1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has long held up former South African president Nelson Mandela as one of his idols. So for Noah to easily have his best game of the 2013-14 season on the day of Mandela’s passing was certainly no surprise. On Thursday, Noah posted his second-straight double-double with 17 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and a season-high 15 rebounds in a 107-87 win over Miami. After the contest, he was interviewed by TNT’s Craig Sager and ended the conversation like this:
2 » The Florida Gators are expected to have major frontcourt troubles next season with big-bodied seniors – center Patric Young and forwards Casey Prather and Will Yeguete – all scheduled to graduate. One of its other big men is on shaky ground and a fifth, who has yet to enroll, could be a one-and-done player. Facing a potential roster that would have its two tallest players – current redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith and five-star incoming F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) listed as 6-foot-8 – the Gators may have found some help in the form of current Duke redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy. The brother of Erik Murphy, Alex has decided to leave the Blue Devils at the end of the fall 2013 semester and may very well be headed to Gainesville, FL. He would have to sit out two semesters per NCAA rules and would not be eligible until next spring, but Alex Murphy would nevertheless be a much-needed addition for UF. OnlyGators.com is still working to confirm his transfer destination as of press time.
3 » Florida found another way to disappoint its fans this week. In a story overlooked for the last few days by OnlyGators.com, UF’s basketball team made headlines by displacing 50 passengers on an Atlanta, GA-bound Sunday flight when Delta decided to help the Gators by chartering a new plane for the team to Storrs, CT for its showdown with UConn. According to The Gainesville Sun, a maintenance delay grounded the plane that the team usually charters, so Delta stepped in to help at the expense of customers that had already purchased tickets on the flight. “Passengers from flight 5059 were accommodated on other flights and given vouchers valid for use through Delta for future trips,” a spokesman told the paper. Florida has gone above and beyond to try and deflect any blame heading its way. The Gators have claimed ignorance regarding Delta’s decision, which he company took completely on its own shoulders.
Check out the statement and three more BITS…after the break!
Delta Connection partner ExpressJet, which operated both the charter as well as the regularly scheduled flight, made the operational decision to swap aircraft as the maintenance work was expected to be done quickly. Unfortunately, it was not and Delta flight 5059 was canceled. Delta made every effort to reaccommodate those customers on alternate flights and we apologize to the 50 customers who were inconvenienced.
An internal review is underway to understand the specific circumstances around this aircraft substitution, but it is clear that the University of Florida in no way participated in the decision-making process. Our efforts to better serve our customers are constant and a well-intentioned operational decision unfortunately did not work as planned. We continually look for ways to improve the customer experience and again, we apologize to those customers who were inconvenienced.
4 » Five-seed Florida volleyball (28-3) swept the Jacksonville Dolphins (30-4) on Thursday in Gainesville in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Gators topped the Dolphins 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-16) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, advancing to face Florida State on Friday at 7 p.m. The winner of the UF-FSU tilt will move on to the Sweet 16. Senior middle blocker Chloe Mann registered 15 kills, two blocks and a .700 hitting efficiency on the evening. Sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek also picked up 11 kills in the contest.
5 » In the latest headline-grabbing stunt by a lower-level football team, the Milano Seamen of the Italian federation for American football have offered former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow a four-month, $200,000 contract to play in Italy. Should Tebow accept – he won’t – he would play overseas from March-July presuming he takes his team to the Italian Super Bowl. The Seamen lost last year’s championship to the Parma Panthers 51-28.
6 » A couple of men who had brief careers as Gators passed away this week. Former baseball player Evan Chambers, who played four games at Florida in 2008, passed away in his sleep over the weekend. Chambers, 24, finished his career at Hillsborough Community College and was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Additionally, one-time Gators assistant football coach Tim Marcum, best known as head coach of the AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm from 1995-2010, died Thursday at the age of 69 as his health had been failing for many months. Marcum won seven ArenaBowls (1987-89, 1992, 1995-96, 2003), was a two-time AFL Coach of the Year and an inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame (15 years before he retired).