Donovan adds Pelphrey, Roberts to Gators staff

A familiar face and an old friend will be joining Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan in Gainesville, FL next season. On Tuesday, the University of Florida announced that a pair of former head coaches – John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts – have been hired as assistants for the basketball team.

“Having John back will be a great addition to our program,’’ Donovan said in a school release. “Obviously, he has a level of familiarity with me and with the University of Florida makes this a great fit. John’s a great coach, he’s a great friend and has a love for Florida, and we’re excited to bring him back. Being from New York, I’ve known Norm for a long [time]. He’s an outstanding coach, he’s a great recruiter, has high character and integrity and I’m thrilled to have him on our staff here at Florida.”

An assistant at Florida for six seasons (1996-2002), Pelphrey will be reunited with his close friend and mentor. He played under Donovan (an assistant at the time) and head coach Rick Pitino with the Kentucky Wildcats and served as an assistant on Donovan’s first coaching staff for two seasons with the Marshall Thundering Herd (1994-96). He joined Donovan when he was hired by UF, helping lead the Gators to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Pelphrey left in 2002 for a head coaching gig with the South Alabama Jaguars, where he led the team for five seasons. He won the Sun Belt Championship, was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year and brought his squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. USA would end up falling to Florida in the first round.

Noticing his success at a smaller school, Arkansas hired him to lead their program in 2007. Pelphrey brought the Razorbacks their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1999 in his first season but failed to replicate his success over the following three. He was fired by Arkansas on March 13 even though he had a top-tier recruiting class on its way in.

Roberts, who does not have any direct coaching connection to Donovan, is – like his new boss – a native New Yorker. He most recently served as head coach of the St. John’s Red Storm from 2004-10 but was fired on March 19, 2010, after leading the team to an unimpressive 81-101 record in six seasons.

Donovan is in the middle of reshaping his coaching staff as he has now lost all three of his 2010-11 assistants in one offseason. Long-time cohort Larry Shyatt accepted the top job at Wyoming, assistant Rob Lanier is returning to coach at Texas, and assistant Richard Pitino will join his father’s staff at Louisville.

OGGOA learned on April 3 that Florida Atlantic assistant Matt McCall is a top candidate to fill a role on Donovan’s revamped coaching staff. Another option is former Florida player Brett Nelson, who coached under Pelphrey at Arkansas last season.

Photo Credit: Unknown, Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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Report: Pelphrey to return as Gators assistant

UPDATED STORY: Donovan adds Pelphrey, Roberts to Gators staff

Former Arkansas Razorbacks head coach John Pelphrey will rejoin the Florida Gators basketball team as an assistant coach, a source told Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports Tuesday. An assistant at Florida for six seasons (1996-2002), Pelphrey will be reunited with Gators head coach Billy Donovan, his close friend and mentor.

Pelphrey played under Donovan (an assistant at the time) and head coach Rick Pitino with the Kentucky Wildcats and served as an assistant on Donovan’s first coaching staff for two seasons with the Marshall Thundering Herd (1994-96). He joined Donovan when he was hired by the University of Florida, helping lead the Gators to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Pelphrey left UF in 2002 for a head coaching gig with the South Alabama Jaguars, where he led the team for five seasons. He won the Sun Belt Championship, was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year and brought his squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. USA would end up falling to Florida in the first round.

Noticing his success at a smaller school, Arkansas hired him to lead their program in 2007. Pelphrey brought the Razorbacks their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1999 in his first season but failed to replicate his success over the following three. He was fired by Arkansas on March 13 even though he had a top-tier recruiting class on its way in.

Donovan is in the middle of reshaping his coaching staff after losing long-time assistant Larry Shyatt to a head coaching job with Wyoming. He may also see Rob Lanier head out the door to be an assistant at Texas, and Richard Pitino could join his father at Louisville, which suddenly has an opening.

OGGOA learned on April 3 that Florida Atlantic assistant Matt McCall is a top candidate to fill a role on Donovan’s revamped coaching staff.

Photo Credit: Carrie Pratt/St. Petersburg Times

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Former Gators F Dan Werner arrested for DUI

Former Florida Gators forward Dan Werner, back in Gainesville, FL after a season of playing professional basketball for Virtus Bologna of Italian Serie A, was arrested and booked on charges of driving under the influence at 2:50 a.m. Tuesday.

