Walsh ahead of schedule


Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 12:28 a.m.
Matt Walsh's rehabilitation from his high ankle sprain is going better than expected.
Whether that means a faster return to the Florida lineup remains to be seen. Florida coach Billy Donovan hinted as much Monday during his weekly media luncheon.
"It may not be the 4-6 weeks we talked about," Donovan said. "It's probably going to be sooner than that."
Walsh injured his left ankle in practice Dec. 29 when he stepped on the foot of sophomore guard Lee Humphrey while trying to break the press in a drill. He tore the syndesmotic ligament, which connects major bone groups in the ankle and foot.
Last week, Walsh had his boot cast removed and did some light shooting drills. Doctors have yet to clear Walsh for practice.
"He's been able to do some non-contact things in terms of jogging, doing some shooting," Donovan said. "He has been able to run straight ahead without any pain. He's been able to shoot without any pain."
Donovan said the test will come with how Walsh responds to contact when he's cleared for practice. Florida begins a three-game homestand Wednesday against Tennessee and has its second bye of the season this weekend. Georgia visits next Tuesday followed by South Carolina on Jan. 29.
"Until he gets to the point where he's shown me in practice he can run up and down, with contact, doing some of those things, then he'll get the opportunity to play," Donovan said. "But right now he's probably at the point where he can start to run and start to shoot and start to do some cutting. Now the big thing is: Can he handle contact?"
Walsh left Florida as its leading scorer at 16.0 points per game. Humphrey has stepped up as his replacement, averaging 10.8 per game in four starts.
Florida is 3-1 with Walsh out of the lineup.
"We've grown in some spots," junior point guard Anthony Roberson said. "But I think with Matt coming back, it can be even better.
"When Matt got hurt I think we kicked up the load and realized who we've got here, so we have to play a lot with confidence. I think Lee is building confidence, Taurean (Green), Al (Horford), the younger guys are building confidence. When Matt gets back, it's going to be even higher for them."
Also from the injury front, junior center Adrian Moss will see a back specialist today to determine his future. Moss sat out Saturday against Vanderbilt and has been limited as a reserve due to recurring back spasms and the emergence of freshman Al Horford.
  • SHIRTS OFF THEIR BACKS: Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson ordered his players not to wear mesh jerseys with the school name in practice because he felt his team played without pride or passion in its 88-63 home-opening loss against Vanderbilt Tennessee responded with a 64-63 home win against Mississippi State, but players didn't want to put the practice jerseys back on until they got another road win. The Vols came close, but lost 66-63 Saturday at South Carolina.
    Donovan said he's never used the motivational tool, instead opting for different tactics.
    "I elect to get them up at five o' clock in the morning and practice," Donovan said. "Sometimes I'll say 'Well you don't like to practice today like we're supposed to? OK, we'll do it at five o'clock in the morning, or one o'clock in the morning then.'
    "A lot of coaches do things like that, and it's all about a coach's personality. I've been fortunate with the kids I've had at Florida and haven't had to do that very often."
  • NATIONAL ATTENTION: Florida has climbed from No. 134 before the conference season began to No. 50 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), a component used to determine NCAA Tournament seeding.
    Also, Florida received 27 votes in this week's AP Top 25 poll.
    Florida received no votes in the poll two weeks ago.
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