Friday August 17, 2012Gators Announce 2012-13 Schedule
Senior Jennifer George
Senior Jennifer George
Florida women’s basketball head coach Amanda Butler will challenge her 2012-13 Gator squad with a 30-game schedule that features more than half of its games coming against opponents that competed in the postseason last year.
The schedule that was unveiled on Friday, has Florida set to play 16 games against 14 different teams that compete in the postseason a year ago, with nine of those playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to beginning an exciting Southeastern Conference season, the Gators launch their 39th year of varsity competition on Fri., Nov. 9, when the team plays host to Fairfield in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 4 p.m. leading into the school’s traditional homecoming pep rally Gator Growl held next door at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“We start right off with a challenging November,” said Butler, who enters her sixth year at Florida. “As a young team, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to discover a lot about who we are and who we need to become in order to be successful.
“A lot of our main challenges occur on the road and that’s going to be fantastic preparation for us and a great opportunity for us to build a great NCAA resume,” Butler continued.
The team then hosts Georgia State in a doubleheader with Florida’s men’s team, before traveling to Tallahassee and facing instate rival Florida State on Nov. 15 in the first of six non-conference road games.
After playing host to North Florida on Nov. 19, the Gators embark on a four-game trip away from Gainesville beginning with the UNLV South Point Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 23, 24 and 25, when the Gators battle N.C. State, Northern Iowa and Arizona State on consecutive days.
“Playing three games in three days against quality opponents will give us a chance to learn about ourselves early and that’s so important with such a young team,” Butler explained. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but also will give our young kids the chance to see how quickly they have to mentally turn around a game plan and have a completely different set of things to digest.”
Florida, which is coming off its third 20-win season in five years under Butler, concludes its road run on Dec. 1, playing at Michigan, one of nine teams on the Gator’s schedule that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Five of Florida’s next six games are at the O’Connell Center, where the Gators have compiled a 40-5 record against non-conference foes during Butler’s tenure. Florida begins the march playing host to Troy (Dec. 4) and Pacific (Dec. 7) before welcoming Central Michigan, St. Joseph’s and Savannah State for the annual Gator Holiday Classic field, Dec. 20 and 21. Tucked in between those games is a Dec. 16 date at LaSalle in Philadelphia. Florida concludes its non-conference schedule against Holy Cross on Dec. 28.
In January, the Gator’s focus entirely shifts to SEC play and the 2012-13 season marks the fourth year of the 16-game schedule for women’s basketball and the first with 14 teams. The University of Missouri and Texas A&M University officially joined the league on July 1 and will compete in all sports for the first time this season.
“The conference schedule again will be the toughest in the country, especially with the addition of two new teams,” Butler said. “Not only having to play our SEC rival Georgia twice, but also adding South Carolina and Alabama to our home-and-home rotation this year in league play is tough. Texas A&M is just two years removed from winning the national championship and Missouri is another really competitive team that came from a strong conference.”
The SEC schedule for women’s basketball is a single round robin with one permanent opponent and two random opponents. The permanent opponents are: Alabama – Auburn; Arkansas – Missouri; Florida – Georgia; Kentucky – South Carolina; LSU – Texas A&M; Ole Miss – Mississippi State; and Tennessee – Vanderbilt. The random opponents will change annually.
“There are a lot of new coaches in the SEC this year who are going to inject some different types of challenges and different styles of play,” Butler said. “There will be a significant amount of time that will be spent learning those new coaches. Sure, the personnel will be similar, but what those new coaches are bringing to the league will only make us a better and even stronger conference.”
Florida launches its league schedule playing two of its first three games on the road, first traveling to Kentucky on January 3, before entertaining LSU on Jan. 6 in the Gator’s SEC home opener. After competing at Mississippi State on Jan. 10, Florida has three consecutive home games featuring Tennessee (Jan. 13), South Carolina (Jan. 20) and Ole Miss (Jan. 24).
