Florida Gators basketball focused on defending the three

Florida Gators basketball coach Mike White calls a play during the Florida Gators 86-62 win over Vermont on November 25 / Gator Country photo by David Bowie St. Bonaventure’s Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams gave the Florida Gators basketball defense its biggest test of the season last week. The two of them combined for nine three-pointers and 48 of the Bonnies’ 66 points. Looking back, the Gators were not terrible defensively against the Bonnies, their shooters are just really good. Adams made one of his threes just barely over half court, and that’s a normal thing for him. He and Mobley were defended well on a majority of their shots.

“Defensively, we weren’t bad,” said head coach Mike White. “We really weren’t. Sometimes good offense just beats good defense. Matt Mobley, my goodness. he put on a show. He was terrific. Four or five of those shots were against pretty good defense — just better offense.”

The Gators are set to play Belmont on Monday and will likely see a very similar game plan from the Bruins. Belmont has taken 75 shots from beyond the arc in its two games this season, which is 18 more than Florida has taken in three games. The Bruins put up 80 points on Vanderbilt in a loss and 90 on Western Kentucky on Saturday in a win.

“With this one, it’s such a simplistic approach,” said White. “If we don’t defend the 3 very well, Belmont will beat you. They’re terrific with their ability to really spread you from several different positions. They shot the ball extremely well last night at home against Western Kentucky. Their backup center came in and hit six 3s. They’re really difficult to defend. So how do you prepare for them? For us, you stress it, you stress it and you stress it again. We’ll stress it for an hour and a half today. Do everything you can to defend the 3-point line in several different areas.”

While three-pointers are one of Belmont’s biggest strengths, an even bigger strength might be the player who opens up three-point opportunities for the Bruins. Forward Evan Bradds is averaging 22.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game after two games, more than any Florida player is averaging in either category. He led the nation last season with a .714 field goal percentage last season.

“He’s one of the better offensive players we’ll face all year. The highest field-goal percentage guy in the country the last two years. So if you provide too much help on him, again, it puts you in jeopardy in defending the 3 as well,” White said. “Extremely smart, tough and skilled. He’s almost like a wing with physicality, with an ability to post you. His footwork, his ball skills, he’s an unorthodox big in that he finds a way to dribble into a really good shot or get someone else a really good shot — and he’s just as dangerous before and after the dribble with his pivots and shot fakes and […]