Donovan tabs McCall for final assistant position

Florida Atlantic Owls assistant coach Matt McCall will be the third and final member of Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan’s coaching staff, two sources close to the team confirmed to OGGOA over the weekend. As exclusively reported by OGGOA on April 3, McCall was contacted about the job in late March and has been considered Donovan’s top choice for the role for quite some time.

“Matt is someone that worked for our program for seven years, he knows the University of Florida and he knows me,” Donovan said in a school release on Monday. “I felt, in losing three assistant coaches, that it was really important to have a level of familiarity on my staff. He is a hard worker, he was a part of us winning two national championships here and he helped FAU win its league title this year. He has great ties in the state of Florida, will be a great fit to our staff and I’m thrilled to have Matt come back to the University of Florida.”

UF’s director of basketball operations from 2004-08, McCall spent seven years under Donovan also serving as a team manager, head manager and graduate assistant. Donovan, who said last month that he wanted a young assistant to fill the spot vacated when Larry Shyatt departed for the head coaching job with the Wyoming Cowboys, has always held McCall in high regard.

Back in 2008, Donovan called him “a tireless worker and a first-class person” who “knows the state of Florida,” brings “the energy and passion necessary to be successful” and is someone he views “as one of the bright young minds” in coaching.

McCall has worked at FAU since 2008 and is one of head coach Mike Jarvis’s top assistants. He is responsible for bringing in the Owls’ best player, Gainesville native Greg Gantt, who averaged a team-high 14 points per game as a sophomore.

The Ocala native and former all-area player will be returning home to North-Central Florida to fill Donovan’s third spot on the bench behind former head coaches John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts, both of whom were hired two weeks ago.

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TWO BITS: Dunkley to USF? Dunlap back at UF.

1 » Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, who agreed to part ways with the Florida Gators and transfer to another school, is strongly considering – and possibly favoring – the South Florida Bulls as his destination. The St. Petersburg Times spoke with Dunkley’s Pahokee High School coach Blaze Thompson, who indicated that was the case. “I think USF is the top one on his list,” he said. “A lot of schools have expressed interest in him, but USF Is the only one he has actually visited. They’re interested in him, and he has asked me to look into them as well.” Dunkley was suspended from team activities due to his academics at the time he decided to transfer from Florida; however, the Times reports that they will be high enough for him to earn a scholarship at another school. South Florida seems like a likely landing spot for him due to their penchant for accepting big-name transfers and location relatively close to home.

2 » Former Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, now playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, has been back in Gainesville, FL this spring trying to finish his degree at the University of Florida. A top NFL prospect going into his junior year, Dunlap’s stock plummeted after he was arrested for driving under the influence and suspended for the Southeastern Conference Championship game that year. InsideTheGators.com‘s Kyle Maistri caught up with Dunlap, who has made it his goal to fulfill the promise he made to his family (getting his degree) while trying to make a better name for himself.

“Initially, I wanted to come back and clear my name,” Dunlap said of possibly returning for his senior season. “I wanted to come back and get my degree as well as clear up my name, but after talking with my core group and talking with various friends of the family, we came to a consensus that it was the best decision to leave now. And I’m happy I did when I did.” Now that he’s back? “I’ve got mixed results [from fans],” he said. “The fans are going to have their various opinions as fans, that’s a situation that I’ve put behind me. Everything happens for a reason, and I believe the final outcome will display a true person’s character. You don’t know someone until you meet them in person, but everyone knows what happens. And it happens to the best of us.”

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FOUR BITS: Two days of ESPN, Pitino’s new job

1 » The Florida Gators were all over ESPN on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and senior C Mike Pouncey making appearances. Below are videos of the interviews conducted with Haden and the Pounceys on First Take by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson:

2 » The Gators-on-ESPN theme will continue Thursday with head coach Will Muschamp being put through the “car wash” ringer in Bristol, CT. His Thursday schedule, according to the University of Florida is as follows:

10:20 a.m – SportsCenter (LIVE, ESPN)
11:05 a.m. – First Take (LIVE, ESPN2)
11:45 a.m. – The Herd (LIVE, ESPN Radio)
1:00 p.m. – ESPN U College Football podcast with Ivan Maisel
3:30 p.m. – College Football Live – (taped, ESPN2)
4:00 p.m. – SportsNation (taped, ESPN2)
4:10 p.m. – SportsCenter (LIVE)
1-4 p.m. – Scott Van Pet Radio Show (taped, ESPN Radio)

3 » Though former Florida assistant basketball coach Richard Pitino will indeed be leaving the Gators for a job under his father with the Louisville Cardinals (if a deal can be worked out), he will not be named the head coach-in-waiting, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal’s C.L. Brown. “That’s not the way I operate,” athletic director Tom Jurich said. “I would never put that kidn of pressure on him, and I don’t think Rick [Pitino] would want that kind of pressure on him.” The older Pitino said his son rejoining his staff is” far from official” though it is in the works.

