The questions are focused on Eli Carter and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Carter suffered a foot injury at practice on Thursday and was held out of Florida’s win over against Louisiana-Monroe. He underwent further tests on Saturday that confirmed the injury was a mid-foot sprain, not a Lisfranc injury as the staff originally feared.
Finney-Smith remains out with two hairline fractures in his hand. He continues to deal with pain while catching and dribbling the basketball. However, Carter and Finney-Smith will both make the trip to the Bahamas with the team.
“Both guys will make it,” Billy Donovan said. “They’re still not cleared to practice. Neither one of them has practiced. They’re doing some stuff individually.”
Finney-Smith’s hand is feeling better, but the pain remains. Donovan said his return would depend on when the pain is low enough that he can handle it on the court. There’s just no set timetable for when that will happen. The Florida coach admitted on Monday that Finney-Smith will be playing with pain for “some significant time” this season.
His hand has been in a brace since the injury happened and will remain that way for a few weeks. However, if the pain gets manageable and he can play, the brace can be removed for a game. The trainers are keeping him off the court in practice because if he were to play, the constant hitting of the ball on his hand will create more swelling and elongate the healing process.
“He’s got two broken bones in his hand, so it’s not a situation where you’re looking at it and saying ‘geez this guy just needs to play through some pain.’ I think it’s very, very difficult right now for him to catch or dribble,” Donovan said.
Carter has done some work on a stationary bike and elliptical machine this week, trying to keep his conditioning level ready to play. He hasn’t done any cutting, but that could begin on Tuesday. He has started to run straight and is feeling “pretty good” doing it but still has slight pain.
The swelling in the foot is gone, and similar to Finney-Smith, it now comes down to how much pain Carter is able to tolerate. However, the trainers still want to keep him out of practice to be safe.
The Gators played with just six scholarship players on Friday against Louisiana-Monroe, and Donovan wouldn’t be surprised if his team is facing the same challenge this week in the Bahamas.
“My feeling right now going into this we’re going to basically have the team we had playing against Louisiana-Monroe,” Donovan said. “That’s how I’m going into it right now, how I’m approaching it. If those guys can play, do they go in there for a couple of minutes and Dorian says to me, ‘I can’t go, my hand is really bothering me,’ or ‘hey I just got hit and I can’t handle this right now.’
“Does Eli start to cut and move and say listen ‘I’m limited, I can’t move’? I mean they may be dressed and suited up, but in terms of what we can actually get out of them, I’m not really sure yet.”