Florida Gators: Will Yeguete

Weekend Watch: Florida-Arizona preview

December, 14, 2012
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Mark Lyons and Kenny BoyntonUSA TODAY Sports, Icon SMIDon't be surprised to see Kenny Boynton, left, and Mark Lyons take crucial shots on Saturday night.
Editor's note: Each Friday morning, Jay Bilas will break down the weekend's top game. This week it’s No. 5 Florida (7-0) at No. 8 Arizona (7-0) at 10 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN.

Gators outlook: The difference for Florida this season is defense. Last season, UF gave up 40 percent shooting from 3-point range and got hurt by being overextended. This season, the Gators are staying home more and packing it in. Instead of playing out in passing lanes and denying, they are playing off more, not playing as far up the line, and showing their chests to the ball and building a wall to protect the lane and the rim. That has meant fewer help rotations and better defensive rebounding, limiting opponents to one challenged shot (outrebounding opponents by 10.7 per game). The results are obvious. Florida has a top-five defense, and has done it with both man-to-man and zone. The Gators still press, speed the game and make you play at a speed you don’t practice. And they have done a great job of not just forcing turnovers, but converting off turnovers. Florida has scored more than twice as many points off turnovers as its opponents (21.3 to 9.9).

On the offensive end, UF is a ball-screen team that can really stretch out a defense, and really attacks and gets to the free throw line. Florida has made more free throws than its opponents have attempted. Four Gators average between 14.4 points and 10.3 points per game. This is a team that scored 74 points against Wisconsin, a team that gave up only 53 points per game last season, and blasted Marquette and Florida State.

Florida has good, experienced guards in Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin, a strong presence in Patric Young (an interior player who, when he keeps it simple, can be really effective), and an elite and versatile defender in Will Yeguete, who can defend multiple spots, get offensive rebounds and affect the game without scoring.

Wildcats outlook: Last season, Arizona was not a great shooting team, but could not compensate for it with second-shot opportunities or post-ups because Sean Miller did not have the personnel. This season, he has the personnel. The Wildcats have great size up front and very good depth. (But don’t listen to those who suggest that having big-guy depth gives you extra fouls to waste, which is silly. You don’t waste fouls, which puts your opponent at the free throw line for common fouls and leads to losses.) With freshmen Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett, Miller has two big men who can affect the game. Tarczewski is a traditional low-post banger who seeks out contact and can score around the goal, and is the team's top rebounder. Jerrett is a long-armed big man who can step away and knock in an open 3-point shot.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan's decision to suspend PG Scottie Wilbekin indefinitely means the job of directing the Gators' offense will fall to senior Kenny Boynton.

Boynton has run the point in spurts through the past three seasons, mainly in relief of starting PG Erving Walker, who graduated as the school's all-time assist leader. Boynton, who is on pace to become the school's all-time leading scorer, is the Gators' top man defender, so his role there won't change.

The bigger issue for Donovan is finding someone to replace the 6-foot-2 Wilbekin in the starting lineup for Friday's season opener against Georgetown and to relieve Boynton when he's on the bench. Donovan could slide 6-3 Mike Rosario into the shooting guard spot to go along with 6-9 C Patric Young, 6-10 F Erik Murphy and 6-7 F Will Yeguete.

Or Donovan could go with 6-6 freshman Michael Frazier, who scored 21 points in UF's exhibition victory over Nebraska-Kearney. Even if Rosario starts, Wilbekin's suspension will mean more playing time for Frazier and two other freshmen: 6-4 Dillon Graham and 6-0 Braxton Ogbueze. The Gators cannot use 6-6 G/F Casey Prather on Friday because he is out with a concussion.

"This throws a wrench," Donovan said. "We've got to do some things in practice to make some adjustments going into this game.

"The biggest thing for me as a coach is how do I get these guys to understand what they're doing because there's going to be a lot of different lineups on the floor."

Donovan has a track record of successfully juggling lineups. He got the Gators to the Elite Eight last season after losing Yeguete -- the Gators' top post defender and key cog in their press -- to a broken foot in February.

Gators solve scholarship problem

October, 10, 2012
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Patric YoungChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesFlorida junior center Patric Young is feeling good now after missing three weeks due to mononucleosis.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s basketball scholarship problem resolved itself over the summer after coach Billy Donovan decided not to renew redshirt sophomore Cody Larson’s scholarship because Larson failed to meet requirements that Donovan set throughout the season and during the offseason.

