Florida to wear Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms

Nine national championship-winning NCAA basketball teams, including the Florida Gators, will don specially designed Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms this season.

The Gators will wear theirs for the first time during a home game against Tennessee on Feb. 11 at 4 p.m..

The uniform, which Nike claims was “designed at the intersection of sustainability and performance,” consists of shorts made from 100 percent and jersey fabric constructed with 96 percent recycled polyester.

“Both short and jersey are tailored for the optimal efficiency of movement and are five percent lighter than the previous Nike Hyper Elite uniform,” the company explains regarding the uniforms. “Featuring laser-cut bonded logos, a sharp platinum design as well as prominent accent colors, the Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms are sure to shine on the court.”

Aside from Florida, eight other national championship-winning programs that have provided with the special uniforms include: Arizona, Baylor (women’s), Connecticut (men’s and women’s), Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse.

The Gators’ regular uniforms this season are also part of the Nike Hyper Elite line.

Jerseys, t-shirts and hats promoting the Nike Hyper Elite Platinum line are expected to be on sale closer to the game date of each respective team wearing the uniforms.

According to Florida’s media guide, the Gators have never worn grey uniforms since head coach Billy Donovan took over the program in 1996. Florida is 270-56 all-time in white, 79-78 all-time in blue, 14-12 all-time in black and 3-2 all-time in orange. The Gators are undefeated this season (2-0) in their alternate orange uniforms.

Check out three additional images of the uniform…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida to wear Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms

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SIX BITS: Young, Orr, Horford, Spikes, Donovan

1 » Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan continues to insist he is not too worried about sophomore center Patric Young’s ankle, noting Monday that team doctors have determined he is not in jeopardy of aggravating or worsening the injury though he will “deal with periodically some discomfort and he’s going to have to work his way through that.” “He’s fine right now,” Donovan said. “I don’t expect him to miss practice. He’s not complaining of anything. It could flare up. Patric’s never really I think ever had a sprained ankle. He’s never really dealt with this before so it’s all new to him.” Young himself said that doctors have told him the tendinitis has to do with the lining of his joints and that he does not have any tears or sprains. “It was just from overuse or something like that. It’s just a nagging thing, like a lot of pain whenever I try to just move or walk, lateral movements really affect it,” he said. “I still can’t really jump too well off my right foot and not too well off of two feet. When it comes time for the game, I’m normally ready and it doesn’t really bother me. After a certain level, I have to pass the threshold of pain and then I don’t feel it anymore.” It is unknown whether or not Donovan intends to start Young for the first time in three games on Thursday at Ole Miss.

2 » Gators redshirt freshman defensive tackle Leon Orr, who received a written arrest on Jan. 10 and was given a notice to appear in court for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, has agreed to deferred prosecution with the State Attorney’s Office, according to Florida Today. As a result of the agreement, Orr will pay $50 in court costs and either an additional $150 fine or perform 12.5 hours of community service. Orr was the fifth player to be charged with possession of marijuana since head coach Will Muschamp took over in Jan. 2011. “At the end of the day a mistake was made, and I’ve learned from it,” he tweeted on Jan. 19. Orr played in all 13 games in 2011, registering 10 tackles, a sack and a pass defense.

3 » There is not much to talk about in regards to Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford now that he is out at least until the end of April with a torn labrum. However, ESPN’s Marc Stein dropped an interesting note about Horford in his Friday column, explaining that he is “a likely down-the-road top contender to succeed” Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Derek Fisher as president of the players’ union two years from now when the latter’s contract expires. Known for his personable yet serious character, Horford is already heavily involved with the league serving as one of the NBA’s biggest international ambassadors. A shift into a role like this would seem natural to many who know him, and Horford himself even tweeted “Maybe…” when a fan asked if he was up for the gig on Jan. 22.

4 » Media shy New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes got on the phone with WEEI radio in Boston, MA following his team’s victory in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Spikes told the hosts that the win was “a dream come true, a childhood dream” and he was “just trying to take it all in right now and enjoy it tonight with my teammates and family.” Missing the majority of the season with a knee injury, Spikes was proud that his late-game interception was able to impact the team. “I don’t want to let nobody down. I want to take my responsibilities and just make a play, and I’ve done that,” he said. There are plenty of Spikes fans in the Patriots organization including owner Robert Kraft, who took the phone and discussed Spikes during the segment (which can be heard in full here). “Do you know how lucky we are to have Brandon Spikes on the team? He’s the man; he’s the man. He told me we were going to win that game and when he made that interception that was so cool,” Kraft beamed. “He told me he was going to do it for Myra [Kraft’s deceased wife]. […] I love having this man on our team.”

