Notre Dame C Wenger may transfer to Florida

Granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after sustaining two concussions during fall practice in 2010, Notre Dame Fighting Irish center Dan Wenger has decided he would rather spend his final season in college elsewhere. According to the South Bend Tribune, Wenger requested and received an unconditional release from head coach Brian Kelly and has his sights set on joining the Florida Gators.

Should a transfer to Florida be accepted by the university, Wenger would reunite with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci, the two men who originally recruited him to the Irish.

Kelly accepted Wenger’s transfer because ND doctors would not clear him to play. “The young man still wants to play, and I’m not going to stand in the way,” he told the Tribune.

In order to be immediately eligible and avoid sitting out a transfer season, Wenger would have to find a graduate degree program offered at UF but not currently available at Notre Dame. He is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Coral Springs, FL) and started 13 games at center for the Irish in 2008.

Redshirt junior Sam Robey is currently listed as the Gators’ starting center. Should Wenger transfer, he would most likely be a reserve if he is able to be cleared medically.

OGGOA will update this story when more information is made available.

Photo Credit: ChicagoNow/Unknown

3/21: Donovan on Boynton’s ankle, facing BYU

Two days after his team advanced to the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after defeating the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins 73-65, No. 2-seed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss his team and its upcoming game against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars on Thursday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the press conference.

SIGNS POINTING TO “GO” FOR BOYNTON

As sophomore guard Kenny Boynton laid on the court in agony Saturday with the game up for grabs, Florida’s chances of advancing looked to have suffered a setback. Just minutes later, Boynton returned from getting his sprained ankle taped up by the trainers and continued to play as UF took down UCLA. Immediately after the game, Donovan noted the Boynton had suffered a mild sprain and would likely miss practice this week but be good-to-go on Thursday against BYU. He reinforced that opinion on Monday.

“We fully expect him to play. He’s not going to do anything [Monday] in practice,” he said. “He definitely has some discomfort there, but I don’t feel like it’s a discomfort that will prevent him from playing. […] I’m still a little bit cautious of where he’s at because I haven’t seen him sprint, cut, change direction, do those kind of things. Kenny has had some ankle problems during his career. He has sprained that ankle quite a bit; he’s had to deal with it at different times during his career. I also think there’s probably a mental hurdle for him that he’s going to need to get over.”

Boynton, who is neither wearing a walking boot nor utilizing crutches, has already seen the swelling go down. Like in the 2010 match-up, he would have been tasked with defending Cougars star G Jimmer Fredette the majority of the time on Saturday. With a tender ankle, Boynton will probably have some help in that endeavor this time around.

“There’s going to be a lot of guys on [Fredette],” Donovan said. “Last year, because of our lack of depth, Boynton was having such a good offensive night he got worn out as we got into the first overtime, second overtime. I don’t think it can be one guy. Whoever’s going to be on him, they’re going to be on an island by themselves.”

That being said, Donovan does believe Boynton is the team’s best on-the-ball defender, comparing him to Corey Brewer and Justin Hamilton in terms of athleticism and ability to avoid screens. “What makes him good is he’s got great, great feet and he’s got great lateral movement. He can play close enough to people and keep people out of the lane,” he said. “He can really spread himself out, and athletically he can really move his feet. Because of his feet and his speed, he’s a guy that can get off and around screens.”

FIGURING OUT FREDETTE

Donovan had a chance to see Fredette last year, months before the hype machine surrounding him really got underway. Since then, he has been enthusiastic about what Fredette has been able to accomplish. “It’s pretty impressive what he has been able to do coming out of last year, taking his game and his team to a different level than they were a year ago,” he said. “I always have great admiration and respect when somebody can do what he did last year, have the publicity and exposure that he had last year, and then do it even better this year.”

Due to his experience coaching against Fredette, Donovan knows that there is no stopping him – but it is possible to contain him. “I really thought we did a pretty nice job defending Fredette last year. In regulation he had 23 points and then he exploded in the overtimes and ended up with 37,” he said. “If you look at the stat sheet, it was really the other players. They made 10 three-point shots in the game a year ago, and Fredette made three of them. There were other guys on that stat sheet that played well.”

