Chandler Parsons slams it down on Blake Griffin

In case you have missed his games so far in this young season, former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons is turning some heads with the way he has started playing for the Houston Rockets. Parsons, who has played solid minutes in three of six games this year and had a career-high 24 on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, also had an impressive put-back dunk on center Blake Griffin that has been getting some buzz. In the three games he’s seen significant time (more than 10 minutes), Parsons is averaging 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from downtown. Below is a clip of Parsons’s dunk, which concluded with a lingering stare at Griffin. There is no animosity between the two, however, as Parsons tweeted after the game that he had dinner with Griffin.

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Speights heading to Memphis in three-team swap

Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights, who has spent his entire three-year NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers after the team selected him early out of school with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft, will be playing his fourth year in a new city with a different team.

Speights was dealt Wednesday to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team trade with Philadelphia and New Orleans, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who first reported the transaction. As part of the trade, guard Xavier Henry will go from Memphis to New Orleans and two second-round picks are being sent to Philadelphia as compensation.

Speights played a career-low minutes (11.5) with the 76ers last year after averaging 16.2 per game in his first two seasons. He has not seen the court in four games this year.

Following his team’s 4-1 series loss to Miami in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Speights sat down for an interview with OGGOA and discussed his lack of playing time, citing that the inconsistency never allowed him to get into a rhythm.

“It was so inconsistent that I never knew how to prepare for the game because I never knew if I was going to get in or not,” he said. “It was hard for me to prepare myself this year. I might have a good game one game and then come back and play three minutes and then after that DNPs [“do not play” – a designation given by the coach] for three games and then come back and play 15 minutes. It was the whole year – inconsistent. I feel like if I can get in there, I’ll produce. That’s how I’ve been my whole career.”

A 49.2 percent career shooter, Speights has averaged 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 205 NBA games (four starts). He posted 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 62.4 percent in 24.3 minutes during his final year at Florida

Speights will join a Grizzlies team that reached the conference semifinals round of the playoffs last year as a No. 8 seed. Memphis defeated No. 1-seed San Antonio 4-1 in the first round before falling 4-3 to Oklahoma City in a seven-game series.

Considered one of the surprise teams in the Western Conference last season, the Grizzlies are primed to return to the playoffs in 2012. Speights will become the team’s primary reserve center playing behind rising star Marc Gasol but will also spend time backing up power forward Zach Randolph, who recently went down with a MCL tear.

Randolph’s previous backup, Darrell Arthur, is out for the season with a torn Achilles, and Randolph is expected to miss up to eight weeks himself, which provides Speights with a great opportunity for immediate playing time.

Photo Credits: Associated Press, Unknown

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Donovan’s UAB post-game, SEC teleconference

The No. 13/14 Florida Gators ended their 2011-12 non-conference schedule with another double-digit victory, defeating UAB 79-61 on Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared his thoughts on the victory. He also spoke to the media Wednesday as part of the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly teleconference.

HOW FLORIDA CAN BECOME A TRULY “ELITE” TEAM

Following Tuesday’s game, Donovan was open and honest about what the Gators will have to do to be an elite this year, saying Florida must learn to sacrifice, appreciate their opponents and respect each other as capable, talented players.

“When you’re talking about being a really elite team, it means you have talent on your team. And we have talent on our team. So the first thing that needs to happen is they need to sacrifice. There is always a level of sacrifice. Any of the teams that go really far understand that there’s a level of sacrifice, that they can do more but they understand that them doing more creates less for the team and them actually doing a little bit less creates more for the team. There needs to be an appreciation for who you’re playing with and the fact that there’s good players around you and really admiring, respecting the job that they have in front of them and how they go about doing their job. And then I think there needs to be a level of emotion and passion and excitement and thankfulness for the opportunity to compete. People that can embrace those areas and those aspects have a chance to end up being very elite provided they have the talent level in place to be elite. Those are hard things to deal with.”

YOUNG IS A KEY BUT HE’S ALSO JUST DOING HIS JOB

As a team with a plethora of talented guards and a relatively thin frontcourt when it comes to size and strength, Florida is seen nationally as a squad that depends on sophomore center Patric Young to give them a low-post presence. That may be the case, but Donovan was quick to point out that Young – like every other player – is just doing his job and whatever he can to help the Gators win each game.

“We’re a team and everybody’s got to do their job and their part. Patric’s certainly has got a job and a part that he plays. There’s no question that his size and strength and things that he can do helps our team,” he said.

