Billy Donovan praises Grant, Pelphrey, Smart

Many successful head coaches in a variety of sports are praised as having extensive coaching trees of former assistants who have gone on to succeed with other teams. Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan normally escapes such praise but was questioned about three of his former assistants who led major programs in 2010-11.

Not only did the two compete for the Southeastern Conference regular season title, Donovan and Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant were also the leading candidates for 2011 SEC Coach of the Year. The coaches and the Associated Press recognized him with the honor while Grant was given the award by SportingNews.

One thing Grant – and more specifically his team – did not receive was a berth to the 2011 NCAA Tournament, a development that confuses Donovan.

“I feel bad for Anthony, and I feel bad for our league because I really thought we had an opportunity [to get six teams in],” he said on Monday. “Everybody talks about the difference between the East and the West, and with Georgia getting in as a 10 seed. […] Alabama had more wins against the East than Georgia did, and they beat Georgia twice in head to head competition. I just thought not that they should have gotten in over Georgia. I think Georgia should be in. I thought Alabama should have gotten in.”

Continuing the legacy Grant left at his previous stop with the Virginia Commonwealth Rams is fellow former Donovan assistant Shaka Smart. VCU will complete in a play-in game on Tuesday to earn a berth into the tournament.

“I was very happy for him. He’s done a great job. He’s a great guy,” Donovan said of Smart. “He played a good schedule. He’s had some good quality wins in the non conference. They came up a little bit short in the conference tournament. But for him to be able to get in, that was terrific. I was really happy for him.”

Donovan was understandably not happy for John Pelphrey, who was fired as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks around the same time Donovan was competing for the 2011 SEC Tournament Championship.

Stan Heath I think took two teams to the NCAA Tournament. And they make a change. Then John goes in there and goes to the NCAA Tournament with all of Stan’s players and does a good job coaching them. He’s in his third year with his entire team returning with a top-five recruiting class, that doesn’t make sense to me,” Donovan said.

“At Arkansas they’re going to have to make a decision. At some point they’re going to have to let whoever is in there be able to do the job.”

He remained confident that Pelphrey would land on his feet elsewhere as the man in charge. “John’s a good coach, and he will definitely be somewhere,” Donovan said.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Parsons, Donovan earn SEC honors from AP

Fresh off of receiving individual awards from the Southeastern Conference coaches, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons and head coach Billy Donovan doubled up their accolades on Monday. The Associated Press named Parsons its 2011 SEC Player of the Year and Donovan its 2011 SEC Coach of the Year.

A double-digit point scorer and team leader in rebounding and assists, Parsons swept the SEC Player of the Year award as he was also given the honor by SportingNews. He is the first University of Florida student-athlete to ever win the award for basketball and was a unanimous selection by AP voters.

Parsons is one of only two active Division I college basketball players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also leads the SEC among active players in rebounding, is No. 3 in points and assists, and comes in No. 4 in steals.

Donovan finally picked up his first SEC Coach of the Year award after being held without one for 15 seasons. Unlike Parsons, the AP is only the second organization to honor him as Alabama’s Anthony Grant took home the SportingNews version of the award.

This season, Donovan took a team that was projected to win the conference but saw itself unranked when SEC action began to a 13-3 league record, East division championship, SEC regular season championship, berth in the title game of the 2011 SEC Tournament and No. 2 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Parsons, who the AP also picked as a member of the 2011 All-SEC First Team, was one of three Florida players the organization honored. Gators junior point guard Erving Walker earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team, and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was given All-SEC honorable mention.

OGGOA RELATED: Parsons named 2011 SEC Player of the Year
OGGOA RELATED: Billy Donovan named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year
OGGOA RELATED: Parsons, Walker recognized with more honors

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Gators fall slightly in final Top 25 polls of 2011

Closing out the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament with a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) in the championship game after beating both the Tennessee Volunteers (19-14) and Vanderbilt Commodores (23-10) for the third time this season, the Florida Gators (24-7) fell slightly when the final Top 25 polls of the season were released Monday afternoon.

