Exam schedule puts Florida in tough spot

Colleges around the country are all dealing with it. The end of the semester means all college students are going through the exam period, and that has put No. 5 Florida in a tough spot with practice. The Gators have practiced fully just twice since a win over Florida State on December 5 because of exams. Florida now begins preparation for playing at No. 8 Arizona on Saturday.

"There has been so much demand on these guys with last Wednesday starting the reading period, final exams and so many things these guys had to get done academically," Billy Donovan said before Wednesday's practice. "We've got three solid days we can practice with Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to get prepared to play."

The schedule has been tough to manage. After the Gators secured a 25-point win over Florida State last Wednesday, they went through a 40-minute practice on Thursday. The team took Friday off and went through individual workouts on Saturday. They practiced together on Sunday before taking Monday off because ‘everybody had an exam.'

Florida went through individual workouts and a slow walk through on Tuesday. The Gators will practice fully on Wednesday and Thursday before leaving for Arizona early Friday and getting one practice in on Friday night at the McKale Center.

"We'll get out there on Friday and get a chance to shoot around and practice," Donovan said. "We'll save three hours by traveling across the country. Our guys need to be ready to play. We don't need to do anything totally different than most of our road trips.

"Our guys understand that Arizona is a terrific team and a much, much better team than last year. That team came in here and had every opportunity to win the game."

With the mixing and matching of schedules in the last week, the Florida players understand the situation in practice over the next two days in Gainesville. They started preparation for Arizona earlier in the week and will continue to match film. They also returned to the court as a team on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since Sunday.

"With finals and everything, we've had some lighter days in practice," Erik Murphy said. "We've got to come out the next couple days and practice well to get prepared."

The concern for Donovan and the Florida coaching staff is rust. With only a few practices and 10 days between the Florida State and Arizona games, it could be tough for the Gators to make it from one game to the next without any drop off.

"We've lost some stuff here just because we haven't practiced," Donovan said. "I don't think it's our guys' fault. Every school is going through it. I'm sure Arizona is going through it. There is a lot on these guys' plates.

"What we tried to do early in the week was make sure the guys got what they needed to do well academically, knowing that we had time on the back end to practice."

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