Donovan: Carter to play vs. Texas Southern; Frazier must lead, Hill must push Gators

By Adam Silverstein
December 12, 2014

Florida Gators basketball (4-4) is back at .500 and hopes to get into the black on Friday evening when it hosts the Texas Southern Tigers (1-6) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The game will tip at 7 p.m.

Head coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday (as well as after Monday’s game) to discuss his remaining concerns about his team and update the Gators’ injuries.

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Darrin Horn)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network Affiliates

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS TEXAS SOUTHERN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mike Davis
Record: 4-4 Record: 1-6
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southwestern Athletic

Odds: Florida -26 | O/U 127.5



INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter, who suffered a mid-foot sprain on Nov. 17 and has only played in two of Florida’s last six games, practiced on Wednesday, returned to the court Thursday and is expected to play on Friday night.

Donovan said Carter is still experiencing soreness and pain in the extremity but should be able to work through the lingering discomfort to give it a go at a yet-to-be-determined minute allotment.

“He pretty much did everything in practice. I still think he’s not moving as well as I’d like him to move. I don’t know if that’s him being a little cautious or it’s just him feeling some pain there,” Donovan explained. “He feels like he can go, and as I said last week, he was cleared and it was really on him. I think he’s at a place right now where he wants to try to do it.”

Donovan also discussed the recovery of redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who suffered hairline fractures to two bones in his non-shooting hand at the start of the season. Finney-Smith remains sore after games but is progressing in his recovery. The Gators have “some hope that maybe next week [the trainers] can take the brace off; if not next week, maybe after the holidays they can do that,” per Donovan.

He also refused to give Finney-Smith any leash for his shooting, noting that the player’s hand likely has little to do with his .472 clip.

“Without a broken hand last year, he was very, very erratic shooting the basketball. I don’t know how much of this is his hand or not,” Donovan said.

“Clearly the brace is not on his shooting hand but obviously he is going to bring the ball up with his left hand. I think you can see on film when he’s dribbling left he struggles sometimes to handle the basketball and make plays. I think the thing that’s been impacted the most for him with his hand to me has been his rebounding. It hasn’t been so much being able to go up and grab the ball as much as it is – with the amount of contact physically where guys are using their hands to try to go rebound and where he’s really good at that – I think trying to protect himself, trying not to put his hand in harm’s way, he’s almost become like a one-armed rebounder because I think he’s keeping his other arm [protected]. So he’s not moving as well, he’s not getting position as well. A lot of the position you do get is with your hands and your feel and moving and sliding and you get banged a lot. Your hands get banged a lot. I’m sure for him that’s uncomfortable. I think that’s why his rebounding numbers have been down.

“But I think from the shooting standpoint, all I’m looking for him is to get good quality reps when he gets it to be on balance and to follow through and to be disciplined. … His M.O. really since he’s been here has been that of somebody who has been inconsistent shooting the ball. How much is his hand and how much is not, I guess we’ll find out when his hand gets healthy.”

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida and Texas Southern are squaring off for the first time, though the Gators are 8-0 all-time under Donovan against opponents from the SWAC.
» On Monday, UF held a 49-point lead against Yale and won by 38, its greatest margin of victory in more than a year (42, Savannah State, Dec. 29, 2013).
» Florida lost back-to-back contests for the first time since Feb. 25 and March 3, 2012 and consecutive non-conference games for the first time since December 2009.
» The Gators were under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998.
» Florida has used six starting lineups in eight regular-season games this year.
» The Gators are looking for their 17th consecutive season with 20+ victories. Florida’s 16-straight campaigns with that many wins is the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Only eight coaches have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» Florida learned to win close games last season, going 14-2 in contests decided by single digits; the Gators are 2-3 in such affairs this season.
» Two weeks ago, Miami snapped Florida’s program-record 33-game home winning streak, which dated back to Nov. 11, 2012, and was the second-longest in the nation. The Canes also broke the Gators’ school-record 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, which dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.
» Florida is still on program-record 18-game winning streaks against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and at home (since Jan. 9, 2014). UF has also won a school-record nine-in-a-row over SEC opponents on the road (since Jan. 11, 2014).