According to the police report, Werner was pulled over in a Silver Kia with a tail light out and its high beams on. He told the officer he was driving for his intoxicated girlfriend but failed field sobriety tests when administered. Werner also submitted to a breath test and blew below the legal limit (0.08) but was arrested anyway.

The Gainesville Sun reports that Werner admitted to playing beer pong and “drinking at least two drinks containing whiskey” at some point during the evening.

OGGOA will continue updating this story as it develops.

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FOUR BITS: tennis wins SEC, Bush breaks record

1 » No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (21-1, 10-0 SEC) captured at least a share of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship for their efforts during the regular season on Sunday by defeating the No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers (16-5, 8-1 SEC) 4-0 at home. The SEC title is the program’s 25th in 32 years and is the University of Florida’s 199th all-time. Florida still has South Carolina to contend with on Saturday before entering the 2011 SEC Tournament beginning April 21.

2 » Senior first baseman Megan Bush of the No. 10/11 Gators softball team set the SEC’s career home run record over the weekend. First tying and then surpassing former Florida outfielder Francesca Enea, Bush smacked her 61st homer on Saturday and her record-breaking 62nd on Sunday. She has now hit 18 on the season and has been a source of consistent offense all season for the Gators.

3 » Competing in the 2011 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Florida redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior forward Alex Tyus both impressed NBA scouts with their respective performances. Macklin finished the event as the third leading scorer with 57 points and seventh-place rebounder with 24 boards in three games. Tyus posted 41 points over the weekend, was third in rebounding (27) with 16 offensive boards and blocked six shots.

4 » The Philadelphia Inquirer took an in-depth look at new Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio over the weekend, publishing a feature story about his coaching methods, personality and life journey that landed him in Philadelphia, PA.

Extra BIT » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah’s father, former tennis player now musician Yannick Noah, was the subject of death threats and racist slurs from neo-Nazis in central France last week. Read more on the story in translated form from the French newspaper France Soir.

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Update: Murphy, Larson arrested in St. Augustine

This post was updated on 4/11 at 11 a.m.

Three members of the Florida Gators basketball team were arrested for burglary Sunday morning in St. Augustine, FL and released on $5,000 bond.

Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson face third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car near Scarlett O’Hara’s Bar and Restaurant at approximately 2 a.m. Team manager Joshua Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary because police say he served as a lookout.

No items were reported missing from the vehicle.

According to the police report, Murphy and Larson were looking for a lost wallet when they were kicked out of the establishment by bouncers. Minutes later, the bouncers noticed the duo were breaking into a co-worker’s car across the street, chased them away and notified the police.

The police apprehended Adel, who called Murphy and convinced him to turn himself in. While both men were in the back of the police cruiser, Larson called multiple times and, according to the Orlando Sentinel, discussed on speaker phone how they were going to get out of trouble. A device in the vehicle recorded the conversation, which ended with the duo convincing Larson to come back to the scene and turn himself in.

The three men cooperated once in custody.

“It seems like they just did something stupid and got caught,” Sgt. Jason Etheredge of the St. Augustine Police Department told the Sentinel.

Larson, who will be listed as a redshirt freshman after sitting out his first season with the Gators, committed to Florida and head coach Billy Donovan one year ago while dealing with legal issues in his home state of South Dakota. He received a suspended 120-day jail sentence and is currently on two years of probation for a drug charge he incurred during his senior year of high school.

“I’m aware of Cody and Erik’s situation and very disappointed with the news,’’ Donovan said on Monday. “The two are currently suspended from basketball-related activities. I’m not going to comment further until I have more information and get a chance to meet with both student-athletes.”

The story was first reported by Channel 4 News in Jacksonville.

OGGOA will continue updating this story as more information is made available.

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FOUR BITS: Macklin, Poyner, Portis, Shipman

1 » Florida Gators redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, currently participating in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament with forward Alex Tyus, scored 19 points on 50 percent shooting and notched 12 rebounds in his first game at the event on Thursday. NBA.com wrote a profile piece about him on Friday, looking about his entire career as well as strengths and weaknesses that may – or may not – find him a spot on a NBA roster this upcoming season. The feature also has a blurb about Tyus, who has scored a combined 25 points and grabbed 21 total rebounds in two PIT games, at the end.