That being said, Donovan also realizes that there is no underestimating or overlooking what Fredette brings to the table. “He’s going to make some very difficult shots,” he said. “Every game that he’s played, everybody’s trying to stop him, everybody’s trying to slow him down. He still averages 28 a game; he still does it regardless.”

TYUS THE UNSUNG HERO

With a career-high 13 rebounds on Saturday, senior forward Alex Tyus’s contributions against UCLA were certainly overlooked by the majority of fans and analysts. What Tyus was able to do throughout the game did not get past Donovan, who provided him with plenty of praise on Monday. “The one thing that got lost on the game that no one really talked about was Alex Tyus’s rebounding the last two minutes of the game – where we limited them to one shot and at least we closed the gap on the rebounding margin,” he said before discussing Tyus’s performance as a whole this season.

“I am really proud of him. People hear me talk about Chandler [Parsons], and there’s been a lot of talk about Chandler just because he was [SEC] Player of the Year and there was a lot more attention on Chandler and the way Chandler was playing the last eight games of the year. But I have an enormous amount of respect for Alex, just his attitude and the way he’s approached this year.

“He has been all about the team. He has been all about winning. The one thing we’ve tried to explain to Alex is, because of his athleticism, he can have an impact on the game regardless of if he gets the ball or doesn’t get the ball. His impact on the game was huge; we were getting killed on the backboard. We had 10 rebounds in the first half; Alex had six of them. And then he got seven in the second half.

Erving Walker’s points overshadowed really a big part [of the win]. Those plays kind of get lost. Alex has had a great year. His points may not be what they were, but he’s given up very similar to what [Joakim] Noah, [Al] Horford and Brewer have done for the betterment of our team. He could score more points, but I’m not so sure our team would be where it could be. I do have confidence that, on any given night, Alex could get 20 points. We do need his energy, we do need his rebounding, and we do need his defense. When he does that, it really adds a dimension to our frontcourt.”

QUOTES

On the game being a rematch from 2010: “We could play better than we played last year in the NCAA Tournament and still not beat these guys. […] For us to even think about last year, we have our hands filled just worrying about this BYU team this year. Because this year, they’re better than they were a year ago. We could play better than we did a year ago and still not beat this team.”

On whether or not Florida has improved as well: “We are better as a team, but that does not necessarily mean we are going to play better in the game. […] We’re a little bit of a deeper team than maybe we were a year ago.”

On BYU as a team: “They’re a better team than they were a year ago. Jimmer certainly gets a lot of publicity and a lot of exposure, but it’s really their whole team. He’s certainly a hard guy to defend and stop, but they’ve also got some other good players.”

On Walker controlling the game: “What Erving’s got to understand is, he can’t just think at the end of the game, ‘OK, I’m just going to go right now,’ because he’s got to make the right decision. He can’t allow his competitiveness put our team at a disadvantage.”

SIX BITS: awards, softball, lacrosse, gymnastics

1 » Florida Gators track and field head coach Mike Holloway was honored with the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s National Men’s Indoor Head Coach of the Year award on Friday for the second-straight year. Holloway, who has led Florida to back-to-back NCAA Indoor Championships over the last two seasons, continues to rack up the national and regional awards. One of his assistants on the men’s team, Dick Booth was awarded National Men’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA as well.

2 » The state of Mississippi was no match for No. 2/3 Florida softball (30-1, 6-0 SEC) this week as the Gators took down the Mississippi State Bulldogs (12-14, 2-2 SEC) at home in a pair of contests during the week and swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-21, 0-6 SEC) in a three-game road series over the weekend. Florida outscored Ole Miss 37-6 over the course of the three games and made the most out of nearly every opportunity.

Senior first baseman Megan Bush set a new school record and now has a 19-game hitting streak after turning in a spectacular performance in which she combined to go 6-9 from the plate with 10 RBI, three runs and four walks. On the hill for the Gators all weekend was freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (16-1), who started all three contests and did not allow a single earned run all weekend. In 9.0 innings, Rogers only gave up five hits, three unearned runs and three walks while striking out nine batters. Also turning in stellar performances in the three-game set were senior second baseman Aja Paculba (4-10, 6 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB), freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (3-11, 5 RBI, 4 R, BB) and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder (4-6, 4 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB).

