Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

By Jordan McPherson – Only Gators.com Contributor

After trailing for most of the Super Six for the second-straight year, it came down to sophomore Bridgette Caquatto pulling off a miracle for No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics, which forced a late tie and split the 2014 NCAA Championship on Saturday night in Birmingham, AL.

UF’s final competitor in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, Caquatto needed to score a 9.95 on floor if the Gators wanted to earn a share of the national title with the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

Caquatto delivered, matching her career-high mark for the third time this season as Florida locked up with Oklahoma for the lead just one year after winning the title for the first time in program history.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Gators head coach Rhonda Faehn said in a postgame interview. “Our athletes, I mean, they knew what was on the line, and they just competed their hearts out.”

Florida and Oklahoma both posted a 198.175 — the highest score in Super Six history — and subsequently split title. By tying with the Gators, the Sooners became just the sixth program to finish in the top spot. LSU (197.600) finished in third and Alabama (fourth, 197.550), Georgia (fifth, 197.050) and Nebraska (sixth, 196.500) rounded out the field.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

CB Loucheiz Purifoy caught with drugs, gets arrest warrant quashed

Former Florida Gators cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, a junior who declared for the 2014 NFL Draft in December, was found in possession of marijuana and bath salts in March. According to The Gainesville Sun, he was not arrested after agreeing to cooperate with authorities as an informant, but when he failed to do so, had an arrest warrant issued that was later quashed.

He never could be reached by investigators with the task force, which includes sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Gainesville Police Department.

The Sheriff’s Office then filed a sworn complaint against Purifoy, after which a bench warrant was issued earlier this month, but the arrest warrant was quashed Wednesday.

The GPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation into the quashing of Purifoy’s warrant, which Sheriff Sadie Darnell told the paper was an “unusual” occurrence.

Purifoy was caught with the drugs on March 18 at 11:34 p.m. while in the drivers seat of a “rental Buick from Tennessee” near Southwest 20th Avenue. A deputy smelled marijuana and approached the car.

Continue Reading » CB Loucheiz Purifoy caught with drugs, gets arrest warrant quashed

Florida Gators gymnastics reaches Super Six, looks for second straight title

By Jordan McPherson — OnlyGators.com Contributor

Behind a strong all-around performance courtesy of senior Alaina Johnson (T-2nd, 39.600) — who finished with top-five scores on vault (T-5th, 9.900), uneven bars (T-2nd, 9.925) and balance beam (T-2nd, 9.900) —No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive season and eighth time in the last nine years.

Florida posted a 197.650 in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center to tie No. 4 Alabama for the top spot in Session II of the semifinals on Friday in Birmingham, AL.

No. 9 Nebraska finished third with a 197.100 to join Florida and Alabama in advancing to the Super Six over Utah (197.025), UCLA (197.000) and Penn State (194.825).

With the win, the Gators will look to defend their national title in Saturday’s Super Six with the field also comprised of Oklahoma, LSU and Georgia. Nebraska is the lone team in the field that did not compete in the 2013 NCAA Championships, when Florida became just the fifth team ever to win an NCAA national title in the sport.

UF competed in the Olympic rotation during its time in the semifinals. After posting its best mark of the season on vault (49.550) at the University Park Regional on April 5, Florida scored a 49.375 team score on the horse — the best team total in both semifinals — to begin competition in Birmingham.

The Gators then extended their lead by notching a 49.550 on bars, the program’s highest total at the NCAA Championships and the fourth-best score in NCAA Semifinals history. Sophomore Bridget Sloan (9.950) posted the highest score on the event, while Johnson (9.925), senior Mackenzie Caquatto (9.925) and sophomore Bridgette Caquatto (9.900) all had big outings to help UF expand its lead.

After taking a .200 advantage over second-place UA halfway through the competition, Florida struggled on beam, earning a 49.300. Sloan fell for the second consecutive meet after checking her balance twice, resulting in a career-low score on 9.200 on Friday for the All-American. The miscue also took her out of contention for the All-Around award.

