Florida Gators Basketball: UF Hasn’t Yet Reached Its Full Potential

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team is off to an exceptional start to the season, but Mike White maintains that UF hasn’t yet realized its full potential.

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team has been one of the most dominant forces in the SEC during the 2016-17 season. It’s won games both at home and on the road, and has looked the part of a contender against all forms of competition.

If you ask head coach Mike White, however, the Gators are nowhere near realizing their full potential.

Florida is currently 14-3 overall and 5-0 against SEC opponents. It ranks amongst the nation’s elite in RPI and strength of schedule, and has a number of signature victories early in the 2016-17 college basketball season.

According to Baileigh Williams of Gator Country, White doesn’t believe his team is living up to its full potential.

“No we’re not, we’re not,” White said when asked if the team was playing to its potential. “I hate to say that because Georgia is very, very good, but we didn’t give Georgia our best defensive effort.”

That’s quite the statement given the success Florida has experienced this early in 2016-17.

Florida’s three losses were by 10 points or less to three of the Top 20 teams in the country. It lost 77-72 to the No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 83-78 to the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles, and 84-74 to the No. 18 Duke Blue Devils.

Florida also has four wins over teams in the RPI Top 50 and another five victories over teams in the RPI Top 70.

That includes an 81-72 road victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks and an 81-76 win over the Seton Hall Pirates on a neutral site.

Florida currently ranks No. 3 in RPI, No. 3 in strength of schedule, and No. 1 in non-conference strength of schedule. It’s 7-2 during games played at a neutral site and is coming off of an 80-76 win over a quality Georgia Bulldogs team.

For as far as Florida has come, the Gators will only realize their full potential if they improve their execution on the defensive end of the floor.

“We’ve got to get back to defending at the level that we’re capable of and not playing comfortably because we see the ball go through the net or we’ve experienced a little bit of success. We’ve got to get back to what we’re capable of.”

If the Gators are going to turn this season into legitimate championship contention, then executing on defense will be a critical point of emphasis.

Florida still has 14 regular season games remaining on the schedule, including two clashes with the Kentucky Wildcats and another two against the South Carolina Gamecocks. It’s positioned itself for an NCAA Tournament appearance, however, and is in control of its own destiny.

Florida is on pace for between 25 and 26 wins, but it will only become a legitimate championship contender if it improves on defense.

If the Gators solidify the defense and continue to grow offensively, they’ll realize just how special this season can be.

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