It’s Thanksgiving Day. Spoilers, I guess if you didn’t already know. Football of all kinds is played all day, there’s plenty of food, and as a delightful addition to Thanksgiving, Xavier basketball. If your house is anything like ours, the noise can make it difficult to hear the announcers, but who wants to hear Dickey Simpkins?
Florida didn’t get off to the best start this season either. They are also 3-1 this season with wins over Stony Brook, Kennesaw St and poor Florida St. The loss came to Florida Atlantic, which is surprisingly good this season (75th in KenPom) and not a team Florida should lose.
Florida’s offense has been decent so far this season. Their strength was securing the ball. The Gators are 41st in the nation so far with a very good 15.5% turnover rate. They’re turning all those possessions into somewhat poor shooting numbers. As a team, the Gators are 35% behind the line, where they don’t shoot much at all, and just 48.3% inside. They are excellent from the range.
Defensively, Florida is a mixed bag. Offensive rebounds against them are basically a non-event. They allow the shooting team to recover less than 20% of the mistakes against them. They also block a lot of shots and are excellent at defending the interior. The Gators don’t force many turnovers, instead focusing on closing shots and limiting three-point attempts.
|Start of matches|
|Kyle Lofton||Point guard||Souley Boum|
|6’3″, 188||Measurement||6’3″, 175|
|After four years Lofton was one of the best points in the A10 in St. Bonaventure, transitioned smoothly into life on an SEC roster. He is incredibly stingy in securing the ball, a good distributor and a solid defender. He’s not a frequent shooter, but he’s hitting half of his threes so far this season. It is also very reliable off the line.|
|Will Richard||Rifle Guard||Kyk Tandy|
|6’4″, 206||Measurement||6’2″, 190|
|Richard is another transfer, this time from Belmont. He is a sniper who is also a standout from the pack. He profiled as a power forward at the Belmont and continues to get on the offensive glass in Florida. His usage rate is fairly low, but his efficiency has led to consistently solid scoring results.|
|Kowacie Reeves||Small forward||Colby Jones|
|6’6″, 192||Measurement||6’6″, 205|
|When Xavier played Florida in the NIT, I remember thinking Reeves was a good freshman and was glad he wouldn’t be Xavier’s problem going forward. I’m a joke! He doesn’t get a ton of minutes, but he has a 115 ORtg and is shooting from three. He never turns the ball over, but he has a bit of a foul problem.|
|CJ Felder||Performance forward||Zach Freemantle|
|6’7″, 240||Measurement||6’9″, 225|
|Felder is a big guy who transferred from Boston College and showed up a little over his head at Florida. He rebounds well with pace, but doesn’t get enough minutes to sustain it. His shooting numbers were poor early and he had some fouls. He shot well from deep last year, but is a career 29.7% shooter from deep.|
|Colin Castleton||Center||Jack Nunge|
|6’11”, 250||Measurement||7’0″ 245|
|A family reunion as Jack Nunge gets to play with his son again! Jack held Castleton to 10/6/0 on 4-8 shooting in the NIT last year. Castleton has been on a tear since then, destroying the four teams Florida has played in every facet. He crushed the glass, blocked a lot of shots, scored almost at will, and drew more than 7 fouls per 40. Ball.|
Florida has about average depth in terms of bench minutes. Alex Messed Up will be the first off the bench. He is a 6-9 sophomore who blocks shots well and is solid on the offensive glass. Myreon Jones he plays as a midfielder. I’m sure he’s doing something right, but it doesn’t show in the stats. Trey Bonham she will get off the bench and look for him. However, his offensive rating is 80.4. Florida will rely on its starters and use its bench as sparingly as possible.
-Can Xavier control glass? Xavier has been pretty porous on the defensive glass this season and it probably cost them the game against Indiana. Florida has some decent offensive rebounds, but none of them are getting big enough minutes to be dominant in that regard. If the Muskyes struggle on the glass today, it could be a season-long struggle.
-Who controls the color? The Muskies are 308th in the nation in scoring percentage from beyond the arc; they rely on two-point shots and free throws to score points. Unfortunately, Florida’s defense is strong in both defending inside the arc and avoiding sending opponents to the line. Xavier will be the best team Florida has faced so far this year; it will be up to Nung and Freemantle to battle the Gators in the paint.
-Can someone shoot their way back? Neither team shoots much from deep; Florida is 333rd in three-point percentage and Xavier is 351. Additionally, both teams are stingy defensively, with Florida 82nd and Xavier 30th in three-point percentage. If someone stretches it to a double-digit lead, it will take a lot of consecutive stops to get back on par.
– Push Castleton out. Florida doesn’t have much scoring outside of its center. Their support players are effective, but most of their high volume players have not been. He lost 25 per game because Florida does nothing but feed him in good spots on offense; X must make him work before the catch or he will eat all day.
-Let Florida go to their bench. The Gators are 156th in bench minutes and 5th in double foul play. Aside from Alex Fudge — who gets there with an 83.2 ORtg — they don’t have anyone to score outside of the starting five. It’s a good team, but it’s very difficult. He doesn’t go to the bench much because it’s basically useless.
– Keep the ball hot. Florida does a good job of forcing teams beyond the arc and being stingy in two-point defense. A stagnant offense and a first-down offense are recipes for offensive disaster today. The Muskies need to put Florida in the rotation or they’re going to end up having a really tough time of it when they take down the Gators.