Harris opts for surgery

After tearing his labrum and having his shoulder pop out last week in practice, Florida center Damontre Harris had surgery to repair it on Monday. There was doubt about whether he would have the surgery or try to strengthen it and make it a quicker recovery. The surgery will be better for the joint long term, and since Harris is sitting out this year after transferring, it made sense to be smart.

"The decision to do it now was probably good," Florida coach Billy Donovan said Monday. "As he was getting prepared for the surgery, just (doctors) moving his shoulder, it was pretty easy for them to pop his shoulder in and out of place. The feeling was that in doing the surgery, the percentages of him strengthening the shoulder without surgery would not prevent it from popping out."

Donovan said Damontre Harris would be in a sling for six weeks and begin rehabilitation on Tuesday to start improving his range of motion. The doctors found a "pretty significant tear that needed a lot of work" when they went in during the surgery.

The Gators will hold Harris off the court for two months while he goes through rehab. In December, they'll being putting the South Carolina transfer through individual, non-contact workouts. It will be 4-6 months, and "closer to the six," before the Gators allow Harris to go through contact.

While Harris was planning to sit out, Donovan was excited to have the shot blocker go up against Florida center Patric Young every day in practice. That won't be the case this year. If they can get him back on the floor in December, Donovan still thinks there can be enough improvement that will make them comfortable for using him in the 2013-14 season.

"That would be great because even though he's not competing, get him in shape and skill work," Donovan said.

PREPARING FOR TOUGH SLATE: The Gators play their only exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney on November 1. After that, the schedule doesn't waste time becoming tough. Florida opens with Georgetown, in a game that will be played on the deck of an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

It presents challenges that Florida is already trying to prepare for. The Gators will have Tuesday off practice, and soon after, Donovan will start considering different measures to prepare the team for playing outside.

"I've actually thought about practicing outside," Donovan said. "My main concern with practicing outside would be more along the lines of not wanting anybody hurt outside on concrete. Do you have a non-contact practice where you're doing things? That may be a possibility.

"I can't even remember the last time these guys shot a ball outside."

Georgetown wasn't ranked in the recently released Coaches' Poll but did receive votes. Five days after the Georgetown game, No. 21 Wisconsin comes to Gainesville.

"This early in the season, our attention to detail has to be there," Donovan said. "We don't have time, through our schedule, to play through mistakes. It could be against Georgetown or some other teams where, if you make a couple mistakes, it could end up costing you the game. They've got to understand that.

"The heightened awareness is that now we've got to be committed to it and get things done."

For a team that returns three starters and pushes one junior into a starting role, the Gators do have experience that has been through a difficult schedule before. The young players are learning from the older ones about what to expect as the season gets off to a tough start.

"I‘m ready for the challenge," freshman backup point guard Braxton Ogbueze said. "That's what we all hope for and wait for—having a challenge with where you're at."

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