Florida Gators face more adversity in pivotal week
GAINESVILLE - Symbolic of where the University of Florida basketball team is right now: On Monday, junior forward Casey Prather hobbled down the sidewalk to the practice facility wearing a boot on his sprained left ankle with a crutch in both hands. He wasn't smiling. There are a lot of concerned expressions around the Gators this week, with a Thursday night trip to Texas A&M, then a quick turnaround for a Saturday afternoon game against Missouri at a sold-out O'Connell Center. Last weekend, Texas A&M (12-3, 2-0 SEC) became the first SEC team to win at Kentucky's Rupp Arena in the John Calipari Era.Like Florida, No. 17 Missouri (12-3, 1-1) has been ranked since the start of the season. Even at full strength, this would be a challenging week for the No. 10 Gators (12-2, 2-0). In addition to the Prather injury, which is expected to sideline him for up to two weeks, UF is dealing with guard Mike Rosario's ankle injury (he missed Saturday's 74-52 win at LSU, the game in which Prather was hurt). Also, forwards Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete have a broken rib and knee tendinitis, respectively. Guard Scottie Wilbekin is playing with a broken finger. All lines form at the training room. Yeguete, who had a broken bone in his foot last season and missed the postseason, was to be examined later Monday to see if the injury was more than tendinitis. Regardless, he should be able to continue to play. "I don't know what else it would necessarily be,'' Gators coach Billy Donovan said. With so many players limited, former Plant High standout Michael Frazier III, who had five points, seven rebounds and three assists in 31 minutes at LSU, will see more minutes as the freshman continues to improve. "Coach told us at the beginning of the season that even if you're not getting a lot of playing time now, you have to stay ready because injuries are going to happen,'' Frazier said. Donovan will have to rely on his freshmen more than usual as he gets creative with his rotation and tries to limit his injured players' minutes. Center Patric Young, a junior who seems destined to leave early for the NBA, will need to pick up more of the rebounding and scoring slack. "The guys in my class have been in their ears — be ready,'' Young said of the freshmen. Making matters worse is the dreaded Thursday-Saturday schedule this week — the only one the Gators have to endure in SEC play this season — to accommodate ESPN's demands. "Everybody in our league has to deal with that,'' Donovan said. "That's just kind of how it is.''