Despite Sloan’s stumble, Mackenzie Caquatto and Johnson kept the Gators afloat by posting 9.900s on beam while Claire Boyce and junior Kytra Hunter scored 9.850s.

With just one event remaining, Florida rebounded on the floor routine, scoring a 49.425.

After posting sub-9.900 scores all evening, Hunter — who scored four perfect 10s on the floor this season — tied with Boyce and Sloan for a team-best 9.900 to cap the event for UF. Hunter finished with a 39.475 all-around, tying for the eighth-best total in Session II.

NCAA Super Six competition begins Saturday at 7 p.m. and will air live ESPN3.com.

10 Gator Bites for Friday, April 18

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (20-2) opens up competition in the semifinals of the 2014 NCAA Championships on Friday as it looks to defend the program’s first-ever NCAA National Championship by advancing to the Super Six for the eighth time in the last nine years. UF will compete against Alabama, Nebraska, Penn State, UCLA and Utah on Friday at 8 p.m. in Birmingham, AL with the top three finishers moving on to compete Saturday at 7 p.m. A live video stream of Friday’s event is available by clicking here. ESPN3.com will air Saturday’s Super Six and Sunday’s individual event competitions.

» Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley drew some positive reviews out of his Pro Day workout on Thursday even despite the fact that he was only competing at about 80-85 percent as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. According to Sports Illustrated contributor Tony Pauline, Easley is “drawing heavy interest” from Chicago, New England, San Francisco and Seattle with the aforementioned teams believing he will go in the second round of May’s 2014 NFL Draft.

Continue Reading » 10 Gator Bites for Friday, April 18

Florida adds four-star CB Marcus Lewis

The Florida Gators have landed yet another highly-touted recruit to their extremely talented secondary, gaining a verbal commitment Thursday from four-star 2015 cornerback Marcus Lewis (Washington, D.C.).

Ranked No. 76 nationally and rated as the second-best player in his area by Rivals, Lewis (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) had committed to Virginia Tech in November 2013 but decommitted days later after initially making the decision without enough research or knowledge of his potential opportunities.

Lewis, who will be transferring from Gonzaga High School to IMG Sports Academy (Bradenton, FL) in June, boasts an impressive offer list with Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others, showing considerable interest in his services.

Florida came on strong for Lewis in April and did not take long to land the top-tier prospect. The Gators – specifically head coach Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, the team’s top recruiters – used playing time, opportunity and talent development as their pitch.

“IM 100 %COMMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!! #GatorNation!!!! #FloridaFamily!!!!” he tweeted.

Lewis’s commitment was first reported by Rivals.com‘s Adam Friedman.

UF may start a freshman cornerback for its second-straight season and has a history of developing talent in the defensive backfield. Three Florida cornerbacks will be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, likely within the first two days of the event.

Lewis joins three-star safety Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL), the Gators’ other secondary commitment, as part of the 2015 class. He is the sixth overall pledge.

If he follows through with his commitment, Lewis will be the 19th Rivals 250 defensive back to join Florida over the last six recruiting cycles.

The Gators added four-star CB Jalen Tabor out of the nation’s capital in 2014.

FOUR Noah BITS: videos, GIFs, feature, Yannick

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah jokingly refuses to answer a question posted by a reporter wearing a Florida State hat. “I don’t talk to people who wear FSU hats,” he quipped. “Maybe if you change your hat maybe we can talk later. OK, thanks.”

2 » Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins wrote an in-depth feature about the former Florida Gators frontcourt star, and how he has impacted Chicago throughout the season, for this week’s edition of the magazine. Check it out in full by clicking here.