2 » Left-handed pitcher and dynamic hitter Bobby Poyner, a Florida baseball commitment, tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and will miss the remainderof his high school career. According to the Palm Beach Post, Poyner went 6-1 as a senior with a 1.91 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 40.1 innings to go along with a .404 batting average. In his last full season, he finished 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 64 innings.

3 » Former Gators quarterback Josh Portis, who transferred away from the team early in his career and has spent six years in college, will be up for grabs in the 2011 NFL Draft in late April. In an interview with the Post, Portis said he is not running from his past but instead explaining it as well as he can and hoping teams understand that with age (he’s 23) comes experience and maturity. “I have nothing to hide,” he said. “Teams are going to know about it. Teams know everything. I feel, just be honest and up-front, and hopefully they’ll say, ‘Look, this kid made a mistake, and he’ll learn from it.’” The former four-star recruit transferred to Maryland after Tim Tebow was signed to be Florida’s QB of the future. While sitting out his transfer season, Portis cheated on a quiz and ruled ineligible for the following season. Finally able to play, Portis was stuck as a back-up and transferred a second time to Division II California University of Pennsylvania, where he combined for 69 passing touchdowns in two seasons and impressed with his athleticism. Getting ready for the NFL, Portis was arrested for using a stolen credit card but claims he wasn’t his. He explained that situation to the Post in a story that you can read here.

4 » Though Gators basketball had plenty of success without him this year, former Florida guard/forward Ray Shipman is thrilled that he decided to transfer to play football for the Central Florida Knights. After spending his first season on UCF’s scout team in order to get into football shape after playing basketball for two years, Shipman is now listed on the team’s spring depth chart as a starting outside linebacker. Part of the reason for his success is his praiseworthy dedication, which he planned to give since the moment he stepped back on the gridiron. “[The coaches] get tired of seeing me,” Shipman told the Orlando Sentinel. “I told [the linebackers coach] when I first got here, ‘Coach, I’m going to be nagging you. I’m going to be in your office every day right after class. If you’re here at night, I’m going to be here, too.”

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FOUR BITS: T. Burton, paintball, Beal, Lee

1 » Florida Gators sophomore athlete Trey Burton may be limited in the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday after suffering an undisclosed injury during practice recently, according to the Palm Beach Post. With coaches and players being unavailable to the media from Tuesday evening until the conclusion of the game this weekend, no further information is currently known. Burton, who is/was expected to see snaps in the backfield behind redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey due to Florida’s injury problems, may put the Gators in an even bigger hole offensively during the public scrimmage.

2 » Head coach Will Muschamp and his staff surprised the team on Thursday by cancelling scheduled team meetings and weight lifting to take the entire group on a paintball trip. In addition to squaring off in paintball action, the team played cornhole and tug-of-war in what Muschamp referred to as “team building exercise[s].” Joining in on the fun was Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who has been in Gainesville, FL all spring. The players all seemed to have a fantastic time at the event, and OGGOA has learned that the vibe was great on-site. Below is a team picture (courtesy of UF Sports Information’s Scott Carter) of the group after the festivities concluded.

3 » Though the difference is marginal, Gators incoming five-star guard Brad Beal was moved up from No. 7 to No. 4 on ESPNU‘s Top 100 rankings for basketball players in the 2011 recruiting cycle. Beal was named the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year this week and can next be seen participating in the Nike Hoops Summit on Saturday at 10 p.m. The game will air live on FOX Sports Network, so be sure to check your availability if planning to watch.

4 » Golden State Warriors center David Lee is on a bit of a hot streak right now, having scored 20 or more points in five of his last seven games with four double-doubles in that time. In six games since March 27, Lee is averaging 22.7 points and 13.5 board. Even more impressive is his last two performances, where he put up totals of 29 points/20 rebounds and 22 points/17 rebounds. Unfortunately for Lee, he won’t have much time to continue that streak as Golden State is 9.5 games out of playoff contention with only three more to play in the regular season.

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Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Seven letterwinners, including Gator Greats Mike Peterson (football) and Bob Emrick (men’s basketball), will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class on Friday. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. will hand out these prestigious honors to the group of Florida Gators at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 8, 2011, in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class includes Gator Greats Dawn Buth (women’s tennis), Judd Davis (football), Michelle Freeman (women’s track & field), Mimosa McNerney (women’s swimming), Distinguished Letterwinner Keith Tribble (football), and Honorary Letterwinner Dr. Richard Shaara (team physician).

More about each inductee and their career accomplishments after the break.
Continue Reading » Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

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