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Florida women's basketball to host Florida State tonight



Jgeorge Ordinarily, coaches often schedule a few easy opponents early in the year to ease into the regular season, but Florida women's basketball coach Amanda Butler has a different philosophy.

Why wait? If you want to know how good you really are, start with the best opponents you can find.

The Gators will get a strong indication tonight of just where they stand when they host No. 15 Florida State at 7 p.m.

"There's no way that you're ever as a coach going to feel 100 percent ready for your first really, really big challenge,'' Butler said. "You're always going to feel like gosh if we had one more day to prepare, or if this circumstance was different or that circumstance was different. But the only way that you find out how ready you are or not is to go out and play the ball game. And we play in the best conference in the country. We've got to play those teams 16 times this year, and ultimately that's what our non-conference season is about, preparing for that. So it makes the most sense to me to go our and challenge yourselves. Maybe we're not ready this early for that big of a challenge, but I think our kids feel pretty good about where we are and they understand how we have to play right now with what we know about ourselves to give it their best effort. There's no sense delaying it. Let's figure out if we're that good right now, or if we're still a few weeks away from that.''

Florida boasts a 17-game non-conference home winning streak entering Tuesday’s outing against Florida State. It is the third longest streak of its kind in program history. The run began on Nov. 26, 2007, when the Gators eked out a 54-50 win against Stetson. Florida’s last home loss to a non-conference opponent was back on Nov. 23, 2007, when the Gators dropped a tough 81-78 decision to Florida State.

FSU’s starting lineup features three seniors, one junior and a sophomore.  The Seminoles’ two starting frontcourt players stand 6-foot-5 (Jacinta Monroe) and 6-foot-4 (Cierra Bravard),  and were instrumental in helping FSU dominate the boards in a season-opening win over North Florida, 48-23. Every player who entered the game for FSU scored and collected at least one rebound.

FSU will be looking to avenge a 72-57 upset by the Gators last season.

"I think there's no question that was a big win for our program last year and really set the tone for a lot of last year's success,'' Butler said. "But it was a long, long time ago. As long as it's been, I'm sure FSU has not forgotten. They are a veteran team, comprised mostly of seniors and juniors that are not going t0 have forgotten no matter how long ago it was. I know that was really a sting for them because they had a great season last year. But it doesn't make any difference if we played each other every weekend, it's Florida versus Florida State. The intensity of that rivalry and all the state pride and all the different ways that manifests itself are definitely going to be there. We know we are going to have to play a very good ball game and know they are going to be ready.''

[Photo: UF freshman Jennifer George, who scored a game-high 21 points in the Gators' season opener.]

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:28pm]


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