Donovan’s UAB post-game, SEC teleconference

The No. 13/14 Florida Gators ended their 2011-12 non-conference schedule with another double-digit victory, defeating UAB 79-61 on Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared his thoughts on the victory. He also spoke to the media Wednesday as part of the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly teleconference.

HOW FLORIDA CAN BECOME A TRULY “ELITE” TEAM

Following Tuesday’s game, Donovan was open and honest about what the Gators will have to do to be an elite this year, saying Florida must learn to sacrifice, appreciate their opponents and respect each other as capable, talented players.

“When you’re talking about being a really elite team, it means you have talent on your team. And we have talent on our team. So the first thing that needs to happen is they need to sacrifice. There is always a level of sacrifice. Any of the teams that go really far understand that there’s a level of sacrifice, that they can do more but they understand that them doing more creates less for the team and them actually doing a little bit less creates more for the team. There needs to be an appreciation for who you’re playing with and the fact that there’s good players around you and really admiring, respecting the job that they have in front of them and how they go about doing their job. And then I think there needs to be a level of emotion and passion and excitement and thankfulness for the opportunity to compete. People that can embrace those areas and those aspects have a chance to end up being very elite provided they have the talent level in place to be elite. Those are hard things to deal with.”

YOUNG IS A KEY BUT HE’S ALSO JUST DOING HIS JOB

As a team with a plethora of talented guards and a relatively thin frontcourt when it comes to size and strength, Florida is seen nationally as a squad that depends on sophomore center Patric Young to give them a low-post presence. That may be the case, but Donovan was quick to point out that Young – like every other player – is just doing his job and whatever he can to help the Gators win each game.

“We’re a team and everybody’s got to do their job and their part. Patric’s certainly has got a job and a part that he plays. There’s no question that his size and strength and things that he can do helps our team,” he said.

“We need Patric to play with the energy he’s always played with and continue to develop and get better. I think he’s in an entirely different role than he was a year ago because our frontcourt was so deep and he was a freshman last year and there was a learning curve he had to go through. Patric has been a great kid to coach because he’s eager to get better, he’s eager to improve. The team is important to him as is winning. We just need him to continually do his job night-in and night-out, and I think he’s committed to doing that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan from Tuesday on heading on the road to Tennessee: “There’s a process that these guys need to go through in order to understand the level they need to play at and compete at. I think our non-conference schedule has been difficult, has been challenging. I feel good about going into Knoxville from the standpoint of playing at Rutgers, playing at Syracuse, playing at Ohio State. We’ve played at some difficult venues and our guys understand what it’s like playing on the road.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on having a few days off before the UT game: “Everybody right now is excited about league play starting. I know our guys are, too. At least playing last night we get a little bit of time here with the break to get prepared to play against Tennessee on the road. Obviously in this league I think every game, home or away, is a battle, and we know we got a great challenge ahead of us in Knoxville.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on if not playing for a division title anymore impacts him as a coach or the players who compete on the court: “One of the emphases that have decreased over the year is when you do win a conference championship and you win your league. Because of all the expansion and because of all that’s going on with schools moving into different leagues and so many teams in so many different leagues, there never really is anymore a true champion. I don’t think an East champion and a West champion alters our minds going into the season, but I think we’re all as coaches on board with trying to do what’s best for the league to help our league. Whoever wins the league this year, in a lot of respects none of our schedules are exactly the same. The only way to have a fair league champion is to play everybody twice, once home and once away. That’s certainly not going to happen with the amount of games that need to be played for people with what they’re trying to do with their non-conference schedule. The feeling was to move to one league and not have divisions was the best thing for the league. The coaches agreed that would be a good thing to do. Although we don’t have divisions, we still are playing divisional play so-to-speak with the way the schedules are set up. I don’t think we’ve ever gone into the season saying, ‘Let’s win the East.’ Certainly all of the schools are competing for a SEC championship and trying to compete for postseason play to continue to move forward, grow, develop and get better as the course of the season unfolds.”

» Donovan from Wednesday on how he feels about there not being a “true” champion anymore: “Things evolve and change. I remember when I was an assistant at Kentucky when it was still you played everybody twice, there was truly a champion and a lot of emphasis placed on that. Among the coaches and the players its important, but once you get through the regular season, a lot of the focus even goes beyond your conference tournament right into whose on the bubble, whose off the bubble, whose going to be a number one seed, how’s the seeding going to be. It’s almost as if everything is geared towards the NCAA Tournament. And I understand that. It certainly creates a lot of excitement for college basketball. I still think for the coaches and the players, competing for a league championship, playing for a league championship is very important. I don’t know if nationally in terms of fans and people, if people look at that as necessarily being a big deal.”