5 » Donovan has been quite pleased with guards junior Kenny Boynton and freshman Bradley Beal all year long, even as the youngster was going through a tough slump toward the end of the non-conference slate. In regards to Boynton, Donovan has seen the notiable improvement in his shot and knows that it will continue to progress and not regress as the season goes on. He’s also pleased that Boynton is driving to the basket, taking pull-up jumpers and getting to the free throw line on a more consistent basis. With Beal, Donovan is happy to see that he has continued his quick maturing process. “When you’re a talented offensive player and when you’re on the court, a lot of times your scoring has a direct [correlation on] the outcome of the game when you’re in high school and your team needs you to score,” he explained. “Sometimes your identity gets wrapped up in scoring. He’s starting to figure out right now that there’s so much more he can do.”

6 » The University of Florida and Gator Boosters, Inc. announced Monday that outfielder Kelsey Bruder (softball) and catcher Mike Zunino (baseball) have been named the 2011 Ben Hill Griffin Award winners. The honor, which is given to “the top male and female student-athletes…is based primarily on athletic achievement” but academics and extra-curricular activities are also considered. Bruder and Zunino were each named SEC Player of the Year in 2011 and led their teams to the 2011 NCAA College World Series in their respective sports. It was the first time in school history that Florida had SEC Players of the Year in softball and baseball simultaneously.

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Billy Donovan says SEC schedule needs balance

When the Southeastern Conference signed a new television deal with ESPN in 2008, the network requested that the league adopt a scheduling format in which conference games were mostly played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday so as many contests as possible could be aired on ESPN‘s array of channels.

Though commissioner Mike Slive received approval from the SEC’s coaches to adjust the schedule and make the deal, the league has found and continued to do its best to work out kinks in the scheduling ever since.

During No. 13/14 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan‘s press conference on Monday, he spoke at length (nearly nine full minutes) about one major flaw in the schedule – teams being forced to play late games on Thursday and early games on Saturday. This type of scheduling, he argues, provides the players with little (if any) time to rest and the coaches with even less time to put a solid game plan in place.

Florida is set to face Ole Miss Thursday at 7 p.m. on the road before turning around and returning home to take on No. 16/18 Mississippi State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Donovan’s complete thoughts on the issue and how he believes it makes the SEC schedule unbalanced for some of the teams in the league is available…after the break.

Continue Reading » Billy Donovan says SEC schedule needs balance

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Florida Gators continue to rise in top 25 polls

The 11th editions of the 2011-12 regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Kentucky Wildcats (19-1, 5-0 SEC) took over the No. 1 spot in both rankings, receiving the vast majority of votes to be the new top team in the country.

The Florida Gators rose a few spots to No. 13 and No. 14 in the respective polls on the heels of a victory at home against LSU following their bye week. Florida is one of three Southeastern Conference teams listed in both 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: Kentucky (31), Missouri, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas
6-10: Duke, Baylor, North Carolina, Murray State, Georgetown
11-15: Michigan State, San Diego State, Florida, Creighton, UNLV
16-20: Mississippi State, Indiana, Marquette, Connecticut, St. Mary’s
21-25: Virginia, Michigan, Harvad, Kansas State, Louisville/Wisconsin

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (31), Kentucky, Baylor, Duke, Missouri
6-10: Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Murray State
11-15: Connecticut, Georgetown, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi State
16-20: San Diego State, Virginia, Creighton, Michigan, UNLV
21-25: Louisville, Marquette, Saint Mary’s, Harvard, Illinois

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Kentucky (61), Missouri (2), Syracuse (2), Ohio State, Kansas
6-10: Baylor, North Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, Michigan State
11-15: Murray State, UNLV, San Diego State, Florida, Creighton
16-20: Indiana, Marquette, Mississippi State, Virginia, Michigan
21-25: St. Mary’s, Kansas State, Florida State, Connecticut, Wisconsin

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (60), Kentucky (4), Baylor (1), Duke, Missouri
6-10: Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Georgetown
11-15: Indiana, Murray State, Connecticut, UNLV, Virginia
16-20: San Diego State, Florida, Mississippi State, Creighton, Michigan
21-25: Marquette, Illinois, Louisville, Saint Mary’s, Kansas State

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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1/21: Florida vs. LSU post-game news and notes

The No. 14/17 Florida Gators earned another solid victory on Saturday by defeating the LSU Tigers 76-64 at home in Gainesville, FL. With sophomore center Patric Young (ankle) again out of the starting lineup and Florida set for two games in three days next week, head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the win.

YOUNG GETTING BACK INTO THE GROOVE

Now having been held out of the starting lineup for consecutive games, Young is obviously anxious to get back to the spot he earned in the offseason. However, due to the fact that he missed plenty of practice over the bye week and is still experiencing some discomfort with his ankle tendinitis, Young came off the bench again on Saturday.

