1 » Former Florida Gators currently playing in the NBA collectively had an interesting last three days. Centers Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls each started March off on fire after concluding February with a career game. Horford averaged 22 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists and three steals in two weekend games, while Noah posted two more double-doubles and averages of 17.5 points, 10 boards, five assists and 2.5 blocks in his two games. Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal posted a career-high 29 points in a double-double performance (11 rebounds) on Friday but then went down hard on Sunday with a sprained left ankle that was so painful it reportedly caused him to blackout on the court. X-rays came back negative but Beal remains day-to-day for the Wizards. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons capped off the weekend with an explosive performance Sunday, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting (6-of-7 from downtown) in just 30 minutes. He became the first player since Larry Bird to score 30+ points, shoot 92 percent or better and attempt at least five three-pointers. Parsons, a second-round pick and second-year player, continues to be an incredibly valuable player for the Rockets; he has scored 20+ points in four-straight games.
2 » Entering the weekend unranked and losers of five-straight games to Georgia Southern, Florida Gulf Coast (three) and North Florida, Florida baseball first dropped its sixth-straight contest before rallying to win the final two games of its weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators (5-7) handed the Canes (10-2) their first two losses on the season, toppling their foes with a four-run eighth inning on Saturday and a four-run third inning on Sunday. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (3/8, 4 RBI, R, 2 BB) led Florida offensively and helped both freshman right-handed reliever Jay Carmichael (1-1) and sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (1-0) pick up their first victories of the season. UF plays five games in the next seven days including a home-and-home against Jacksonville and a three-game series at home against Indiana.
Read five more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
3 » Quarterback Tim Tebow is inching closer and closer to being released by the New York Jets and many NFL analysts, including former well-respected general manager Bill Polian, believe the only way he will be able to continue his career as a professional football player is to play a position other than quarterback. “I think he has to change his position; he has to put quarterback behind him,” Polian told ESPNNewYork.com. “He’s a good football player, but he’s not a quarterback you can hang your hat on.” Polian pegged Tebow as a running back or tight end (he has never played those positions) but also said what many others believe, that he could succeeded as a “change-up guy” behind center who can run the read-option for offenses that have non-mobile quarterbacks entrenched as starters. “He has to tell clubs, ‘I’m willing to do whatever you want me to do and I’m not going to compete for reps at quarterback.’ Without that, it’s very hard [to sign him],” he added. “I don’t think he’s a passer, period – the kind of passer you have to have to win in the NFL.”
4 » No. 4 Gators women’s tennis dropped its second match of the season on Sunday when it fell 4-3 to the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies on the road in College Station, TX. Florida (7-2, 1-1 SEC) had won 37-straight Southeastern Conference matches during regular season play before falling on Sunday. Texas A&M captured the doubles point, which UF has been dropping more often than it would like recently, but the Gators pulled ahead 3-2 in singles action with victories by No. 114 freshman Brianna Morgan (6-2, 6-1), No. 76 freshman Danielle Collins (6-3, 6-4) and No. 1 senior Lauren Embree (6-4, 7-5). Florida dropped the final two singles matches in three sets and now looks ahead to its next road contest against Florida State on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
5 » No. 2 Gators gymnastics (8-1) capped its home slate on Friday with a huge 198.425 score to defeat the No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-3) on Senior Night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Florida’s score set a school record and is the new high in the nation in 2013. It is also the eighth-highest collegiate gymnastics score posted nationally all-time and the highest to come without a single gymnast registering a perfect 10 on her event. Sophomore All-American Kytra Hunter won the vault (9.975) and all-around (39.80). Other Gators who won event titles each also posted 9.975s in their respective disciplines: Mackenzie Caquatto (uneven bars), freshman Bridget Sloan (balance beam) and senior Marissa King (floor exercise). Other seniors honored alongside King included Ashanée Dickerson (all-around), Dali Lemezan (vault, beam) and Randy Stageberg (vault, beam, floor).
6 » No. 4 Florida softball (22-1) continued its incredible start to the 2013 season with five more victories over the weekend. The Gators outscored their opponents by a combined 47-8 in the three-day span and pulled off a pair of incredible feats including a 20-2 victory over the Florida A&M Rattlers on Saturday and a team-pitched perfect game against the Presbyterian Blue Hose on Sunday. Florida routed FAMU by hitting back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning and connecting on two grand slams during the contest; the Gators hit eight total home runs, a school record. In its very next game, Florida used three pitchers to toss five perfect innings against Presbyterian. Junior RHP Hannah Rogers (10-1, 3.0 IP, 5 K) started and earned the victory, but the Gators each got perfect performances from sophomore RHP Lauren Haeger (1.0 IP) and sophomore RHP Alyssa Bache (1.0 IP, K) to register the first combined perfect game in the history of the program. Haeger also hit a team-high five RBI in the 20-2 victory on Saturday. UF’s last perfect game came in a solo performance from Stephanie Brombacher on Feb. 12, 2011. Head coach Tim Walton also picked up his 400th career win over the weekend.
Extra BIT I » No. 2 Florida lacrosse (7-0) remained undefeated over the weekend as it took down the No. 4/5 Syracuse Orange 14-10 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. The Gators, looking for a measure of revenge after the Orange took them out in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, got just that on Sunday as they evened the all-time series between the teams 2-2.
Extra BIT II » Former Gators running back Robert Gillespie, who has been coaching in college since 2005, was hired this week to take over as running backs coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. Gillespie, who tallied 1,854 yards rushing and 1,091 yards receiving during his time at Florida, spent the first four years of his career with Steve Spurrier at South Carolina followed by two years at Oklahoma State and the last two seasons at West Virginia.