The 26 points Matt Walsh had in his first regular-season game impressed more than 7,000 fans who attended Tuesday's game at the O'Connell Center, but if Walsh wants to impress his coach, he needs to do one thing tonight: forget about Louisiana Tech.
It's not that Billy Donovan wasn't pleased with the freshman guard's performance in the 76-55 victory over Louisiana Tech. But as the Gators prepare to face Eastern Illinois tonight in the second round of the Preseason NIT, Donovan knows how a big game early can affect Walsh and the other freshmen, including guard Anthony Roberson, who scored 13.
"I think the most difficult challenge for young guys is the idea of embracing success," Donovan said. "He (Walsh) had one good game, and I'm happy for him, but the season's not ending. And I think that's the most difficult thing with young players is being able to move to the next moment. He's got to be able to come back and be focused because (tonight) he's going to be on their scouting report.
"In defense of Louisiana Tech, there was a level of uncertainty in not seeing those guys play (before)," Donovan added. "Eastern Illinois will get a pretty good scouting report having seen us on national TV, so I'm anxious to see Matt and the freshmen come back."
DREJER'S STATUS: Florida freshman guard Christian Drejer had surgery Tuesday night to drain an abscess on his left ankle. Drejer tore a ligament and sprained his left ankle during preseason drills but is struggling to recover.
"He's got some type of infection in his body and in his foot," Donovan said. "They were going to run tests (Wednesday) to find out what that infection was. They don't know that right now.
"As far as him coming back and being ready to play, we still feel like it's still the same four, five or six week period," Donovan said. "His issue right now is not necessarily dealing with the ankle sprain it's more getting the infection out of his body."
LESSONS LEARNED: Coach Ron Zook has said he thinks adversity helps teach some of life's greater lessons.
So Zook was philosophical Saturday after Georgia's last-minute win over Auburn, which kept the Gators from winning the SEC East.
The lesson he hopes his younger players learn? Every game counts.
"I told our football team and our younger guys, we all know how good a conference this is," Zook said. "It's a tough, great conference. What they must learn from that is that you have to play all eight (conference) games; you can't take a game off. You have to be prepared to play eight games, so it's going to be a lesson for us next year."
Zook said the Gators need this week's open date before taking on Florida State on Nov. 30 in Tallahassee.
"I think it's imperative that we have some time off," he said. "We've pushed these guys hard, as hard as we possibly could. And everybody needs a little break. You need to freshen up, but we need to stay in condition. We'll take some time and rest mentally, then come back and hit that last week hard."
SWIMMING SWEEP: Tampa sophomore Kris Wiebeck won the 200-yard backstroke in 1 minute, 51.59 seconds as the men's and women's swimming and diving teams earned their second sweep in five days by defeating Florida State on Tuesday.
The women are 6-0 overall, and the men are 5-1. Both teams are 2-0 in the SEC.
SEC-rival Georgia visits Florida at 1 p.m. Saturday at the O'Connell Center.
CROSS COUNTRY: Inverness sophomore Cory Presnick finished first among UF men with a career-best 10K time of 32:48.65 in the NCAA Cross Country South Regional Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. The Gators finished third, missing out on an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
_ Antonya English covers Florida athletics. She can be reached at (813) 226-3389 or englishsptimes.com.