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
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
No. 7
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
No. 6
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
No. 4
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
No. 2
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
No. 1
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
No. 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
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3

Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (17), Kansas (14), Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Duke, San Diego State, North Carolina, Brigham Young, Purdue, Texas, Syracuse, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky, Utah State, St. John’s, Connecticut, Xavier, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Temple
+ Florida received 456 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (26), Kansas (5), Duke, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, Louisville, Brigham Young, Florida, Syracuse, Purdue, Wisconsin, Utah State, Arizona, St. John’s, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Washington, Kansas State, Georgetown
+ Florida received 405 voting points

Last Week 1-25: Ohio State (52), Kansas (13), Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, San Diego State, Brigham Young, Purdue, Texas, Syracuse, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Kentucky, Arizona, St. John’s, Xavier, Kansas State, West Virginia, Connecticut, Georgetown, Utah State, Temple, Cincinnati
+ Florida received 931 voting points

This Week 1-25: Ohio State (51), Kansas (14), Duke, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, San Diego State, North Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Brigham Young, Kentucky, Syracuse, Purdue, Louisville, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, St. John’s, Utah State, Xavier, Kansas State, West Virginia, Washington, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
+ Florida received 840 voting points

Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Florida Gators 2011 NCAA Tournament primer

WHO? (15) Santa Barbara Gauchos [18-13, Big West]
WHAT? 2011 NCAA Tournament [Second Round]
WHEN? Thursday, March 17 at 6:50 p.m. (EST)
WHERE? St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL

WHY? For the Florida Gators (26-7), having earned a No. 2 seed has been an immediate point of contention among both fans and media members. Florida was considered a long-shot for a two-seed from the start; after losing the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship to Kentucky (a NCAA No. 4 seed), it appeared to be an impossibility. However, the NCAA Selection Committee decided to award the Gators for a strong and impressive season.

Those who feel that Florida should be a No. 3 seed have failed to provide a proper argument as to why they deserve to be slotted lower. Here is how UF compares against the four three-seeds in the NCAA Tournament (bold indicates first-place in a category with underline representing second-place and italics third-place).

Florida Syracuse UConn Purdue BYU
Record 26-7 26-7 26-9 25-7 29-4
RPI 10 17 14 12 5
SOS 6 36 7 27 22
NC-SOS 7 144 39 58 19
vs. RPI 1-50 11-3 (.786) 9-5 (.643) 12-8 (.600) 8-5 (.615) 9-2 (.818)
vs. RPI 1-100 17-4 (.810) 13-7 (.650) 16-9 (.640) 16-6 (.666) 12-4 (.750)
vs. NCAA 68 13-3 (.813) 10-6 (.625) 12-9 (.571) 11-5 (.688) 6-2 (.750)

RPI: Numeric ratings percentage index, SOS: Strength of schedule, NC-SOS: Non-conference strength of schedule, NCAA 68: 2011 NCAA Tournament teams

With Syracuse and Connecticut both in the Big East, choosing between the two would have certainly been difficult, especially considering the way UConn played in their conference tournament. However, the only team out of the four three seeds that should be upset is Brigham Young, which is entering the tournament with both a better RPI and record against the top 50 teams in the nation than Florida. That being said, BYU will be playing without their second-best player, is coming out of a weaker conference (overall) and lost two games this season to NIT-bound New Mexico.

HOW? Though Florida will be playing close to home in Tampa, the arena they are playing in will also host other national powers including Kentucky, UCLA and Michigan State – four schools that travel very well. The Gator Ticket Office has already begun accepting orders from basketball season ticket holders at $77 per session. For more information on how to purchase tickets, please click here.

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3/13: Donovan discusses SEC Tournament loss

The No. 12/12 Florida Gators (26-7) fell in the championship game of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Sunday afternoon with a 70-54 thud to the No. 15/16 Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Florida head coach Billy Donovan and his players had plenty to say after the game as they prepared for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the post-game press conference.