“We need Patric to play with the energy he’s always played with and continue to develop and get better. I think he’s in an entirely different role than he was a year ago because our frontcourt was so deep and he was a freshman last year and there was a learning curve he had to go through. Patric has been a great kid to coach because he’s eager to get better, he’s eager to improve. The team is important to him as is winning. We just need him to continually do his job night-in and night-out, and I think he’s committed to doing that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan from Tuesday on heading on the road to Tennessee: “There’s a process that these guys need to go through in order to understand the level they need to play at and compete at. I think our non-conference schedule has been difficult, has been challenging. I feel good about going into Knoxville from the standpoint of playing at Rutgers, playing at Syracuse, playing at Ohio State. We’ve played at some difficult venues and our guys understand what it’s like playing on the road.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on having a few days off before the UT game: “Everybody right now is excited about league play starting. I know our guys are, too. At least playing last night we get a little bit of time here with the break to get prepared to play against Tennessee on the road. Obviously in this league I think every game, home or away, is a battle, and we know we got a great challenge ahead of us in Knoxville.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on if not playing for a division title anymore impacts him as a coach or the players who compete on the court: “One of the emphases that have decreased over the year is when you do win a conference championship and you win your league. Because of all the expansion and because of all that’s going on with schools moving into different leagues and so many teams in so many different leagues, there never really is anymore a true champion. I don’t think an East champion and a West champion alters our minds going into the season, but I think we’re all as coaches on board with trying to do what’s best for the league to help our league. Whoever wins the league this year, in a lot of respects none of our schedules are exactly the same. The only way to have a fair league champion is to play everybody twice, once home and once away. That’s certainly not going to happen with the amount of games that need to be played for people with what they’re trying to do with their non-conference schedule. The feeling was to move to one league and not have divisions was the best thing for the league. The coaches agreed that would be a good thing to do. Although we don’t have divisions, we still are playing divisional play so-to-speak with the way the schedules are set up. I don’t think we’ve ever gone into the season saying, ‘Let’s win the East.’ Certainly all of the schools are competing for a SEC championship and trying to compete for postseason play to continue to move forward, grow, develop and get better as the course of the season unfolds.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on how he feels about there not being a “true” champion anymore: “Things evolve and change. I remember when I was an assistant at Kentucky when it was still you played everybody twice, there was truly a champion and a lot of emphasis placed on that. Among the coaches and the players its important, but once you get through the regular season, a lot of the focus even goes beyond your conference tournament right into whose on the bubble, whose off the bubble, whose going to be a number one seed, how’s the seeding going to be. It’s almost as if everything is geared towards the NCAA Tournament. And I understand that. It certainly creates a lot of excitement for college basketball. I still think for the coaches and the players, competing for a league championship, playing for a league championship is very important. I don’t know if nationally in terms of fans and people, if people look at that as necessarily being a big deal.”

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Walker, Boynton shoot lights out as UF tops UAB

Half of the lights going out in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center was an obvious coincidence, but the stellar shooting of senior point guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton led the No. 13/14 Florida Gators (12-3) to a 79-61 victory over the UAB Blazers (5-8) Tuesday evening in Gainesville, FL.

Walker and Boynton each earned their stripes from beyond the arc. The former hit 7-of-9 shots from downtown for a game-high 23 points, while the latter was 6-of-10 from three for 20 points. Walker’s seven treys were a career-high for most in a game, while Boynton’s six tied his own career-high.

UAB took it to Florida early, using a 12-3 run to jump ahead one point more than midway through the first half. However, Walker soon answered with a three to put the Gators ahead 18-16, and Boynton hit a trey with seven seconds left to cap a 10-2 run that gave UF a 37-26 lead at the break.

Florida opened up the second half in a similar fashion, taking a 15-point lead thanks to a quick 6-0 run; the Gators then used a 12-3 scoring stretch that included three treys by Boynton to jump ahead of the Blazers 55-34 with 12:17 left in the game.

Minutes later, half of the lights at the top of the dome went out as did one of the video boards. The coaches met with the referees at midcourt and both sides agreed to continue playing under less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

UF junior forward Erik Murphy made the block of the night when action resumed and Walker quickly hit a three from the corner, but UAB was undeterred, scoring eight-straight points to cut their deficit to 12 with 7:43 to go in the contest.

The Blazers reduced the Gators’ advantage to single digits with just over six minutes remaining, but Boynton and Walker each hit their sixth trey of the game in consecutive fashion to once again put Florida ahead 15 points and lead UF toward the victory.

The Gators had 21 assists on 31 baskets and shot 50.8 percent from the floor as well as 55.6 percent from downtown. Florida did not take a single foul shot in the first half and was just 2-for-5 in the second half. UAB outrebounded UF 36-34 on the evening with 14 offensive boards but shot just 36.4 percent from the field and was 5-of-17 from three.

