2/1: Donovan on Florida’s fight and survival

No. 23 Florida Gators (17-5, 6-2 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 after Tuesday’s hard-fought 65-61 overtime win against the No. 24 Vanderbilt Commodores (15-6, 3-4 SEC).

12 13 ROUNDS

If you thought Florida looked punch-drunk following their double overtime defeat of Georgia on Jan. 25, Donovan believes that was nothing compared to the physical effort the team had to put forth to defeat Vanderbilt in overtime on Tuesday.

“That was by far the most physical game we have played all year long. In a lot of ways, I felt terrible for the officials because it was a very, very difficult game to officiate,” he said. “The game was as well officiated as it could have been with all the contact. It was a hard game.”

Many fans on both sides might disagree with Donovan’s praise of the officiating, noting that the Gators were abused most of the game and the Commodores were dealt a blow by not having a foul called on sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on a three-pointer from G John Jenkins near the end of the contest. Commenting on the missed foul, Donovan said it was just part of the game.

“Yeah, you know what, and it was probably about 25 fouls by us and them throughout the game. I didn’t get a clear look on it. I don’t know if he did or didn’t,” he said. “To me, if that foul would have been called, that would have been very, very disappointing with all the contact that was going on.”

How much contact was there? “It reminded me of the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks back in the day with [Jeff] Van Gundy and Pat Riley and Alonzo Mourning and fist fights,” Donovan quipped.

SURVIVING A “LATE COLLAPSE”

Florida once again squandered an opportunity to win a close game in regulation, something Donovan chalks up to the game of basketball in general and not the Gators’ ability to handle a lead late in a game.

“I don’t look at it as a late collapse. There [are] good teams out there with good players,” he said. “We got a pretty resilient group. They try to battle back and they fight.”

With that being said, Donovan points out that Florida has improved in these types of situations compared to how they would have handled them the last two seasons.

“Two years ago, in a game like this, I think we would have had a hard time winning the game. We’re getting better in these kinds of games,” he said.

“I think our guys have grown up, in particular our older guys. They don’t have it figured out. They probably think they do, but I can tell you right now they don’t. We’ve gotten better responding to the things that you need to respond to [in order] to put yourself in a position to win the game.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 2/1: Donovan on Florida’s fight and survival

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No. 23 Florida edges No. 24 Vanderbilt in overtime

Winning after suffering a loss for the fifth time this season, the No. 23 Florida Gators (17-5, 6-2 SEC) clawed their way to 65-61 overtime victory against the No. 24 Vanderbilt Commodores (15-6, 3-4 SEC) on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons posted a team-high 18 points and game-high 11 rebounds on the way to his fourth double-double of the season and the 11th of his career. With 15 seconds remaining in the game and Florida up three, Parsons (shooting a career-low 51.7 percent from the free throw line this year) hit two foul shots to ice the contest and help the Gators capture their 12th victory in the last 15 games.

Florida and Vanderbilt both shot poorly in the first half, combining to go 21-for-59 from the field, 6-for-18 from three and 1-for-5 from the charity stripe. Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, also struggling with his shot, hit a trey at the halftime buzzer to give UF a 25-24 lead going into the locker rooms.

A 6-0 run by the Commodores put them ahead early in the second half as redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin headed to the bench with three fouls. That is when sophomore guard Kenny Boynton took over and scored five points as part of a 7-0 run to put the Gators up a game-high eight points, 43-35.

Florida would match their game-high lead with 4:53 to go; however, everything fell apart from there. Vanderbilt took off on a 9-1 run and tied the game at 56 with two free throws from G John Jenkins (a 90.6 percent foul shooter) with 25 seconds remaining in the contest. UF had two opportunities to extend their lead just seconds earlier, but Walker missed a floater and senior F Alex Tyus was rejected by the rim on a put-back dunk.

Walker, holding the ball for the entire final possession, missed a long three as the buzzer sounded and regulation ended The Gators failed to score a single field goal in the final 6:19 of the half, a drought which continued through the first 2:12 of overtime.

With 1:10 to go, Boynton nailed a trey to put Florida ahead two. He fouled Jenkins on a three-pointer of his own on the next possession, a miscue the referees missed.

Vanderbilt, which saw two starters and a key reserve foul out down the stretch, played most of the overtime period with a reduced roster. Jenkins led the Commodores with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting and tied a team-high with six boards.

Supporting Parsons’ 18 points were Walker and Boynton with 15 a piece on a combined 9-of-27 shooting. Boynton went 3-for-8 from downtown and was once gain a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, but the Gators out-rebounded their opposition 42-29 (12-6 offensively) for their third overtime win in four opportunities already this season.