Tags: ,

Walker, Boynton shoot lights out as UF tops UAB

Half of the lights going out in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center was an obvious coincidence, but the stellar shooting of senior point guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton led the No. 13/14 Florida Gators (12-3) to a 79-61 victory over the UAB Blazers (5-8) Tuesday evening in Gainesville, FL.

Walker and Boynton each earned their stripes from beyond the arc. The former hit 7-of-9 shots from downtown for a game-high 23 points, while the latter was 6-of-10 from three for 20 points. Walker’s seven treys were a career-high for most in a game, while Boynton’s six tied his own career-high.

UAB took it to Florida early, using a 12-3 run to jump ahead one point more than midway through the first half. However, Walker soon answered with a three to put the Gators ahead 18-16, and Boynton hit a trey with seven seconds left to cap a 10-2 run that gave UF a 37-26 lead at the break.

Florida opened up the second half in a similar fashion, taking a 15-point lead thanks to a quick 6-0 run; the Gators then used a 12-3 scoring stretch that included three treys by Boynton to jump ahead of the Blazers 55-34 with 12:17 left in the game.

Minutes later, half of the lights at the top of the dome went out as did one of the video boards. The coaches met with the referees at midcourt and both sides agreed to continue playing under less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

UF junior forward Erik Murphy made the block of the night when action resumed and Walker quickly hit a three from the corner, but UAB was undeterred, scoring eight-straight points to cut their deficit to 12 with 7:43 to go in the contest.

The Blazers reduced the Gators’ advantage to single digits with just over six minutes remaining, but Boynton and Walker each hit their sixth trey of the game in consecutive fashion to once again put Florida ahead 15 points and lead UF toward the victory.

The Gators had 21 assists on 31 baskets and shot 50.8 percent from the floor as well as 55.6 percent from downtown. Florida did not take a single foul shot in the first half and was just 2-for-5 in the second half. UAB outrebounded UF 36-34 on the evening with 14 offensive boards but shot just 36.4 percent from the field and was 5-of-17 from three.

Walker added six dimes to his stat line, which moved him into third in school history for assists (456), passing Nick Calathes. His nine tries from downtown brought him into a tie with Lee Humphrey for third all-time in three-pointers attempted, while Walker’s seven makes inched him closer to third all-time in that category (Anthony Roberson, 267).

Boynton also had five assists, and his six threes moved him a game closer to No. 2 on Florida’s all-time list for consecutive games with a trey (Brett Nelson, 33).

Sophomore center Patric Young posted 15 points and seven rebounds (four offensive) for the Gators, and sophomore F Will Yeguete registered a team-high 11 boards.

Freshman G Bradley Beal had six assists but posted his worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 2-of-15 baskets while also not grabbing a single rebound.

Beal will have plenty of time to work the kinks out of his shot as UF does not take the court again until Saturday when they begin SEC play on the road at Tennessee. The game will air live at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Loss to Rutgers drops Florida in top 25 polls

The eighth editions of the regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Syracuse Orange maintained their spot as the No. 1 team in the country for the fourth week in a row.

The Florida Gators fell to No. 14 and No. 13 in the respective polls on the heels of a double overtime loss on the road at Rutgers and a victory at home against Yale. Florida is one of three Southeastern Conference teams listed in the respective 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: Syracuse (30), Kentucky (1), Duke, North Carolina, Baylor
6-10: Missouri, Ohio State, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville
11-15: Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Kansas
16-20: Mississippi State, UNLV, Murray State, Wisconsin, Marquette
21-25: Harvard, Kansas State, Virginia, Creighton, San Diego State

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (30), Ohio State (1), Kentucky, Louisville, Duke
6-10: North Carolina, Baylor, Missouri, Connecticut, Florida
11-15: Wisconsin, Georgetown, Marquette, Mississippi State, Indiana
16-20: Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas, Creighton, UNLV
21-25: Murray State, Pittsburgh, Harvard, Virginia, Kansas State

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (60), Kentucky (5), North Carolina, Baylor, Duke
6-10: Ohio State, Missouri, Connecticut, Georgetown, Michigan State
11-15: Louisville, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi State
16-20: Michigan, UNLV, Wisconsin, Murray State, Marquette
21-25: Virginia, Harvard, Kansas State, San Diego State, Gonzaga

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (54), Ohio State (5), Kentucky (4), Louisville (2), UNC
6-10: Baylor, Duke, Missouri, Connecticut, Florida
11-15: Wisconsin, Georgetown, Indiana, Marquette, Mississippi State
16-20: Michigan State, Kansas, Michigan, UNLV, Murray State
21-25: Creighton, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Harvard, San Diego State

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Tags:

Florida vs. Yale post-game news and notes

The No. 10 Florida Gators ended 2011 with a 20-point victory over Yale Saturday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared his thoughts on the victory.