4 » Former Florida basketball assistant Lewis Preston will be named head coach at Kennesaw State Owls, according to FOX Sports. Preston has been an assistant with the Penn State Nittany Lions since 2008.

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Former Gators PG Jason Williams retires

Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams announced his retirement from the NBA Monday night in an official press release from the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 12-year veteran missed the final 17 games of the regular season with an injured back and was left off the team’s playoff roster.

Selected No. 7 overall in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, Williams played for four teams in his professional career.

After spending three years with Sacramento, Williams was traded to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies (which relocated to Memphis), where he played from 2001-05. He was again traded to the Miami Heat and won a NBA Championship in 2005-06, his first season with the team. Williams played there for three years before signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers; however, instead of playing for the team, he decided to retire.

Coming out of retirement after a full year away from the game, he played 98 games in an Orlando Magic uniform before being cut in January; the Grizzlies signed him just over a week later. He ends his career as Memphis’ all-time assists leader (2,069).

Known by the nickname “White Chocolate,” Williams finished with career totals of 8,266 points, 4,611 assists, 1,810 rebounds and 933 steals. He averaged 10.5 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds for his career while shooting 39.8 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line.

Before making his career as an NBA point guard, Williams played one season (1997-98) for the University of Florida and averaged 17.1 points and 6.7 assists per game. Already having received three suspensions, he was permanently dismissed from the program due to drug use after the season and immediately declared for the draft .

While with the Gators, Williams recorded a school single-game record 17 assists. Upon entering the NBA as a rookie, his No. 55 jersey was top-five in the league in sales. Williams was disciplined numerous times throughout his professional career.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Florida Gators athletics wins 200th SEC title

Florida Gators men’s golf captured the University of Florida’s 200th Southeastern Conference title on Sunday, setting a milestone for the school and athletic program.

Below is a portion of the official release sent out by UF’s University Athletic Association:

The Gator athletic program reached a milestone on Sunday afternoon which has been in the works since 1933. That was the year the first Southeastern Conference titles were awarded by the league which was established in December of 1932. Florida, one the 13 founding members of the SEC, waited until 1937 for the men’s swimming & diving program to claim the Gators’ first league title. When the men’s golf team title claimed the SEC title, Florida’s number of SEC team titles now stands at a league-leading 200.

“The 200th SEC title is a testament to the dedication and drive shown by Gator student-athletes and coaches over these many seasons. Every title is celebrated because winning a championship in any of the league’s sports is a truly an accomplishment because of the strength of the SEC,” UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said.

Sport# of SEC TitlesYears Titles Won
M. S&D331937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957,
1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966,
1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984,
1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
W. Tennis251980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001,
2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Volleyball191991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
W. S&D171981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009
M. Golf151955, 1956, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1991,
1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2011
Baseball111952, 1956, 1962, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988,
1996, 1998, 2005, 2010
Soccer111996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
M. Tennis91950, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2005
Football81991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008
W. Golf81981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2008
Gymnastics71982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2007, 2010
M. Indoor T&F61975, 1976, 1987, 1988, 2004, 2011
W. Indoor T&F61990, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2010
M. Basketball51989, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2011
W. Cross Country51984, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010
W. Outdoor T&F51992, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2009
M. Outdoor T&F41953, 1956, 1987, 2010
M. Cross Country31955, 1986, 1987
Softball31998, 2008, 2009

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Florida Gators in the 2011 NBA Playoffs

With the regular season wrapping up Wednesday night, the participants in the 2011 NBA Playoffs have now been determined. There are seven Florida Gators with roles on their squad’s active rosters among the 16 teams competing to appear in the 2011 NBA Finals. OGGOA has put together a comprehensive list of these players.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) Chicago Bulls
No. 13 C Joakim Noah
Season: 4th
Averages: 32.8 mins., 11.7 pts., 10.7 rebs., 2.8 asst., 1.5 blk., .525 FG%, .740 FT%

(2) Miami Heat*
No. 13 SG Mike Miller
Season: 12th
Averages: 20.4 mins., 5.6 pts., 4.5 rebs., 1.2 asst., .401 FG%, .364 3P%, .676 FT%

(5) Atlanta Hawks
No. 15 F/C Al Horford
Season: 4th
Averages: 35.1 mins., 14.3 pts., 9.3 rebs., 3.5 asst., 1.04 blk., .557 FG%, .800 FT%

(7) Philadelphia 76ers
No. 16 C Marreese Speights
Season: 3rd
Averages: 11.5 mins., 5.4 pts., 3.3 rebs., .495 FG%, .750 FT%

