Florida coach Billy Donovan said freshman center Erik Murphy’s dwindling minutes have nothing to do with a shoulder injury he sustained earlier this season.
Murphy appeared for just two minutes Saturday against South Carolina and played just six minutes against Arkansas. Against South Carolina, Donovan chose to keep Alex Tyus and Dan Werner on the floor in the second half to help contain the quickness of senior guard Devan Downey.
“With the way they were playing, they were putting the ball in Downey’s hands at the end we were really having to get a lot of help from our forwards,” Donovan said. “And I just thought Vernon (Macklin), Dan and Alex just in terms of experience, athleticism at that point in time would have been a little bit better for him, then him in that situation.”
After a promising November, Murphy has struggled adapting to Southeastern Conference play. The 6-foot-9 Murphy has almost as many fouls (eight) as points (10) through five SEC games.
Murphy had injured his shoulder Dec. 10 against Syracuse. But after playing limited minutes in losses to Richmond and South Alabama, Murphy said he was back to “90 percent” after scoring a season-high 16 points against Presbyterian.
“I’ve got total confidence in Erik,” Donovan said. “He’s a freshman, he’s going to be a very, very good player. You know I think this is great opportunity for him to rebound as a player to understand that you know the last two games, maybe he didn’t play a great game against Arkansas and didn’t get a chance to play in the second half against South Carolina. But we still need him and he can still make a really positive impact on our team.”