Banged Up Florida Not Getting Any HealthierPosted by Brian Joyce on January 15th, 2013
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.
The SEC regular season race is Florida‘s to lose. Kentucky can’t win at home, much less on the road. Missouri lost to Ole Miss, albeit it without its leading scorer. And don’t even get us started on the rest of the conference. The Gators are in prime position to win their first conference regular season championship since 2011. That is, if they can stay healthy.
The backcourt situation has had its share of injuries as Mike Rosario sat out against LSU with an ankle sprain and Scottie Wilbekin sat out three games due to a suspension, but then played through a broken finger on his right hand. The frontcourt has not been any better as Will Yeguete underwent x-rays on his knee for tendinitis. Then, recent starter Casey Prather suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half in Florida’s victory over LSU. After he was sidelined with a knee injury, Erik Murphy suffered a fractured rib against Air Force. Then, he re-aggravated his left rib in practice. Now, we learned that Prather is sidelined for 10 to 14 days with an ankle injury further adding to the Gators’ recent string of bad luck.
Florida coach Billy Donovan is thankful the injury to Prather isn’t worse. ”Thank God it’s not a severe high ankle sprain where you’re out for a month to six weeks,” Donovan said. “It’s something hopefully he can get back [soon]. The most bizarre thing is usually when you see a guy roll over on an ankle sprain, you usually see a guy really twist his ankle. The bizarre part is he kind of just landed on his foot. It wasn’t anything that looked on film to be too bad, but, you know, initially what I was told at halftime is that they thought he had broken something and obviously the X-rays came back negative. We’ll miss him because he’s a versatile player and he’s played well for us so far.” Prather is averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on the season, starting in the last two games. Prather is a valuable role player, but Yeguete could be the most significant loss for the Gators. Florida’s leading rebounder at 6.6 boards per game is in jeopardy of missing his first game of the season. The forward’s tendinitis issues could be the injury that lingers on for UF. “He’s got some swelling in his knee,” Donovan said. “Whether or not it’s anything more than that, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Florida easily ran through its SEC schedule early on, with a 33-point victory over Georgia and a 22-point win against LSU. But this week is crucial as the Gators travel on the road to College Station on Thursday and return home to face Missouri on Saturday. Can the Gators make it through this difficult stretch with so many players on the bench? Either way, the SEC race will begin to take shape with these two games.