The season opener for the Gators hoops team is two weeks away, as they kick off their 2013-14 campaign against North Florida on November 8th. However, UF will have a couple opportunities to hit the court before that date, as they scrimmage with Georgia Tech on Saturday (10/26) and match up with Florida Southern for an exhibition game on next Friday (11/1).
The injury bug has certainly been the biggest story of the off-season in Gainesville, but the situation is improving as the season nears. Junior transfer guard Eli Carter, who has spent the fall recovering from a broken leg he suffered towards the end of last season, will likely play in the scrimmage against the Yellow Jackets. Gators head coach Billy Donovan says Carter needs to be more explosive, but overall is impressed by the New Jersey native.
“[He has] a really good feel of how to play, really understands the game. He just has an awareness out there, knows how to play and you can tell he's a veteran guy,” said Donovan. “Even being somewhat hobbled, he can be productive out there.”
Donovan actually expects about 8 or 9 players to be available for the Georgia Tech scrimmage after having only 6 in practice earlier this week. Center Damontre Harris has been back at practice after missing roughly a week with a hamstring injury, and Will Yeguete has been participating as well. Some of their teammates are still on the mend though, including guard Dillon Graham (ankle), forward Casey Prather (hamstring) and forward Dorian Finney-Smith (ankle). However, senior center Patric Young says that he isn't too worried right now about the lack of depth due to injury.
“I believe that it's a long season, and if we're not ready at the beginning of the season it's okay,” said Young. “We have plenty of other games down the road, and as long as we peak at the right time then that's all that matters.”
Coach Donovan has somewhat of a different perspective on the depth issue, saying that it's really been affecting his squad's conditioning.
“The biggest thing I see right now that we've got to get in better basketball shape,” says Donovan. “I think the way we're practicing with a limited number of guys, fatigue hits us a lot quicker than it needs to be.”
Florida dodged a bullet as well last week, when mononucleosis tests for Michael Frazier II came back negative. The sophomore guard says he is now back to 100%.