There may not be a team in the country that is further from being at full strength than Florida is.
Let’s run down the list, shall we?
Will Yeguete is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and has yet to be cleared for practice. Eli Carter, who transferred into the program from Rutgers, isn’t yet available for practice as he is recovering from this gruesome broken leg he suffered back in February. Damontre Harris is dealing with a hamstring issue. The most-heralded freshman in Billy Donovan’s recruiting class won’t be available until at least December, if at all, due to academic issues that he’s had in the past. And Scottie Wilbekin was only recently allowed to return to practice after being suspended indefinitely from the team over the summer. He may miss a few games early in the season.
Those are a lot of bodies to be laid up at one time, and it got even worse this week.
Michael Frazier II is currently out with a virus which has prevented him from practicing, but the Florida staff is apparently concerned that this could end up being mono.
“The only thing we’re worried about is does he have mono, that’s the biggest fear,” Donovan told Kevin Brockway during SEC media days in Birmingham, Ala. “And if he does, that’s a three-week to a month, him being out of competition, out of playing, out of everything. I don’t know that to be the case. Apparently you can have a false positive test … as of right now he just has a virus that’s prevented him from practicing.”
Losing Frazier would be a major loss for a team that is only practicing with seven scholarship players and two walk-ons. Mono is the kind of virus that can knock you out of shape really quick, and Frazier is an important piece to this team, Florida’s resident sharpshooter that was impressive enough this summer to earn a spot on the U19 national team.
The start of practice is important for college teams, especially ones that are bringing in so many new faces and have so many players headed for bigger roles. They learn the system, they learn how to play with their teammates and they learn what their job will be on either end of the floor.
This is a headache that I’m sure Billy Donovan didn’t want to deal with.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)