Donovan said after the game that one additional benefit of bringing Young in as a reserve is that it bucks his tendency to leave him in the game too long. He explained that he has previously been keeping Young on the court for long stretches and noticed that his energy level can go down a bit.

For Donovan, Young’s energy is more important than his offense. Saturday’s performance, in which Young was all over the court defensively and when shots went off the glass, is proof that thought holds some merit.

“Forget about the offense, I think there’s so much talked about him getting the ball and not getting the ball. It really doesn’t make a difference because right now our team is an efficient offensive team,” Donovan said. “We do have a balance. The thing that Patric brings to our team is when he plays at an incredible emotional level it opens up so many different things for our team.

“When he is running the floor as hard as he can and he is posting up, it draws so much attention that it opens so many things up on the perimeter. And when they try to shut down the perimeter, you can throw the ball inside to him.”

Once Young returns to the starting lineup, which could be as soon as Thursday in a road game against Ole Miss, Donovan may still reduce his minutes not only to help his ankle but also to assist in keeping his energy on full throttle.

“Right now he says he feels fine. Whether or not it will be prolonged or continue, I don’t know,” he said of Young and his ankle injury. “I just didn’t think [with him missing so much practice] it warranted him starting.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on what Florida can learn from the victory: “They’re eager to learn. They’re good guys. But the basketball IQ and the basketball experience for some of them needs to get better. Hopefully through experience they can get better. There are some things that we can learn from this game [like] making decisions and things that allow team to go on a run, how you yourself can break your own momentum.”

» Donovan on if practices have been much more difficult recently: “I’m working them hard. We are a great group of kids that sometimes get a little too easy going. We need to have a little more fire, a little more passion, and I think that probably needs to come from me as a coach.”

» Donovan on junior guard Kenny Boynton’s 34-game streak with a three-pointer ending: “I don’t even know if Kenny realized it during the game. I didn’t realize it.”

» Senior point guard Erving Walker on winning without hitting threes: “We believe we can win these games when we’re not shooting well. Maybe [the media] didn’t, but we thought we could.”

» Freshman G Bradley Beal on Donovan’s lessons in practice working in games: “He’s not one of the best coaches for no reason. He knows what he’s talking about. We just have to bear down and just listen to what he’s saying and buy in to everything he’s saying.”

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No. 14 Gators cage Tigers 76-64 in Gainesville

A week off appeared to do the No. 14/17 Florida Gators (15-4, 3-1 SEC) plenty of good as head coach Billy Donovan squad looked focused and energized on its way to a 76-64 victory over the LSU Tigers (12-7, 2-3 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Saturday night.

Led by a standout performance from junior forward Erik Murphy, who scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting (3-for-4 from downtown), the Gators shot 56.3 percent from the field and 74.1 percent (20-for-27) on two-point attempts on their way to winning their 16th game in a row at the O’Dome.

LSU took the early momentum in the game, taking an early 10-4 lead while hitting four of their first five attempts from the field.

Though Florida sophomore F Will Yeguete took his place in the starting lineup for the second-straight game, sophomore center Patric Young (ankle) entered the contest less than four minutes after it started and scored six-straight points to tie the game at 10.

The Gators began to get on the Tigers’ nerves with their press and the offense took advantage of the defense’s success. Three-pointers from Murphy and freshman guard Bradley Beal bookended a 13-4 run that gave Florida their first lead of the game, 23-16, with 8:44 remaining in the first half.

UF kept the momentum going through the end of the half, using a 7-0 run to take a game-high 38-26 lead into the break.

Consecutive treys by redshirt junior G Mike Rosario and sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin put the Gators ahead a game-high 16 points with 13:39 left, but LSU stitched together a 10-2 run to cut the Tigers’ deficit in half with 7:46 remaining.

Florida maintained its eight-point lead with three minutes left in the game and that’s when senior PG Erving Walker took over, scoring eight of UF’s last 10 points.

Murphy was one of five Gators to score in double figures. Walker posted 12 points but only hit 1-of-6 attempts from downtown, and three other Florida players – Beal, Rosario and junior G Kenny Boynton – added 11 points each.

Walker moved into seventh all-time at UF in career scoring by the end of the contest, passing Gene Shy, Matt Bonner and Eugene McDowell with 1,575 points.

Beal’s eight boards were a team-high, and Rosario played 15 solid minutes off the bench. Boynton went 0-for-4 from three, ending a 34-game streak of hitting at least one trey. The mark was second-longest in school history behind Lee Humphrey (39).

