Gators Murphy, Larson, Adel get charges reduced

Three members of the Florida Gators basketball team were arrested on April 10 for burglary in St. Augustine, FL. Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson were caught allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Joshua Adel was arrested for principal to burglary because he allegedly served as a lookout. No items were reported missing from the vehicle in the attempted theft.

One month later, all three men have had their respective charges lessened by the state with two of them still facing legal action, according to The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway who spoke with a representative at the State Attorney’s Office.

Larson and Murphy now have second-degree misdemeanor charges for criminal trespassing (instead of third-degree felonies for burglary), while Adel’s charge was not just reduced, it was thrown out altogether.

“[Larson and Murphy] have paid restitution to the victims to get a headlight fixed,” spokesperson Shannon Peters told the Sun. “The charges reflect that they tried to go into another person’s car without permission. [Adel] was charged as being the lookout when the evidence showed that wasn’t the case. He was, in fact, discouraging them.”

Brockway also reports that a court date has not yet been set for Murphy and Larson to enter their respective pleas.

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C Speights: “If I can get in there, I’ll produce.”

Suffering an early exit from the 2011 NBA Playoffs, former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights and the Philadelphia 76ers are now thinking about next year after being defeated 4-1 by the No. 2-seed Miami Heat.

A reserve on the Florida basketball team that won the 2007 NCAA National Championship, Speights started one season for the Gators (his sophomore year) before declaring for the NBA Draft and eventually being selected by the 76ers with the No. 16 overall pick in the first round. He sat down with OGGOA to discuss his college experience, the tough decision he faced after his second season with the team and what team he thinks will end up taking home the NBA title this year when all is said and done.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of the upperclassmen holding starting roles. How was it walking into a team with established guys like Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Chris Richard already getting major minutes?
MARREESE SPEIGHTS: “It was a learning experience because the guys in front of me had already won a championship before I got there. It was a learning experience for me. A year to get better and a year to learn college basketball.”

AS: That team went on to win the National Championship for the second-straight time that year. What was it like playing on such a big stage so early in your career?
MS: “It was a great feeling. It is an opportunity nobody really has. A lot of people don’t really have that opportunity, so it was a great accomplishment for me.”

AS: Before the next season began, head coach Billy Donovan left for the NBA to lead the Orlando Magic only to change his mind and come back a few days later. How hard was that situation to deal with as a player?
MS: “It was hard because at one point we didn’t have no coach. It was a few guys with no coach, and everybody was wondering what was going to happen. But he came back and everything was good.”

AS: Were any of the players worried that he might leave again?
MS: “You could tell he really liked Florida a lot, that’s why he came back. We knew that when he came back he was going to be here for a while. It wasn’t going to be one year; it was going to be long-term.”

AS: The next year you became a starter and took advantage of it. I know Coach Donovan expected that, even as well as you played, you would be back at least one more season. When you first declared for the draft, were you doing it just to check your stock or was it always your plan to leave?
MS: “I was doing it just to check my stock. I really wanted to come back, but I heard the good news and I thought I should take the opportunity while it was there. I had to. It was real hard to tell him that I was going to the draft because I knew if I came back the team would have gotten even better. I had the opportunity, so I had to take it.”

AS: The decision obviously worked out as you were taken in the middle of the first round by Philadelphia. What was that transition to the NBA like? You played a lot of minutes right from the start in your rookie season.
MS: “The transition was kind of cool. I had to get used to travelling, playing against players [I] watched growing up and stuff. But it was a good step.”

AS: You started your second NBA season with a bang but then went down with a MCL injury. How difficult was that for you to deal with?
MS: “It was kind of hard because it kept me out for a long time. It was something I wasn’t used to, so I started working harder to get back there.”

AS: This year your minutes were pretty inconsistent. Some games you played over 20 minutes and others you were only on the court for a few if at all. How tough is that to deal with as a player?
MS: “The first season, I knew I was going to come in and play consistent [minutes]. This year, 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. 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.”

AS: You played against every team remaining in the playoffs this year. Which has the best chance to win the whole thing?
MS: “Miami. They are really coming together and they’re going to win it. On the court, you can tell how good they really [are], even things you can’t see on TV. It’s just some of the things they do and stuff. The connection they’ve got so early.”

AS: Philadelphia is known as a very critical sports city. What has it been like playing there with the fans?
MS: “It’s a hard place to play at because, if you don’t give them what they want, they’re going to boo you. It’s kind of hard but, this year we were winning, so we got a lot of support. The fans show a lot of support.”