“ONE OF THE BEST GAMES WE’VE PLAYED THIS YEAR”

With Florida in a nine-point hole early in the game, the Gators never got flustered and did not press, quickly pulling even and far ahead of Yale on the way to a solid victory. UF shot 53.4 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from downtown, had a three-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio and had 24 assists on 31 made baskets. Those are just a few of the reasons Donovan was so pleased after the contest.

“I thought it was one of the best games we played this year,” he said. “I thought we were great. I was really pleased with the way we moved the ball, shared the ball. I thought we really played the right way today. We tried to play the right way.”

He was also quite happy with the team’s defense, especially that of redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario, who has been anything but reliable to that end this season.

“It was the first time I felt as a coach since he’s been here that I wasn’t frightened to death with him on defense,” Donovan said with a wry grin. “His comment to me is, ‘Well, I’m trying.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re supposed to try.’ It was the first time I actually thought that there was a level of focus and commitment there to try and do a good job there. Therefore he played more.”

WALKER LEARNING TO SACRIFICE WILL GO A LONG WAY

Before the season began, Donovan called out senior point guard Erving Walker and said, specifically, that he wanted him to lead the Southeastern Conference in assists and not worry about scoring. Walker has done that on occasion and seen positive results, but he has also fallen back into his own ways during a number of games, contests in which Florida has struggled.

Without naming anyone specifically, Donovan made a pointed statement that was likely directed at Walker. “I still think we’re figuring out that there’s going to be a level of sacrifice inside of our team that everybody’s going to have to make to a certain extent,” he said. He was, however, pleased to see the good Walker show up Saturday.

“Erving Walker only took four shots. Can he handle that? Are you OK with that? Can you genuinely be [OK with that]? That’s what I’m asking him,” he explained. “He wants to win, but him understanding how the game is going, we’re OK right now. We don’t need you taking a lot of shots. I think that’s something he’s working through and learning, and it’s part of our growth and development as a team.”

Tags: , , ,

Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2011 (check out Friday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 On the Field Moments of the Year.

11 » JOHNSON, BRANTLEY, KITCHENS SUFFER SCARY INJURIES
Plenty of Florida student-athletes suffered injuries in 2011 but three in particular caused fans to gasp and remain worried about the future of said player. Participating in the semifinals of the 2011 SEC Tournament, Gators baseball wound up dropping a close game 4-3 to Georgia, a loss that forced an elimination game which Florida would later win. However, UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Johnson was taken off a stretcher in the top of the first inning after giving up two earned runs and accidentally being beaned in the back of the head with the baseball by sophomore catcher Mike Zunino. Trying to pick off a runner stealing second, Zunino got his leg tangled with the batter, tripped and flung the ball into the head of a crouching Johnson. He was quickly stabilized, brought to the hospital and deemed responsive though he had a massive headache and was diagnosed with a minor three concussion (no skull fractures or bleeding). Johnson missed the entire Gainesville Regional but returned to action in the Super Regional after being sidelined for more than two weeks.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was in the middle of playing the best game of his collegiate career (despite throwing a costly pick-six) when he went down with an ugly lower leg injury at the end of the first half against Alabama. Brantley had thrown a pretty 65-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose on the first play of the game and was in the middle of driving Florida in for another score before being sacked twice and having his lower leg contorted the second time. Brantley was nearly immediately ruled out of the team’s next game against powerhouse LSU with a high-ankle sprain, and UF was forced to start a true freshman who had not even taken a snap in the team’s first five games in consecutive road contests against LSU and Auburn. Needless to say, the Gators lost both of those contests.

Brantley was never the same after the injury. He nearly helped Florida beat Georgia but was pretty much immobilized in the pocket and threw three interceptions in the team’s first five possessions against Florida State before being knocked out of the game with a head injury that was equally painful to watch. However, that was not the Gators’ only major injury in that game. Perhaps the scariest incident of the year came on kickoff coverage when sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was hit hard from his blindside and laid motionless on the field while trainers attended to him. To this day Kitchens does not remember anything about being hit. Lucky for him, he was cleared that evening with “just” a concussion, released from the hospital and allowed to return to practice with the team just before Christmas. He is expected to play in the 2012 Gator Bowl.

