With the No. 5/6 Florida Gators set to play their first rivalry game of the season against the Florida State Seminoles on Wednesday in Tallahassee, FL, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Monday to discuss his team’s 6-0 start and how it has been playing so far this season.
MURPHY DOWN, OUT FOR FLORIDA STATE?
Donovan revealed on Monday that starting senior forward Erik Murphy has not practiced since the Marquette game. Murphy apparently suffered a hip pointer that has been bothering him so much that he is now questionable to play in Florida’s first rivalry game of the season on the road at Florida State.
“Murphy’s been out right now. He has not practiced since the Marquette game. What his status will be on Wednesday, I’m not sure,” Donovan said. “He’s not practicing [Monday]. He has a bad hip pointer. … Erik, based on what he’s able to do [Tuesday], if anything, may have something to do with starting lineups.”
Junior F Will Yeguete, who has been starting at the three all season long, said Murphy is in a tough spot. “I talked to him. He’s a little sore still. He doesn’t really know what to do about it. He’s got to let his body heal. He’ll keep stretching and doing some treatments; those are the only things he can do,” he said.
Should Murphy miss the game or be limited in his minutes, Donovan could move Yeguete back down to the four and roll with a three-guard starting lineup. Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario said he does not think that would be much of a problem because of how much adversity the Gators have faced depth-wise this season.
“I feel like Will can give us some good minutes at that spot. I feel like everyone’s prepared. We went without a couple guys during the season already, so now we know how to do it,” he said.
Also likely to return to the starting five is junior center Patric Young, who was demoted to a bench role last week against Marquette after having a bad attitude during practice. Young rebounded with his best game of the season and has supposedly learned a lesson from the entire situation.
“Patric, I think, has responded very well. I’m really happy with the way he’s responded not only in the game; he’s responded well in practice,” Donovan said. “He’s responded well. That’s what he needs to do. He practiced very well [Sunday] and it impacted our team in a very positive way.”
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A REELING OPPONENT
The Seminoles have been struggling all season long and have started the 2012-13 campaign with a 4-3 record including losses to South Alabama and both Minnesota and Mercer in consecutive games. Donovan said he expects Florida State to be focused on taking down Florida nonetheless.
“Any time you go into a game when you play on the road, what you’re looking to do is, we’re expecting that Florida State is going to play its best basketball. That’s what we’re expecting. I don’t think our guys are expecting anything less,” he said. “Every game brings a whole new set of challenges, a new set of competitive challenges, and this game is going to be no different.”
Yeguete agrees, noting that records and rankings are thrown out the window in rivalry games. “They’re going to be ready to play no matter what, no matter how many games they’ve lost before. We’re ranked pretty high, and it’s a chance for them to get a good win for their resume,” he said. “They’re going to be ready to play. They’re going to play harder than any game they’ve played before. We just have to be ready to face their physicality.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On being ranked high in the latest top 25 polls: “The polls in general are going to change from week to week. You’re either going to move up or you move down. We’ve had a chance to start the season undefeated. There are probably some teams that have lost early in the year and it causes you to move up. You lose some games and you move down pretty quickly. For us, it’s just about getting ready for the next game.”
» On keeping the team level despite some blowout victories: “The biggest thing I’ve tried to do since the Marquette game is to get them to understand that every day you have an opportunity to move forward and get better. I do think, in life, the hardest thing to be able to handle is success, when success comes. Being able to handle that is important. We’ve talked a lot about being able to handle that. … You win a game by [a huge] margin, you come back to practice the next day and it ends up being a mindset of, ‘We’ve got this all figured out; we know what we’re doing.’ That’s where I really think slippage starts to occur. So we’ve talked a lot about that. Everything that has happened to this point in time is really all in the past.”
» On freshman guard Michael Frazier II, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday: “I’m happy for Michael, that’s great, but he needs to get better defensively right now. … How do you, as a player, as a person, handle that attention in terms of your attention to detail now.”
» On deceased future Hall of Fame coach Rick Majerus: “I knew him well. I wouldn’t say I knew him great. Very sad, great coach, a great character, funny guy. Somebody that loved the game of basketball.”
» On one-and-done players: “The NBA dictates that all the time of whether or not a guy is one-and-done based on where he’s going to get drafted. Then I think it’s up to the player and his family to make a decision if they want to pursue something like that. Any time you go to a different level, I think all these guys have to go through an adjustment period. Would Brad Beal staying [have] served him better? I don’t know. It’s certainly very difficult. How much better could he have actually done with his draft status? He was the third player taken in the draft. There will be growing pains, there will be maturing; he went through some of those things here. He’s got great potential, great ability; he’s got a great future. Any kid that has that kind of opportunity, the NBA are the ones that put a kid in a position of taking them in the first round. And then it’s up to the kid and his family to make a decision that they feel is best.”
» On junior G/F Casey Prather playing well after returning from two concussions: “The head gear is really helping him in practice. He’s got tunnel vision right now and he can’t see anybody that’s in front of him. Maybe the more people he sees, the harder it is. Casey has done good. The biggest thing with him right now has been his conditioning is behind. To his credit, he’s trying to push himself through that; he’s trying to get better. You can see that he’s winded. He’s missed a lot [of time]. … It’s great to have him back in practice with his energy, with his athleticism. The biggest thing for him right now is just getting in better shape. … Because he has done it in some games and he did it at the end of the year against good teams, now there’s an internal belief that he’s proven it, he can do it. He’s got an assurance that he knows he can do it. I’ve got confidence in him.”
» On head coach Will Muschamp and the football team: “Any time a new coach comes in and you’ve got such a big job ahead of you, our paths don’t cross a whole lot, but they do cross some. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. The one story that I will tell you that really stood out to me with him was… I remember this was last year after the Alabama game here at home and it was a tough loss. He was walking to media and I was walking to go work out; he was kind of coming in and we crossed each other and we stopped and we talked. I thought he had an incredible perspective of where his team was at, where the program was at and where he wanted to go. I think he knows exactly what he wants to do in recruiting. I think he knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants his team to play. Like anything else, there is a building process that needs to go on. I give him and his coaching staff a lot of credit, and I also give the players a lot of credit because a lot of those same guys were on the team a year ago and needed to get a whole lot better. They obviously made the commitment to get better. Certainly they’ve played a very difficult schedule. I think Will is a great guy. He’s a perfect fit here. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a person. I’ve always said I don’t know a lot about the Xs and Os of football, but I can always take away from watching his team play that they looked like a team last year that maybe wasn’t physically tough and now they’ve developed into this very physically, mentally tough team. I think that’s a great tribute to all of them and obviously they’ve had an incredible year.”