"There were some things I wanted him to do during the course of the year [and] he knew there was a possibility [that if] he didn’t do these things there was a chance he may not be back and he came up short on those things," Donovan said Wednesday during the team’s annual media day. "I’ve been through some different situations with Cody in trying to help him get better on the court, off the court, in the classroom, and taking care of responsibilities, and it was something he was not doing."

Donovan said he spoke with Larson and his family and said Larson was welcome to return as a nonscholarship player or the coach would approve a transfer. The 6-foot-9, 239-pound Larson, who averaged 0.5 points and 0.8 rebounds in 25 games last season, decided to come back.

"The decision to stay wasn’t hard at all," Larson said. "I know I wanted to stay under Coach Donovan. Not even talking basketball, just being under Coach Donovan is the best thing for me in my life."

UF had to lose one scholarship for this season anyway because the Gators had exceeded the NCAA maximum of 13. Florida signed freshmen Michael Frazier II, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker, and added transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris.

Young healthy again
Center Patric Young says he has fully recovered from a bout of mononucleosis that kept him out of action for three weeks.

"It was tough at first," Young said. "We had our conditioning test this past Tuesday and I passed all the runs, made my times, so I’ll be ready for practice come tomorrow."

Young was diagnosed when classes began in August. He had a severe sore throat, a fever, and was too fatigued to participate in a scheduled workout. After a trip to a doctor, he was diagnosed with mono. He missed three weeks, and Young said it was pretty rough at times.

The 6-9, 249-pound junior said his roommate, teammate Will Yeguete, was worried.

"He said I was looking miserable," Young joked. "He thought I was on my deathbed for a little bit."
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan was upbeat on Friday during the news conference announcing Bradley Beal's decision to enter the NBA Draft.

[+] EnlargeBradley Beal
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesGators coach Billy Donovan said he will miss Bradley Beal's team-first attitude and work ethic.
He is obviously sad to see Beal leave, but Donovan shouldn't be devastated for two reasons: He knows things could have been a lot worse, and he had been planning for just this situation.

As the season ended with a loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight, there was speculation the Gators would lose four of their five starters. Erving Walker is graduating, but Beal, Patric Young and Kenny Boynton were also considering leaving. Young and Boynton, however, elected to stay, which means the Gators will have one of the Southeastern Conference's top scorers and big men on the floor in 2012-13.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five things to watch for in tonight's Florida-Marquette matchup in the Sweet 16 (10:17 p.m. ET on TBS) in Phoenix, Ariz.

Who wins the 3-point line? Florida was terrible from long range in its victory over Virginia (4-for-23) but rebounded with a 10-f0r-28 performance against Norfolk State. The Gators, who average a nation-leading 10 3-pointers per game, have been streaky from long range all season. Marquette's 3-point defense in the NCAA tournament has been pretty good. BYU and Murray State combined to go just 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) from 3-point range. Teams are shooting just 31.8 percent from 3-point range against the Golden Eagles this season.

Stopping Crowder: Marquette forward Jae Crowder was the Big East Player of the Year, and the 6-foot-6 senior has been nearly unstoppable in his last 10 games. Crowder is averaging 21.4 points and 10.7 rebounds and has posted seven double-doubles in that span. He also is averaging 3.1 steals and 2.5 assists and is shooting 51.7 percent from the field in those 10 games. This is a game where not having 6-7 forward Will Yeguete will hurt the Gators, but 6-6 sophomore Casey Prather did a good job against Virginia's Mike Scott. He'll be called upon again to help stop Crowder.

A small advantage: Florida doesn't have a size advantage over many teams, but the Gators are a bit bigger than the Golden Eagles in the frontcourt. Center Patric Young (6-9) and forward Erik Murphy (6-10) have a 2-4 inch height advantage over Crowder and 6-7 forward Jamil Wilson. Will that make a difference, though? Marquette is a solid rebounding team, but the difference could be Bradley Beal. The 6-3 freshman guard is UF's leading rebounder (6.7 per game) and is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game in March.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida lost Will Yeguete to a broken foot in late February, Billy Donovan knew his team was going to have to undergo a makeover.

