FOUR BITS: Brewer MIP, LaPorta, Jones, Couch

1 » As OGGOA mentioned two weeks ago, former Florida Gators guard/forward Corey Brewer is much improved one year after returning from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. Brewer is playing so well for the Minnesota Timberwolves, in fact, that he is in the running for the NBA’s 2010 Most Improved Player award. “It’s a confidence thing,” Brewer said of his improvement. “My rookie year was tough because I was going from one extreme system to another extreme system. I didn’t know where I could fit in. [...] That’s why I loved Florida because we pressed, I got to get out on the break, got a lot of dunks. Now to be able to do it in the NBA, to actually get some highlights, it’s good.”

Brewer also told The Gainesville Sun that he keeps a close eye on the Gators and is hopeful for the future. “They need a few more players,” he said. “Coach [Bill Donovan] has been doing a good job. Austin Rivers is going to be really good when he comes up. The big kid from Jacksonville [Patric Young] coming in, I like him. And then my man, Casey [Prather], he’s from Tennessee. I like him, athletic 6-4.”

Three more BITS on UF connections in the MLB, NCAAs and PGA…after the jump!

2 » Recovering from injuries to his toe and hip, former Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta has been named a starter for the Cleveland Indians this season. LaPorta, who batted .254 with seven home runs, 21 RBI, 46 hits, 29 runs and 12 walks in 181 plate appearances in 52 games after a late call-up in 2009, is happy to return to the infield after mostly playing left field last season.

3 » Donnie Jones, a former assistant basketball coach to Donovan with the Gators from 1996-2007, left in that final year to take over as head coach of the Marshall Thundering Herd. After compiling a 55-41 record in three seasons, Jones has been hired by the Central Florida Knights to take over their program. “Donnie Jones is an excellent coach, a phenomenal recruiter and a great person,” UCF athletic director Keith Tribble said. “We are thrilled to welcome Donnie and his family to Orlando and the UCF Athletics community. Donnie has a vision for this program that includes attracting top-notch student-athletes and competing for championships. He is the right coach to lead UCF men’s basketball to the next level.”

4 » Chris Couch used to be a golfer at Florida. He also used to have to personally write Arnold Palmer for an invitation to Bay Hill (and did so for 18 years). This weekend, Couch found himself in the final pairing at the tournament and had Palmer watching him in person as he putted on the 18th hole. He would finish the Arnold Palmer Invitational in fourth but was happy to experience what he did. “I think that was a little bit inspired by not getting an exemption all those years,” Couch said. “I wanted to prove to Arnie that I love this golf course and that I play well out here.”

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

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