Gators set for challenge without point guards

The offense for No. 16 Florida will have a different look on Thursday in the O'Connell Center, and it comes at a terrible time. The Gators will take the floor against Middle Tennessee, a team that loves to press, without a true point guard on the roster. Freshman Kasey Hill is dealing with a high ankle sprain while senior Scottie Wilbekin remains suspended.

Kasey Hill's injury occurred early in the second half against Southern on Monday, and without him for the final 18:03 of the game, Florida was outscored 33-30. The offense was stagnant without a true ball handler on the floor.

The Gators were able to use practice on Tuesday and Wednesday to try fixing the problem. The most logical choices are sophomores Michael Frazier and DeVon Walker, both of which making the transition from playing shooting guard. Dorian Finney-Smith, standing at 6-8, provides a taller option to handle the ball, but Donovan believes the trio can handle the job on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

"I've got confidence in (Finney-Smith), Frazier and DeVon, even Casey Prather," Billy Donovan said. "I think we have enough ball-handling to initiate our offense. I think if we are dealing with any kind of pressure, hopefully we utilize it as a chance to open up the floor and play fast. We'll have to take care of the basketball and make good decisions. I do think we have enough ball handling.

"We don't have a primary, pure point guard on our team at this point and time, but I do think we have enough handling and skill to be able to handle it."

Finney-Smith seems unlikely to get many reps at the point guard, but Donovan has talked about him playing as a point forward since the start of preseason practices. He's confident handling the ball up the floor and presents challenges with his length.

"I'm pretty confident in my ball handling, so I think if Coach needs me to play point, I'll do it," Finney-Smith said. "We've just got to find a way to win without our point guards. I've just got to adjust. I've never played it on the college level."

Thursday's game creates a unique challenge for Donovan. He has to piece together enough minutes at the point guard position to get through the game. It could come down to riding whichever of the three players look the most comfortable running the position with only two days of practice to go off.

Whoever takes most of the reps, Donovan thinks he has the roster to get through the game.

"I do think we have enough ball handling, we don't have necessarily a primary, pure point guard on our team at this point and time, but I do think we have enough handling and skill to be able to handle it," Donovan said.

There's no update on Hill's status besides him missing the month Donovan originally reported on Monday night. Hill spent multiple hours in the basketball facility with Florida trainers Monday night after the game, followed by eight hours on Tuesday with the training staff.

Scottie Wilbekin remains suspended for Thursday, and that's as far into the future as Donovan would say. He has been happy with how the senior has handled the suspension and the personal growth he has shown off the court.

"He's still got a lot more things he has to do," Donovan said. "Up to this point, I'm really proud of him. He's done a really good job. He knows what he has to do, and if he stays on course, then he will have a chance to get back on our team.

"He's done a very, very good job. More so than anything else, I really admire and appreciate how he's changed for the better in a lot of ways."


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