3 » Continuing to excel in only their second year in existence, No. 8/10 Gators lacrosse (8-1) took down another ranked opponent by defeating the No. 11/14 Syracuse Orange (2-4) 16-11 on Saturday at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns tied her career high (and school record) with six goals; she also notched an assist for a season-high total of seven points. Florida received plenty of scoring help from sophomore midfielders Kitty Cullen and Brittany Dashiell, each of whom contributed hat tricks. Since losing an overtime contest to North Carolina on Feb. 12 to start the regular season, UF is on an impressive eight-game winning streak.

4 » Competing for the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship, No. 1 Florida gymnastics (17-2, 5-1 SEC) dropped a heart-breaker to the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide 197.225-196.975. The Gators won the bars and floor exercises, but the Crimson Tide used greater total margins in the vault and beam to improve their team total and capture the crown. After the event, Florida’s Rhonda Faehn was named 2011 SEC Coach of the Year for the fourth overall and second-straight time, and Alaina Johnson was awarded with 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year.

5 » Failing to qualify for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Gators women’s basketball (19-14) accepted a bid to the 2011 Women’s National invitation Tournament and defeated the UMBC Retrievers (20-12) 59-47 in first-round action on Friday. Redshirt junior guard Jordan Jones scored a game-high 18 points for Florida, which will ply Florida Gulf Coast (28-3) in the second round on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

6 » No. 13 UF men’s tennis (11-5, 4-1 SEC) dropped a pair of head-to-heads over the weekend as they were defeated by the No. 3 USC Trojans (14-2) 4-3 on Thursday and Rebels (9-4, 3-2 SEC) 4-3 on Saturday. No. 6 senior Alexandre Lacroix lost all four of his events including both singles matches and both doubles matches as the No. 46 duo with teammate sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr.

TWO BITS: Boynton’s ankle, Tebow and Fredette

1 » Injuring his ankle after coming down awkwardly on a three-point attempt, Florida Gators sophomore guard Kenny Boynton is expected to be fine for Thursday’s Sweet 16 match-up with the BYU Cougars. “There’s a bit of swelling at this point,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We do not expect him to be in a position where he shouldn’t be able to play. [He] should be fine, should be ready to play.” Donovan also mentioned that Boynton may miss some practice this week while rehabbing the ankle and making sure it is strong enough to play starter’s minutes in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in New Orleans, LA. When Florida and BYU squared off just one year ago, Boynton posted a career-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting (5-of-10 from downtown). However, he fouled out with 3:57 remaining in the second overtime and the Cougars, fueled by star G Jimmer Fredette’s 37 points, went on to win 99-92.

2 » Speaking of Fredette, the comparisons drawn between him and former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow over the past week have been plenty. Both team leaders who have strong convictions, the players have each received their share of praise and criticism. Asked about having a lot in common with Tebow last Wednesday, Fredette was pleased with the comparison. “I think Tim Tebow is a great guy, a great football player and a great leader,” he told The Denver Post. “I think that one of his greatest qualities is that he knows how to get his team to play the best [it] possibly can. That’s what I try to do, go out there and lead by example, try to say some things, try to get my team motivated to go out and play. He’s been a great story, similar in that people have doubted us throughout our careers. But one thing about both of us I think is that we’re very mentally tough. And we want to show these people that we can do these things, we can go out there and be successful at any level.”

Florida vs. BYU start time set for Thursday

The No. 2-seed Florida Gators (28-7) will face the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars (32-4) in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:27 p.m., the NCAA announced Sunday evening. The game will air live on TBS with Gus Johnson doing play-by-play and Len Elmore providing color commentary.

Florida and BYU will square off in a rematch of the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars defeated the Gators 99-92 in double overtime with BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette scoring a game-high 37 points on 50 percent shooting. Florida, a No. 10-seed to their opponent’s No. 7-seed, had opportunities to win the game at the end of regulation and at the conclusion of the first overtime but failed on both occasions.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan will speak to the media on Monday as the team begins practice for the Sweet 16 contest in New Orleans, LA.

