11/7: Donovan talks injuries before Gators opener

By Adam Silverstein
November 7, 2013

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday, one day before the team opens the 2013-14 season against the North Florida Ospreys at 3 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


Only three Gators have been completely ruled out for Friday afternoon’s season opener – senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, redshirt junior center Damontre Harris and redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith – as each will be serving a suspension. Harris and Finney-Smith will each return before Wilbekin.

Both senior F Will Yeguete (knee) and junior guard Eli Carter (leg) have been cleared to play, and sophomore G Michael Frazier II (mononucleosis) may wind up being allowed to see time as a reserve.

“[Frazier’s] progressing. He has not practiced at all. He did some individual work [Wednesday]. He got into a few non-contact drills. He’s cleared, not to go through practice, but he’s cleared to at least see how he responds,” Donovan explained. “We’ll do a little bit more with him [Thursday] and then basically that’s a decision between the trainer and the doctor. We’ll probably have a better idea after practice [Friday] whether he’ll be available.”

Freshman PG Kasey Hill has been dealing with a back issue and was held out of practice throughout the week but will be cleared to play.

Yeguete and Carter are both being held back a bit – and may even be on minutes restrictions – but should see significant time overall on Friday.

“It will take me a few games [to get back to normal]. I’m not really worried about that,” Yeguete said Thursday. “I’m just trying to go out there and play like I’m 100 percent and then after that watch the film and see where I can improve and everything. Then I’ll understand that. I’m just sticking the process. I think it’s going to take me a few games [to get back to normal], but I’m excited.”

Senior C Patric Young also had offseason surgery, some minor work done on his ankle, but is fully healthy and one of only a few Florida players not facing an ailment or discipline. He has stepped up as a team leader this offseason, according to Donovan, and is trying to keep his teammates focused through the early adversity.

“’We all we got’ is the saying I’ve been trying to let the guys know we just line up with the guys that are going to be playing, for the most part. We struggle a little bit in a practice and I say, ‘Guys, this is what we have going into the game. We need to get things figured out,’” Young explained. “No matter what, who steps across the line, coach is going to put guys in there that are going to play the hardest. He expects each one of us to play hard, know what to do, know the executions, know to give it all we got.”


» Donovan on Florida Southern hitting 13-of-30 three-pointers in the exhibition game: “I’m happy that they were able to make the amount of threes that they made because it was a great opportunity for us to show film and really use a lot of those things in terms of corrections and teaching points and those kind of things. That’s an area we got to get better at.”

» Donovan on Florida facing some roster issues early in the season: “We’re hopeful that we get a full complement of players back and have a full roster. What our team looked like on paper before the year started, maybe we’ll look like that at some point in time I the season. But right now, it’s just about focusing with the guys that we have getting ready to play [Friday].”

» Donovan on Hill offering something on the court the Gators have not had in a long time: “In the open floor, when the floor is broken … and he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s so fast that he can really cover a lot of ground and take a situation that’s a 4-on-4 situation – through his speed – make it a 4-on-2 because he can really go by people. Any type of guard that can play in the lane helps you. … I think Kasey with his size and his athletic ability will be a better finisher around the basket than Erving [Walker] was. … We haven’t had somebody like that in a while. Kasey’s got to do a better job finishing. He’s good at it, but he needs to be a lot better for as much as he’s in the lane.”

» Donovan on Young’s character and decision to stick with Florida for four seasons: “He’s had every opportunity since his freshman year to pick up and walk out of here. And he has stayed very, very loyal to the University of Florida, to the program, and has really wanted to get a full college experience not only as a basketball player but as a student, get his degree and those kind of things. In a day and age where a lot of kids have the opportunity to go to the NBA, here was a young man that decided he wanted to stay in college. I think that says a lot about him in terms of his priorities and what’s important to him in his life. Going through a four-year experience, getting his degree and maybe playing basketball after it’s over with is a great thing. The one thing that’s great about Patric to me is he’s so gifted and so talented in every area of his life that he can do anything he wants. That’s the thing I think the beauty of him; he can do whatever he wants because he’s so gifted. … There’s a lot of things that he can do. But believe me, I’m the first one out there wanting more because he’s capable of that because he’s just been gifted with a lot.”

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