Florida hopes build on their latest victory as they host No. 11 Kentucky on Saturday at 9 p.m. The game, which will be preceded by College GameDay being broadcast live from Gainesville, will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandin/Associated Press

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No. 23 Florida vs. No. 24 Vanderbilt Gameday

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 23 FLORIDA GATORS No. 24 VANDERBILT
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Record: 16-5 (5-2) Record: 15-5 (3-3)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -4; O/U 139

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Vanderbilt leads the all-time series against Florida 63-56 and won both meetings last season. However, the Gators are 15-5 in their last 20 games against the Commodores; they are also 18-11 against them under Donovan including 11-3 at home and 8-1 in their last nine matchups in Gainesville.
» Florida has won 11 of its last 14 games with seven victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» A win Tuesday would give the Gators double-digit wins at home for the 14th consecutive year under Donovan.
» Florida is turning the ball over fewer than 10 times per game in SEC play and has turned it over in single digits in four of seven contests.
» Vanderbilt features players who, individually, lead the SEC leaders in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage.
» The Commodores best the Gators in both points per game 78.8-71.4 (20th-120th) and field goal percentage .463-.458 (65th-81st) nationally. Vanderbilt and Florida are similar in their ability to rebound and dish the ball, averaging approximately 39 boards and 14 assists per game. UF ranks 19th in RPI (.6265) and 13th in strength of schedule nationally compared to VU being 22nd (.6214) and 24th, respectively.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (43.0%) and three-point percentage (39.5%). He has single-handedly accounted for 45 of Florida’s 122 treys this season. Walker became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat earlier this year.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (10.3) while leading the Gators with 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.8 percent this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game while being a major presence for Florida.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably UF’s most talented player but is back in a slump after breaking out of one previously. Boynton is only shooting 36 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.0 points per game and hits 81.5 percent of his free throws.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are the Gators primary reserves averaging 17.3 and 17.0 minutes per game, respectively. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.6 boards off the bench.
» Vanderbilt G John Jenkins…who plays a team-high 34.1 minutes and is his team’s leading scorer (19.1 points per game). Jenkins also shoots 90.6 percent from the charity stripe, hits 41.5 percent of his three-pointers and leads the SEC in scoring average.
» Commodores F Jeffrey Taylor …who is his team’s second-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder while playing the second-most minutes.

1/31: DONOVAN PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » No. 23 Florida vs. No. 24 Vanderbilt Gameday

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FOUR BITS: Transfer, Noah, Weis, Dixie Grid Iron

1 » Rutgers Scarlet Knights sophomore quarterback Tom Savage, who decided to transfer after the season when head coach Greg Schiano permanently gave his starting job to freshman Chas Dodd, will be allowed to pursue opportunities with the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes, according to ESPN’s Joe Schad. Schiano had previously blocked Savage from speaking with Florida and Miami. It appears as if Savage is primarily interested in joining the Hurricanes, though the Gators could be an option for him should Miami sign a QB in their 2011 recruiting class. Considering four-star QB recruit Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL) is also considering UF and UM (in addition to Wisconsin and Washington), his decision to go to one school or the other could, theoretically, dictate where Savage winds up.

Starting all but one game in 2009, Savage threw for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 52.3 percent of his passes. He also started Rutgers’ first three games of the 2010 season and finished the year with 521 yards, two TDs and three INTs along with a 51.8 completion percentage. Why did Schiano change his mind? Savage’s grandparents live in South Florida, hence the reason he is interested in attending college in the stat.e “I have a better understanding of his reasons for wanting to contact those schools after speaking with him,” Schiano told the Newark Star-Ledger. “Because of my relationship with Tom and everything he has meant to the program I have given him permission to contact the University of Miami and Florida.”

2 » After having a pin taken out of his injured thumb, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had a cast removed from his hand on Monday and will begin non-contact drills on Tuesday, ESPNChicago.com reports. “I just want to come back as soon as possible,” Noah said. “As soon as my hand is healthy, I want to be back there, regardless of what game it is.” He will begin traveling with the team this week and hopes to be active after the NBA All-Star break. “He’ll start the non-contact part of practice, and from there once he clears that he can practice with contact,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Once he practices with contact then he’ll be able to play. He’s still pretty much on schedule. He’s probably, the way we’re looking at it right now, right after the All-Star break.”

