SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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2014 Battle 4 Atlantis bracket released; Florida Gators to open tournament vs. Georgetown

The Florida Gators will take on the Georgetown Hoyas in the opening round of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which will be held from Nov. 26-28 at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Guaranteed to play three games in as many days, the winner and loser from the Florida-Georgetown game will take on either Wisconsin or UAB. With consecutive victories, the Gators would play in the tournament’s championship game.

UF is 2-2 all-time against GU. The teams last met on the deck of the USS Bataan in the 2012 Navy-Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, Florida. The game was halted at halftime due to condensation collecting on the court and did not resume.

Florida’s first game will tip on Nov. 26 at 9:30 p.m. and air live nationally on AXS TV, which is available on major television providers including AT&T Uverse, Charter Cable, Xfinity TV, DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FIOS, among others.

Should the Gators lose that showdown, both of their remaining contests would remain on AXS TV. If Florida wins, its latter two games would air live nationally on ESPN.

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SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

1 » ESPN announced on Monday that the Florida Gators will help kick off the network’s annual 24-hour college basketball marathon when they host the Miami Hurricanes on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. live on ESPNU. Florida is one of four Southeastern Conference teams that will participate in the event, joining Auburn, Kentucky and South Carolina. The two featured contests for the marathon include a doubleheader on Nov. 18 featuring Duke vs. Michigan State at 7 p.m. and UK vs. Kansas at 9 p.m.

2 » For the third time in the last two offseasons, a former Gators football player has been sidelined for the entire season after suffering an injury during practice. The New York Jets announced on Saturday that linebacker Jermaine Cunningham suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the entire 2014 campaign. Cut in training camp last year by the New England Patriots, Cunningham was not picked up by the Jets until November. He played in two games for New York without registering a tackle and was considered on the roster bubble for 2014 entering team workouts.

3 » The Arizona Cardinals on Friday announced the signing of former Florida offensive tackle Max Starks, who barely played in the NFL in 2013 after spending less than a month on the roster of the St. Louis Rams. A 10-year veteran who has started 96 games in his career, Starks is well-known by head coach Bruce Arians, his former offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether Starks ultimately makes the team out of training camp remains to be seen.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

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Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

Drawing similarities between a coach who led a team to its worst record since 1979 with another who won back-to-back national titles is a tall task, but Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that in a radio interview on Thursday.

While once again expressing his complete confidence that head football coach Will Muschamp is the right man for the job, one who can turn the Gators back into a contender after leading the program to a 4-8 record in 2013, Foley explained in-depth to Buddy Martin of WOCA 1370 AM how he saw – and still sees – in Muschamp many of the characteristics that made head basketball coach Billy Donovan successful.

“I’m not saying Will and Billy are the same person, but [when I hired Muschamp] I saw the same energy, I saw the same passion, I saw the same enthusiasm, I saw the same track record in terms of he coached for some of the greats, certainly Nick Saban,” said Foley.

Continue Reading » Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

Best- and worst-case scenarios

Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.

It’s simple, really.

No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.

Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…

Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

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Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball released the team’s entire 2014-15 non-conference schedule on Tuesday, though times and network assignments will not be announced until closer to the start of the season.

The Gators will face at least three (but up to seven) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while also participating in special events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC-Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Potential opponents for Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis include Butler, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

“This difficult schedule will not only prepare our team for league and postseason play, it delivers a terrific lineup of marquee games for our fans,” said Mike Hill, UF’s executive associate athletic director for external affairs, in a school release. “From hosting the defending national champions, to renewing the Miami rivalry, to playing in perhaps the toughest tournament ever assembled, this schedule has it all for the Gators.”

Below is the official 2014-15 non-conference schedule:

Continue Reading » Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, USA Basketball, Grier

1 » Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons’s rise to fame and popularity, not only within basketball circles but Hollywood as well, continues as he is now being discussed on EOnline.com after having a dinner with Kendall Jenner. According to the report, Parsons and a friend dined at STK in Los Angeles, California, on Friday with Jenner, her sister Kylie Jenner, and a female friend of theirs.

“Kendall and Chandler had ‘immediate chemistry,’ the source tells E! News. “She was laughing, smiling and they seemed to be having great conversation with each other.

“The eyewitness adds that Kendall and Chandler ‘were chatting and flirting’ throughout their meal, during which the Keeping Up With the Kardashian stars noshed on tuna tartare and sipped on water. Everyone was dressed casually for the evening, with Kendall sporting a denim skirt.

“However, a second source insists that the duo’s outing was ‘not at all a date or romantic.’”

2 » Speaking of Parsons, USA Basketball published a profile on him Tuesday as he competes for a spot on the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Parsons said it took him “less than half a second” to accept the invitation to join training camp because “there was no way I was going to turn this down.” He continued: “Playing for USA Basketball still gives me goose bumps, just saying that and putting on the jersey. It will never get old.” Said head coach Mike Krzyzewski of what Parsons brings to the table: “He can stretch the floor and hopefully play defense on multiple positions. He wants to be here and he’s going to be in contention for one of those [12] spots where he’s a complimentary player.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Parsons, USA Basketball, Grier

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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