Posted: 12:25 p.m. Friday, March 22, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
A year after Florida nearly made the Final Four without Will Yeguete, the Gators enter the 2013 NCAA Tournament looking to get to college basketball's plateau with the relentless rebounder in their rotation. But Yeguete is still recovering from a February knee surgery — and he's going to need more knee surgery at some point.
Yeguete had surgery in February to remove floating bodies from his right knee, and missed six games while on the mend. (Florida went 4-2 in those games.) The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley writes that Yeguete said he will need surgery after the season to fix a missing piece of cartilage in his knee, while GatorZone's Scott Carter writes that Yeguete "doesn't know if the surgery will happen after the season or after his UF career."
Either way, Yeguete's not fully healthy, something Billy Donovan admitted at his media availability on Thursday, and his production has suffered since his return: Yeguete has 24 rebounds (14 defensive, 10 offensive) in 100 minutes in the six games since his March 2 comeback against Alabama, while he had 133 rebounds (44 offensive, 89 defensive) in 459 minutes prior to his injury. Dropping from 0.29 rebounds per minute to 0.24 rebounds per minute may not seem like much, but in 20 minutes — about what Yeguete plays per game — that's a full rebound that Yeguete isn't getting.
Yeguete's still very valuable to the Gators — even that diminished rate of rebounds per minute would be first among Florida players, and Yeguete's the only Gator among the nation's top 150 players in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate. But in a month when every hint of an advantage needs to be mined, getting less from Yeguete weakens Florida, at least a bit.