3 » According to the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown was planning on hiring none other than new Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis for the same position prior to then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp taking the Gators head coaching job. The paper notes that two sources believe Weis-to-Texas was “all but considered a done deal” until Muschamp took the Florida gig.

4 » Two former Gators – wide receiver Carl Moore and defensive lineman Brandon Antwine – will be participating in the 2011 Dixie Grid Iron Classic on Saturday at noon. The event, which like many of its kind allow graduating seniors the opportunity to showcase their talents for NFL scouts, is mostly made up of players from western states.

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Wild week sees Florida hold, drop in Top 25 polls

Winning a double overtime thriller at Georgia, the Florida Gators (16-5, 5-2 SEC) failed to follow up the victory with another one and fell late in the week on the road against Mississippi State. Even with a loss, Florida held on to the No. 23 spot in one poll but fell out of the other. UF faces two ranked opponents at home this week as both Vanderbilt and Kentucky come to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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 (31*), Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State, Connecticut, Kansas, Villanova, Texas, Brigham Young, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Purdue, Missouri, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Washington, Minnesota, Louisville, Georgetown, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Florida, Saint Mary’s, Utah State
+ Florida received 67 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (31*), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, San Diego State, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Purdue, Kentucky, Villanova, Louisville, Georgetown, Missouri, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, Utah State, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Vanderbilt
+ Florida received 51 voting points

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (63*), Pittsburgh (1*), Duke (1*), San Diego State, Connecticut, Kansas, Texas, Villanova, Brigham Young, Syracuse, Missouri, Purdue, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Georgetown, Florida State, Louisville, Florida, Michigan State
+ Florida received 169 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (65), Kansas, Texas, Pittsburgh, Duke, Connecticut, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Purdue, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Louisville, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, Arizona, Utah State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
+ Florida received 80 voting points, good for 27th overall

* Numbers represent first-place votes.

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Free throw woes doom Florida again in 71-64 loss

Coming into Starkville, MS undefeated on the road and with a nine-game regular season winning streak against the Southeastern Conference West division, the No. 23/24 Florida Gators (16-5, 5-2 SEC) struggled mightily from the free throw line and eventually fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (11-9, 3-3 SEC) 71-64 at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

Up 63-62 with 5:17 left in the game, Florida went cold from both the field and charity stripe, allowing Mississippi State to put together a 9-1 game-ending run. The Gators missed eight consecutive field goals and five of six attempts from the line, while the Bulldogs hit seven of their final eight free throw attempts to ice the game.

MSU started the first half on fire, connecting on five of their first eight shots from long distance. Taking a game-high 10-point lead early, they quickly coughed it up and allowed UF to put a dent in their deficit. Florida used a 10-2 run to tie the contest at 38, but Mississippi State would take a two-point lead going into halftime.

The Bulldogs came out of the break hot, using an 11-4 run to take a nine-point lead. The Gators answered with a 13-1 run of their own; it ended with a trey and two free throws by junior point guard Erving Walker, which gave UF its first lead of the game, 55-52.

Two triples from MSU G Dee Bost put his team ahead three, but Florida took the lead 63-62 and then tied it at 64 before falling apart at the conclusion of the contest.

All three of the Gators leads came in the second half, but their inefficiency from the line and beyond the arc doomed them in the end. Florida finished 9-of-19 from the charity stripe (47.4 percent) and only 5-of-21 from three-point range (23.8) percent. Mississippi State, after starting the game strong, went cold from three until the end of the second half. As a team, MSU finished 19-for-23 from the line.

Unlike the Gators, which saw all 10 of their players score, only four Bulldogs got the ball in the basket. Bost led MSU with 24 points and went 4-for-8 from downtown, forwards Kodi Augustus and Renardo Sidney each scored 16, and G Ravern Johnson contributed 15 important points.

Walker led Florida with 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting but was only 2-for-8 from downtown. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin scored 10 points, and senior F Chandler Parsons grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with nine points.

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, who is supposed to be one of the Gators best scorers, went an anemic 2-for-11 from the field and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. Senior F Alex Tyus added six points and five boards.

Mississippi State has now won four of their last five meetings against Florida, which will likely be unranked once again when the new top 25 polls are released on Monday.

