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."
Larson has played just 43 minutes in eight Southeastern Conference games and grabbed seven rebounds. He grabbed three rebounds in eight minutes against Alabama and three in 11 minutes against Arkansas. His floor time against the Razorbacks was the most he's played since he played 12 against Stetson on Nov. 28.
Until Yeguete suffered a concussion against Tennessee on Feb. 11, Larson only saw the floor when Young and Murphy were in foul trouble or late in games. He had played more than four minutes in an SEC game just once (nine against Georgia on Jan. 10) until the Alabama game on Feb. 14.
Larson isn’t going to provide much offense, although Yeguete didn't either. Larson has scored just 12 points all season (19 games) and hasn't scored a point since the Rider game on Dec. 9. He averaged 19.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a senior at Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt High School.
"He is not totally confident offensively," Donovan said. "He's not really a scoring threat, and Will's never been this great scoring threat. [Yeguete's] scoring has come off of fast breaks, loose basketballs, offensive rebounds, but he’s not shooting 3s and putting it down and making jump hooks. He's kind of been an opportunistic scorer."
Donovan doesn't care about Larson's offense, though. All he wants is Larson to step in at power forward and play defense to spell the 6-6 Prather, 6-3 Beal and 6-2 Wilbekin -- beginning with Saturday's game at Georgia (12-15, 3-10 SEC).
"I think Cody is going to have to give us some quality minutes and I think he can," Donovan said. "I'm not so sure he's equipped or ready to be a presence for us offensively, but we don't need him to do that right now. We need him to defend and rebound and screen and do things to help our team."