From time to time, OGGOA 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.
» Rather than doubling down on disappointment while stuck playing in the state North Carolina, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (4-1) came from behind on Monday to pick up a huge victory over the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-1) in Chapel Hill, NC. UNC, which took over for UF as the No. 1 team in the country last week, held a 2-0 advantage over its visitors after winning the doubles point and a singles match to start the contest. The Gators answered by rallying with four consecutive singles match victories to pick up the 4-2 win. First, junior Olivia Janowicz took down No. 79 Tessa Lyons 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Brianna Morgan then picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 122 Lauren McHale, leaving the match in the hands of Florida’s two best players. No. 4 senior Lauren Embree came through in the clutch once again with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against No. 7 Gina Suarez-Malaguti, and No. 9 junior Sofie Oyen fought hard on court two to defeat No. 30 Zoe De Bruycker 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. UF’s loss on Sunday at No. 4 Duke was its first in over a year’s time. By taking down the Tar Heels on Monday, the Gators avoided falling in consecutive matches for the first time in three years.
» Former Florida guard Matt Walsh, who signed a deal with Spirou Charleroi of Belgium in August 2012, told OGGOA on Monday that his contract has been purchased by Brose Baskets of Bamberg, Germany. The three-time defending German champions play in the Euroleague and are hoping Walsh helps push them to a fourth-straight title.
» Despite multiple reports pointing to the contrary, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Friday said he has “no intent” of trading wide receiver Percy Harvin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Harvin raised concerns about Minnesota’s offense (and how he was not utilized much) prior to the 2012 season and reportedly got into an explosive verbal argument with head coach Leslie Frazier during the season. While it does look like he and the Vikings will split ways, multiple players have come out in his defense and expressed their desire to see him return to the team. The latest to do so is quarterback Christian Ponder, who said he “obviously” wants Harvin to return because “he’s a tremendous player” and “a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general.” Ponder told KFAN in Minneapolis, MN that he and Harvin have a good relationship and “spent some extra time together” working on their on-field chemistry during the last offseason.
Read 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
» Things are not going well for former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, who has been slacking on his swimming training in order to meet the filming demands for his new reality show “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” The program, which will air on E!, has reduced his training to “four or five sessions” per week as opposed to the “nine times a week” that he is supposed to be practicing, according to the Associated Press. “I didn’t realize they were going to be pulling me in different directions all the time,” Lochte said on Saturday. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been outside the pool. But in the pool, I haven’t been able to train on a consistent basis.” The show is filming for eight-straight weeks and has already annoyed Lochte’s swimming coach (and Florida head coach) Gregg Troy. “Gregg hates it,” Lochte said. “He calls me all the time, yelling at me. He’s been threatening to kick me off the team, telling me to just go somewhere else.”
» There will be plenty of former Gators in Lakeland, FL on Thursday as head coach Will Muschamp, safety Ahmad Black, centers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, and running back Chris Rainey will all be in attendance at the Lakeland High School football banquet on Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event, which is being hosted at the First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland, will feature Muschamp as a guest speaker and the former Florida football players as special gusts. Tickets are available for $25 each with more information available here.
» The saga between former Gators and Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown and quarterback Scott Mitchell is apparently not far from over. Brown, who admitted in Dec. 2012 that he purposely missed a block during a game against Green Bay in 1994 and allowed Mitchell to get hurt, understandably drew the signal caller’s ire. He quickly made an apology on ESPN, but it was too little too late as far as Mitchell was concerned at the time. However, the Lions’ team website reported last week that the two have smoothed things out. “Brown said he called Mitchell to discuss the comments and said they had a long conversation and parted as friends,” columnist Mike O’Hara wrote. “He would not have blamed Mitchell if he hadn’t forgiven him, Brown said.” On Monday, in a Detroit News story, multiple former Detroit players said they doubted Brown ever purposely allowed Mitchell to get hurt. Furthermore, Mitchell provided his opinion, which is that Brown made a false claim for selfish reasons. “I do think he did it to improve his position at ESPN,” he said. “That is probably the dumbest thing to do – to tell a story that isn’t true. It is an error in judgment and kind of stupid actually, but I don’t think Lomas purposely tried to hurt me.”
» Three 2013 Florida basketball signees were named as participants in the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game last Thursday. Five-star point guard Kasey Hill (Montverde, FL) and five-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) will both play for the East team in the men’s game set for April 3 at 9:30 p.m. (ESPN). Also earning a spot in the game is five-star wing Ronni Williams (Daytona Beach, FL), the highest-rated commit in the history of the Gators women’s basketball program. Williams, the first McDonald’s All-American in program history, will play at 7 p.m. on April 3.
» Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was named to the NFL’s All-Under-25 Team last Tuesday. According to the league, Pouncey was responsible or just 1.25 sacks over 16 games in 2012.
» Earlier this month, Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson told The Buffalo News that he is “hoping to be full-go” for organized team activities despite missing the entire 2012 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Nelson said at the time that the rehabilitation process has gone slow overall but he is not pushing things and hopes to be 100 percent in time for training camp. As a restricted free agent, Nelson is waiting to see what the Bills do about his contract. If the team does not believe him to be worth the risk, he may be cut loose at some point this offseason. That would be particularly unfortunate for Nelson, who also told the paper that he is excited about working with former Florida pass catcher (and new Buffalo wide receivers coach) Ike Hilliard.
» Two former Gators – safety Matt Elam and sprinter Tony McQuay – and one current Florida football player – freshman running back Kelvin Taylor – will be inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame on March 24. The county’s sports commission announced earlier this month that the trio would be honored at the event with Elam and McQuay both nominated for the organization’s 2012 Amateur Athlete of the Year award. Taylor is up for High School Athlete of the Year.
» Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah can all be seen in one of the NBA‘s newest commercials. While Horford was chosen and filmed specifically for the spot, the footage of Lee and Noah does appear to be cropped out of game film.
» In yet another cautionary tale for athletes, former Florida defensive end Jevon Kearse “is facing foreclosure on his Pompano Beach home,” according to the South Florida Business Journal. SFBJ reports that Kearse bought his home for $6.05 million in 2004 and signed a $5.25 million mortgage on it two years later. In Nov. 2012, “the IRS filed a tax lien against Kearse for $432,015 based on his 2010 income.”
» Gators head track & field coach Mike Holloway has been chosen by USA Track & Field to lead the American men’s team in the 2013 World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from August 10-18. Holloway, who was a sprints and hurdles coach for the United States in the 2012 London Olympics, was also an assistant on the U.S. staff for the 2007 World Outdoor Championships.
» Lee is also making an impact off the court. According to the Mercury News, Lee (on the spur of the moment) doubled a planned donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after paying a visit to some sick children while in Memphis, TN. Originally scheduled to give $25,000 to the organization, Lee instead decided to offer up $50,000. “I was almost tearing up and crying because it was so wonderful,” a St. Jude’s representative told the paper. “All of our ambassadors are amazing, but to double a donation like that? I mean, really, it took me by surprise.” The Mercury News also notes that Lee made a snap decision in order to save Thanksgiving for “seniors and low-income families” in Oakland, CA this past year. After he was told the city was getting ready to cancel the event, “Lee asked what it would take to save it, then promptly wrote a check for $25,000” which provided dinner to more than 2,000 people.