Weather could pose issues for Florida

The Florida players are preparing for a throwback feel Friday night on the deck of the USS Bataan. Multiple players mentioned throughout the week that they haven't played a basketball outside since middle school. With low temperatures projected in the high 40s and the potential for wind to play a role, the Gators are preparing for unfamiliar surroundings.

History has shown the Florida team that the perimeter shots probably won't be falling at a high clip on Friday night. When Michigan State and North Carolina opened last season on an aircraft carrier in San Diego, the teams combined for shoot 18.8% (6-32) from behind the three-point line.

Florida coach Billy Donovan has been concerned throughout the preseason about his team's rebounding ability, and it will be even more important against a Georgetown team that features just one player in the starting lineup shorter than 6-8.

The success hinges on Florida's ability to take good shots.

"You've got to be smart with what kind of shots we take," Donovan said. "We've been practicing a certain way to get ready for our season. Both teams have to deal with the elements, whether it's cold or windy. Even in a regular situation, if we're coming down the floor and taking quick threes, I wouldn't be happy about it.

"There will be situations in the game where guys with Georgetown or Florida will be left open. It could be a pretty good shooter. We've got to be smart in taking those kind of shots. We can't go into a game and totally alter what we're doing because we're outside."

Defense in the paint and limiting second-chance opportunities have been the focus for the Gators when they don't have the ball. With the likelihood of shots from the perimeter not falling as much as normal, the Gators will have to play strong defense. In a combined 40 minutes in the exhibition win over Nebraska-Kearney, starting big men Erik Murphy and Patric Young totaled just seven rebounds.

That has to improve on Friday for the Gators to stay in the game. With the shots from the perimeter being effected by the element, Young will have to play strong defense in the paint.

"Taking away easy baskets becomes a premium," Donovan said. "Some of the things we've been working on in practice lend themselves to become a major factor in this game, maybe even more so at a higher level. This is going to be one of those games with more loose basketballs and more defensive and offensive rebounds. There will be those situations where scouting is taken out of the game and you're going to have to do some things."

The NCAA has given Florida and Georgetown player an exception, allowing them to wear sleeves under their jerseys. The Gators will also be playing in new orange jerseys with the outline of a camouflage pattern. It will be a different look, in addition to the new shoes with a camouflage orange pattern.

With temperature dipping into the 40s on Friday night, it will add a different element to the game.

"There will be some different situations that all of us will be thrown into that may be unique because we are playing outside," Donovan said. "It may be chilly out there. In the game, both teams are dealing with similar circumstances. It's a new situation.

"I don't know many guys, at least growing up in New York when it's 40 degrees out there, that are playing in shorts and a t-shirt. This is going to be different."

There have been conversations about putting heaters behind the teams' benches. The concern of the Florida coaching staff is that players will get stretched, warm up and be ready to play. Then, the bench players will take a seat and wait before going into the game.

The coaches don't want players becoming tight while waiting on the bench and then being thrown into the game.

"Players always use the phrase ‘get cold on the bench,' but I will literally get cold on the bench if I'm sitting out," Young said with a laugh.

The Florida team left Gainesville at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday to head to the USS Bataan. They were given time on the ship and a chance to go through shoot around to prepare for the shooting background. They went to a local high school in the afternoon to go through a closed practice.

The team also met up with men and women in the military. The goal going for Donovan was to thank them for their service, but also for the players on the team to learn.

"When you watch news or TV and hear different things going on with people in Afghanistan or Iraq, sometimes it's a different feeling for our guys when they see these guys are the same age (they are)," Donovan said. "Through athletics, there are a lot of people serving this country abroad that, to pass time, it's based in on athletics. These people protecting our freedom and our country lock into athletics."

The Florida players are very appreciative of the opportunity to play in the game but also the chance to meet up with members of the military.

"I'm very appreciative to get this opportunity to play in front of them," Young said. "They spend long periods of time away from their family, and hopefully they have sports they keep up with. Having this opportunity to watch us up close, it's a good opportunity for us to give back to them and for them to have some fun."

TWO PLAYERS OUT: Florida announced on Thursday that junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin has been suspended indefinitely. He will miss the Georgetown game on Friday but could miss more.

Kenny Boynton will start at point guard while Mike Rosario and freshman Braxton Ogbueze will also see time at the point.

Forward Casey Prather will also be out. He missed the exhibition game with a concussion. After he was cleared from it and returned to practice on Monday, he suffered another concussion before practice was over.

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