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Friday, August 19, 2022

No rest for the weary.

The Gators (4-2) will play their third game in six days when they head to Jacksonville tonight to face the Dolphins (4-2) at 5:30 in Veterans Memorial Arena.

UF coach Amanda Butler said fatigue is not an excuse, but she acknowledged that she has changed some things in practice due to the quick turnaround between games in the current stretch.

BWe focus a little more on half-court (execution) as a team, getting better,C she said. BStrategizing versus what they?re trying to do to us, taking away some of their comfort zones. As much as fatigue isn?t a factor, we can?t practice like we don?t have a game.C

Some Gators have pretty good reason to be tired, too.

Guards Sha Brooks and Depree Bowden both rank in the top five of the Southeastern Conference in minutes played, averaging more than 32 minutes per game. Forward Marshae Dotson isn?t too far behind, averaging 29.67 a game.

Bowden admitted to feeling some fatigue in her legs, but pointed to ice baths and trainers as ways to help push through this busy stretch of games.

BWe try not to think about that,C Bowden said of the fatigue. BAnything we can do to help this team win.C

One player off the bench continues to give the Gators a boost, especially on the defensive end.

Backup point guard Lonnika Thompson averages 2.5 steals per game, tied for the team lead, in just 16.5 minutes per game.

Butler enjoys the flexibility that her two-point-guard system allows. She said each has her own style, with Thompson always focused on making sure her teammates are where they should be.

Thompson enjoys frustrating the other team?s guards as they try to bring the ball up the floor.

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BEveryone doesn?t like to be pressured,C Thompson said. BBeing a ball-handler and being a point guard, I know it?s trouble for the other team.C

When her players get tired, Butler reminds them there?s actually only 40 minutes of play in the two hours it usually takes for a game to go from start to finish.

BSometimes I think when you put it like that in a very real black-and-white terms and you think of it like 40 minutes, you should be able as a 20-year-old to sustain that effort for 40 minutes,C Butler said. BAnd they?re in great shape. Fatigue should not be anything for us to be concerned about.C

POSSIBLE RETURN FOR MOSSOR: Sophomore guard Jennifer Mossor practiced for the first time Tuesday since breaking her non-shooting pinky on Oct. 27.

Mossor said she?s wearing a hard splint after having surgery to have two pins inserted on Oct. 30. The plan, according to both Mossor and Butler, was to see how practice went before deciding whether the guard would return to the court tonight.

BWe certainly don?t want to push too soon and risk damaging something and then losing her for another couple of weeks,C Butler said before practice Tuesday. BIt?s a very comforting thought for the coaching staff to have Jen back in the rotation, to be able to look on the bench and see her over there and be able to insert her. She just gives us so many things besides points and rebounds, just her knowledge of the game, how physical and aggressive she is and the fact that right now she is dying to get on the floor is something that you can?t underestimate.C

SMITH STEPPING IN: Butler said forward Sharielle Smith will likely make her second straight start Wednesday against Jacksonville, citing the Dolphins? small, athletic lineup.

The forward started Monday night in place of Aneika Henry, who suffered a foot injury during practice over the weekend.

Smith proved to be a dominant presence in the post, grabbing a team-high 11 boards.

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