The Gators will be looking to recover from a two-game skid on Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the they travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on the Crimson Tide.
Florida won’t have a full complement of players, with Will Yeguete and Mike Rosario to miss the Alabama game with a concussion and a hip pointer, respectively.
Alabama is expected to be without starting forwards JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, who are both suspended indefinitely. Mitchell has been suspended for a week due to conduct detrimental to the team, while Green was suspended before Alabama’s game against LSU on Saturday for a violation of team rules.
Two other players who were suspended indefinitely on Saturday, guards Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele, have been reinstated to the team and coach Anthony Grant told the Birmingham News both will “most likely” play.
Regardless, Florida coach Billy Donovan is preparing as if all four players will suit up and start Tuesday night.
“I think when you’re walking into a situation like that and I don’t think anybody knows, I think you always prepare for their full team,” he said. “That’s what we’re expecting. Mitchell and Green and Releford and Steele, we’ll prepare like those guys are going to play.”
Should Alabama be without Green and Mitchell on the inside, it will provide a big boost to a Florida frontcourt that has plenty of depth issues itself.
The Gators are already without Yeguete, and redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson missed Saturday’s game against Tennessee with a stomach virus. He’s expected to be available if needed against Alabama.
Still, Florida is relying primarily on sophomore center Patric Young to shoulder the load in the paint. Young played a season-high 36 minutes in regulation against Tennessee despite both he and junior power forward Erik Murphy getting into foul trouble.
Young hasn’t been playing at the same level lately that he did to begin the season after an ankle injury surfaced in December.
While Florida’s preparing as if Green and Mitchell will play, Donovan knows it’ll be a significant boost for the Gators if either can’t go.
“Obviously those two guys across the front line are very, very talented, they’re very gifted,” he said. “JaMychal Green, I think since he’s stepped foot in this league, has been kind of an impact player. He’s played very well, I think he continues to get better and improves. He gives them a scorer, rebounder, toughness.
“Mitchell’s an interesting guy because of his versatility. He’s one of those rare guys in our league that can play inside, he can play out, he’s got athleticism and strength, he can shoot it, he can do a lot of different things. Those guys are very good.”
With a fairly short turnaround between games with the league’s Tuesday slot this week, Donovan and the Gators are getting ready to hit the road again after their first back-to-back losses since the 2009-10 season.
Donovan was much more pleased with the players’ effort in practice Sunday after a lackluster effort leading up to the Tennessee game.
The Florida coach is doing everything he can to make sure the Gators are ready for a full-strength Crimson Tide squad – whether they play one or not.
“I don’t know if they will (all play), but the last thing I’d want to have happen for our team is to assume something or somebody not playing and then all the sudden they’re out there and you’ve got to tell the team ‘hey listen these guys are playing,’” Donovan said. “I think if some of them are not playing, then we’ll adjust to their starting lineup. But we go in preparation-wise like they’re all going to be there.”