Saturday, April 1, 2017

2016-17 Gator Basketball: A Year In Review

The Florida Gator Men's Basketball team saw much improvement over the course of the 2016-2017 season. In the second year of the Mike White era, the Gators posted a 27-9 (14-4 SEC) record while making it as far as the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Non-Conference Opponents
Florida put together a good non-conference schedule that gave them a 10th overall ranking in RPI. Six of the 12 non-SEC teams they faced made this year's NCAA Tournament. They were:

  • Florida Gulf Coast (26-8, 12-2 ASUN) (Lost in the First Round as No. 14 seed)
  • Seton Hall (21-12, 10-8 Big East) (Lost in the First Round as No. 9 seed)
  • No. 2 Gonzaga (36-1, 17-1 WCC) (Currently in Final Four)
  • Miami (21-12, 10-8 ACC) (Lost in the First Round as No. 8 seed)
  • No. 7 Duke (28-9, 11-7 ACC) (Lost in the Round of 32 as No. 2 seed)
  • No. 16 Florida State (26-9, 12-6 ACC) (Lost in the Round of 32 as No. 3 seed)

Florida defeated FGCU (80-59), Seton Hall (81-76), and Miami (65-56) while falling to then No. 11 ranked Gonzaga (77-72), then No. 5 ranked Duke (84-74), and Florida State (83-78).

Not a single one of these games were played in the O-Dome, showing Florida's willingness to battle it out on the road (FGCU in Jacksonville and FSU in Tallahassee) and at neutral sites (Gonzaga, Seton Hall, and Miami in Orlando and Duke at MSG ).

In Florida's only other true non-conference road game of the season against an Oklahoma team that made it to the Final Four last year, they ran the Sooners out of the building with a resounding 84-52 rout.

SEC Opponents
Once conference play started in January, the Gators ripped off five straight SEC wins before dropping two straight contests to No. 24 South Carolina on the road and Vanderbilt at the O-Dome. The latter would be Florida's only home loss of this season as they went 9-1 in the friendly confines.

After the Vandy loss, Florida kicked it in to high-gear as they blew out LSU, stopped briefly in Norman to whip the Sooners, and dominated Missouri to set up a highly anticipated matchup with the then No. 8 ranked Kentucky Wildcats in Gainesville.

This game was a laugher. With the Rowdies by their side, Florida whooped Kentucky by a score of 88-66. This was the biggest margin of victory ever for the Gators against the Wildcats. Florida rode this momentum to two more victories before tragedy struck against Auburn on Valentine's Day.

The Gators won the game over the Tigers by 19 points, but in the process lost redshirt junior center John Egbunu to an ACL injury. His season was over, and it looked liked Florida's aspirations for a deep postseason run were gone as well.

After tacking on two more victories (including a 15-point home victory over South Carolina), the Gators brought a nine-game winning streak into their rematch with Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Florida's streak would die in Lexington as the Cats got their revenge and beat the Gators 76-66.

Florida would beat Arkansas by 13 points on Senior Night and yet again lose to Vanderbilt to close out the season. In the SEC Tournament, Florida was a one and done in the quarterfinals as Vanderbilt bested them for a 72-62 overtime victory.

The Gator Faithful began to question how the Gators would fare in the NCAA Tournament after losing to Vanderbilt in back-to-back games and three times overall this season. Before moving on to the Gators' postseason run, here are my final tidbits on SEC play for this season:

  • The Gators swept two season series this year against both Georgia and Arkansas.
  • All of the SEC teams who defeated Florida (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky) made the NCAA Tournament.
  • Florida would ultimately finish two games behind Kentucky for second in the SEC Regular Season Standings.

March Madness
Once the NCAA Tournament rolled around, many around the country had the Gators either losing in the First Round or the Round of 32 (I was a member of the latter). Florida proceeded to prove nearly everybody wrong! 

East Tennessee State (First Round)
In their first tournament game since the 2013-2014 season, the Gators came out firing as they beat the ETSU Buccaneers by a score of 80-65 in Orlando. This game was close at times, but Florida predominantly remained in control.

Virginia (Round of 32)
Perhaps the most dominant defensive performance of the entire tournament, Florida completely shut down the Cavalier offense. Florida was able to coast for a majority of the way as they easily won by a score of 65-39.