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) San Antonio Spurs
No. 15 F Matt Bonner
Season: 7th
Averages: 21.7 mins., 7.3 pts., 3.6 rebs., 0.9 asst., .464 FG%, .457 3P%, .740 FT%

(3) Dallas Mavericks
No. 13 G/F Corey Brewer
Season: 4th
Averages: 11.4 mins., 5.3 pts., 1.8 rebs., 0.85 stl., .490 FG%, .308 3P%, .710 FT%

(8) Memphis Grizzlies
No. 3 PG Jason Williams
Season: 12th
Averages: 11.3 mins., 1.9 pts., 0.7 rebs., 2.5 asst., .310 FG%, .200 3P%

Playoff teams without Gators on their rosters: (3) Boston, (4) Orlando, (6) New York, (8) Indiana, (2) Los Angeles, (4) Oklahoma City, (5) Denver, (6) Portland, (7) New Orleans

* Miami PF Udonis Haslem has been out most of the season with a foot injury. He has not been listed as active for the playoffs.

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The Silver Lining: Billy Donovan’s character makes replacing his assistants effortless

When Larry Shyatt appeared to be the only assistant heading out the door, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan said he wanted to replace him with someone young. Learning over a 40-hour period that his entire staff would be leaving less than a month after reaching the Elite Eight in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, he decided to turn to a friendly face and a familiar colleague.

For Donovan, it was not a stretch to hire the two men he turned to right away. A six-year assistant under Donovan, former Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey brings stability and familiarity to the bench, while former St. Johns head coach Norm Roberts offers experience and vast amounts of knowledge. Both are excellent recruiters and respected coaches who will provide the team with a steadiness and sense of continuity even though the entire staff will be changing.

When you hear Donovan’s contemporaries rave about him, they not only discuss his ability to draw up plays, create game plans or scout opponents. They point to his character, management style and sterling reputation. That is why, before Shyatt was even out the door, Donovan had plenty of options on who he could hire to replace him.

“There’s a lot of good coaches out there,” he said Tuesday. “The one thing that’s been somewhat overwhelming and really positive is the amount of interest there’s been, especially when Larry left.”

Donovan is the type of coach who is not only concerned about winning basketball games but also making sure he develops his players on and off the court. He does the same thing for his assistants.

His track record helping assistants find head coaching jobs is unmistakable. The loyalty his former players and coaches show to him is unwavering. Donovan’s character and demeanor are why guys he has sent off to the NBA or others he has helped compete with him for honors like SEC Coach of the Year still refer back to him with high levels of gratitude and appreciation.

“My job, my responsibility is to help these kids grow, put them in a competitive situation to try to win something, teach them something through winning,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “And then also staff-wise, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a lot of guys whose lives got changed in a lot of different ways.”

Those traits he possesses are why – if he calls – Arkansas assistant Brett Nelson or Florida Atlantic assistant Matt McCall would probably fight it out to fill the third position on his new staff. They are why it took promises of coach-in-waiting positions from Texas and Louisville, respectively, to get Rob Lanier and Richard Pitino to leave his side.

“That’s one thing about this profession. Sometimes you never know about timing and opportunities,” Donovan said Tuesday.

One former assistant faced with a great opportunity was Shaka Smart, who was offered the VCU head coaching job after 10 months under Donovan. He was going back-and-forth about accepting the position because of the respect he had for his boss.

“I don’t think Shaka or I ever anticipated him leaving as quickly as he did. Obviously VCU made a great hire. When you get really good people, there’s going to be opportunities,” Donovan said. “There’s a difference when guys are out seeking and hunting jobs. I’ve been very fortunate that the guys I’ve had here haven’t done that.

“To tell you what kind of guy Shaka Smart is, he almost didn’t take the VCU [job] because he felt so guilty only being here 10 months. I pushed him out the door because I told him it was a great job and he needed to go. If he didn’t do it, he wouldn’t have experienced what he did this year.”

Perhaps most importantly, those characteristics Donovan possesses are why he can lose his entire staff in a matter of days and fill his two main assistant positions with top-notch former head coaches without so much as batting an eye.

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Audio released of Murphy, Adel in police vehicle

Arrested on third-degree burglary counts for breaking into a car in St. Augusine, FL early Sunday morning, Florida Gators forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson found themselves in the back of a police car along with team manager Josh Adel, who was also arrested for principal to burglary.

Audio recordings featuring Murphy and Adel talking in the back of the car were released by First Coast News on Wednesday. They showcase Adel lamenting the fact that he will most likely lose his job because the players did not listen to his advice while Murphy thinks of ways to get out of trouble and tries to get Larson to turn himself in.

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