Expect Florida Gators to rely on Kowacie Reeves in Colin Castleton’s absence
An opportunity to get back to .500 looks at the Florida Gators head-to-head on Saturday.
After a rocky 0-3 conference start in the 2021-22 season, the University of Florida string together two big wins over South Carolina and Mississippi State to get back to a respectable mark as a team. intermediary of the SEC.
As a result, today’s fight against Vanderbilt at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center presents Mike White’s program with an opportunity to come back to the surface level.
They’re trying to do it without their top scorer and rebounder Colin Castleton, who suffered a potentially “significant” shoulder injury in practice on Tuesday. This ultimately led to him being sidelined against Mississippi State.
“I know it’s important,” White said after Wednesday’s win over Mississippi State. “I know that. I know he’s seeing the right people, maybe even as we speak here, so he had no chance of playing tonight and really unhappy for Colin and his teammates. I knew that. was important because physically he has a lot of strength.
While the chance of moving to a tie against the Commodores remains a significant concern, the durability of the group with their starting big man trumps a singular home contest against a team in the bottom half of the SEC.
In light of Castleton’s (possibly) prolonged absence, AllGators features Florida’s main success factor without its starting center: the real freshman Kowacie Reeves.
His presence on the wing may not be directly related to the hole created by the 6-foot-11 center currently on the bench, but Reeves’ emergence is paramount to the Gators’ success.
Starting in the last three contests after suffering from “Didn’t Participate” earlier in the year, Reeves began to show off his offensive prowess to provide the Gators with a much-needed spark.
Before Reeves was thrust into the starting lineup, the attacking attack had become obsolete, but he installed a goalscoring presence, mostly from beyond the arc, that was not there before he arrived on the pitch. .
Unlike the former Gators guard Tre Mann, Reeves doesn’t function as a ball-dominating keeper who excels as a shot-creator.
His style is different but still effective.
Excelling at the catch and shoot, Reeves has honed his ability to rise above defenders, whether they stick to him or close in when the ball is kicked to him from the dribble.
The idea of being a textbook shooter looks different for everyone, but Reeves’ shooting mechanics from catch to release are near perfect as he works smoothly throughout his progression.
It’s a consistency that makes him feel like he’s still the only person in the gym shooting, a trait held by some of basketball’s greatest scorers.
Namely, the Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant – despite possessing an incomparable full game – comes to mind in this regard. Durant uses his length to create separation at the top of his shot and maintains the confidence to knock down challenged jumpers consistently.
With just 4.7 points per game on the year, Reeves has tripled his production with increased usage over the past two contests. Scoring 14 points in straight conference wins, the true freshman was a catalyst for the resurgence of Florida’s lack of identity with his overall output.
This speaks to his desire to improve on both sides.
“There’s a good chance he’s in the practice facility right now getting some shots,” White said. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Coming out of high school, Reeves was coined as a prolific scorer who would be defensively groomed to become a star in the orange and blue.
The long, athletic wing failed to give himself the chance to disrupt passing lanes and stay ahead of defenders due to impatient tendencies of struggling to stay on his toes, in his stance and on the ground .
Against Mississippi State, both guards began to move on, according to White.
There was one notable instance where his impatience got the better of him.
As the Bulldogs raced up the field, Reeves sat in his position on the left side of the lane just above the elbow. While locked in on the Mississippi State ball handler, who began operating the Gator logo top-of-the-nose attack, Reeves bit hard when the MSST guard began moving left to right at the top of the key. .
Despite the lack of a fake ball, Reeves rocketed through the air, dropping his feet unconventionally as the Bulldogs still raced through their set. He would be substituted momentarily but reinserted into the lineup soon after.
Other than that, Reeves has figured out how to use his favorable frame for the best, keeping himself light on his toes and maximizing his impeccable wingspan to create angled balls or force opponents into poor decisions.
His work ethic to improve defensively has been evident from the viewer’s perspective as he shows progression with each game.
Earning a starting spot, as a result, Reeves is capitalizing on the opportunity presented to him and living up to the hype of being an NBA-level talent.
His impact in the past two contests has been immense for Florida.
It’ll have to stay that way — and perhaps grow faster than it anticipated — to keep Reeves and the Gators on the straight and narrow path of the tournament without Castleton.
This sentiment becomes especially true when looking at the tough list of upcoming games on the schedule.
It will consist of three games in five days, including the No. 24 Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville in the last game of this streak, before hosting a pesky defensive team from Oklahoma State for the Big 12 / SEC challenge. In a week.
Reeves and the Gators are looking to start this stretch on a positive note against Scottie Pippen Jr.. and the Vanderbilt Commodores today at 1 p.m. on SEC Network.
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