Walker added six dimes to his stat line, which moved him into third in school history for assists (456), passing Nick Calathes. His nine tries from downtown brought him into a tie with Lee Humphrey for third all-time in three-pointers attempted, while Walker’s seven makes inched him closer to third all-time in that category (Anthony Roberson, 267).

Boynton also had five assists, and his six threes moved him a game closer to No. 2 on Florida’s all-time list for consecutive games with a trey (Brett Nelson, 33).

Sophomore center Patric Young posted 15 points and seven rebounds (four offensive) for the Gators, and sophomore F Will Yeguete registered a team-high 11 boards.

Freshman G Bradley Beal had six assists but posted his worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 2-of-15 baskets while also not grabbing a single rebound.

Beal will have plenty of time to work the kinks out of his shot as UF does not take the court again until Saturday when they begin SEC play on the road at Tennessee. The game will air live at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

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Loss to Rutgers drops Florida in top 25 polls

The eighth editions of the regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Syracuse Orange maintained their spot as the No. 1 team in the country for the fourth week in a row.

The Florida Gators fell to No. 14 and No. 13 in the respective polls on the heels of a double overtime loss on the road at Rutgers and a victory at home against Yale. Florida is one of three Southeastern Conference teams listed in the respective rankings.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (30), Kentucky (1), Duke, North Carolina, Baylor
6-10: Missouri, Ohio State, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville
11-15: Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Kansas
16-20: Mississippi State, UNLV, Murray State, Wisconsin, Marquette
21-25: Harvard, Kansas State, Virginia, Creighton, San Diego State

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (30), Ohio State (1), Kentucky, Louisville, Duke
6-10: North Carolina, Baylor, Missouri, Connecticut, Florida
11-15: Wisconsin, Georgetown, Marquette, Mississippi State, Indiana
16-20: Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas, Creighton, UNLV
21-25: Murray State, Pittsburgh, Harvard, Virginia, Kansas State

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (60), Kentucky (5), North Carolina, Baylor, Duke
6-10: Ohio State, Missouri, Connecticut, Georgetown, Michigan State
11-15: Louisville, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi State
16-20: Michigan, UNLV, Wisconsin, Murray State, Marquette
21-25: Virginia, Harvard, Kansas State, San Diego State, Gonzaga

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (54), Ohio State (5), Kentucky (4), Louisville (2), UNC
6-10: Baylor, Duke, Missouri, Connecticut, Florida
11-15: Wisconsin, Georgetown, Indiana, Marquette, Mississippi State
16-20: Michigan State, Kansas, Michigan, UNLV, Murray State
21-25: Creighton, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Harvard, San Diego State

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Florida vs. Yale post-game news and notes

The No. 10 Florida Gators ended 2011 with a 20-point victory over Yale Saturday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared his thoughts on the victory.

“ONE OF THE BEST GAMES WE’VE PLAYED THIS YEAR”

With Florida in a nine-point hole early in the game, the Gators never got flustered and did not press, quickly pulling even and far ahead of Yale on the way to a solid victory. UF shot 53.4 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from downtown, had a three-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio and had 24 assists on 31 made baskets. Those are just a few of the reasons Donovan was so pleased after the contest.

“I thought it was one of the best games we played this year,” he said. “I thought we were great. I was really pleased with the way we moved the ball, shared the ball. I thought we really played the right way today. We tried to play the right way.”

He was also quite happy with the team’s defense, especially that of redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario, who has been anything but reliable to that end this season.

“It was the first time I felt as a coach since he’s been here that I wasn’t frightened to death with him on defense,” Donovan said with a wry grin. “His comment to me is, ‘Well, I’m trying.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re supposed to try.’ It was the first time I actually thought that there was a level of focus and commitment there to try and do a good job there. Therefore he played more.”

WALKER LEARNING TO SACRIFICE WILL GO A LONG WAY

Before the season began, Donovan called out senior point guard Erving Walker and said, specifically, that he wanted him to lead the Southeastern Conference in assists and not worry about scoring. Walker has done that on occasion and seen positive results, but he has also fallen back into his own ways during a number of games, contests in which Florida has struggled.

Without naming anyone specifically, Donovan made a pointed statement that was likely directed at Walker. “I still think we’re figuring out that there’s going to be a level of sacrifice inside of our team that everybody’s going to have to make to a certain extent,” he said. He was, however, pleased to see the good Walker show up Saturday.

“Erving Walker only took four shots. Can he handle that? Are you OK with that? Can you genuinely be [OK with that]? That’s what I’m asking him,” he explained. “He wants to win, but him understanding how the game is going, we’re OK right now. We don’t need you taking a lot of shots. I think that’s something he’s working through and learning, and it’s part of our growth and development as a team.”

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Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2011 (check out Friday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 On the Field Moments of the Year.

