A consistent rash of injuries continues to limit No. 6/8 Florida Gators basketball, which is scheduled to head into Knoxville, TN on Tuesday evening for a showdown against the Tennessee Volunteers with just six healthy members of its regular rotation.
Addressing the team’s health on Monday, Florida head coach Billy Donovan acknowledged that while the injuries have been limiting, things could have been worse for the Gators this season had the ailments been more severe.
“It’s been kind of some strange stuff that’s happened. The one thing that’s been good is our guys have responded. That’s been the one positive,” he said. “It’s been a blessing that it hasn’t been situations where guys’ seasons are over and they can’t come back.”
Florida’s latest injury occurred Saturday against Arkansas when freshman guard Michael Frazier II suffered a concussion while diving for a loose ball. Frazier has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game but may be able to return by the weekend.
“He’s probably going to get back to at least doing some exercise if not [Monday then Tuesday],” Donovan said. “Him being back for Saturday’s game is probably still up in the air. I think they have to see how he responds.
“He did not pass some of his baseline tests … but it wasn’t something where I think it was so significantly low where they won’t let him do any activity. It probably was not as severe as maybe first originally thought, but I still know that there’s some protocol they all have to go through.”
Also missing Tuesday’s showdown is junior forward Will Yeguete, who remains on the shelf while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery he had performed on Feb. 8. Saturday’s contest against Alabama would be the earliest he could possibly return.
Donovan said that Yeguete began working out again on Thursday. The training staff is checking his knee for swelling 24 hours after each workout and so far the results have been positive with no significant swelling whatsoever.
“There’s a process that he has to go through before the doctors feel comfortable [with him playing],” he explained. “The thing that would set him back would be the swelling part of it. They’re not going to thrust him so fast into something just to have him setback. So they’re going pretty slow with him right now, just to see how he responds, but he’ll start to do more and more.
“I would think that he would be injected into practice in some shape or form [on Thursday]. Whether or not that means he can play on Saturday, I don’t know, a lot would depend how he responds.”
In fact, the biggest issue with Yeguete right now is convincing him to wear the restrictive and supportive knee brace provided by the trainers. Donovan said the player “does not like” wearing it but will have to get used to it, especially if he hopes to play sooner than the initial timetable of 4-6 weeks suggested.