Admittedly, we here at Hail Florida Hail had given up on the women’s program for Florida basketball. After a stretch that saw the Gators go 2-10, there was little to talk about that was positive for the program.
And while a Great Eight appearance in the WNIT is far from the standard any program in Gainvesille should shoot for, it is a massive achievement considering the dumpster fire this program was just two years ago.
Florida Basketball: From the ashes
Finley came to Gainesville in 2017 as an assistant to then-head coach Cam Newbauer. The first two years were marked with losing seasons, followed by two highly mediocre years. Newbauer then left the program because, um, reasons.
With Finley in charge, the Gators won 21 games last season, the most for the program since 2016. Florida qualified for the NCAA tournament but fell to UCF.
Florida returned to Earth this year but still finished with a winning record. That was significant because it was the first time since 2013 that Florida has strung together back-to-back winning seasons.
But even after a fight against Kentucky marred Florida’s SEC tournament appearance, Finley has had her squad regroup to win three games in the WNIT to set up tonight’s matchup again Bowling Green.
Yes, we are the same website that didn’t put any stock into the men’s NIT. That’s because the expectations were different for the men, and there was no “momentum” to gain from the tournament considering everyone has since transferred out of the program.
For Finley, she seems to genuinely be building a foundation that will allow the women’s version of Florida basketball to have stability for the first time in years finally. Last night, five-star prospect Liv McGill announced she would be coming to Gainesville.
Rated the 14th-best player in the country, McGill beats out any prospect that Todd Golden or even Billy Napier has been able to land.
The reality for the women’s program at Florida is that if you are consistently good, people will show up and take notice. Gymnastics sold out every home meet this year. Softball has shown the ability to pack their stadium and draw over a million viewers on TV come College World Series time.
Finley is working hard to get the program to that point.
This run in WNIT and the signing of McGill are steps in that direction.