When Dan Werner didn’t start Saturday against LSU because of the flu, it snapped a string of 70 straight starts for the senior forward.
It also prompted Florida coach Billy Donovan to tweet before the game: “(I) hope people understand what he means to our team.”
Werner had one point and two rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in Florida’s 72-58 win over the Tigers. But Donovan said Monday that Werner is back practicing this week and will reclaim his starting job for Thursday’s game against Arkansas.
Asked about Werner’s value to the team, Donovan said. ” I think sometimes with Dan people don’t understand the value of things he brings to our team. Dan has never been a stat sheet guy for our team he’s not a guy that you are going to look down at the stat sheet and see 15 or 18 points, 10 rebounds and two or three steals, that’s not who he is.
“But what he is, he’s an incredible help defender, he’s very, very smart, you can put him at any position on the floor, he knows what’s going on.
“I think you know what you are getting, and sometimes as a coach one of the things that can be very difficult is if you have a talented player but you don’t know who is coming day-to-day.”
Werner hasn’t fulfilled the offensive promise that was projected when he earned Mr. Basketball Honors in New Jersey after shooting more than 40 percent from 3-point range at Christian Brothers High in Long Branch, N.J.
Donovan made some early comparisons to Matt Bonner because of Werner’s ability to pass and shoot the ball outside as a big man. But Werner had never shot better than 35.7 percent from 3-point range in a season and is currently mired in a 2-for-23 shooting slump from beyond the arc.
“When we were recruiting Dan, we had (Joakim) Noah, we had (Al) Horford, we had (Corey) Brewer, we had Marreese Speights. We really had a lot of size in our frontcourt and then with those guys leaving we thought Dan would be a great complement as a spot-up shooter and he could play off some people, a good passer.
“And probably through our recruiting, he’s been put into a situation this last couple of years where he’s had to endure a lot for our team to get to that level. And there has been a lot on his plate. But I always respect and admire and appreciate his attitude and the way that he tries.”