The Gators’ schedule does not get any easier going forward. Florida will face No. 22/19 Vanderbilt (Tuesday) and No. 16/14 Kentucky (Saturday) in consecutive home games next week. Both games will air live at 9 p.m. on ESPN, with College GameDay emanating from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

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No. 23 Florida Gators at MSU Bulldogs Gameday

Location: Humphrey Coliseum – Starkville, MS [Capacity: 10,500]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 23/24 FLORIDA GATORS MISS. STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Rick Stansbury
Record: 16-4 (5-1) Record: 10-9 (2-3)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5; O/U 137.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Mississippi State 57-48. The teams defeated each other once in 2010, and the Gators are 10-7 overall against the Bulldogs under Donovan including 4-3 in Starkville.
» UF has won nine-straight regular season games against the SEC West; they are 3-0 this season and looking to go undefeated against them for the second-straight year.
» Florida has won 11 of its last 13 games with seven victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» UF is a perfect 5-0 in true road games this year and 7-1 overall away from Gainesville. Florida could win its sixth road game of the year, their most since the 2005-06 season (6-4).
» The Gators best the Bulldogs in all four major statistical categories nationally. Florida holds advantages in points per game 71.8-69.2 (116th to 182nd), rebounds 38.6-36.5 (40th to 106th), assists 14.4-12.0 (90th to 256th) and field goal percentage .461-.427 (70th to 227th). The Gators rank 14th in RPI (.6389) and fifth in strength of schedule nationally compared to the Bulldogs being 177th (.4934) and 133rd, respectively.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.3 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (43.7%) and three-point percentage (40.6%). He has single-handedly accounted for 43 of Florida’s 117 treys this season. Walker became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat earlier this year.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (10.4) while leading the Gators with 7.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Parsons notched his third double-double of the season on Tuesday against Georgia.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-high 58.1 percent as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds a game while being a major presence for Florida.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably UF’s most talented player but had been marred in a slump until recently breaking out of it. Boynton is only shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game and hits 81.5 percent of his free throws.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are the Gators primary reserves averaging 17.6 and 16.9 minutes per game, respectively. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:1), while Young is the team’s most efficient scorer at 57.4 percent.
» Mississippi State G Ravern Johnson…who plays a team-high 36.1 minutes per game and is his team’s leading scorer (18.2 points per game), too.
» Bulldogs F Kodi Augustus…who leads his squad in rebounding with 8.2 boards per game and is second on the team in scoring with 228 points scored this season.
 

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FOUR BITS: Quinn, Black, Strong, Rosario

1 » Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has mostly been out on the road recruiting since the Seattle Seahawks were eliminated from the NFL Playoffs, has been assigned the Jacksonville, FL area as his primary recruiting grounds, according to The Florida Times-Union. The Times-Union’s Hays Carlyon reports that Quinn visited a number of area high schools on Friday and notes that Florida could be interested in two Yulee High School players over the next two seasons – tight end/linebacker Kelvin Rainey in 2012 and running back Derrick Henry in 2013.

2 » When former Gators safety Ahmad Black presented the game ball from the 2011 Outback Bowl to Ian Lockwood, it was obvious the two (and then-head coach Urban Meyer) had formed a special bond. In Mobile, AL for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl, Black spoke with the Pensacola News Journal about his friendship with Lockwood and how the two became so close so quickly. “He opened the door to the Florida football program,” said Lockwood’s high school football coach Chad Lashley. “That has meant the world to Ian. It just shows the unbelievable character of Ahmad and his concern for other people. With him getting that interception, it was just the perfect ending.” You can read more thoughts from Black and Lashley by clicking here.

3 » Taking the Louisville Cardinals to a 7-6 record and earning Big East Co-Coach of the Year honors in 2010, head coach Charlie Strong appears to be in line for a new contract with a substantial raise, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal, which spoke with athletic director Tom Jurich. “We want to do [give him a raise], but this staff has been busy and they’re doing a great job, so when signing day is over and we get some time, we’re definitely going to address that,” Jurich said. “It’s been great that he’s been able to keep his staff together to this point, and I can tell you those guys are really getting after it and they’re having a great time. They’re on a rocket ship right now, and it’s fun to watch.” Louisville doing what it can to keep Strong now may prevent him leaving until a significantly better job is available a few years down the road. He currently earns $1.6 million per season.

4 » Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario is biding his time helping Florida improve during practice while he waits out a NCAA-mandated transfer season. An article written for CNN profiling Rosario’s hall of fame high school head coach Bob Hurley, Sr. notes that the player once the star of one of Hurley’s teams and describes him as a “hot-tempered kid who used basketball as a refuge from the life in a housing project.” Rosario recounted his time playing for Hurley. “He started disciplining me like I was one of his sons,” he said. “It was to the point where I was like, ‘Wow, I had never been pushed like this in my life.’ I learned how to be a man and not a boy.”

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