11 » JOHNSON, BRANTLEY, KITCHENS SUFFER SCARY INJURIES
Plenty of Florida student-athletes suffered injuries in 2011 but three in particular caused fans to gasp and remain worried about the future of said player. Participating in the semifinals of the 2011 SEC Tournament, Gators baseball wound up dropping a close game 4-3 to Georgia, a loss that forced an elimination game which Florida would later win. However, UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Johnson was taken off a stretcher in the top of the first inning after giving up two earned runs and accidentally being beaned in the back of the head with the baseball by sophomore catcher Mike Zunino. Trying to pick off a runner stealing second, Zunino got his leg tangled with the batter, tripped and flung the ball into the head of a crouching Johnson. He was quickly stabilized, brought to the hospital and deemed responsive though he had a massive headache and was diagnosed with a minor three concussion (no skull fractures or bleeding). Johnson missed the entire Gainesville Regional but returned to action in the Super Regional after being sidelined for more than two weeks.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was in the middle of playing the best game of his collegiate career (despite throwing a costly pick-six) when he went down with an ugly lower leg injury at the end of the first half against Alabama. Brantley had thrown a pretty 65-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose on the first play of the game and was in the middle of driving Florida in for another score before being sacked twice and having his lower leg contorted the second time. Brantley was nearly immediately ruled out of the team’s next game against powerhouse LSU with a high-ankle sprain, and UF was forced to start a true freshman who had not even taken a snap in the team’s first five games in consecutive road contests against LSU and Auburn. Needless to say, the Gators lost both of those contests.

Brantley was never the same after the injury. He nearly helped Florida beat Georgia but was pretty much immobilized in the pocket and threw three interceptions in the team’s first five possessions against Florida State before being knocked out of the game with a head injury that was equally painful to watch. However, that was not the Gators’ only major injury in that game. Perhaps the scariest incident of the year came on kickoff coverage when sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was hit hard from his blindside and laid motionless on the field while trainers attended to him. To this day Kitchens does not remember anything about being hit. Lucky for him, he was cleared that evening with “just” a concussion, released from the hospital and allowed to return to practice with the team just before Christmas. He is expected to play in the 2012 Gator Bowl.

10 » LACROSSE WINS FIRST CONFERENCE TITLE, REACHES ELITE EIGHT

The Florida lacrosse program has been making history since the day it signed the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class prior to the team’s inaugural season in 2010. The Gators were a young but talented group and won over the school even if falling short of some of their goals one year ago. Florida took the next step in 2011, ending the regular season with an 11-0 record at home and on a 13-game winning streak. The Gators capped their stellar regular season by defeating Northwestern for the 2011 ALC Championship just 419 days after the team played its first game in school history. Florida would fall to Northwestern just over three weeks later in the finals of the 2011 ALC Tournament, splitting the season’s conference title down the middle, but took home a number of awards from the league. Sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen won Player of the Year honors while head coach Amanda O’Leary was named Coach of the Year in just her second season. Two more players were All-ALC first team selections and three others earned spots on the second team. The ladies made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament as well before being taken down 13-9 by Duke, their only loss at home on the season. The Gators were the first program in the history of the sport to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in only their second year of existence and defeated some of the top teams in the country on the way to an unforgettable season that sets Florida up as a favorite heading into 2012.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

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2013 PG Kasey Hill chooses Florida Gators

The last day of 2011 was a good one for Florida Gators basketball, which earned a 90-70 victory over Yale early in the day and nabbed a commitment from 2013 four-star point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) following the game.

Hill, the No. 27-ranked player in his class according to Rivals.com, chose Florida primarily over offers from Florida State and Louisville.

“I [committed] after the game but I knew before the game that I would do it,” Hill told ESPN‘s Dave Telep. “I told [Billy Donovan] that I was ready. Last time I visited he told me to let him know when I was ready. I came up today and I was ready.”

The Gators’ first commitment for 2013, he adds yet another supremely talented point guard to UF’s recently surging backcourt.

Hill is currently teammates with Gators four-star 2012 guard commit Michael Frazier (Montverde, FL) at Montverde Academy. The two are good friends, and Hill is also close with Florida three-star 2012 G commit Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL). UF also has four-star PG Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) pledged for 2012.

With Hill now in the fold, Florida will focus on earning a commitment from four-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) for 2013. Walker, Rivals‘ No. 8 player in the country, is believed to have the Gators as his leader and would be a fantastic addition to the class. He is also high on Kansas and Kentucky.

UF is still actively trying to get a positive response from 2012 five-star PF Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV) who has Florida in his top 10 along with Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Washington and West Virginia.

ESPNU considers both Hill and Walker five-star prospects and has them ranked No. 16 and No. 5, respectively in the 2013 recruiting class.

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