The No. 19 Florida Gators earned their first true road victory on Saturday by defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 79-65 in Columbia, SC. With sophomore center Patric Young pulled from the starting lineup and hobbled with an ankle injury, head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the game and when he spoke to the media on Monday during the weekly SEC teleconference.
YOUNG’S STATUS REMAINS DAY-TO-DAY
Following the game Saturday, in which Young played just 13 minutes (mostly in the second half) after being pulled from the starting lineup because he was not 100 percent due to an ankle injury, Donovan revealed that his player has actually been dealing with discomfort for about two weeks.
“He’s got some tendinitis in his ankle, and he’s got a blister under a callous. He really has not been himself in practice really for the last 10 days,” Donovan said. “He’s tried to go and then [Saturday] at shoot around, trying to watch him move and him trying to work through it, I just told him we’re going to need his effort and his energy and if he can’t bring that then we can’t start him. He agreed and understood.”
On Monday, Donovan noted that he did not have any update about Young’s condition, saying that he has been laboring in practice recently and the team’s medical staff is doing whatever it can to figure out what is wrong with him and how to move forward to get him healthy as quick as possible.
“I don’t think it’s anything severe or significant or anything that cannot be cleared up,” he said. “Our medical people here are probably going to go to the next step and maybe X-ray him and [perform a] MRI, something along those lines more for precautionary [reasons]. Where he’s sore it’s not over any bone issue, it’s more over soft tissue. I have a feeling it’s some sort of ankle tendinitis.
“What I’ve tried to do with him is to utilize him in practice as he can tolerate right now. How long it’s going to be, I don’t know. We’ll probably find out a little bit more here Tuesday and Wednesday once we get back to practice.”
Donovan made sure to point out that, while Young is very important to the Gators for a number of reasons, one thing he will make sure to do is not rush him back to a full workload, especially if his condoning suffers as much as he expects it will due to him having a nagging ankle injury.
“My concern right now is his conditioning, him maintaining a high level of conditioning. I don’t think the last couple of weeks he’s been able to practice with the intensity that he’s needed to,” he said. “I’ve seen this before with frontcourt guys – the first thing that starts to go is their conditioning. We’ve got to make sure in terms of helping him keep up a high level of conditioning, but it’s hard. When you got a foot injury like that, it’s hard to condition. That’s more my concern right now with him conditioning-wise, how much he’s lost over the last few weeks.”
OTHERS STEPPING UP FOR THE GATORS
As junior guard Kenny Boynton
continues to lead the way offensively and senior point guard Erving Walker
is charged with keeping the engine running each game, three other players have really begun to find their respective grooves, Donovan said over the last three days.
He was especially pleased with the way sophomore forward Will Yeguete, thrust into the stating lineup in a moment’s notice, performed on both sides of the ball. “He responded really well. He had a terrific game, made some great plays, rebounded the ball for us, defended very well,” Donovan said. “We really needed him. We were pretty much in the first half rotating he, [Erik] Murphy and [Cody] Larson when Patric picked up his fouls. To go on the road and win and not have someone like Patric, a real instrumental part of it, on the floor, some other players had to step up and some other guys did for us.”
Freshman G Bradley Beal, who has been an efficient scorer and significantly cut down his turnovers over the last two games (one total last week), has received praise from Donovan all season but got even more from him on Monday.
“The one thing that’s been great with him is I think he’s very eager to get better,” he said. “He’s very eager to improve. He’s a pretty accountable kid when things are not going his way or he’s struggling. He’s pretty self-reflective in figuring out what he’s got to do to get better. For him, the more and more experience he has playing, the better and better he gets. He works at it. He’s a hard-working kid. He’s a good teammate. He’s a good chemistry guy. He has a lot of intangible things that you probably can’t see by watching him play but you would notice by being around him. He’s played very well, and I think he’ll continue to get better and improve as time goes on.”
Donovan also took some time out to praise redshirt junior G Mike Rosario, who through defensive struggles early in the season and a pair of nagging injuries (back, ankle) over the last few weeks, has had trouble finding consistency. His coach believes those issues are now behind him.
“It’s pretty clear for me that he really has been consistent here for about two weeks. Some of his inconsistencies really were out of his control,” Donovan said. “He had the disc issue in his back that forced him to sit a couple games during the holidays. And then the first game back was Rutgers for him and he only practiced one day. [He] played pretty good against Yale and then sprained his ankle towards the end of that game. There’s been no consistently flow-wise for practice.
“Since he’s come back from his ankle after the Yale game, I think he’s really strung together a week or two here where he’s been pretty consistent, pretty reliable, pretty responsible. It’s definitely added a level of trust for me as a coach with the way he’s working and the things that he’s trying to do. When he’s doing that, he needs to be afforded ore of an opportunity to play. The last couple of games – Georgia and here now against South Carolina – he’s been a positive addition coming off the bench, providing some scoring and different things our team needed.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On having an early bye week: “Certainly the bye week for us comes pretty early in the conference schedule having played three games. Hopefully we can utilize this time to get better and focus on ourselves early in the week and then get prepared to play LSU here at our place on Saturday.”
» On not turning the ball over as much on Saturday: “Our guys just made better decisions. We had a better awareness of taking care of the ball. For whatever reason why we didn’t do it earlier in the year, I don’t know, but we were certainly much more conscientious of that part on the offensive end of the floor. We were able to get more attempts up at the basket maybe on the road against South Carolina than some other teams because we had turned it over a little bit too much [in the other four road games]. That’s something we can move forward and get better at. Certainly we’ve worked on it in practice; I think it’s been a focus for us not only on the road but at home, making good decisions and taking care of the ball.”