The angry mob of Florida fans is all over Twitter as of late, fully equipped with torches and pitchforks. Especially after the men’s basketball team lost to Auburn on Tuesday night.
Gators coach Mike White thought his team was on the turnaround.
“How can you defend this man?”
“His offense is terrible! There’s no player development. He needs to go!”
The chants have been coming for most of the season. It seems like all that support for White, all that fan-favor, has just gone out the window.
And for what? One bad season?
I’ve been patrolling #Gators Twitter, and I’ve seen the messages. Heck, I’ve even responded to a few of them with factual support.
The truth is, nobody actually believes White should be fired after this season. And if they do, they’re just plain ignorant.
Let me give you a few reasons why based on things I have seen on Twitter.
“They are lacking in the four/five position because White isn’t recruiting them.”
This statement is correct on paper. Center Kevarrius Hayes, a former forward that had to change positions, is the only healthy big man Florida has. Gorjok Gak can’t shake a pesty knee injury and Chase Johnson transferred to Dayton after dealing with concussions his entire UF career. Keith Stone, Florida’s typical four-man, is out for the rest of the year after tearing his ACL.
That leaves just Hayes, redshirt sophomore Dontay Bassett, freshman Keyontae Johnson and redshirt freshman Isaiah Stokes to fill those slots.
But that’s mostly not White’s fault.
Go back to last year. The Gators were supposed to have center John Egbunu back from injury midway through the season, which would have put Hayes as the backup. They ran a four-guard starting lineup, so there was no need for a true forward.
At the time, White didn’t need to recruit any more big men. He already had Hayes, Gak and Stokes. He took a risk on both Gak and Stokes, who were coming off injuries.
No one knew Gak couldn’t remain healthy and Stokes can’t get in game shape to play meaningful minutes.
Florida’s troubles this season were from injuries of the past catching up to it, not White’s lack of recruiting.
Not to mention he has 6-foot-9 Omar Payne coming in next season, who will help fill in the role of forward/center.
“The players not making shots falls on White.”
A coach can’t force shots to go in. All he can do is set his players in a position to make them, which is exactly what White has done this year.
Keyontae Johnson has been open for dunks that he has missed. Guard Jalen Hudson gets open looks where his shots just aren’t falling. You can’t blame White for his guys not hitting a three or finishing at the basket.
White has gotten a team that looked like it didn’t want to put in any effort at the beginning of the season to play hard against teams like Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan State.
The Gators are taking better shots, and that’s because White is drawing up the plays to get them open.
“Florida is on pace to have its worst offense in 20 years.”
That’s just not true at all. It’s actually on pace to have the third worst, which isn’t much better.
Look for my story on Thursday in alligatorSports first edition of “By The Numbers,” where I use stats to answer a certain question about UF sports.
First story is on this topic. Just know that it is not the worst UF offense in two decades. It is the worst under White, however.
One bad season where Florida still might make the NCAA Tournament doesn’t mean he should be fired as its head coach.
Jake Dreilinger is the sports editor of the Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake and email him at [email protected].