Commentary

Gators need someone to step forward

Patric Young's ankle tendinitis means Florida's frontcourt depth will be tested

Updated: January 20, 2012, 11:56 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan said the tendinitis in Patric Young's right ankle shouldn't cause the sophomore center to miss any games.

But it may keep him out of the starting lineup and significantly limit his minutes as the 14th-ranked Gators start to get deeper into Southeastern Conference play.

[+] EnlargePatric Young
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesFlorida's Patric Young is the Gators' best scoring option in the low post.
Young is not using a protective boot and is rehabbing his sore right ankle daily, but the 6-foot-9, 247-pound forward has not practiced at all this week. Donovan said Young will try to practice Friday in order to be ready to play against LSU on Saturday.

"There's no structural damage. There's no ligament damage," Donovan said. "He's just got some pretty significant inflammation in the area that's causing a problem. I think the best thing for him right now is rest, but there's nothing there for him that's going to keep him out of games or prevent him from playing.

"It's just a significant case [of tendinitis] and a pretty severe case of it."

Young has been battling the issue for about two weeks -- and keeping it from becoming public. It finally became severe enough that Donovan decided not to start Young against South Carolina last Saturday. He still played 13 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds -- well below his season averages (11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) heading into the game.

Sophomore Will Yeguete started in Young's place and scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in UF's 79-65 victory. Redshirt freshman Cody Larson also has gotten more playing time the past two games while Young's ankle got worse, playing nine minutes against Georgia on Jan. 10 and three against South Carolina. Those two, plus junior foward Erik Murphy are going to have to handle more of the burden inside with Young's reduced playing time.

"I don't know if we have a whole lot of options with our depth in the front court, but I'm gaining more and more trust and confidence in Cody," Donovan said. "I've put him in now the last several games, and I think he's given us some good minutes, although they haven't been a lot of minutes. Murphy, I feel good with him [and] Will Yeguete."

Murphy is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and is UF's best 3-point shooter (46.3 percent). The 6-7 Yeguete is averaging 5.2 points per game, and his 6.4 rebounds per game is second behind Young. Yeguete's role so far has been as a post defender and rebounder, but he'll have to come up with something more offensively if he's playing more minutes.

"He's a huge asset to our team," Murphy said. "He's definitely one of our best defenders. He's got a crazy nose for the ball, always getting his hand on balls.

"It's like sometimes it doesn't even seem like he's in position or there, and all of a sudden he just comes up with it."

Florida (14-4, 2-1 SEC) may have to rely on Yeguete and Larson for increased minutes for a while because Donovan is unsure how long Young will be limited by the ankle tendinitis. The hope is extra rest and treatment will keep it from becoming a more serious issue throughout the rest of the season.

"It's something that's nagging," Donovan said. "I'm sure he has days when he feels better than others.

"The biggest thing would be does this inflammation re-occur, restart up, and does it become a chronic problem the whole year."

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.

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