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What's going on with Florida Women's Basketball?

ByAria Modirmassihai

Published on Tue Jul 20 2021

|

3 min read

What's going on with Florida Women's Basketball?

In the last 32 years, only one school has finished in the top 10 all-sports rankings, The University of Florida. In Gainesville, conference championships are almost an annual occurrence. Over the years Florida’s women's teams have won won a lot of SEC titles: 6 in Cross Country, 9 in Golf, 13 in Gymnastics, 10 in Lacrosse, 14 in Soccer, 9 in Softball, 17 in Swimming and Diving, 29 in Tennis, 14 in Track and Field, and 24 in Volleyball, for a total of 145 conference championships. Paired with 20 national championships, the Lady Gators have amassed an extremely impressive trophy closet. There’s only 1 major sport missing from that list, Basketball.


Since their first official season in 1973, the Florida Gators women's team has never managed to reach the top of the southeastern conference. The team set out to reverse their nearly 50-year history of mediocrity when they hired Head Coach Cam Newbauer from Belmont in 2017. The talented head coach held an impressive 49-15 conference record while leading the Belmont bruins. That is a nearly 77

win rate.

On July 16th, 5-star recruit Lavender Briggs announced she was transferring after her freshman season. Shortly after, head HC Cam Newbrauer stepped down. Image via Florida Athletics.

With Newbauer at the helm, the future looked bright for the Gators. But things did not start out as planned with the gators putting up back-to-back 3 win seasons in the Southeastern Conference.


Newbauer’s 3rd year in charge began with a newfound sense of optimism, as the Gators had freshman sensation, and 5-star recruit, Lavender Briggs on the roster. Briggs would go on to have an amazing 2 seasons with the Gators. She made the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2020 and was named to the SEC All-Second Team in 2021. Despite her impressive individual performance, the Gator’s only managed to win 9 total conference games those two seasons.


On July 15th, Briggs entered the transfer portal. Meaning the Gator’s would lose the only bright spot of their failing basketball team. 2 days after Briggs’ announcement, Coach Newbauer announced his resignation from the head coaching position.


What began as an optimistic effort to raise a lagging program to the standard of excellence embodied by its fellow programs, ended in an overall 46-71 record across 4 seasons, including an abysmal 24.2

conference win percentage. It seems Gainesville is still far from bringing home a conference championship in Women’s Basketball.


But what went wrong?


Experienced coach, All-league freshman scorer, and all the sunshine to attract top recruits. Sounds like the foundation of a national powerhouse. Not a bottom of the ladder team left without its 2 biggest building blocks. Was it simply a matter of the wrong fit, or is Gainesville truly destined to never lift the conference trophy?
Either way, 1 thing is certain, the rebuilding plan that started in 2017, did not work.

Florida's Interim Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley issued a statement reassuring her remaining players that their is a support system for them in Gainesville. Image via @GatorsWBK on Twitter


Former Assistant Coach Kelley Rae Finley has been named the Interim Head Coach of the Florida Women’s Basketball team. Her coaching career includes assistant coaching positions at Arizona, Colorado, and Harvard in addition to Florida. This will be her first stint as a full-time head coach.


The Gator’s have a long road ahead of them to secure their first conference championship. A standard set by the rest of Florida’s historic sports teams.

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