Florida baseball wins three at LSU for first time

No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (18-2, 3-0 SEC) completed a three-game series sweep of the No. 5 LSU Tigers (16-4, 0-3 SEC) over the weekend on the road in Baton Rouge, LA to mark the first time in school history that feat has been accomplished.

Florida outscored LSU 13-7 during the series, hit three home runs and batted .314 (32-for-102) as a team compared to .260 (27-for-104) for their opponent.

Friday: Down 3-2 headed into the top of the ninth inning, the Gators rallied to score three runs in the frame and eventually held on to defeat the Tigers 5-4. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson got the start for Florida and gave up two earned runs in five hits through 5.1 innings. Junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Toledo (2-1) relieved him and picked up the win, while junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (S3) tossed a solid ninth only giving up a single unearned run. Leading the Gators offensively were Johnson (2-4, RBI), sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, 2 RBI, BB) and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R). With one out in the ninth, Zunino hit a solo shot to left to tie the game at three runs apiece. Fonatna finished the rally with a two-RBI single to right field four batters later.

Saturday: The second game in the series saw much less offense as trio of UF pitchers – sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (3-0) and juniors RHP Greg Larson and LHP Nick Maronde (S1) – combined to complete a 1-0 shutout of LSU. Florida scored their single run just minutes into the game as Fontana (1-3, R, BB) began the contest with a leadoff walk and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-4, RBI) doubled to right center to send him across home plate. Randall scattered eight hits over 6.2 innings but never gave up the tying run as the Tigers were unable to capitalize. After Larson finished out the seventh and began the eighth, Mardone came in to close it out and notched strikeouts in four of the game’s five final outs.

Sunday: Down 3-0 through three innings in the third game of the series, the Gators rallied to score seven unanswered runs as they completed the road sweep in exciting fashion. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson began on the hill for Florida but struggled with his command, giving up six hits, four walks and three runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings while striking out four. Sophomore first baseman/RHP Austin Maddox (1-0) earned his first career win in relief of Whitson, allowing only two hits and striking out three over the final 4.1 innings of the game. Faced with a three-run deficit, the Gators rallied to score five in the top of the fourth and immediately take the lead.

With the bases loaded on three-straight singles, Zunino (1-4, 2 RBI, R) added a fourth to drive in two runs. After two ground outs, junior Jeff Moyer (3-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) pinch hit for sophomore third baseman Cody Dent (1-1); he hit a two-RBI single to center. Fontana (2-4, RBI, BB) completed the rally with a triple to right center to score Moyer and put UF on top 5-3. Solo shots from senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-4, RBI, R) in the sixth and Moyer in the ninth completed the Gators’ scoring efforts and ensured they would leave Baton Rouge with the clean sweep.

Florida, currently on a season-long eight-game winning streak, returns to Gainesville, FL for a five-game home stand including two against Winthrop (Tuesday-Wednesday) and a three-game series against South Carolina (Friday-Sunday).

TWO BITS: Meyer visits Utah, Weis happy at UF

1 » Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has been making his rounds of other college football programs over the last month and paid a visit to the Utah Utes, where he also used to coach, on Thursday. After addressing the team and surveying the program, Meyer spoke with the Desert News about how it feels not to be coaching these days. “I guess it’s been great. I don’t know. I’ve got a knot in my stomach right now, missing it awful bad,” he said. Meyer also told the paper that his new job with ESPN will have him work only 60-70 days a year.

2 » In addition to meeting with the media last week, new Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis sat down with the school’s senior writer Scott Cater to discuss the journey that led him to decide to run UF’s offense for at least the next few years. Weis shared a touching story about Super Bowl XXXVI, explained how his son is closer with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick than he is these days and discussed starting a charity because of his daughter and children sharing her condition. He also talked about his decision to coach the Gators and shared a little bit of his philosophy.

“Too many coaches wait until it’s too late,” Weis said of when he would adjust his game plan if it’s not working. “They’ll wait until halftime, but the game might be over already. There have been games where I’ve thrown out the game plan nine plays in.’’ He also talked about his in-game play calling. “One of my pet peeves is coaches who take too long to get a play in,’’ he said. “I call them quick. I like to rapid fire. I was fortunate to be around people who were really good at [play calling], regardless of the level. I like to sit there and say that it’s all you, but it’s an acquired trait that you either get it or don’t get it, like the timing of a play call.’’

