Walsh ready to play


Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 1:03 a.m.
Matt Walsh says he's ready to come back and contribute.
Now, it's just a matter of whether his teammates are ready to get used to playing with him again.
"It's something that has to happen," Walsh said. "I haven't been out that long. It's only been a couple of nights."
Walsh healed quicker than expected from a high ankle sprain, coming back last Wednesday against Tennessee after sitting out 15 days. The original diagnosis was for Walsh to miss 4-6 weeks after an MRI revealed ligament damage in the ankle.
Florida went 3-1 without Walsh, winning three straight after losing 82-69 in Walsh's first game out at Florida State.
"Our team probably had to learn to play without Matt when he was out, and now they are learning to play with him again," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Matt's attitude has been terrific, he's worked hard, the fact that he has gotten himself healthy back playing with no restrictions on him is a positive, but I also think that our team has to understand with Matt being back is we've all got roles to fulfill and everyone has to do their part and hold up their end."
Donovan didn't rule out starting Walsh tonight against Georgia, but is leaning toward giving sophomore Lee Humphrey another start at shooting guard and using Walsh off the bench. But Donovan noted Walsh has no restrictions on playing time and will likely get more than the 13 minutes he played in his return last Wednesday against Tennessee.
Walsh says his ankle is at "full strength" and didn't bother him after the game.
"I feel like I'm playing like I always do." Walsh said. "My ankle isn't an issue at all, anymore, at least in terms of me playing."
Walsh credited the quick recovery to a lot of work in the training room. Each night, he wore a boot-like cast over his ankle that he filled with ice and water to reduce the swelling. The device, called a "game ready" helped, as did numerous trips to the training room.
"I lived there," Walsh said.
Walsh left the lineup as Florida's leading scorer at 16.0 points per game. That title has since shifted to point guard Anthony Roberson (18.4 ppg), who shouldered the offensive load in Walsh's absence.
The bye week and added practices have allowed Walsh a chance to get back in sync with his teammates. Walsh was erratic in his first game back, finishing with six points, two assists and two turnovers.
"He was a little anxious," Donovan said. "It's not Matt's fault at all. He's coming back, he's been out (two-and-a-half weeks). To expect him to come in and play well right away wouldn't have been fair."
  • STUKES QUESTIONABLE: Georgia sophomore guard Levi Stukes is questionable for tonight's game with a sprained right ankle.
    Stukes is Georgia's leading scorer (16.3 ppg) and lone returning starter from last season. He sat out Georgia's 68-59 win against Vanderbilt last Saturday.
    Stukes had the ankle heavily taped Monday and did not practice at full speed. Stukes said he'll decide whether he can play at this morning's shoot around.
    Stukes was encouraged by Georgia's first conference win. His replacement, freshman guard Kevin Brophy, a walk-on exchange-student from Australia, scored a career-high 19 points in the win.
    "After watching my teammates work hard on defense and get all the stops they did against a great 3-point shooting team, it's just going to make me work harder on defense on and off the ball," Stukes said.
  • FREE T-SHIRTS: The annual Dodge Rowdy Reptiles T-shirt give-away, one of the most popular promotions at Gator men's basketball each season, will feature a new twist tonight.
    All 12,000 fans in the O'Connell Center will find an orange or blue T-shirt in their respective seats. In previous seasons, only fans in Level 1 of the arena received shirts.
    Fans are urged to wear the T-shirts once they arrive at the game. The shirts are distributed so that blocks of orange and blue dominate the O'Connell Center's seating areas.
  • MOSS OUT: Junior center Adrian Moss hasn't practiced and remains out with back spasms.
    Moss last played in Florida's 84-78 overtime win against Auburn and has missed four games due to back problems.
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