Parsons, Walker recognized with more honors

Fresh of winning the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award from the league’s coaches, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons earned additional recognition on Wednesday.

SportingNews tabbed Parsons as it’s SEC Player of the Year and selected him as one of the five member of its 2011 All-SEC First Team. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Parsons to their 2011 All-District 21 First Team.

Also honored Tuesday was Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, who was given 2011 All-SEC Second Team honors by SportingNews and 2011 All-District 21 Second Team recognition by the NABC.

SportingNews chose former Florida assistant and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant as the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year, an award the conference coaches presented to Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

The NABC’s District 21 is an area that covers the states of Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Grant on Donovan, track & field

1 » Like his former boss and close friend did for him a few days ago, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant expressed plenty of positive thoughts and warm wishes toward Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan upon learning he was voted 2011 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. “It’s a great honor – 15 years in the league and the success that he’s enjoyed,” Grant told The Birmingham News. “It’s really, really hard – the expectations were extremely high for his team this year. They may have surpassed those expectations with what they’ve done. […] There is not a more deserving recipient because of the way he approaches what he does and the passion that he has. I’m really happy for him and their program.”

2 » As OGGOA tweeted about Monday, Florida basketball was not the only sport to pull in high praise from the SEC. Gators track and field head coach Mike Holloway was named the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year for his sport on Monday, and junior jumper Christian Taylor earned 2011 SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year honors. Also awarded by the conference were hurdler Eddie Lovett and Cory McGee, who were each named 2011 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year for their respective gender.

3 » The 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships begin on Friday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, TX, and Florida track and field will be represented by 15 student-athletes (13 men, two women) at the event. The Gators men’s team is looking to defend its title after claiming the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship. Sophomore sprinter and defending champion Jeff Demps will compete in the 60-meter dash, while defending champion Taylor will try to once again win the triple jump. Junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock will also compete in the triple jump. Other Florida athletes participating in the NCAA Indoors include Clay (long jump), junior runner Dumisani Hlaselo (mile), junior Gray Horn (heptathlon), Lovett (60-meter hurdles), McGee (mile), sophomore Tony McQuay (200-meter dash, 400-meter dash), senior Kemal Mesic (shot put), senior Terrell Wilks (60-meter dash). The Gators will also field men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay teams.

4 » Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka, speaking with Chicago Sun-Times, provided his opinion on the future of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Ditka only had good things to convey about the second-year pro. “People talk about the combine, about body fat, 40 times, bench presses, how high you can jump. That’s great, but how do you measure heart?” he said. “People talk about Tim Tebow like he can’t do this or he doesn’t have this throwing skill. But all that matters is can he lead you from Point A to Point B. I like him. You cannot coach character. You cannot coach leadership.”

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FOUR BITS: Johnson, Pitino, Joyer, Dunker

1 » It is quite obvious that former Florida Gators guard Carl Johnson is a large man. Florida fans have known this for quite some time and NFL folks got to see it for themselves during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine when he weighed in at an event-high 361 lbs. However, Johnson’s size is not solely due to eating habits or not working out but rather the medicine he takes to combat his Crohn’s Disease. “[It’s] like arthritis in your intestines,” he told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “Crohn’s patients are known for dropping massive amounts of weight, like 20 pounds in a week. So [the medicine] makes me gain weight. It makes me retain water. But it also keeps me alive, so it’s a double-edged sword.” Luckily for Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard (who also has the disease) has been there for him from the beginning. Read more about his struggles with the disease and preparation for the 2011 NFL Draft.

2 » He may be a bit biased due to his son being an assistant on the team and the fact that he coached Florida head coach Billy Donovan while both were at Providence, but Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino tabbed the Gators as his dark horse candidate for a national title during a recent appearance on the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN Radio. “Everybody overlooks Florida,” he said. “Obviously Billy Donovan played for me, but I think Florida’s the type of team with three seniors in the front court with a very quick backcourt. They’re a team that could beat anyone on a given night. I look at Florida. Although they are ranked [12th] in the nation, nobody talks about them as a potential national champion. But they have the experience in their head coach, they have the experience in the frontcourt, the returning backcourt.”

3 » You have to be strong in order to play fullback and linebacker. You have to be even stronger to carry your family on your back when your mother suffers a cerebral aneurysm, undergoes multiple surgeries and has years of recovery ahead of her. Florida freshman FB Hunter Joyer is both after helping his family survive the frightening near-loss of his mom. “To have her there to be able to share in that moment was amazing,” Hunter said of his mom joining him on National Signing Day. “I couldn’t imagine how upset I would be if she wasn’t there. Signing with Florida was one of my lifelong dreams, and she was there to share it and take pictures with me.”

4 » Four-star tackle Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL) looks to be one of the top offensive lineman available in the 2012 recruiting class, and the Gators are already making a strong push for him. Having visited Florida for Junior Day already, Dunker was impressed with head coach Will Muschamp, the campus and town; he hopes to learn more about the school as he goes through the recruiting process. “I had a good time while they were showing me around,” Dunker told the Post. “I was driving through [Gainesville] and it seems like a place I could live.”