Donovan on the overall performance: “It’s difficult to really shoot well for three straight days – for both teams. It wasn’t very pretty offensively, certainly not for us. We struggled. We had some things around the basket that we weren’t able to finish – we missed a lot of layups. We weren’t strong enough or physical enough around the basket.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (1 of 3):“There was such a huge discrepancy from the free throw line. Kentucky probably took the ball a little more physically than we did. The difference is we weren’t physical enough to get fouled as much as they were able to get fouled.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (2 of 3): “When someone takes 21 more free throws than you…that’s hard to overcome. […] We went to the free throw line eight times. I think that’s the lowest number of free throws attempted we’ve had all year long. We’ve been a team that’s gotten to the free throw line 24-25 times. That was very disappointing to me – the free throw line situation.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (3 of 3): “They did a better job attacking the basket and finding a way to get fouled. We did not do a good enough job finding a way to get fouled. If you’re not scoring, you have to find a way to get fouled. And we did not get fouled. The game was won at the free throw line in my opinion.”

Donovan on if a lesson was learned from the loss: “I’m proud of what these guys accomplished up until this point in time. There have been a lot of emotional games for us besides this tournament.”

Donovan on if he should have put the ball in the post sooner: “We tried to do that the whole game. Vernon Macklin had five turnovers in the game. I just didn’t think our frontcourt guys, when they got the ball, did very much with it.”

Donovan on the balance between frontcourt and backcourt:“We had the same level of balance offensively that we’ve had up until this point in time. Our frontcourt guys really did not have a productive game around the basket.”

Donovan on if Florida lacked chemistry: “Like anything else, there’s a level of frustration. They all want to do well. I don’t think it was too bad.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on the offensive effort: “We were well-connected again tonight. The difference between tonight and other games was we just missed shots. We missed easy, easy layups around the rim and our jumpers were not falling. On nights like this, we just got to play more defense.”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons on if this was a blow to their collective confidence: “It hurts but we’ve been here before. We’re not going to hang our heads over one loss. Obviously we want to be on the other end, but you got to give credit to Kentucky. They played very well tonight.”

Parsons on if being tired hurt the team’s performance: “We’re definitely tired, but we can’t use that as an excuse on not executing. They’ve played just as many games as we have. Both teams are exhausted. We just have to play through it and fight better.”

Boynton on Kentucky’s length: “They have great length. [DeAndre] Liggins was on me the majority of the game. In situations like that, if we play a team like them, we just have to drive it to the rim more. If they come out to us, drive past them and go to the rim.”

Boynton on the technical foul: “Me and the ref basically had a misunderstanding. I was trying to walk away. He was calling my name and I was kind of ignoring him.”

Parsons on if UK surprised them at all: “We were very prepared on what they were going to do. I don’t think our defense was a problem.”

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OGGOA’s 2011 NCAA Tournament Challenge

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive is inviting you, our readers, to join our second annual NCAA Tournament Challenge. Hosted by, OGGOA’s 2011 NCAA Tournament Challenge is intended to provide you all with a sense of community, competition and, of course, a few PRIZES as you watch the Florida Gators compete!

OGGOA will give out a pair of to-be-determined prizes to two participants. The first will go to the overall winner, and the second will be awarded to whoever picks the most total games correct. Have fun and enjoy March Madness!

To sign up, visit:

Password: horfordnoah

*Make sure you have a account before signing up.

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Gators get No. 2 seed in 2011 NCAA Tournament

No. 12 Florida Gators basketball (26-7) has earned a berth to the 2011 NCAA Tournament after completing a fantastic regular season that included winning the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship.

As announced during the NCAA Selection Show, Florida – a No. 2 seed – will face the No. 15-seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-13) of the Big West in Tampa, FL on Thursday night at 6:50 p.m. on TBS.

