Losing streaks are tough. Especially when they come against your biggest rival.
Another season of college hoops is upon us, so you know what that means: complaining about D…
Ask any Florida fan, and they’ll tell you. They’ll tell you the frustration that comes along with losing to Florida State in both football and basketball five-straight times. They’ll tell you it never used to be like this.
But Tuesday night’s 81-60 loss to the Seminoles didn’t just ensure that FSU basketball’s four-game win streak against the Gators was extended to five. It provided a sort of confirmation bias for the more negative sect of the fanbase that believes the malaise that has surrounded the program since Billy Donovan’s departure in 2015 is indicative of a larger problem.
And honestly, it’s hard to argue with them.
The Gators didn’t just lose to the Seminoles. They were thoroughly dominated.
FSU’s athletic defense stymied Florida’s offense completely, forcing bad shot after bad shot. The Gators were no match for the ‘Noles. Not physically. Not athletically. Not schematically.
That’s a problem.
UF shot a paltry 37 percent from the field. The Seminoles held KeVaughn Allen, one of the most prolific scorers in Gators history, to zero points.
FSU’s basket may as well have been 10 feet wide, on the other hand. The ‘Noles shot nearly 50 percent from downtown to UF’s 25 percent.
Florida’s oft-mentioned veteran leadership was MIA, as was any semblance of a coherent offensive philosophy.
Mike White said that he liked the challenge opening against a ranked team would present. It’s understandable, as well. Much like the first exam of the semester, this game gave the Gators the opportunity to see where the team was at. But based on its performance, Florida might want to consider dropping the class.
The road doesn’t get any easier, either. UF’s non-conference schedule is extremely grueling, with guaranteed games against Michigan State, West Virginia and Butler. Potential early season tournament matchups also include Virginia, Stanford and Wisconsin.
Translation: If Florida doesn’t get a lot better -- and fast -- things could get ugly.
No, this loss doesn’t mean that Florida’s season is a wash. The opportunity to build the resume remains, and it’s unlikely a November road loss to a ranked team will hurt the Gators’ tournament chances come March.
It also doesn’t mean White’s seat is anything other than a comfortable room temperature, and that likely won’t change this season.
But when you lose by 21 (the Gators trailed by as much as 30 in the second half) to a rival to start the year, it should be gut check time for the whole team. How Florida responds will determine how high the ceiling is this year.
It could also determine the future of White’s tenure in Gainesville.
Tyler Nettuno is a basketball writer for The Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @TylerNettuno and contact him at [email protected]