On Monday afternoon, Florida emerged from its locker room and took the court for practice. Dressed in their all-blue practice uniforms, the Gators shot around, with multiple players getting reps at the free-throw line and from behind the arc.
But there were some noticeable pieces to the UF squad missing as the team prepared for its matchup against the Jacksonville Dolphins tonight at 7 in the O’Connell Center.
Funda Nakkasoglu, the team’s leading scorer through the first six games, was off the court receiving treatment for an ankle injury she suffered against Richmond last week. The redshirt junior sustained the injury toward the end of the game as the Spiders played press defense to stay in the contest.
Nakkasoglu said she rolled her ankle and took out Richmond’s head coach in the process, as the play occurred near the Spiders bench. The injury caused her to miss the final two games of the Savannah Invitational, but she has high hopes for playing against Jacksonville.
“I’m feeling much better,” Nakkasoglu said. “I don’t care how much pain I’m in. I need it, personally. I want to be back on the court and I’m suiting up.”
Newbauer said the team thinks she can play and they’ll see what she can do before making the final call, but he has yet to decide if she will return to the starting lineup.
“She’s a competitor,” Newbauer said. “She wanted to play the last two games but we didn’t feel any need for her to do that and press the injury further. We just let her rest it, but I think she’s excited to get back out there tomorrow.”
While Nakkasoglu will be able to take the court again this season, sophomore Sydney Morang, who was at Monday’s practice in street clothes, may not. Newbauer said Morang “probably isn’t gonna play this year” due to an issue she’s having with concussions.
“For the best interest of her health, long-term right now it wouldn’t make sense for her to practice,” Newbauer said. “She’s probably gonna redshirt this year.”
The loss of Morang could hurt the Gators more than the box scores show. Out of the 34 field goals Morang has made in her career, 28 of them have been from three-point range, something Florida has embraced since Newbauer took his spot on the sideline.
The concussion problem for Morang stems from the preseason, according to Newbauer. He said the team thinks she suffered a minor concussion during the season-opener against Georgia State, but wasn’t able to tell until she felt side effects over the following weeks.
“In the Florida State game, she hit two threes and then in the second half, all of a sudden she just wasn’t feeling right,” Newbauer said. “It’s a precautionary thing, we’ve gotta keep her out right now. It’s best for her.”
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UF guard Funda Nakkasoglu sat out the final two games of the Savannah Invitational. She hopes to be back on the court against Jacksonville.