Donovan pushing Rosario to play

Junior guard Mike Rosario has been hobbled by various injuries this season, causing him to miss six of Florida’s 27 games so far, including the past three.

In fall camp, a back injury limited him. In December, he sprained an ankle. Following the Tennessee game, Rosario collided with teammate Cody Larson and came away with a hip pointer.

Coach Billy Donovan is hopeful he’ll be able to play against Auburn on Tuesday, and he’s done his best to goad him into fighting through some of the pain.

“I would say that he can sometimes be a little bit over-cautious, whether it be his lower back dealing with a disk problem or a sprained ankle,” Donovan said. “He gets worried a lot of times mentally, himself, that he’s going to re-injure himself or hurt himself where he doesn’t feel right.”

Rosario returned to practice last week, and practiced some on Friday before the team left for its trip to Arkansas.

However, he pulled himself out of the practice when the hip pointer started bothering him. He returned to practice on Sunday, and Donovan said he should be available to play against Auburn.

“I think for Mike it’s been more of trying to get him to do stuff that maybe he’s not confident in doing and then trying to get him to understand that, ‘OK, you’re not going to reinjure this or set yourself back,’” Donovan said. “But I think when he’s feeling pain and discomfort in his mind right now, he worries about that.”

Though Donovan is trying to push the Rutgers transfer to get back in the lineup soon, he’s not doing anything that could jeopardize Rosario’s health.

“When those guys get hurt like that, we try to at least push them to a point where we’re not putting them in harm’s way,” he explained. “I don’t think he’s going to put himself in a position where he’s going to reinjure it or hurt it worse than it’s already been hurt. But I do think he has a lack of confidence in the injury in terms of working through it, because he just does not feel comfortable when he’s cutting.”

That has been the biggest issue for Rosario, based on Donovan’s comments. The 16th-year Florida coach said he had significant swelling on the hip immediately after the injury, which limits his ability to push off when changing directions.

Rosario struggled to do much in practice following the injury, and he couldn’t easily ride a bike or even jog. Now that he’s able to do more, the Gators are hoping to get him back to provide a spark off the bench.

The junior is Florida’s leading scorer off the bench, averaging 7.9 points per game.

“He was back in practice,” Donovan said. “I would assume right now, he went through a full practice [Sunday] and if he gets through today, he’s available to play [Tuesday].”