Updated at 11:35 p.m.
No. 14/16 Florida Gators basketball (3-1), still short-handed due to injuries and suspensions, beat the Southern Jaguars (1-4) on Monday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the 67-53 victory, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the victory.
HIGH-ANKLE SPRAIN SIDELINES KASEY HILL
Driving the lane with 18:04 left in the game, star freshman point guard Kasey Hill badly rolled his left ankle and crashed to the hardwood with an audible scream. After being helped off while barely able to put any pressure on the ankle, Hill was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain that will sideline him for at least a month, according to Donovan.
“It’s one of those sprains where it’s certainly a longer healing process. I know when you try to rush guys back too soon, it really complicates things,” Donovan said. “Minimum right now they’re looking at a month before we’d even consider getting him back on the floor. It’s unfortunate. It’s part of the game. We’ll have to find some different ways to compensate for his absence.”
Senior forward Casey Prather suffered a high-ankle sprain last season and missed four games over 18 days. Hill’s injury could be more severe, but it is important to know that the four-week timetable is simply an estimate at this time.
He will have precautionary X-rays on Tuesday to rule out any potential fractures or torn ligaments before beginning rehabilitation.
With senior PG Scottie Wilbekin still serving a suspension, Florida does not have another true point guard on the roster capable of replacing Hill immediately.
Luckily for the Gators, Wilbekin’s six-game suspension – first reported by OnlyGators.com in September – concludes on Thursday and he should be in uniform next Monday when UF faces Jacksonville on the road. Florida has neither announced the length of Wilbekin’s suspension nor his return date as of press time.
Sophomores Michael Frazier II and DeVon Walker will fill in for Hill in the interim. Multiple adjustments will need to be made to the offense at least ahead of the next game.
“It really eliminates a real opportunity to get creative on offense because you really have to shorten up the play calls. Because for a guy like DeVon and Michael Frazier to know the two and the three and the point, their head would explode and it’s not fair to them,” Donovan explained. “There’s some concepts and some things we can get into and we can run and we can do and execute that puts them in a position where they know exactly what’s going on.”
GUARD DONE FOR THE YEAR
After Saturday’s game, Donovan noted that two of his guards – junior transfer Eli Carter (ankle) and sophomore Dillon Graham (hips) – were dealing with significant injuries and could miss significant time. Though the Gators only went so far as to discussing a potential redshirt for Carter, who had offseason surgery to repair a broken leg and has suffered through a week ankle since returning to the court, OnlyGators.com noted that Graham would also be a candidate to miss the entire season.
As it turns out, Donovan announced Monday that Graham will indeed be sidelined for the remainder of the year as he is set to undergo surgery to help relieve pain caused by bone spurs in his hips. Unlike Carter, whose fate has yet to be decided, Graham was not expected to be a big-time contributor for Florida this season.
“He’s having a very difficult time sleeping. He can’t lie on his side. It really was a decision that he decided to make with his family. There were options; that was the option they wanted to take. Whatever we can do to help him in that situation, we will,” he said. “I think what he’s going to actually end up doing, probably sometime in the next week or so, we’ll probably get some kind of MRI from the doctors and try to figure out – because I think it’s a very complicated surgery and it’s a very, very, very long recovery. Four months.”
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida is now 2-0 all-time against Southern and 8-0 against teams from the SWAC.
» UF is currently 3-0 in the Global Sports Challenge, an exempt tournament, with wins over North Florida, Arkansas-Little Rock and Southern. Florida will look for the sweep on Thursday against Middle Tennessee.
» The Gators have won 18-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to the 2011-12 season as well as 19 consecutive non-conference home games.
» Florida played Monday after a two-day turnaround, one of three times UF will be faced with playing two games in a three-day span this season.
» The Gators are 57-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Donovan (418) is now just 30 wins behind Dale Brown (448) for second-most in SEC history. He is currently the longest-tenured head basketball coach in the league.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On whether junior G Eli Carter could help mitigate the loss of Hill or if his injury is going to make that impossible: “We definitely need him but not at the expense of burning his year. That’s a real, real hard one for me to swallow as a coach, when a guy’s playing on one leg. Now, he’s probably going to see how much more he can do, but I had him at the point out there and he was out there at halfcourt, he almost lost the ball like three times. It looked like he couldn’t’ even plant and push off. He looked really hobbled. SO, I feel bad for him. Selfishly, could we just use his body for 5-6 minutes just to bide some time? Yes. But I don’t think as a junior in college and a kid that has achieved and done what he’s done at Rutgers, I think we owe him the opportunity to get himself fully healthy to play again.”
» On the status of redshirt junior center Damontre Harris: “He’s not even in practice. He’s still trying to get back to the team. I’m not overly optimistic. I’m giving him a chance to do it, but I’m not overly optimistic.”
» On trying to avoid let downs at the end of halves: “There’s got to be some level of resiliency. I can’t stop the game. If a guy’s tired, I can’t say, ‘Listen, I know you’re tired, but we’re going to come back tomorrow and complete the game when you’re fresh.’ They got to push through that and they’ve got to be able to discipline themselves. They’re probably tired, too, and we’re all tired. You got to make an effort to get where you need to get to. The easy thing to do is say, ‘I’m tired.’ I think us pushing through some of those things, we need to do a better job.”
@ONLYGATORS TWEET OF THE GAME
Check that – SECOND career three-pointer for #Gators F Will Yeguete. Either way, doesn't happen often.
— OnlyGators.com (@onlygators) November 19, 2013