Wisconsin (Sweet Sixteen)
On to Madison Square Garden now, the Gators would find themselves a part of one the most memorable Sweet Sixteen games in college basketball history. Up eight points with two minutes to play in regulation, the Gators would have the wind taken out of their sails as Wisconsin came back and hit a game-tying three with less than three seconds remaining.

In overtime, Florida overcame a five-point deficit with under two minutes to go due to graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry. He made a bucket, nailed two clutch free throws, and had a track-down block that allowed Florida to tie the game up.

After a foul on Wisconsin with four seconds remaining allowed the Badgers to take an 83-81 lead via free throws, a miracle happened. Junior backup point guard Chris Chiozza received the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the court, and threw up a floater/prayer from three-point land that swished through the net for the game-winning buzzer beater!

Pandemonium ensued, and Chiozza had etched his name in March Madness lore forever. The Gators, yes the Florida Gators who were supposed to lose in Orlando, were on their way to the Elite Eight! 

South Carolina (Elite Eight)
Facing a familiar opponent in South Carolina, the Gator magic ran out. Similar to the game in Columbia, Florida could not buy a three-point basket in a second half. Despite the three-point struggles, this game was still tied at 63 with three minutes remaining.

The Gators, however, could not muster up enough clutch shots or defensive stops. Their postseason run would conclude with a 77-70 defeat to the Gamecocks. It was an incredible effort from Florida, and to even be in a position to advance to the Final Four in itself had many of the Gator Faithful very proud of this year's squad.

Before looking at the season leaders, here are my final tidbits/accolades for the 2016-2017 Gator basketball team:

  • Chris Chiozza registered a triple-double for the Gators in the February 2nd contest against Missouri. He had 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, all which came off the bench.
  • Canyon Barry made Gator history on February 11th against Texas A&M as he sunk his 39th consecutive free throw. He may get some snide remarks and insults for shooting free throws underhanded, but at the end of the day Canyon is in the Florida record books!
  • Florida lost consecutive games just three times (Duke/FSU, South Carolina/Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt/Vanderbilt).
  • Florida's win-streak of nine from January 25th to February 25th is their longest since they won 30 straight games from December 10, 2013 to March 29th, 2014, in the 2013-2014 season.
  • Florida played three overtime games and in those games they went 2-1 (defeated Georgia and Wisconsin and lost to Vanderbilt).
  • The Gators played five ranked opponents the whole season (No. 11 Gonzaga, No. 5 Duke, No. 24 South Carolina, and No's. 8/11 Kentucky)
  • In the final AP Top 25 poll, the Gators finished with a final ranking of No. 20.
  • Florida reached the NCAA Tournament for the 20th time, Round of 32 for the 15th time, Sweet Sixteen for the 11th time, and Elite Eight for the ninth time in school history.

Among all-conference honors, a few Gators garnered some distinctions that included:

  • 2016-2017 SEC Coach of the Year
    • Mike White (2nd year at Florida)
  • First Team All-SEC
  • Second Team All-SEC
  • SEC All-Defensive Team
    • Kasey Hill - Point Guard
  • SEC Sixth-Man of the Year
    • Canyon Barry - Shooting Guard

Now let's take a look at the final stat leaders for the Gators this season:


Points: KeVaughn Allen (505) (Sophomore)

Assists: Kasey Hill (161) (Senior)

Rebounds: Kevarrius Hayes (69) (Sophomore)

Shooting Percentage (200 attempts min.)Devin Robinson (48%) (Junior)

Three-Pointers: KeVaughn Allen (78)

Three-Point Percentage (100 attempts min.): Justin Leon (40%)

Free Throws: Canyon Barry (113) (Graduate Transfer)

Free Throw Percentage (100 attempts min.): Canyon Barry/KeVaughn Allen (88%)


Rebounds: Devin Robinson (158)

Blocks: Kevarrius Hayes (60)

Steals: Kasey Hill (60)


Personal Fouls: Kasey Hill/Kevarrius Hayes (84)

Minutes: Kasey Hill (1,041)

Turnovers: Kasey Hill (110)

Senior Sendoff
With another Gator basketball season in the books, it is only fitting that I highlight the seniors who will be moving on to bigger and better things upon completing their degrees at the University of Florida.