The Gators then play four of their next five games on the road, beginning at Georgia (Jan. 27) and Missouri (Jan. 31). Alabama comes to Gainesville on Feb. 3, before Florida packs its bags again for showdowns at Auburn (Feb. 10) and Texas A&M (Feb. 14).
During the week of January 13-20, SEC member institutions will participate in the second annual “We Back Pat” Week. The week-long initiative is focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of East Tennessee Foundation and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Florida finishes with three of its final five games in the O’Connell Center, hosting Georgia (Feb. 17), Vanderbilt Feb. 21) and Arkansas (Feb. 28), while playing on the road at Alabama (Feb. 24) and South Carolina (March 3).
The regular season concludes with the 2013 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament held at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The tournament will include all 14 teams and begins on Wed., March 6 and concludes with the championship game on Sun., March 10.
Times for all games will be solidified once the television schedule is announced.
All-American Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) headlines an extremely young 2012-13 Florida squad that has six freshmen and one sophomore listed among its 10-players eligible to compete. George, a 6-foot forward who was voted as a First Team All-SEC performer last year, is the lone senior on the squad and led Florida in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounding (8.8 per game), while shooting a team best 53.7 percent from the floor.
The junior class consists of Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.). Bonds, who averaged 8.1 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds, was the only Gator who started during last year’s NCAA Tournament run where Florida upset Ohio State before dropping a tough battle against eventual NCAA Champion Baylor. Svete appeared in 32 of 33 games last year and contributed 2.3 points and connected on 14 three-pointers.
Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.), the 2010 Miss Georgia High School Basketball, appeared in the first three games of 2011-12, before an injury sidelined her for the rest of the year and cut short her season for the second consecutive campaign.
Preseason injuries prevented Viktorija Dimaite (Panevezys, Lithuania) and Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) from even playing a minute during their rookie seasons and will be making their respective collegiate debuts in 2012-13.
The Gators also welcome six newcomers to the squad, including four true freshmen who comprised the nation’s 20th-ranked recruiting class, as rated by ESPN.com’s Hoopgurlz. Chandler Cooper (Adams, Tenn.), January Miller (Orlando, Fla.), Christin Mercer (Douglasville,Ga.) and Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.), as well as transfers Vicky McIntryre (Omaha, Neb.) and Cassie Peoples (Houston, Texas), who are required to sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA rules for transfer students.
2012-13 Florida Gator Women’s Basketball Schedule
Nov. 9 FAIRFIELD – 4 p.m.
Nov. 11 GEORGIA STATE (DH) – tba
Nov. 15 at Florida State – tba
Nov. 19 NORTH FLORIDA – tba
Nov. 23-25 at UNLV South Point Thanksgiving Classic
Nov. 23 vs. N.C. State (at Las Vegas) – 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 vs. Northern Iowa (at Las Vegas) – 3 p.m.
Nov. 25 vs. Arizona State (at Las Vegas) – 3 p.m.
Dec. 1 at Michigan – 2 p.m.
Dec. 4 TROY – tba
Dec. 7 PACIFIC – tba
Dec. 16 at LaSalle – 2 p.m.
Dec. 20-21 Gator Holiday Classic
Dec. 20 SAVANNAH STATE – 7 p.m.
Dec. 21 CENTRAL MICHIGAN or ST. JOSEPH’S – 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 HOLY CROSS – 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 at Kentucky – tba
Jan. 6 LSU – tba
Jan. 10 at Mississippi State – tba
Jan. 13 TENNESSEE – tba
Jan. 20 SOUTH CAROLINA – tba
Jan. 24 OLE MISS – tba
Jan. 27 at Georgia – tba
Jan. 31 at Missouri – tba
Feb. 3 ALABAMA – tba
Feb. 10 at Auburn – tba
Feb. 14 at Texas A&M – tba
Feb. 17 GEORGIA – tba
Feb. 21 VANDERBILT – tba
Feb. 24 at Alabama – tba
Feb. 28 ARKANSAS – tba
March 3 at South Carolina – tba
March 5-10 at SEC Tournament (Duluth, Ga.)
Times listed are EASTERN; check www.gatorzone.com for the most up-to-date times