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Parsons named 2011 SEC Player of the Year

A double-digit point scorer and team leader in rebounding and assists, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons was named the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

He is the first University of Florida student-athlete to ever win the award.

“I’m honored to be named the SEC Player of the Year,’’ Parsons said in a statement. “It’s really not something I ever spent a lot of energy on and in time I may be able to process winning the award, but right now I’m focused on staying grounded and helping our team understand what we have to do to get better everyday. Obviously this award is handed out to a single player, but I share it proudly with my teammates and coaching staff.”

The straw that has stirred the drink for Florida all season, Parsons is one of only two active Division I college basketball players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (805), No. 3 in points (1377) and assists (307), and No. 4 in steals (123).

Parsons has accounted for seven double-doubles on the season including three-straight to start the month of February and five in SEC play. He is also the only player in the country 6’9” or taller dishing more than 3.0 assists per game.

Averaging 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, Parsons was also named to the 2011 All-SEC First Team alongside Alabama F JaMychal Green, Georgia F Trey Thompkins, Kentucky F Terrence Jones, Kentucky G Brandon Knight, Ole Miss G Chris Warren, Tennessee G Scotty Hopson and Vanderbilt G John Jenkins.

His Gators teammates – sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker – earned nominations to the All-SEC Second Team, and center Patric Young was honored on the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team.

OGGOA RELATED: Billy Donovan named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Billy Donovan named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year

In 15 seasons with the Florida Gators, head coach Billy Donovan has won two NCAA National Championships, coached in three national title games, been victorious in three Southeastern Conference Tournaments and captured four SEC regular season championships. He was even presented the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2010 to honor his many accomplishments.

On Tuesday, Donovan received an award that has escaped him his entire Florida career as he was finally selected as 2011 SEC Coach of the Year by his peers.

This season, Donovan took a team that was projected to win the conference but saw themselves unranked when SEC action began to a 13-3 record, No. 12 ranking and their first East division and SEC regular season championships since 2007.

“I am extremely humbled to be named SEC Coach of the Year by my peers. This league has outstanding coaches and a number of deserving candidates to win the award,’’ he said in a statement. “I’m fortunate and blessed to have a great group of players, assistant coaches and staff – this honor is more a reflection of their work and effort than anything that I have done.’’

His main competition for the award, former Gators assistant and current Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant, also completed a fantastic year. With Alabama projected to finish third in the SEC West during the preseason, Grant fueled his team to a 12-4 conference record and their first division title since 2005.

“When there is a team that maybe exceeds expectations or maybe a team that comes out of nowhere or nobody thought they would be what they end up being, immediately that’s the Coach of the Year,” Donovan said last week. “If you’re asking me, Anthony Grant’s the Coach of the Year.”

Always complimentary of his fellow coaches and former assistants, Donovan in many ways would have been just as happy to see Grant take home the award. In fact, individual honors are not in Donovan’s wheelhouse, he prefers to win championships.

When Donovan eventually hangs it up, he will likely be ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in all major SEC coaching categories to Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp. Tuesday he lost his lead in one category – being the longest-tenured and most successful head coach in the conference who had not previously earned a SEC Coach of the Year award.

OGGOA RELATED: Chandler Parsons named 2011 SEC Player of the Year

Photo Credit: Unknown

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3/7: Donovan on SEC Tournament and winning

No. 12/12 Florida Gators (24-6, 13-3 SEC) head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following his press availability Monday.

CUTTING DOWN THE NETS

Florida did not get the opportunity to cut down the nets at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, TN seeing as it was Senior Day for the Vanderbilt Commodores, but the team each received a piece of one Monday while also being sized for their Southeastern Conference Championship rings.

SEC BRACKET A NON-ISSUE

Placed in the “bottom” portion of the 2011 SEC Tournament bracket, UF will receive a bye and face either Tennessee [E5] or Arkansas [W4] in quarterfinals action; should they advance, they will likely face either Mississippi State [W2] or Vanderbilt [E3]. Asked about the difficulty of his team’s bracket, Donovan shrugged off the match-ups noting that they simply do not matter. “At this time of year, it doesn’t make a difference. There’s a lot of familiarity amongst [the conference],” he said. “Every game right now adds somewhat of a new life, new challenge for everybody. The regular season is over with, so everybody is basically starting fresh going into Atlanta.”

MO’ MONEY FOR BILLY D

The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway points out that Donovan will be awarded a $50,000 bonus for winning the conference championship, a $37,500 bonus for earning a berth in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and could have more money coming to him in the very near future. Outstanding bonuses he can achieve this season include $37,500 for reaching the Sweet 16, $25,000 on top of that for getting to the Final Four and an additional $150,000 if the Gators win the whole shebang. Should Florida finish in the Associated Press’s Top 10, he would grab $50,000 more.

KEEPING THE FOCUS ON WHAT’s IMPORTANT

Florida has already earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament, something the team has been unable to feel comfortable about over the prior three seasons. With that in mind, Donovan is confident his team will not overlook the upcoming SEC Tournament even though there is a bigger one in their future.