Kasey Hill

Kasey Hill was a freshman on that 36-3 team that made it to the Final Four. Though he never really lived up to his potential as an incoming McDonald's All-American in his four years at Florida, Hill showed great resolve and patience in the Donovan to White transition.

He never gave up on this program and in return, this program never gave up on him. Kasey's final stats at point guard are as follows:

  • 137 games and 3,603 minutes played (9th all-time in school history for minutes)
  • A career average of 7.9 points (60% shooting percentage)
  • 41 three-pointers made (24% shooting percentage)
  • 266 free throws made (60% shooting percentage)
  • 329 rebounds (49 offensive and 280 defensive)
  • 530 assists (2nd all-time in school history!)
  • 182 steals (3rd all-time in school history!)
  • 29 blocks
  • 304 personal fouls
  • 7 foul-outs
  • 304 turnovers
  • 1,087 points

Thank you, Kasey!

Justin Leon

Justin Leon spent two years playing JUCO ball at Shawnee Community College before transferring in to Florida during Mike White's first year. In his two seasons repping the Orange and Blue at forward, Leon finished with the final numbers of:

  • 70 games and 1,311 minutes played
  • A career average of 6.4 points (46% shooting percentage)
  • 74 three-pointers made (40% shooting percentage)
  • 46 free throws made (67% shooting percentage)
  • 252 rebounds (95 offensive and 157 defensive)
  • 28 assists
  • 27 steals
  • 10 blocks
  • 134 personal fouls
  • 1 foul-out
  • 49 turnovers
  • 448 career points

Thank you, Justin!

Canyon Barry

Aiding the Gators at guard with his underhanded free throw skills for just one season, Canyon Barry joined this year's squad as a graduate transfer studying nuclear engineering. Personally one of my favorite players on the team, Canyon finished his final season of college ball for the Gators with the stats of:

  • 35 games and 747 minutes played
  • A career average of 11.4 points ((42% shooting percentage)
  • 42 three-pointers made (34% shooting percentage)
  • 113 free throws made (88% shooting percentage)
  • 98 rebounds (29 offensive and 69 defensive)
  • 22 assists
  • 18 steals
  • 13 blocks (with the Block of the Year against Wisconsin)
  • 41 personal fouls
  • 0 foul-outs
  • 31 turnovers
  • 399 career points

Thank you, Canyon! Good luck with your master's degree in nuclear engineering!

Schuyler Rimmer

The last of the Florida Gators leaving the program is center Schuyler Rimmer. Originally a transfer from Stanford, Rimmer would come off the bench and contribute every now and then when the situation called for it. Rimmer finished his two-year Gator career with the numbers of:

  • 46 games and 273 minutes played
  • A career average of 1.3 points (44% shooting percentage)
  • 1 three-pointer made (50% shooting percentage)
  • 17 free throws made (74% shooting percentage)
  • 49 rebounds (19 offensive and 30 defensive)
  • 5 assists
  • 1 steal
  • 9 blocks
  • 46 personal fouls
  • 0 foul-outs
  • 12 turnovers
  • 62 career points

Even though you did not play as much as you would have wanted to, thank you Schuyler!

Final Takeaway
This year's Gator basketball team defied even the most optimistic expectations with a second-place SEC finish and a trip to the Elite 8. Keep in mind, this was all accomplished with Florida having their starting center sidelined since mid-February. If we are playing the comparison game (which we always are), Mike White has a leg-up on Gator legend Billy Donovan heading into his third season.

In Donovan's second season at the helm for Florida, the Gators finished sixth in the SEC East with a 14-15 (6-10 SEC) record and missed the NCAA Tournament. Now I am not saying that Mike White is going to surpass Billy D and win back-to-back National Championships anytime soon, but he is definitely building a program that will consistency be in Final Four contention year-in and year-out.

Next year's team will be very decent despite the four seniors leaving and junior forward Devin Robinson reportedly declaring for the draft. Mike White should have a 12-man roster in 2017-2018 consisting of one redshirt senior, one senior (if D-Rob leaves), one redshirt junior, two juniors, one redshirt sophomore, two sophomores, one redshirt freshman, and three incoming freshmen.

Florida basketball is back and on the rise yet again! I'm excited to see what Mike White does with this program in the upcoming years! Thank you to the 2016-2017 Florida Gator Men's Basketball team for a fantastic season and an awesome run in the NCAA Tournament! Go Gators!

*All stats accredited to



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