With the new regime taking full control of Florida Gators hoops in March, the late spring and summer were dedicated to developing the roster for the regular season beginning in November.
On Thursday, the media was given an inside look at the staff’s work as this individual and team development continued.
In Florida’s first open basketball practice in quite some time, AllGators they got an idea of the new direction the program is taking.
As a result, here are three takeaways from the media-accessible period of basketball practice.
The two best words to describe the open media session: high intensity.
Florida ran it from start to finish.
With Golden’s claim that the Gators will be a dynamic yet controlled team under him, intrigue has risen from Florida fans as a fun style of basketball is said to be on the horizon.
However, this type of fast-paced style doesn’t turn on without proper preparation. Practice must be grueling to some extent to ensure endurance and composure at an elite level in the scheme.
That happened on the court Thursday, when Golden’s group operated not through the traditional medium of preparation, but through the intensity with which they finished each rep.
A one-hour session provided constant action, frequent movement and little rest in between for significant rest. Florida is teetering on the replay line at game level despite the instruction that comes along with it.
Quickly transitioning from drill to drill with an emphasis on constant movement with or without the ball – ranging from basic dribbling and defense to jumping elbows to offensive drills – the desire for a spirited outing was evident.
While that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things given the usual up-tempo pace during practices at the collegiate level, the Gators have lived up to the billing of a team focused on facing defenses in transition with consistency this upcoming year.
An additional positive came after practice.
Despite the quick-fire affair, the group looked in good shape after the fact, with many sticking around to get extra shooting reps as the coaching staff dispersed.
Kevin Hovde firmly controls the attack
As mentioned above, Florida’s offense will feature an interesting mix of transition threes, doubles and fast breaks all over the place.
However, even though they play fast, it doesn’t eliminate the half-court offense that Golden and his staff employ.
Scroll to Continue
Set to run Princeton’s dense offense, using multiple on-ball and off-ball screens to create open shots, the Gators showed their intent for frequent ball and body movement Thursday.
Most of the offensive instruction came from assistant coach Kevin Hovde, who was hired to be the man on the offensive unit.
While it may have been widely understood that the man hired to plan and implement offensive sets in the game plan would be in charge during practice sessions, the complete reign he was given without much micromanagement from Golden spoke volumes for the trust between the two .
When he was hired, Golden praised Hovde, calling him “one of the best offensive minds we have in the college game.”
As a result, it allows him to have considerable control.
Hovde spent seven seasons with Golden in San Francisco — including the first two of Golden’s head coaching tenures there as an associate head coach — before leaving for an assistant role in Richmond last year.
Chemistry and understanding what everyone wants is a luxury for Florida’s roster as this season unfolds.
Kowacie Reeves Jr. is still on his way to fame
The Gators have an NBA caliber player or two on their roster for this upcoming season.
Reeves is arguably the most explosive with the highest potential of the bunch.
While the game started to decline a season ago for the Gators, then a true freshman Kowacie Reeves Jr. appeared to be the greatest for future optimism. Despite a brief setback hinting at him entering the transfer window after Golden’s arrival, Reaves is back in Florida for his sophomore season.
Looking to build off of a fantastic finish to his first year in orange and blue, including a three-game stretch of 14 or more points, Reaves has high expectations on his shoulders.
If Thursday’s practice was any indication of his handling of that pressure, he’s on his way to becoming a projected star.
He continued to show strong shooting that became more consistent as the season progressed last season, culminating in a 21-point second-half performance against Texas A&M to keep the Gators briefly alive against the Aggies in the SEC Tournament.
His development as an all-around player continues, but his comfortable ability to attack the rim flashed as he became a bigger part of the game plan in Mike White’s final days.
With Reaves performing at an elite level, Florida’s ceiling rises exponentially for Golden’s first season.
The training helped show that it was possible as he got better.
Follow AllGators for continuous coverage of Florida Gators football, basketball and recruiting. Follow on social media at @SI_AllGators on Twitter and Sports Illustrated’s Florida Gators on Facebook.