AS: How have your relationships with some of your former teammates and coaches changed and/or developed since you left?
MS: “I talk to Coach [Donovan] all the time. It’s a pretty good relationship. Vernon Macklin, me and him were practically teammates at Hargrave [Military Academy], so we’re really close. I’ve known him for like 5-6 years. I talk to all of them but mostly him. I talked to him [Wednesday] for like 20 minutes about preparing for the [draft] process.”

AS: Looking back on your career at Florida, aside from winning the title as a freshman, what is the one moment you will always remember – either on or off the court?
MS: “Other than the championship, I got a couple. There was a home game my freshman year when we played Alabama. I came down and scored like eight-straight points and we won that game [4-for-4 for eight points in five minutes in the first half]. Then the first-round tournament game against Jackson State. I had a good game there, too [7-for-10 for 16 points with six boards in 10 minutes].

» OGGOA INTERVIEWS:
LB Mike Peterson | PG Taurean Green | QB Tim Tebow | QB Danny Wuerffel | ESPN’s Erin Andrews | ESPN’s Erin Andrews II | DE Alex Brown | WR Percy Harvin | F/C Al Horford | WR David Nelson | QB Shane Matthews | TE Cornelius Ingram | DE Jermaine Cunningham | S Major Wright | LB Earl Everett | DE Justin Trattou | DT Terron Sanders | F/C Chris Richard | DE Lynden Trail

Photo Credits: Associated Press, Unknown

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FOUR BITS: No. 1, Parsons, Spikes, Pouncey

1 » Combining the accomplishments of football and basketball teams nationally thus far during the BCS era, Rivals.com has listed the Florida Gators as the top overall program in the country. With 81 total points (44.5 from football and 36.5 from basketball based on their specific scoring system), Florida is 12 points ahead of the runner-up (Ohio State, 69) and out in front by 16 points over No. 3 overall (Texas, 65).

2 » Working his way up draft boards, Gators forward Chandler Parsons is currently training on the West Coast in preparation for the 2011 NBA Draft. ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford recently got to watch him practice along with a number of other prospects and came away impressed, bumping him up to potential first-round pick status.

Parsons really surprised me. I knew he was skilled and athletic for a 6-foot-10 player. But he showed aggressiveness that I just hadn’t seen at Florida. […] He showed the ability to take [Paul] George off the dribble to the rim, rise up and hit jumpers over George’s freakishly long arms and most importantly he made a number of spell-binding passes to [Malcolm] Thomas. Parsons’ decision-making in the sets was fantastic. So was his shooting. He was hitting just about every shot he took and showed range out to the NBA 3-point line.

3 » Taking a look at players who are “soon to be stars” in the AFC East, Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson thoroughly discussed New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes’s future in a blog post on ESPN on Thursday:

Brandon Spikes is the perfect fit as the heavier take-on inside linebacker in Bill Belichick’s 3-4 scheme. Pass coverage — particularly man coverage against tight ends and swifter running backs — will probably always be a problem for Spikes, but what Spikes does, he does very well. This guy stops the run. And he stops the run very well. Spikes is a downhill player who is very quick to react. He does his best work between the tackles and as a fantastic take-on linebacker. He is also the ideal complement to Jerod Mayo, who is more of the athletic free-lancing type. Spikes rarely plays a bad game and is a model of consistency — even at such a young age (23).

4 » Choosing to workout up north with his brother and some of his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, Miami Dolphins center/guard Mike Pouncey is trying to get in shape so he is read if/when the lockout is lifted. “I’m just doing offensive line drills with the guys, and I’ll be going down to Miami in two weeks to do that stuff with my offensive line,” Pouncey told the Palm Beach Post’s Ben Volin. “But I’ve been talking to Jake [Long], [Richie] Incognito and Vernon [Carey]. I can’t wait to get down there and learn from them.” Volin also spoke with his mother, Lisa Webster, who noted that her son is fueled by some of the shots he’s taken from NFL Draft analysts like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who say he is not the same caliber player his brother center Maurkice Pouncey has become. “It pisses him off. They’re so competitive,” she said.

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FOUR BITS: Brantley; lacrosse wins big awards

1 » Taking a second look at spring practices across the country, ESPN Insider’s KC Joyner has come to a conclusion that may surprise some Florida Gators fans: redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley played well. Here is what he saw by watching the film. To read the rest of The Football Scientist’s observations, click here (subscription req.).