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On sophomore guard Michael Frazier II stepping into a more prominent role and struggling along the way: “Michael always comes from a good place of intentions, but guys that are really really good players, they understand the length and time of a game. I think Michael has gotten a little bit into three, four, five, six minutes go by and I haven’t gotten shot, haven’t shot, haven’t shot. It’s not necessarily that we’re not running plays, teams are defending him. If you keep yourself focused and engaged in the game, he could get three shots in a minute. The ball could find him, steals in the press, transition, a lot of things can happen if he puts himself in transition. …

“When he gets his legs under him and he gets room and he gets a crack, I feel very confident with him shooting it, but I also feel like he can sometimes get stressed about [not getting chances]. I liken his situation to frontcourt players. You ask a frontcourt player every single time to run the floor and they maybe get it twice a game just by running the floor, but do you have the consistency to understand that’s actually breaking down defense when you do it? I may not even touch the ball, but I have to run the floor, run the floor. He’s got to do the same thing: he’s got to run the floor, run the floor, move, get open, and it may not find him, but he’s got to stay with it. … It’s a lot more challenging. We don’t need him to necessarily score. We need him to take open shots and good shots. When he does that, it creates spacing and it creates opportunities for other guys. Sometimes when you’re a really really good shooter, actually it’s not you that benefits, it’s the other guys around you that benefit because of spacing.”

» On sophomore point guard Kasey Hill playing better as of late: Hill: “The biggest thing I thought he did is I thought he forced tempo, he really pushed the ball hard and we need him to push the ball hard. That’s what he needs to do. When he gets into this mindset where he’s walking the ball up the floor and he’s playing at a comfortable plays, our team’s not as good and he’s not as good. … There hasn’t been a consistent level of play for him over a period of time. I think that’s what he’s working towards right now. It has nothing really to do with his shooting or his scoring as much as it is him running our team and helping us play to our identity on offense in what we need to do. our identity on offense starts with him. We would like to get out on the fastbreak, we would like to run. If he’s not willing to run, it makes it difficult to run. He’s got to be able to do that for us and when he does do that it puts pressure on the defense, it also puts pressure on the other guys to run with him.

» On freshman G Brandone Francis, who is not with the team for academic reasons: “He’s doing well right now We’re every very optimistic that once this semester comes to a close, he’ll be able to start practicing. … As far as right now what he’s doing, he appears to be doing very very well. … Right now we feel good at least the progress he’s made and is making. We’re hopeful and optimistic that when the semester comes to an end, he’ll be able to start practicing, which will be good to give us another body, to be honest with you.”

» Former Gators G Dillon Graham has decided to transfer to Embry-Riddle, a Division II program out of Daytona Beach, Florida.

» On Florida progressively getting better (from Monday): “I think it’s going to be a process for these guys. Hopefully if you get enough experiences, you can learn from them. There’s been moments where we’ve played really at a high level. … And then offensively, the ball stops moving, we stop moving, teams have shot a high percentage, fouled too much in the second half. To their credit, I thought that they put for the most part a complete game together of intensity. Now that being said, were there mistakes and things that we could have done better? Absolutely. But there were not those lulls. … I thought we played to our identity for the whole game offensively and when we don’t do that, we really struggle to score. I thought the ball moved very well, I thought we got good shots, I thought the biggest thing was we had a presence at the basket with our guards and frontcourt players. … I thought we had good three-point shots where our guys were set. I thought we were well-balanced. I thought the ball moved and Kasey Hill obviously had more than half of our assists; I thought he did a really, really good job of really making good decisions and finding guys.”

» On seeing Lee Humphrey at the game (from Monday): “I did. I thought because we could not make a three point shot that maybe he was going to come in and rescue the day a little bit. I just talked to him in the locker room. It’s always great to see him. He’s a great kid. I’ve always enjoyed him.”

» On challenging the Gators (from Monday): “There’s a price to pay to play well. Just because the game is here, you cannot play the game on your own terms. A lot of guys want to play on their own terms. They want to play at their intensity rate and they take the temperature and pulse of the game of how hard do I need to compete instead of being responsible and accountable for your own level of intensity and competitiveness. Trying to get these guys to do the very very best they can without worrying about who we’re playing I think is the most important thing. … I think we all want things to be easy and we want success and it doesn’t work like that. There’s a price to be paid and there’s an effort that you have to give and there’s commitment. … They responded form what we’ve been able to do, which was good to see. … You want to obviously win every game. This team’s got a journey in front of it and where the journey ends – whether it’s postseason or not postseason play – we got to earn our way, we got to earn our way.”

2 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    I thought Francis was out for the year, is that just coming to be able to practice or is he actually going to be eligible (albeit very far behind in progression with the rest of the team)?

    Also, now that the semester is over, when is Murphy eligible?

    • Murphy will be eligible in two games, Dec. 20 vs. Wake Forest unless Donovan decides to hold him out for another reason.

      Francis is out for the year but he’s allowed to practice once academically eligible.

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