Gainesville, FL - The Gators make their first road trip of the
season, traveling to the state of Pennsylvania to play nationally-ranked
Pittsburgh on Friday, Nov. 20 with tip-off from the Petersen Events
Center scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Panthers are the second ranked team Florida is facing already, with
Pitt listed 25th in the ESPN-USA Today Coaches Poll, while receiving
votes in the Associated Press poll.
Florida (1-1) is coming off a tough 66-62 defeat at the hands of
instate rival Florida State, ranked No. 13/10 in the country. The Gators
led by as many as seven points early in the game, but the veteran
Seminole squad rallied as Alexia Deluzio drained the game-winner with
37.4 seconds remaining. UF senior Sharielle Smith (Bradenton, Fla.)
contributed her fourth career double-double, tying career-highs of 18
points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
Pitt, which has reached the NCAA Sweet 16 each of the last two years, opened its season with a resounding 61-35 victory over North Florida on Tuesday. Ten Panthers saw action in the contest, with Chelsea Cole (6-3, junior), Taneisha Harrison (6-0, junior) and Shayla Scott (6-1, junior) each hitting double-figure scoring marks, while the Panthers held a 44-27 rebounding advantage.
“It’s still so early in the season that it’s tough to gauge
another team’s tendencies, so we’ve really been focusing on us,”
UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We have to find ways to improve and the Florida State game obviously showed us a lot of those areas where we need to get better.”
With the bulk (78.3%) of last year’s top three-point shooters
returning and the addition of sharp-shooter Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), the Gators seemingly are poised to make a run at last year’s
record-setting campaign from beyond the arc, where the 2008-09 squad hit 221 treys at a 35.0 percent accuracy mark.
Florida opened its 2009-10 campaign with a 7-for-18 performance from
long range against Stetson, tied for the second-most treys in a
season-opener, and followed with nine 3-pointers against Florida State,
but attempted 31 in that game for just a 29-percent mark.
“You know that some nights you’re going to shoot the ball well and
others you’re not. We didn’t shoot the ball well the other night and
maybe some of that was because of Florida State’s defense, but I also
think it was because we just missed a lot of shots that we would
normally hit,” Butler said.
Florida, which posted a 7-6 road record last season, sports a modest
5-3 all-time record when playing a game in the state of Pennsylvania.
The Gators have won three consecutive outings inside the border of the nation’s second state, all coming against Temple, with the last a
68-54 victory on Jan. 5, 2008.
“For road games, your effort has to be double and we have to be
mature enough to understand that. I was very proud of our toughness and how we battled against Florida State,” Butler said. “The biggest
thing we can draw on from that loss was that we are supposed to be this great shooting team but we weren’t, however, we were still in position to win the ballgame against the 12th-best team in the country. It was because we were tough, we played physical and hard and our effort was exceptional.
“Toughness will sustain us if we have another off-shooting night,”
Butler continued. “Toughness is the foundation for our team, of our
Friday will be the third meeting between the two schools, with each
winning at home. The Gators won last year’s 90-83 shootout in
Gainesville, while the Panther’s claimed the 72-68 decision back on
Dec. 20, 1984.
Pitt’s roster features seven players who stand at least 6-feet tall,
with four of them among the probable starters for Friday’s game.
UF’s lone 6-footer in the starting lineup is 6-foot-4 sophomore
Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England).
“Pitt is similar to Florida State in that they are huge,” Butler
said. “They have size and strength that we just don’t have, but we
have some things that they don’t have and we tried to use those things
against Florida State. We had to make it a game more about our
strengths. When you see a post like Sharielle Smith have the
double-double in the fashion that she did, then I thought our post
players responded to the challenge. I expect them to have that same type of effort against Pitt. We also will need to have more production from our bench.”
Game Day Information
What: Florida (1-1) at #25 Pittsburgh (1-0)
When: Friday, November 20, 2009 * 7 p.m.
Where: Pittsburgh, Pa. * Petersen Events Center (12,508)