The No. 13/14 Florida Gators earned their second true road victory Thursday coming from behind to defeat the Ole Miss Rebels 64-60 in Oxford, MS. With sophomore center Patric Young (ankle) out of the starting lineup again with ankle tendinitis, head coach Billy Donovan updated his player’s status on Friday and spoke about a number of other topics concerning the team.
YOUNG MAY WORK WAY BACK INTO STARTING LINEUP
Though he has not yet sat out yet due to his injury, Young has begun the last three contests on the bench but still managed to play more than 24 minutes in each of the last two games. Donovan said once again on Friday that Young is feeling better, but he still remains unsure as to whether or not he will start on Saturday against the No. 16/18 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
“I haven’t seen any carry over or effect from the ankle after we held him out during our bye week,” he said. “This whole week of practice he was in every second. He wasn’t complaining about it. I know he’s still getting treatment. I’m sure it’s sore. I’m sure it does maybe take him a little while to get going. I didn’t see anything coming off the bench last night where he looked slow getting started. He seemed to be in a pretty good place.”
Donovan said that he has not addressed Young’s status for Saturday but that it will be a topic of discussion Friday night.
“We’ll probably meet as a staff and talk a little bit about that. I will talk to Patric as well. I want to get a feeling of where he’s at right now,” he said. “Obviously he played very well [Thursday] night and I thought we got some really good minutes out of him in the LSU game as well. I kind of want to see how he feels, would he feel feel more comfortable back in the starting lineup or would he prefer to come off the bench?”
He would not say specifically that Young’s conditioning is an issue, but Donovan did note that he wants him to be able to maintain his level of intensity longer or at least be more consistent with it while he is in games.
“Patric’s conditioning is interesting because he goes so hard for such short periods that he almost takes himself to exhaustion,” Donovan explained. “Part of the thing that he needs to learn to do is he’s got to push through some of that and learn how to play when he’s a little bit tired. I don’t really see a lot of a drop off from where he was before.”
NOT WORRIED ABOUT EARLY DEPARTURES – YET
As a coach who has seen players stick around to repeat a national championship but also witnessed two leave early for the NBA Draft recently, he is less concerned about whether or not his players try their hand at the pros bur rather how uncertain the situation can be.
“You don’t know [what’s going to happen] and that’s the thing that’s hard sometimes and that can be challenging,” he said. “Sometimes you actually spend more time recruiting them when you do coaching them and that’s the hard part.”
As far as Young and guards junior Kenny Boynton and freshman Bradley Beal go, Donovan said he has not noticed any of them discussing their future at all this season.
“Those guys are really level-headed right now. They don’t talk about it,” he said. “I really think those guys are totally in tune right now of trying to play this season. I think that they all realize, if our team does well and they do well, maybe down the road there’s time to make a decision. I don’t get a sense from them that it is even on their mind or that they’re talking about it, at least in my conversations. They’ve been pretty focused on playing.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On fighting back from 16 points down against Ole Miss: “Part of us getting down like we did 20-4 was we didn’t make shots early in the game. We had pretty decent looks ourselves. Patric got the ball a couple times and just didn’t finish some plays. We missed a couple runners in the lane. We really didn’t get to the free throw line. But we kind of weathered the storm and hung in there. [...] I didn’t really sense from our guys that they were disappointed or frustrated or bothered. I thought that they just hung in there and kept playing.”
» On if the win was a confidence booster for the team: “Anything that’s happened in the past at home or on the road, it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s over and done with.”
» On senior point guard Erving Walker’s performance on Thursday: “Erv was really good outside of that turnover where he slipped. He had nine assists in the game and one turnover. He played a very good floor game. He got guys shots [Thursday] night. He made some great interior passes to Patric for some dunks. It was a situation where I thought he made the game easier for everybody else last night. He really did do a very good job. He’s the guy you want to have with the ball in his hands to get fouled. He just unfortunately slipped in that situation. [...] That was his only turnover for really 39 minutes of play. I thought from a floor game standpoint he played really well.”