Florida Gators HC Mike White Talks Point Guard Battle, Different Offense
The departure of Andrew Nembhard to Gonzaga this past offseason left the Florida Gators in a tricky spot at the point guard position. Nembhard, Florida's starter last season, had previously entered the 2021 NBA Draft, along with freshman point guard Tre Mann, making the positional outlook at the one rather gloomy at a point.
Nembhard ended up with the Bulldogs while Mann elected to return to UF, joining fellow rising sophomore Ques Glover and Cleveland State transfer Tyree Appleby in a battle for minutes at point guard.
The Gators have bodies on the backcourt, but lack proven quality play out of the three battling for the point guard spot. Head coach Mike White shared his observations of the three on Wednesday as they fight to replace Nembhard.
"We've had a couple of practices where, if we put the starting lineup on the whiteboard after practice it would have been Tre Mann who won the starting job that day," said White. "And we've had a few where it’s been [Ques] Glover and we've had a few where it’s been Tyree Appleby. These last two, three practices, Tre Mann's been really good."
"We’re a different type offensive system, at least right now of course, to where I think we're going to be less call-set oriented and more free flowing-continuity based. And so, all three of those guys are going to fight it out."
Last year, the Gators ran the offense primarily through Nembhard and forward Kerry Blackshear Jr., which moved at a slower pace and didn't establish many opportunities to attack. The new system White is putting in place could allow for widespread chemistry and the opportunity for easy baskets.
Mann and Glover are coming off of up-and-down freshmen campaign, playing within a rotation at 17.8 minutes and 12.4 minutes per game, respectively. Appleby sat out the 2019-20 season due to transfer rules after scoring 17.2 points in 30.5 minutes per game as a sophomore.
However, with a new, quicker look on offense featuring athletes flowing all across the floor, the room for Mann and Glover to grow as scorers and facilitators is massive. Based on Horizon League production, Appleby could be a big factor as well.
"With Tyree, we need him to distribute the ball. We need him to make great decisions. He's got to get other guys shots," said White. "He's got to lead us defensively. He's got to be accountable. He's got to be a pest on the basketball defensively. He's got to make people around him better and challenge his teammates, and he's done that."
White is looking for his guards to create more explosive plays out of breaks, which could come to fruition with the athleticism across the roster. The biggest factor will be determining who picks up the flow of the offense the quickest between Mann, Glover, and Appleby - a point guard who can push the ball down the court and attack the rim.
In an unconventional year amid the coronavirus pandemic, depth will be more important than ever. Florida is looking for development from all three of these players, as any of them could insert the lineup at a given moment.
"Whoever doesn't win it, we need the next guy to be ready and whoever's third-string needs to be ready," said White. "You just never know, not only in this climate, but you want guys for your culture to be fighting for minutes and starting positions, every day."