[+] EnlargeWill Yeguete
Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida forward Will Yeguete broke his foot against Auburn on Feb. 21.
Guards Bradley Beal, Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin would have to spend time at power forward to make up for the loss of the Gators’ best rebounder and post defender. UF wouldn’t be as big inside or rebound as well as when the 6-foot-7 Yeguete was on the floor, but using a four-guard lineup would put more 3-point shooters on the floor and allow the Gators to play more in transition.

But reshaping his team’s identity wasn’t going to be that simple. There was so much else for Donovan to consider:

" How would center Patric Young handle playing without his best friend and roommate?

" How do you defend while using the four-guard lineup, especially against a team that has a powerful front court, like Kentucky with Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones?

" How do you avoid becoming predictable offensively when there are four guards and forward Erik Murphy – who at 6-10 is UF’s best 3-point shooter (43.1 percent) – on the floor?

" And, perhaps most importantly, how do the players respond mentally to the challenge of having to do it all during the final weeks of the regular season and into the post-season?

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Florida hoping for help from Larson

February, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Replacing Florida forward Will Yeguete, who is out for the rest of the season with a broken bone in his left foot, will have to be a concerted group effort, coach Billy Donovan said Friday.

Some of the burden will fall to Casey Prather, Bradley Beal and Scottie Wilbekin, but the 11th-ranked Gators (22-6, 10-3 SEC) are also going to need a significant contribution from Cody Larson. Based on what the 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman forward/center has done over the past few weeks, Donovan is confident Larson will be able to help on defense.

"He gave us some good quality minutes at Alabama," Donovan said. "I played him on the road at Arkansas when Erik [Murphy] and Patric [Young] were in foul trouble. One thing I have total trust and confidence in is he knows what he’s doing defensively, and he's pretty good, and he'll physically battle and he'll do some things inside."

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Yeguete to have foot surgery Friday

February, 23, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Will Yeguete will have surgery Friday to repair a broken bone in his left foot, the school announced Thursday.

Yeguete will have a screw implanted to stabilize the break. The 6-foot-7, 222-pound forward, who is averaging 4.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, suffered the injury during Tuesday's victory over Auburn. Yeguete could have opted to forgo have surgery, but UF coach Billy Donovan said surgery is the best way to ensure that the injury does not linger.

"He could rest it in a boot for six weeks, but there’s a stronger likelihood that thing is going to flair up again," Donovan said on Gatorzone.com, the school's official website. "It could be anything. He could step wrong. Wear and tear. Overuse. But something could happen and that thing could rear itself again."

Yeguete out with broken foot

February, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Will Yeguete limped off the court, sat down on the bench, and took the sneaker off his left foot.

He pointed to a spot below his ankle on the outside of his foot for Florida trainer Duke Werner to examine. Moments later, he hobbled off into the locker room -- for what may be the last time this season.

The 6-foot-7, 222-pound reserve forward suffered a broken bone in his foot and is out indefinitely, according to team spokesperson Denver Parlor. It's a sobering development that dulled the 11th-ranked Gators' 63-47 victory over Auburn in front of 10,150 at the O'Connell Center Tuesday night. Yeguete had just returned from missing one game (Alabama) because of a concussion he suffered against Tennessee on Feb. 11.

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UF close to having Yeguete, Rosario

February, 17, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida may have its best rebounder back just in time for Saturday’s game at one of the toughest places to play in the Southeastern Conference.

UF coach Billy Donovan said forward Will Yeguete was cleared to return to practice on Friday for the first time since suffering a concussion against Tennessee last Saturday. If Yeguete doesn’t have a setback during practice, handles Friday’s chartered flight to Arkansas well and feels well on Saturday morning, Donovan said he could be cleared to play against the Razorbacks.

"How he feels tonight, tomorrow morning is going to have a large impact on whether or not we can play him," Donovan said. "If it continues on this path, he could be OK."

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Gators a mess in frontcourt

February, 13, 2012
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[+] EnlargeWill Yeguete
Kim Klement/US PresswireThe absence of sophomore Will Yeguete has become a major issue for Florida.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan said Saturday night that the Gators were not a hardened team because they haven't gone through much adversity.

Looks like the Gators are packing a season's worth in the next week.

