Just a handful of practices into the 2012-13 season, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics including a serious injury and how new players are fitting in.
DEALING WITH A MAJOR INJURY
Junior center Damontre Harris jumped to Florida knowing that he would not be able to compete right away (he must take a redshirt season due to NCAA transfer rules) but both he and the Gators’ coaching staff knew that he would be able to immediately contribute on the practice court by going up against junior C Patric Young every day.
That aspect of his transfer now looks temporarily in doubt as Donovan revealed Wednesday that Harris dislocated shoulder and tore his labrum in the process.
“We’ve got to make a decision of whether or not he’s going to have surgery,” he said. “Right now the thing we have to do is sit down with the doctor.”
Should Harris have surgery on the torn labrum, he would miss 4-6 months of action as it would have to completely heal before he could take contact on the basketball court. If he chooses not to have surgery, he would be able to return to practice soon but would be in danger of the shoulder being dislocated again at any time.
“It’s unfortunately because he really could have utilized this time here to get better just offensively, playing against Patric,” Donovan said. “It was good for Patric; it was good for him. That is a real, significant loss in my opinion to us in practice, not having him out there, because he was doing pretty well the first couple of practices. He gave us size. It was great for Patric to go against a shot-blocker. Now with him being gone, I think it hurt his development and it hurts our team a little bit, so that’s unfortunate.”
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GATORS NO. 10 IN COACHES’ POLL
USA Today on Wednesday released the preseason edition of its coaches’ top 25 poll with Florida listed as the No. 10 team into the country heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
“It’s a good number to have before the season, but it’s a long season,” senior guard Kenny Boynton said. “The numbers will switch so we definitely can’t let that go to our head or anything. I know previous years we’ve started off at 11 and that’s dropped. So we just got to play one game at a time.”
Kentucky checked in at No. 3 in the poll and received five first-place votes. Other teams UF will play this season that are already listed in the poll include No. 11 Arizona, No. 17 Missouri, No. 21 Wisconsin and T-No. 24 Florida State.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On why the Gators have been taking more transfers recently: “It’s got to be a good fit. With all these guys that have transferred, there’s been some tie whether it’s been recruiting them coming out of which school or whether it’s been a coach having a relationship with maybe the head high school coach. […] With the number of guys that do transfer every year, not every transfer maybe is a great fit or a great need for us, but those guys just happened to be pretty good fits, pretty good needs. It has worked out well for us and them.”
» Donovan said junior forward Casey Prather, despite having a coming out party in the NCAA Tournament, has not improved much from last season. Prather was expected to take significant strides in his assist-to-turnover ratio but he has not yet improved and it is has been a major issue through the first handful of practices.
“I want Casey to be aggressive. I think there are things that we can do to take advantage of his size at the small forward spot, and I think there are some things that we can do on the perimeter to take advantage of his quickness if he’s at the power forward spot, like he did a lot last year for us,” he said. “Where you get into a difficulty with him is when the ball is being turned over too much and there’s momentum changing in the game where it’s putting our defense in a bad situation. He’s got to limit those things right now. […] That is an area, looking from last year to this year, has not improved. That’s a problem. He’s got to get better in that area. Not so much that he’s not passing the ball well as much as he’s just got to make better decisions when the ball is in his hands.”
» On replacing Bradley Beal at the three: “We’re going to be able to make up those points, whether it’s by committee or one guy. I think that’s going to happen. The biggest issue at the small forward spot is people never really talked about Brad Beal was a great, great rebounder.”
» On if any freshmen have stood out yet in practice: “The thing that’s been most impressive with those guys has been their ability to handle practice on Friday for 2-3 hours, double session on Saturday, double session on Sunday, practice Monday. That has been a good thing that they’ve been able to sustain a workout. Do I see any of those guys like I did at this point in time last year like Brad Beal? No. No. The guy was the third player taken in the draft. None of those guys are going to be the third player taken in the draft. However, I do think as it relates to a career and being here for a period of time, I think that all four of those guys have chances to be very, very good players based on their work ethic, how hard they pay and their eagerness to get better.”