UF hoops scrimmage reveals Prather improvement


Published: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 11:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 11:28 p.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn’t anticipating a flawless performance when the Gators held their first intra-squad scrimmage on Sunday.

“The execution wasn’t great, which I didn’t really expect to be,” Donovan said.

But Donovan was pleased with the effort of junior forward Casey Prather, who appears to have cut down on some of his turnover problems.

“He’s got an awareness of it,” Donovan said. “I think the biggest thing is he sometimes puts himself in (bad) situations. He can eliminate and prevent those kind of turnovers.

“I thought Casey played well. We’re trying to do some things offensively for him to take advantage of his size and athleticism closer to the basket. I thought he did a very, very good job for us.”

The 6-foot-6 Prather is vying for the starting job at small forward vacated when Bradley Beal left for the NBA draft. Prather emerged last March, scoring a career-high 14 points in UF’s opening NCAA Tournament win against Virginia. In four NCAA Tournament games last season, Prather averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds off the bench.

Donovan has been pleased with Prather’s rebounding in practice.

“Right now in practice, we’ve rotated teams basically every single day,” Donovan said. “There is a huge difference when we are rebounding with Prather at (small forward) than when he is not on the floor.”

Donovan said that he felt his team played unselfish throughout the scrimmage and pushed through fatigue well after a long week of practices. But he said that both rebounding and transition defense were inconsistent.

“There were some times where we were really, really good in transition defense,” Donovan said. “There were some times we were really, really bad. We got to eliminate those kind of situations.

“There were times when we blocked out, rebounded well and there were times when we didn’t block anybody. There was just no consistency of doing the things that are going to have a huge bearing on the outcome of any game.”

Other notes:

— Donovan said that junior center Damontre Harris underwent successful surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Harris, a South Carolina transfer, was sitting out this year anyway due to NCAA transfer rules. He suffered the injury during the first week of UF’s practices. “(Harris) will be in a sling about six weeks, starts rehab tomorrow, will start to work on his range of motion,” Donovan said. “Pretty significant tear to his labrum, needed a lot of work, a lot of cleanup.” Donovan said the goal for the 6-foot-10 Harris is to return to the floor for non-contact drills in two months. He’s not expected to be cleared for contact until four-to-six months. “If we can get him back sometime in December, maybe, that would be great,” Donovan said. “It would give us January, February and the early part of March. Even though he’s not competing we can get him in shape, get him skill work, get him back playing,”

— Donovan said he’s considered holding some outdoor practices to prepare for Florida’s season-opener Nov. 9 against Georgetown, which will be played outside on the deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville in the Navy/Marine Corps Classic. “My main concern about practicing outside, or doing something like that, would be much more along the lines of, I don’t want to get anybody hurt outside on concrete and things like that,” Donovan said. “Do you hypothetically have a non-contact practice where you are doing some things? That may be a possibility. I don’t know. There’s nothing scheduled and/or set up to say on this day we’re going to go outside and practice. You think for these guys, I can’t even remember the last time these guys probably even shot a ball outside, whereas these guys probably all grew up playing outside.” Donovan said he wouldn’t even know where to go in Gainesville to hold an outdoor practice. “It would probably have to be something we would look into,” Donovan said.

— Donovan said he’s tried to some three-guard lineups with Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin in practice. But rebounding has been an issue with all three guards on the floor. “We’re trying to send Scottie to the offensive glass because he’s a pretty good loose ball guy and have Rosario and Boynton (stay back),” Donovan said. “The problem for Scottie is it’s not a habit for him. He’s so conditioned for two years to get back and balance the floor that when he’s out there with those two guys, he forgets. It’s not his fault. He’s never done that before. He’s never been asked to do that.”

— Donovan was pleased with center Patric Young’s ability to push through fatigue in Sunday’s scrimmage. “There were very, very limited substitutions,” Donovan said. “He actually tried and was actually starting to make himself a presence inside.”

— Donovan said he has yet to tinker with a frontline that includes Young at center, Erik Murphy at power forward and Will Yeguete at small forward. “You could do that some, but we haven’t done a whole lot of it,” Donovan said. “That may be something we do experiment later on because Will is one of those guys that can guard a lot of different positions. I wouldn’t be concerned about Will guarding the small forward, but the other thing to, you’ve got to manufacture a little offense to score a little bit. But that could be a lineup that could be effective for us.”

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