Florida will be without forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and guard Mike Rosario (hip) and forward Cody Larson (illness) will be limited for Tuesday's game at Alabama, and Donovan said Yeguete also will be out for Saturday's game at Arkansas and he is unsure when Yeguete will be able to return.

That leaves the Gators severely shorthanded in the frontcourt, and it will force Donovan to use smaller lineups and play guard/forward Casey Prather and guards Bradley Beal and Scottie Wilbekin at power forward. Donovan will only have two days to get those three to understand the different defensive responsibilities in the press and zone, figure out where they're supposed to provide help defense, and get them to understand their roles on offense.

"Dire is probably a pretty good word," Donovan. "I’m not saying our team is not impacted by Will not being able to play, but that’s the hand we’re dealt. How do we play? How do we compete? What kind of presence and disposition do we carry? How unified and connected? All those things are much, much more important because you can play really, really hard and really, really well and be undermanned and still fall short."

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Yeguete out with a concussion

February, 11, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Will Yeguete suffered a concussion against Tennessee on Saturday and Florida coach Billy Donovan said the sophomore forward will be out indefinitely.

Yeguete hit his head on the padding at the base of the basket after getting knocked down while attempting to get a rebound six minutes into UF's 75-70 loss to Tennessee at the O'Connell Center. Donovan said Yeguete lost consciousness for a brief moment, and he also suffered a cut above his right eye that required 8-10 stitches to close.

"[Yeguete] wasn't even awake when I was over there," Donovan said. "I was a little concerned there, and finally he woke up. He didn't know where he was at, and then he rolled over and he had a lot of blood coming out of his eye."

Donovan said Yeguete failed a concussion test in the locker room. He would have to pass the test before he could be cleared to practice.

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Patric Young fine with not starting

February, 2, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The tendinitis in Patric Young's ankle has kept the sophomore center from participating fully in practices for about two weeks, which in turn has kept him out of the starting lineup.

That isn't bothering Young a bit, though. He doesn't mind coming off the bench -- the role he had last season -- while Will Yeguete starts in his place for the 11th-ranked Gators. He just wants to play.

"I think I’ve done a really good job being efficient with the minutes I’ve had so far," Young said. "Whatever coach asks me to do I’m going to do it."

Tonight's game against South Carolina (9-11, 1-5 Southeastern Conference) will be the fifth in a row in which Young comes off the bench. He was limited to only 13 minutes against South Carolina on Jan. 14, but since then has averaged 24 minutes, 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds -- numbers which are pretty close to what he was averaging before the tendinitis flared (11.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg).

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UF frontcourt makes statement this week 

January, 28, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Patric Young, Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete have heard the talk. No. 13 Florida has four impact guards and a big hole in the middle.

Every week, critics wonder whether the Gators have enough size, enough scoring, enough bodies up front. Those charges grew even louder this week, as UF faced two big, physical teams in a three-day Magnolia State gauntlet.

Florida emerged with two wins, and Murphy said he and his frontcourt mates made a "little bit" of a statement.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida doesn't have to play for five more days. After what the Gators have gone through the past three, they certainly need the time off.

After rallying for a road victory at Ole Miss on Thursday night, Florida survived another physical battle against Mississippi State on Saturday at the O'Connell Center. The Gators got 19 points from Bradley Beal, 14 points from Erik Murphy and 12 points and six rebounds from Patric Young.

The Gators -- who improved to 5-1 in Saturday games following a Thursday game in the past three seasons -- committed just five turnovers but got out-rebounded 34-26.

No. 13 Florida (17-4, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) doesn't play against until Thursday at home against South Carolina.

Player of the game: Beal went 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-4 from the 3-point line. He had made just three 3-pointers in his three previous games.

Playground play of the game: Florida's Mike Rosario in-bounded the ball off Renardo Sidney's back, grabbed it, and laid it in to give the Gators a 17-15 lead with 8:18 remaining in the first half.

Noteworthy: Mississippi State went to the free-throw line 14 times, but Florida didn't make its first trip to the line until 5:22 remained in the game. Will Yeguete went 0-2 and Erving Walker went 0-1 with 2:04 to play. The Gators didn't make their first free throw until Beal made the first of his four with 1:13 remaining. ... Before Saturday's 12-point UF victory, each of the last six meetings between the teams have been decided by single digits. The Gators were 2-4 in those games.

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