Noah’s passion is as celebrated as Tim Duncan’s footwork and Chris Paul’s vision, but equally reductive. Depicting him purely as a 29-year-old “hustle guy” does him no justice. It took more than chase-down blocks and primal roars to become the best playmaking center in three decades — a floor general and rim protector all at once — whose versatility prompts one NBA assistant coach to remark, “I haven’t seen anything like him since Bill Walton in ’77.”

Continue Reading » FOUR Noah BITS: videos, GIFs, feature, Yannick

TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

1 » According to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman, redshirt junior forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators F Al Horford, is heavily considering choosing to play the final year of his collegiate career in Gainesville, FL. Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be a redshirt senior in 2014-15 and cleared to play without having to sit out a season. He registered 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for Michigan last season and decided to transfer in order to get more playing time. That is one reason why a move to Florida was not believed to be on the table previously. Though the Gators are in need of frontcourt players, they do have freshman Chris Walker and redshirt junior Damontre Harris at center next season. Florida will also play redshirt juniors Alex Murphy (currently not scheduled to be eligible until the spring), redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Devin Robinson, though the latter two players will likely play small forward. Horford’s addition would fill UF’s remaining 2014-15 scholarship but not affect the allotment for 2015-16.

2 » Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley has spent the last seven months rehabilitating his torn ACL but is finally getting the chance to show NFL teams what he can do on Thursday as he is participating in a private Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Joining Easley for the workout are outside linebackers Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, who also participated in Florida’s first Pro Day one month earlier on March 17. Easley recently completed a visit with the Dallas Cowboys, his first private trip, and is expected to go on many more after his Pro Day workout is complete. Projections for Easley range from the second to fifth round, but he is likely to be taken on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft as long as he can prove he’s healthy.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

Former Florida Gators in the NBA: 2013-14 regular season marks and 2014 Playoffs preview

With the 2013-14 NBA regular season concluding on Wednesday, 10 of the 12 former Florida Gators basketball players in the league advanced to the 2014 NBA Playoffs and saw their campaign continue.

Former Gators are represented on eight of the 16 playoff teams with nine total players active for the playoffs (four starters, five reserves).

OnlyGators.com has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Florida players accomplished throughout the entire 2013-14 season and can look ahead to in the NBA Playoffs.

* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the 2014 NBA Playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: GP/GS (80/80), MIN (35.2), PPG (12.6), RPG (11.3), APG (5.4), SPG (1.2), BPG (1.5), TPG (2.4), FPG (3.1), A/TO (2.3)
» Shooting: FG% (.475), 3P% (.000), FT% (.737)
» Highlights: Four triple-doubles, 47 double-doubles
» Top 25 ranks (season): Triple-doubles (No. 2), total rebounds (No. 4), offensive rebounds (No. 4), offensive rebounds per game (No. 4), double-doubles (No. 5), defensive rebounds (No. 7), defensive rebounds per game (No. 8), total efficiency points (No. 8), blocks (No. 10), blocks per game (No. 12), efficiency ranking (No. 14), minutes played (No. 16), assists (No. 22), assists per game (No. 25)
» Career-highs (season): Games played (80), games started (80), minutes played (2,820), points (1,007, 12.6 per game), offensive rebounds (282), defensive rebounds (618), total rebounds (900, 11.3 per game), assists (431, 5.4 per game), steals (99, 1.2 per game), turnovers (194), fouls (245), field goals made (380), field goals attempted (800), free throws made (247), free throws attempted (335)
» Career-highs (game): Assists (14), minutes played (50)
» Notes: Noah became the fourth center in NBA history with four triple-doubles of points, rebounds and assists in a single season (Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Bill Russell). He was the first Chicago player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season. Noah also competed in his second-straight NBA All-Star game, is a candidate for league MVP and is almost a sure-fire bet to receive a number of other honors.
» Playoffs: The Bulls are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on the No. 5 Washington Wizards beginning on Sunday.



Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NBA played this season…
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NBA: 2013-14 regular season marks and 2014 Playoffs preview

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