“You go in with an understanding that you can’t get to Saturday without taking care of Friday. We’re going to approach it the same way we always have done. These guys have done a pretty good job of competitively taking on what’s in front of them, and the SEC Tournament is in front of us right now,” he said.

“Winning has been important to these guys. When you win at a high level, it opens up a tremendous amount of doors for opportunity. We have been able to get better because there has been a focus on what we had to do to win and get better.”

DON’T FALL IN LOVE JUST YET…

Though Donovan is sure the team is focused and ready to prepare properly for the challenges in front of them, he continues to provide the same cautionary statement he has all season: “Don’t fall in love.”

“What I mean by that is: I love coaching these guys, they’re great. But the ebbs and flows of big win, tough loss, play great…we still have not conquered that, and that’s still a challenge,” Donovan said. “We’re not quite where we need to be, so I’m not willing to get over to that side. I do love them. I love coaching them. They need to understand that when you win like these guys have won, it becomes more difficult – it does not become easier. In a lot of ways, they’re in uncharted territory.”

Asked when he fell in love with the 2006 and 2007 national title teams, Donovan thought it through before responding. “I was a little bit leery, even the first year. I fell in love with their work ethic, unselfishness and unity as a team,” he said. “I didn’t feel that was ever going to be an issue because I saw how connected they all were. I was concerned about the lack of experience and going through what they were going through.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 3/7: Donovan on SEC Tournament and winning

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FOUR BITS: Alvarez, bat saver, Brewer, Johnson

1 » The National Football Foundation announced Monday that former Florida Gators wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (1969-71) has been added to the ballot of 79 players eligible for the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame. Florida’s all-time leading receiver, having compiled 2,563 yards during his career, Alvarez has never been up for the award before. He was the Gators’ top pass catcher every year he was in school and still holds records in passes caught in a single game (15 vs. Miami, 1969) and most 100-yard games in a season (8). Alvarez is second in UF history for career receptions (172), yards in a season (1,329), yards in a game (246) and 100-yard games (13).

2 » There are plenty of Florida fans from Brooklyn, NY but only one, Mitch Davie, made the news over the weekend. Attending an Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays spring training game, Davie saved a few fans and earned himself a souvenir by grabbing bat flying through the air off the hands of Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla with a single hand…all while not spilling a drop of his Red Stripe beer (see below).

3 » Now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, former Gators forward Corey Brewer has already seen two games of action with the team. Last week, ESPN’s Jeff Wade took a look at how Brewer’s addition will add an increased level of flexibility for Dallas as they look to make a run to the NBA title.

On nights where Dallas is faced with the difficult task of contending with a Kobe Bryant or a Kevin Durant, Brewer is your option. If they don’t feel like a Nic Batum or a Grant Hill will kill them, then Peja starts and keeps the floor properly spaced. They key to all this working is that the Mavs keep winning so that everyone stays content in their role. It was also critical that Brewer signs a multi-year deal so that he knows his playing time or lack thereof, depending on the opponent, doesn’t impact where he’ll be next year. Brewer could also see minutes at the two, though that seems less likely considering the giant logjam in the backcourt that has already squeezed Stephenson out of the mix.

4 » Also last week, The Times and Democrat reported that Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan was in the area that Tuesday take a look at four-star 2012 power forward Brice Johnson (Cordova, SC), who is reportedly favoring UF and Clemson.

Photo Credit: David Goldman/Associated Press

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SEC champion Gators up to No. 12 in Top 25 polls

Closing out the regular season with back-to-back impressive wins to notch their first Southeastern Conference Championship since 2007, the Florida Gators (24-6, 13-3 SEC) defeated the SEC West-leading Alabama Crimson Tide and Vanderbilt Commodores last week. The Gators were rewarded with an improved standing among both the coaches and media voters when the polls were released Monday afternoon.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
13-2
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
(1,205)
No. 7
(573)
8
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
15-2
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
(1,303)
No. 6
(639)
8
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
17-2
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,436)
No. 4
(694)
5
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
19-2
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,482)
No. 4
(720)
3
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
21-2
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,477)
No. 4
(711)
5
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
23-2
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
(1,543)
No. 2
(752)
4
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
25-2
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(791)
3
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
27-2
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(793)
3
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
29-2
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(793)
2
Post-
season
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
32-2
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(794)
1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
36-3
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3
(735)
-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (17), Kansas (14), Brigham Young, Duke, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Notre Dame, Texas, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, St. John’s, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Villanova, Vanderbilt, Utah State, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Missouri, George Mason
+ Florida received 337 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (17), Kansas (14), Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Duke, San Diego State, North Carolina, Brigham Young, Purdue, Texas, Syracuse, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky, Utah State, St. John’s, Connecticut, Xavier, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Temple
+ Florida received 456 voting points

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (45), Kansas (14), Brigham Young (5), Duke (1), Pittsburgh, Purdue, Texas, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, St. John’s, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona, Villanova, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Xavier, Texas A&M, Utah State
+ Florida received 688 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (52), Kansas (13), Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Purdue, Texas, Syracuse, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Kentucky, Arizona, St. John’s, Xavier, Kansas State, West Virginia, Connecticut, Georgetown, Utah State, Temple, Cincinnati
+ Florida received 931 voting points

Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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