Eli questionable, Kurtz moving on

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Florida coach Billy Donovan had his players in for individual workouts at 8 a.m. on New Year’s morning coming off a heartbreaking 65-63 loss at Florida State.

Donovan said that junior guard Eli Carter did not practice Wednesday due to a mid-foot sprain. But Carter, who has dealt with a myriad of injuries all season long, returned to practice on Thursday and has been upgraded to questionable for Saturday’s game against Connecticut.

Donovan also said that senior walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz has a “great opportunity to show mental toughness” after his late gaffe in the Florida State loss. Kurtz was trying to catch an air-ball in the closing seconds on a shot by FSU guard Devin Bookert when it deflected off his hands and into the basket. Replays have been shown over-and-over nationally on ESPN and even Good Morning America.

“I wish our guys responded more like he does when things don’t go well,” Donovan said. “He was right back yesterday at practice. Understands it, feels bad about it, but moved on from it. He has an unbelievable opportunity to set an example of what mental toughness is, resiliency is, perseverance is. When something doesn’t go well, he didn’t come in here pouting and feeling sorry for himself. ‘Woe is me, I lost the game. I feel terrible. I can’t pick myself up off the mat, so how do you expect me to practice?’ There was none of that with him.

“Sometimes in our team, we get too much of that. We get too much of, ‘Oh, I let everybody down and it’s not going well.’ There’s not a mental toughness. That’s not something I think you just are innately born with. I think it’s something that is developed over time and he can be a great example for our guys how to overcome something like that.”