It might seem a bit odd to be touting Brantley after a 4-for-14, 45-yard performance in the Orange and Blue game, but consider this: In a three-game sample review of Brantley’s 2010 season, he threw a stretch vertical pass (defined as thrown 20 or more yards downfield) only 5 percent of the time. This is a very low number and indicates the Gators were not very effective at even threatening the long pass.

In the spring game, four of Brantley’s aerials fell under the “stretch vertical” designation and one would have been completed for 40 yards had it not been for a very good defensive play. Brantley also did not force any of these downfield passes into coverage, so the downside on these throws was limited. It bodes well for what the Florida vertical game will be able to do in 2011 — not just for Brantley and Charlie Weis’ new downfield passing game, but for the playmakers in the Gators’ running game as well.

2 » No. 2/3 Florida lacrosse (14-2, 5-0 ALC) is getting prepared for the 2011 ALC Tournament set to begin on Thursday, but in the meantime the conference announced its awards on Tuesday and honored seven different Gators. Florida sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen was named Player of the Year and head coach Amanda O’Leary earned Coach of the Year honors. Also singled out by the conference were All-ALC First Team members Cullen, sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns and sophomore defender Sam Farrell as well as Second Team members sophomore M Janine Hillier, sophomore D Haydon Judge and sophomore goalkeeper Mikey Meagher.

3 » Moving on with his professional career, Gators forward Chandler Parsons is currently working out in Los Angeles, CA and training for camps that he will compete in prior to the 2011 NBA Draft on June 23. The University of Florida’s website caught up with him to pick his brain on a number of topics including the realization that his college career has come to an end. “I can’t believe how fast everything went, it feels like I was just a freshman and now I’m graduated and trying to make a career out this,” he said. “It was a great experience; my time at UF was the best four years of my life. The relationships with my teammates and coaches, the entire staff, those memories will last a lifetime. […] A lot of people look at the NBA Draft night as an end point. For me it’s just a starting point. I know I have things to work on, but I’ve gotten good feedback from people, I’m going to work as hard as I can and do everything possible over these six weeks or so to put myself in the best position.”

4 » Another Gator has had a run-in with the law, but this one went head-on with an Alachua County deputy police officer.

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TWO BITS: Pouncey’s science, Noah’s dirty?

1 » Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey, likely to be a first-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft Thursday evening, recently took part in a segment for ESPN‘s Sports Science feature. You can view it below:

2 » Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger accused Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah of being a dirty player on Tuesday, saying he took cheap shots at some of his teammates during a recent game. “The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly,” Granter told ESPNChicago.com. “And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.” Asked his thoughts on the subject, Noah dismissed Granger’s claims and said he did nothing of the sort. “I played dirty? OK. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man,” he said. “It’s the name of the game. I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. They play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s OK.”

Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who mentored Noah during back-to-back NCAA National Championship runs, said nothing could be further from the truth than Granger’s claims. “I don’t know Danny Granger at all, but I do know Joakim, and I do not agree with that one bit,” Donovan said during an interview with ESPN 1000 “Jo to me is the guy that I’ve got a tremendous amount of love and affection for. He’s one of those guys, that I think if you’re the opposing team, you don’t like him. […] I think the last thing I would say about him is that he is a dirty player, that’s the farthest thing from the truth, but again, I don’t know Danny Granger. I don’t know what the intent was of that, but I’ll tell you this, when you go against Joakim, you better bring it, because he is coming every single possession for every offensive, defensive rebound and run the floor. He’s going to do what he’s gotta do to out there to try and help his team win, and that could be misconstrued by Granger saying he’s dirty, but Joakim Noah is not a guy that I ever felt coaching or being around him that he was a dirty player.”

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Florida basketball will start 2011-12 season by playing in the Global Sports Shootout

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will be participating in the five-team Global Sports Shootout tournament to begin the 2011-12 season along with Ohio State, North Florida, Jackson State and Wright State.

The event, which is a collection of games played at different arenas, will have Florida playing on the road against Ohio State, in a neutral site game against Wright State (Tampa, FL) and at home against North Florida and Jackson State.

UF and WSU will square-off on Nov. 21 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The dates and times for the remainder of the games are still being determined.

Wright State University is the only school to officially announce the event at this time.

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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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