Murphy doubtful for SEC opener

The playing status of Erik Murphy will be determined by his pain tolerance. The senior forward suffered a rib injury against Air Force on December 29, but he managed to practice through it last week while preparing for Yale. That changed on Friday. The Gators were going through practice the day before traveling when Murphy got hit in the ribs again. He's now doubtful for Wednesday's SEC opener.

The hit against Air Force wasn't anything more than a normal bump or bruise a player will take during the course of a game. While on the court, Erik Murphy dominated that game with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists — leading the No. 11 Gators in all three categories.

If the injury were serious, Murphy would've taken time out of practice to rest the injury and not risk making it any worse. He felt fine and practiced through it on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Gators rested on Thursday before getting back on the court Friday.

That's when the ribs took another hit. It kept Murphy out of the game on Sunday at Yale, despite it taking place just over an hour from his hometown. There were multiple buses full of friends and family of Murphy that made the trip to watch the game, but he couldn't play.

"In shoot around (Sunday), we tried to put him in shoot around and he did a little bit, but he was still challenged physically," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on Monday afternoon.

Now back in Gainesville after the road trip, there are still questions surrounding the injury. Murphy is officially listed as doubtful for Wednesday's Southeastern Conference opener when the Gators host Georgia. There isn't much of a timeline for the injury because it's based on pain tolerance.

As of early Monday afternoon, the Gators hadn't gotten an X-ray to see if the ribs were broken. Donovan said the Florida trainers didn't think it was an urgent issue because the healing process is the only thing that could be different either way.

"It's in a really bad spot—the injury. It's right by his lat," Donovan said. "Any time he raises his arms up or reaches his arms up, there's a significant amount of pain. We're hopeful that it's just in a bad spot, and that's why he's so uncomfortable."

Murphy will likely be held out on Monday because of the pain he's dealing with. The doctors have cleared him to play and be on the floor, but it depends on the amount of pain Murphy can handle. It has been noticeable when he lifts his arms or reaches for anything.

Donovan noted that Murphy would be wearing some padding when he does return to the floor to lessen the pain. When Donovan was in college, he broke two ribs and recalled playing with pain for 4-6 weeks before being back to normal. That could be the route Murphy has to deal with if the X-ray shows it to be broken.

In the meantime, it's about stabilizing the pain enough for him to get back on the court.

"His breathing is a problem," Donovan said. "His sleeping is a problem right now."

The Gators played well without Murphy on Sunday night to secure a 21-point victory on the road at Yale. However, it was obvious in the first half that something was missing. Murphy brings a unique dynamic to the Florida offense — a power forward that can stretch the floor with his shooting ability.

There wasn't as much space for the big men to work without the opposition having to respect where Murphy is on the floor.

"He stretches the floor," forward Will Yeguete said. "Pat has more room to operate down low and we have more room in the lane to drive."

UPDATE: Florida announced on Monday evening that Murphy has a fractured rib. He remains doubtful for Wednesday but hasn't been ruled out.

Gene's Page Top Stories