, I would have liked to have seen him have the ball in his hands more often. A couple of times after timeouts we would want to initiate a play with Kasey at the point and we couldn’t get it to Kasey.”