10 » LACROSSE WINS FIRST CONFERENCE TITLE, REACHES ELITE EIGHT

The Florida lacrosse program has been making history since the day it signed the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class prior to the team’s inaugural season in 2010. The Gators were a young but talented group and won over the school even if falling short of some of their goals one year ago. Florida took the next step in 2011, ending the regular season with an 11-0 record at home and on a 13-game winning streak. The Gators capped their stellar regular season by defeating Northwestern for the 2011 ALC Championship just 419 days after the team played its first game in school history. Florida would fall to Northwestern just over three weeks later in the finals of the 2011 ALC Tournament, splitting the season’s conference title down the middle, but took home a number of awards from the league. Sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen won Player of the Year honors while head coach Amanda O’Leary was named Coach of the Year in just her second season. Two more players were All-ALC first team selections and three others earned spots on the second team. The ladies made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament as well before being taken down 13-9 by Duke, their only loss at home on the season. The Gators were the first program in the history of the sport to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in only their second year of existence and defeated some of the top teams in the country on the way to an unforgettable season that sets Florida up as a favorite heading into 2012.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2013 PG Kasey Hill chooses Florida Gators

The last day of 2011 was a good one for Florida Gators basketball, which earned a 90-70 victory over Yale early in the day and nabbed a commitment from 2013 four-star point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) following the game.

Hill, the No. 27-ranked player in his class according to Rivals.com, chose Florida primarily over offers from Florida State and Louisville.

“I [committed] after the game but I knew before the game that I would do it,” Hill told ESPN‘s Dave Telep. “I told [Billy Donovan] that I was ready. Last time I visited he told me to let him know when I was ready. I came up today and I was ready.”

The Gators’ first commitment for 2013, he adds yet another supremely talented point guard to UF’s recently surging backcourt.

Hill is currently teammates with Gators four-star 2012 guard commit Michael Frazier (Montverde, FL) at Montverde Academy. The two are good friends, and Hill is also close with Florida three-star 2012 G commit Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL). UF also has four-star PG Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) pledged for 2012.

With Hill now in the fold, Florida will focus on earning a commitment from four-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) for 2013. Walker, Rivals‘ No. 8 player in the country, is believed to have the Gators as his leader and would be a fantastic addition to the class. He is also high on Kansas and Kentucky.

UF is still actively trying to get a positive response from 2012 five-star PF Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV) who has Florida in his top 10 along with Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Washington and West Virginia.

ESPNU considers both Hill and Walker five-star prospects and has them ranked No. 16 and No. 5, respectively in the 2013 recruiting class.

Tags: , , ,

No. 10 Florida tops Yale 90-70 to close out 2011

Attempting to put a good taste back in their mouths after being upset by Rutgers on the road Thursday, the No. 10 Florida Gators (11-3) overpowered the Yale Bulldogs (8-4) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on New Year’s Eve, defeating their Ivy League opponent 90-70 just eight hours before closing out 2011.

Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton and Bulldogs forward Greg Mangano led the way for their squads as each registered a game-high 26 points. Boynton posted his on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting while going 5-for-7 from downtown, while Mangano hit 11-of-18 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Yale started off by hitting three straight shots from downtown to take a 9-0 advantage, but Florida immediately answered with a 17-3 run and 29-6 scoring stretch to take a 29-15 lead with 9:55 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs hung around though and used an 8-1 run late in the half to pull within five of the Gators. Consecutive three-pointers by Boynton – including his traditional four-point play – kept Florida ahead of Yale, but the Bulldogs went 9-for-14 from downtown in the opening half and kept the Gators’ advantage at 11 points heading into the break.

With Florida holding a 12-point lead three minutes into the second half, Yale put together a 6-0 run to cut their deficit to just six points. However, Gators junior F Erik Murphy responded with back-to-back makes from beyond the arc to negate the run. Minutes later, Boynton hit a pair of treys and Murphy added yet another as part of a 9-2 run that gave UF a 17-point lead.

Florida kept their foot on the pedal from that point forward. Freshman Bradley Beal took a great pass in for a one-handed dunk and followed that up with an alley-oop to sophomore center Patric Young. Young added seven more points as part of a personal 9-0 run that put the Gators ahead 83-57 with less than four minutes left in the game.

Complementing Boynton’s stellar performance, Young finished with 19 points, five rebounds and a career-high five assists while shooting 60 percent from the floor and hitting 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line.

Murphy posted a career-high 18 points while going 5-for-7 from downtown, and Beal added 11 points (including three highlight dunks) along with eight boards.

Mangano also registered a game-high 15 rebounds (five offensive) and blocked two shots in the contest, completing his impressive effort for Yale.

The Bulldogs outrebounded the Gators 31-28 (11-5 offensive), but Florida outshot Yale from the floor (53.4 to 42.2 percent), three-point range (57.1 to 50.0 percent) and the charity stripe (69.6 to 62.5 percent). UF had 24 assists on 31 made baskets and sported a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio (24:7) on the afternoon.

Florida will begin 2012 with their final non-conference game as UF will host UAB on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. The game will air live on FOX Sports Network (check your local listings). The Gators begin SEC action on Jan. 7 with an 11 a.m. contest at Tennessee.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.

10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 148 of 245  « First  ... « 146  147  148  149  150 » ...  Last »