Thursday November 10, 2011Gators Host Michigan in Season-Opener on Friday
The University of Florida women’s basketball launches its 2011-12 season on Fri., Nov. 11, when the Gators play host to Michigan in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center beginning at 4:30 p.m. The game is the first half of a Florida basketball doubleheader, as the men’s team entertains Jackson State at 7 p.m.
Tickets for the women’s game will be available for purchase until halftime, after when a men’s ticket must be purchase for entrance. Single game tickets for women’s games as $5 for reserved seats, $4 for adult general admission, $2 for youth age 17 and under and free for UF and Santa Fe College students.
Free parking for the women’s game is available in the O’Connell Center parking garage until the conclusion of the game, with entrance only off of SW 2nd Ave.
The 2011-12 season will be the 38th year the Gators have fielded a varsity women’s basketball team. The program has compiled a 609-469 record, including a 322-144 mark at home.
Florida enters the 2011-12 season sporting a modest 11-game non-conference home winning streak which included an 8-0 record in 2010-11. It is the sixth-longest streak in program history. In four years under head coach Amanda Butler, Florida is 50-17 overall (74.6%) at home, including a 12-4 record in 2010-11.
Friday will be the first-ever meeting between Florida and Michigan in the women’s basketball arena.
“There are a lot of similarities between the two teams when you look at last season,” Butler said. “These are two teams that both are way more experienced. Michigan brings into the O’Connell Center not just a lot of experienced seniors, but veteran juniors who were some of their top performers and minute-getters. They are very well coached and competed in the top-half of the Big Ten last year. They have good size. Offensively, they put you in a lot of different situations, posting up guards on occasion and having their post players step out and play like guards. They have some very nontraditional skill sets at positions that will be challenge for us to defend.
“The most important thing we want to do, though, is play Florida Basketball,” Butler continued. “The most intriguing thing about this time of year is that all of those specifics I just eluded to are based on last year. That tends to shift your focus more back to your own team and making sure we do what we want to do and play our game.”
Florida and Michigan earned berths into the postseason WNIT last year, as the Gators advanced to the round of 16 and ended the year with a 20-15 record. The Wolverines capped their season with a 17-13 overall mark.
Florida sports a 21-16 record all-time in its season-openers, including a 13-5 record when the first game of the year is at home. The Gators have won five consecutive season-openers at home, including last year’s 77-67 victory against UCF.
The Gators have won five of their last six season-openers, as well as 15 of their last 17 to begin a new campaign.
For the third time since the 1990-91 season – and the first time since the 2003-04 campaign - the Gators return all five starters from the previous year. Florida’s 2011-12 roster features five seniors, each of whom boasts starting experience, as 10 returning letterwinners aim to build upon last year’s 20-win season and earn a fifth consecutive postseason berth under fifth-year Butler (118-76 overall record, 78-54 at UF).
Senior Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) led the 2010-11 balanced Gator scoring effort, recording 10.2 points per game, hitting a team-leading 72 three-pointers at a 38.7 percent clip and playing 32.6 minutes per outing.
Senior Azania Stewart (Wood Lawn, England) was Florida’s leading rebounder last season with 6.1 per game and hit 52.7 percent of her shots from the floor. Her 62 blocked shots also was tops for the Gators and ranked second in the SEC.
Senior Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) dished a team-leading 3.4 assists in 2010-11 and collected a team-high 1.77 steals, while finding her way to the free throw a team-best 132 times.
Twenty-three of UF’s program-record 35 games during the 2010-11 season were decided by 10 points or fewer, with 16 being six-point differences - including the final two of the season. The Gators were 14-9 in games decided by 10 points or less. During the 2009-10 season, the Gators played 15 games decided by fewer than 10 points and posted an 8-7 in those outings.
Michigan led the Big Ten last season in three-pointers per game, knocking down 7.4 per game. The Wolverines sank 226 in 30 games from beyond the arc last year, with six different players hitting at least 20. Florida’s all-time program record for three-pointers in a season is 221 tallied in 2008-09.
Senior Carmen Reynolds drains threes at a 40.4 percent clip, the highest career mark in U-M history. She enters the 2011-12 season with 893 points. Junior Kate Thompson, who stands 6-foot-4, sank 42 three-pointers last year, hitting at a 40.8 percent average.
The Gators have totaled 636 three-pointers over the last three seasons, a program-record for a three-year span. Florida ranked fourth in the SEC last year by hitting 5.57 treys per game (195 in 35 games). Individually, Jones leads the Gators three-point barrage, totaling 224 during her career for a 35.4 percent average. She ranked second in the SEC during the 2010-11 season with her 38.7 percent average (72-for-186) from deep, while her 2.18 treys-per-game averaged ranked sixth among all league competitors.
For the 2011-12 season, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee announced the three-point line has moved from a distance of 19’9” to 20’9” (the current distance in men’s basketball).
Game Day Information (DOUBLEHEADER)
Florida Gators (0-0, 0-0 SEC) host the Michigan Wolverines (0-0, 0-0 Big 10)
Friday, November 11, 2011 - 4:30 pm ET
Stephen C. O’Connell Center (11,373) - Gainesville, Fla.
Florida Game Notes (PDF)
Michigan Game Notes (PDF)
*Friday’s game is the 2011-12 season-opener for both teams
*the Gators have won 11 consecutive home non-conference games - the sixth-longest streak of its kind in UF history
*UF is scheduled to play 18 games vs. 2011 postseason teams
*each of UF’s first four games are vs. 2011 postseason teams - and 6 of first 8
*Friday is the first-ever meeting between Florida and Michigan
*Florida is 21-16 all-time in season-openers and has won its last two
Game Coverage & More!
Radio: LIVE on WBXY-FM 99.5 “The Star” in Gainesville called by Adam Schick and Brittany Davis
Internet Audio: LIVE thru www.GatorZone.com (FREE)
Internet Video: www.GatorVision.tv (subscription required)
O’Connell Center Press Row: 352-367-1801
Tickets: Women’s Tickets available until halftime of the game: $5 for reserved seats; $4 adult general admission; $2 for youth age 17 and under; FREE for UF and Santa Fe students
Parking: FREE in the O’Connell Center parking garage until the conclusion of the women’s game, with entrance to the garage off of SW 2nd Ave.
Additional Hoopla For Friday’s Game
Presenting sponsor: Sun Sports
*Sun Sports Schedule Key Tag Giveaway
*First 1,000 fans receive a free schedule key tag featuring Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Gymnastics courtesy of Sun Sports!