“We are really excited about being in the NCAA Tournament,’’ head coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m very happy for our players and our staff for the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. We look forward to playing in Tampa and we will have a lot to get prepared for in a short amount of time.”

The Gators, placed in the Southeast Region (New Orleans, LA), could advance to face No. 7 UCLA (22-10) or No. 10 Michigan State (19-14) in the next round on Saturday. Pittsburgh (27-5) earned the region’s No. 1 seed.

“Obviously nobody expected us to be in this position three weeks ago,” UCSB head coach Bob Williams said after learning of his team’s seeding on Sunday. “We’re very happy about the opportunity to play Florida and to go to back to the tournament two years in a row. I don’t know much about them, except that they have one of the best coaches in the country, but we’ll work on that the next couple of days.”

Other notable competitors in the bracket include No. 3-seed BYU (30-4) [which UF lost to in a double-overtime thriller in the 2010 NCAA Tournament] and No. 5-seed Kansas State (22-10) [which Florida beat 57-44 on Dec. 18].

OGGOA will be updating this story shortly with more information.

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No. 12 Florida falls flat as No. 16 Kentucky wins 2011 SEC Tournament in 70-54 rout

The weekend of slow starts and long stretches without scoring finally came back to bite the No. 12 Florida Gators (26-7), which fell to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) 70-54 in the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on Sunday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Florida scored their fewest points since Jan. 20 as Kentucky kept the pressure on and led the entire second half to win the 27th SEC Tournament title in school history. Guard Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with a game-high 17 points as four of five of his team’s starters scored in double figures.

Kentucky began the game with a high level of efficiency, going 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from downtown to take an early 14-5 lead. Florida responded with an 11-3 run including eight-straight points and two solid defensive plays from freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin to reduce their deficit to 17-16.

Moments later, the Gators took their first lead of the game, but the Wildcats erupted on a 9-0 run to go ahead 30-24. Florida failed to score for a 7:12 stretch as Kentucky capitalized and went into the break with a five-point lead built off of a major free throw attempt disparity (14-1) and UF’s numerous first-half turnovers (6) and fouls (9).

The Wildcats also started the second half with great energy, using an 8-0 run off of two Gators turnovers to take a 41-29 lead. Both teams went on a 5:11 scoreless stretch after that, but Kentucky G Darius Miller hit a big three-pointer to give his team a 14-point lead with 9:21 to left to play.

Florida scored five-straight to cut their deficit to eight, but Kentucky maintained their intensity to take a game-high 16-point lead with the clock winding down.

Forward Terrence Jones was the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer with 16 points. Miller was 6-for-8 from the field for 15 points, and G DeAndre Liggins scored 10 for UK. Jones and Liggins each went 7-of-8 from the line.

The free throw shooting and fouling disparity continued through the second half. The widely-panned officiating crew called seven additional fouls on UF and gave their opponent 21 more chances from the charity stripe (29-8) over the course of the game.

However, the Gators also committed 14 turnovers in the contest and only shot 38.6 percent from the floor even though they had eight more field goal attempts and six additional chances from beyond the arc.

Sophomore G Kenny Boynton scored 10 points and was the only Florida player to finish in double figures. Senior F Chandler Parsons contributed nine points and 10 rebounds but was 4-for-12 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown. Junior PG Erving Walker added eight points but was also an inefficient 3-for-10 from the field.

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin had the roughest afternoon of any Gators starter, only hitting three shots for seven points while managing just two rebounds and turning the ball over a season-high five times. Wilbekin didn’t score after putting up eight-straight points in the first half, and freshman C Patric Young wound up with four points and seven boards in 18 minutes of game action.

At the conclusion of the game, Boynton and Parsons were both honored with selections to the 2011 SEC All-Tournament Team. Miller was named the event’s MVP.

Florida must regroup as they await word on their position in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which begins on Thursday. The Gators’ seed and opponent will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. live on CBS.

Photo Credit: Dave Martin/Associated Press

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