Thursday, March 24, 2016

2015-16 Gator Basketball: A Year In Review

In the first-year of the Mike White era, the Florida Gator men's basketball team finished 21-15 overall and 9-9 in SEC play.

The Gators played a competitive non-conference schedule, facing high-caliber teams like Michigan State, Purdue, West Virginia, Miami, and Saint Joseph's among others. All five of these teams would make the NCAA Tournament. Against non-conference opponents as a whole, Florida went 9-4. The only non-conference opponent who beat the Gators at home was Florida State.

The marquee win of the season actually came in non-conference play when Florida squared off against the #9 West Virginia Mountaineers on January 30th. It was an incredible game that saw the Gators upset the Mountaineers 88-71 behind an inspired 60% shooting performance from beyond the arc. This would be Florida's best game from three-point land all season.

In SEC play, Florida was very inconsistent. Their first conference road game against Tennessee may have been the worst game of the year as the Vols wiped the floor with the Gators by a score of 83-69. At one point, the Gators dropped four-straight SEC contests before defeating Missouri in the regular season finale.

As much as the Gators struggled against conference opponents, there were some bright spots. For instance, Florida:

  • Defeated LSU and potential #1 draft pick Ben Simmons at home by a score of 68-62.
  • Thrashed Auburn at home by a score of 95-63. This would be the third highest point total for Florida all season.
  • Lost by just nine points to Kentucky at home on Senior Day.
  • Nearly upset both Texas A&M and Vanderbilt on the road.
  • Lost just three conference games at home (Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky)

After grinding out the SEC regular season, the Gators entered the SEC Tournament as a #8 seed taking on the #9 seeded Arkansas Razorbacks. The Gators would win their first round game 68-61 before taking on the top-seeded Texas A&M Aggies in the quarterfinals. The Aggies would bounce the Gators from the tournament with a 72-66 victory.

Just missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, the Gators received an invitation to the NIT and received a #4 seed. In the first round, Florida defeated the #7 UNF Ospreys 97-68 and advanced to play #3 Ohio State in a rematch of the 2007 National Championship. 

With the stakes much lower, the Gators defeated the Buckeyes 74-66 to set up a quarterfinal bout with the #4 George Washington Colonials. Against GWU, Florida met its end as they lost 82-77. The season was over and Year One of the Mike White regime was in the books.

With the schedule recapped, let's take one final look at the players who led the Gators throughout the course of the season.


PointsDorian Finney-Smith (530) (Redshirt Senior)

AssistsChris Chiozza (156) (Sophomore)

Shooting % (100 attempts min.)John Egbugnu (.591) (Redshirt Sophomore)

Three-Pointers (100 attempts min.): Dorian Finney-Smith (71)

Three-Point % (100 attempts min.): Dorian Finney-Smith (.368)

Free Throws
: Dorian Finney-Smith (121)

Free Throw % (10 attempts min.)KeVaughn Allen (.846) (Freshman)

ReboundsJohn Egbugnu (92) (Redshirt Sophomore)


Rebounds: Dorian Finney-Smith (211)

Blocks: John Egbugnu (48)

StealsKasey Hill (53) (Junior)


Personal Fouls: John Egbugnu (110)

Minutes: Dorian Finney-Smith (1,143)

Turnovers: Kasey Hill (72)

Final Takeaway:
Adjusting to a new coach is always difficult, but Florida did a fantastic job finishing the year above .500. Fun fact, the Gators actually fared better in Mike White's first year than Billy Donovan's as the Orange and Blue went 13-17 in Year One of the Donovan regime in 1996.

Florida sends off three seniors in Dorian Finney-Smith, Alex Murphy, and Lexx Edwards. Of these three, I would give Finney-Smith the best shot of making an NBA roster. Keep in mind that I say that very tentatively.

There is a good chance that Finney-Smith probably will not get drafted and would have to get picked up off the free agency market. Worst case, he goes and plays overseas like Gator legends Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin have done in years past.

Looking back at his three-year career after transferring from Virginia Tech his freshman season, Dorian Finney-Smith finishes his Florida career with:

  • 101 games and 2,880 minutes played
  • A career average of 12.1 points (.428 shooting percentage)
  • 159 three-pointers made (.361 shooting percentage)
  • 239 free throws made (.673 shooting percentage)
  • 721 rebounds (256 offensive and 465 defensive)
  • 195 assists
  • 81 steals
  • 69 blocks
  • 232 personal fouls
  • Eight foulouts
  • 183 turnovers
  • 1,220 points

Alex Murphy, who transferred in from Duke his junior year, concludes his two-year Gator career with:

  • 26 games and 350 minutes played
  • A career average of 4.9 points (.451 shooting percentage)
  • Seven three-pointers made (.189 shooting percentage)
  • 28 free throws made (.583 shooting percentage)
  • 50 rebounds (13 offensive and 37 defensive)
  • Six assists
  • Nine steals
  • Seven blocks
  • 39 personal fouls
  • One foulout
  • 22 turnovers
  • 127 career points

Finally there is Lexx Edwards, who walked on to the team in 2013. I've actually played intramural football games against this guy, so that alone should sum up how much playing time he got on the court. Edwards finishes his three-year walk-on career with:

  • 31 games and 54 minutes played
  • A career average of 0.1 points (.143 shooting percentage)
  • One three-pointer made (.200 shooting percentage)
  • One free throw made (.500 shooting percentage)
  • 15 rebounds (1 offensive and 14 defensive)
  • Two assists
  • Zero steals
  • Zero blocks
  • 11 personal fouls
  • Zero foulouts
  • One turnover
  • Four career points

Now that the proper sendoff of the seniors has been done, I'll briefly look ahead to the 2016 squad. The Gators will boast three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores, and probably three or four freshman next year. Guys like Devon Robinson, Chris Chiozza, Kasey Hill, and Justin Leon (to name a few) will be called upon to step up and lead this team back to its glory days.

Whether they answer the call or not remains to be seen. Regardless, I would count Mike White's first year at UF as a successful one and I cannot wait to see where he takes the basketball program from here. Great season boys! Go Gators!

*All stats accredited to &

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