LSU F Justin Hamilton led his team throughout the entire game, scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing eight rebounds (five offensive), but his sterling effort was simply not enough to earn the Tigers a victory.

In addition to outshooting LSU from the field and at the line, Florida outrebounded their opponent 30-29. The Tigers committed 10 turnovers in the first half but just one in the second, forcing the Gators to cough up the ball on one more occasion over the course of the evening (12). UF also outscored LSU 36-32 in the paint and 24-10 off the bench.

Florida will once again have a nice break before playing two games over the course of three days. The Gators will travel to Ole Miss on Thursday for a 7 p.m. game (ESPN2) before hosting Mississippi State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (SEC Network).

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Young, Joyer, Spikes, Williams

1 » Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan confirmed to UF’s Chris Harry on Thursday that sophomore center Patric Young will indeed be playing Saturday against LSU though he does not know if he will be in the starting lineup for the game. Harry also caught up with Young, who said his ankle tendinitis hurt so much that “when it was hurting the worst, I really couldn’t jump off two feet.” He knows that he can impact his team even if not on the court. “You can be a vocal and encouraging presence for your teammates,” he said. Florida’s trainer Dave Werner, asked by Harry about Young’s injury, said that it is going to be “a discomfort that he’s going to need to play through [so he] might as well get used to it.”

2 » UF’s Scott Carter dropped a tidbit about a football player Friday, noting that Gators freshman fullback Hunter Joyer will compete in his first collegiate track and field meet on Sunday. Joyer will participate in the shot put at the Gator Invite in Gainesville, FL. He is one of three Florida football players who will do double duty with the track and field squad this year as senior running back/junior sprinter Jeff Demps and redshirt junior wide receiver/senior jumper Frankie Hammond, Jr. will also participate.

3 » Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently spoke with the Boston Globe and gave his opinions about a number of players on the New England Patriots. He called linebacker Brandon Spikes “arguably the most physical and violent inside linebacker” in the NFL and believes his return to the field recently is a big boost for New England’s defense. Spikes was criticized out of Florida for his speed and many assumed he would not be drafted until the fourth or fifth round, but head coach Bill Belichick recognized his talent and selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the No. 62 overall pick.

4 » The Gators were supposed to have seven enrollees join the team in January but instead just six of Florida’s 2012 commitments were able to join the squad on time. Three-star defensive end Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) had his admission delayed as he waited to see if the NCAA Clearinghouse would accept his early graduation. The organization recently denied him the ability to enroll early and ruled that he must retake three classes in order to get better grades. UF still expects him to be part of the 2012 class and join the program in the summer.

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Chandler, Tebow, Trail

1 » For the second-straight year, Florida Gators head basketball coachBilly Donovan is participating in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, a charitable contest where coaches are vying to win money for an organization they choose to represent. Donovan, who is in the contest for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, could win $100,000 for the organization just as he did one year ago when Florida fans cast the most online votes for him and the foundation. The eight-week-long contest began Jan. 18 with a winner being announced March 9. There were only 14 participants in 2011 but that number has increased to 48 this year. For more information and to vote for Donovan and the foundation (which supports Shands Hospital at UF), go here and click on South Region. Former Gators assistant coach Anthony Grant (Alabama, The Sweet Home Fund) and head coach Lon Kruger (Oklahoma, Coaches vs. Cancer) are also participating though Grant is also in the South Region with Donovan.

2 » Former Florida wide receiver and 11-year NFL veteran Wes Chandler has agreed to be the WR coach at California, the school divulged Wednesday evening. Though it will be just his second stint on the college level (Central Florida, 1994-95), Chandler has coached receivers in NFL Europe (1995-1999), the NFL (2000-2008) and the UFL (2009). He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player with the Gators who made it to four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in his NFL career. Chandler was also inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 1989 after catching 92 passes for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four years at Florida. He was the team’s leading receiver for three-straight years from 1975-77.

3 » On ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning Wednesday, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was asked about quarterback Tim Tebow, the impact he had on the team this year and how good he can be in the future. “I think Tim has a lot to prove still,” Bailey said on the show. “He’s proven he can win some tough games. Now it’s just being consistent. One thing about him, he’s going to work at it, and I’m behind him 100 percent.” Bailey also said “the sky is the limit” for Tebow and believes that he will have plenty of time to improve his arm starting this offseason, Tebow’s first as the primary signal caller with the club.

4 » Another former Gators player has found a new home with defensive end Lynden Trail enrolling at Norfolk State this week. Trail, who transferred following the 2011 regular season, transferred for playing time reasons after failing to dress most games and not stepping on the field once this past year.

Extra BIT » You want Tebow pizza? You got it.

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