NCAA Tournament: Gators’ postgame thoughts

Shortly after the No. 2-seed Florida Gators completed a hard-fought 73-65 victory over the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins, a handful of players and head coach Billy Donovan participated in the postgame press conference. OGGOA has compiled some choice notes and quotes from the media availabilities.

LOCKER ROOM VIDEO

MR. BIG SHOT

Scoring 10 of Florida’s final 12 points including the last seven with 1:15 to go in the game, the only word to describe junior point guard Erving Walker on Saturday is “clutch.” However, Walker’s triumphant second half actually began with four minutes to go earlier when he drove into UCLA center Joshua Smith in an attempt to force his fifth foul but instead bounced off the 6’10” 323-pound freshman and hit an awe-inspiring bank shot to put UF up five. Though Donovan and his teammates were all pleased with his performance, not a single one of them were surprised by his heroics.

“Erv’s fearless. Anytime that guy shoots the ball, I think it’s going in,” senior forward Chandler Parsons said. “He’s got a knack for hitting big shots. This one [over Smith] definitely ranks up there. He was just trying to draw contact; it was a crazy shot and just went in. He’s been doing that for us all year long, so it really doesn’t surprise me because he’s a gutsy player who is willing and wants to take the last shot like that.”

Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin is similarly not fazed by his teammate’s accomplishments. “I’m not surprised no more. I’m like, ‘That’s just Erv,’” he said. “When he shoots it, I always get excited, because I know there’s a high probability it’s going in.”

Donovan also praised Walker’s evening. “He really played well. He was out of sorts a little bit in the first half,” he said. “He had a couple plays where he took a bad three and he had a drive that got blocked; both of those plays led to free throws and fouls for our frontcourt. I was pretty hard on him during the game and at halftime because I felt like he was going to need to step up. Not so much making shots but just… When he’s got his engine running and he’s got that fire and that passion, it changes the complexion of our team and opens up things for other guys on our team. He is a great competitor.

“When you’re that small, and you’re always having to fight for respect, he’s adopted that kind of thing that he knows he’s got to earn it. He’s got that mentality that he realizes he’s going to be evaluated and judged on winning and losing on a point guard and as a player. With his size, he really takes on those challenges.”

Equally complimentary of Walker was Bruins head coach Ben Howland. “He’s so quick. He’s very fast, athletic, and he’s very skilled. He can really shoot it. He’s a fearless little guy,” he said, before discussing Walker’s shot over Smith. “It was a big play. He just kind of bounced off him and hung in the air. That was a very big play.”

Walker took his two clutch shots in stride. “I tried to get past him and I thought he fouled me,” he said of his shot over Smith. “I felt a lot of contact so I tried to just get the ball up on the rim and I was expecting a call, but I didn’t get it and it luckily went in.” Walker also discussed his big three with 1:15 remaining. “We was having a little trouble getting the ball in bounds so Scottie threw it long to me. Malcom Lee went for the steal and I check just to make sure I had time to get the shot off. It was a good look and I felt that would have been a good shot for me to take. I was able to knock the shot down.”

TAKING BACK THE GLASS

Out-rebounded 20-10 in the first half, Donovan wanted to make sure the Gators made a conscious effort to reverse that disparity coming out of the break. That is exactly what they did, out-rebounding their opponent by the same margin to finish the games with each team grabbing 30 apiece.

“We just wanted to stop them from getting second-chance shots. They were really going hard on the offensive glass in the first half,” said senior F Alex Tyus, who brought down a career-high 13 rebounds in the contest. “We answered that in the second half. Alex did a great job on the glass,” Donovan said. “A big key in the game was both frontcourts were battling foul trouble back-and-forth. People can see why I made some of the comments about Smith the other day, because he’s certainly a load. He’s a terrific player, has great hands.”

Donovan also praised Tyus’s efforts. “When he’s playing active like that, even against front lines that are big and strong, he’s so athletic that when he plays with that kind of motor, he’s really a hard guy to block out,” he said.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Florida’s trip to the Sweet 16 is a huge step up from how they have finished the past three seasons. That being said, no one on the team is content with the multiple accomplishments the Gators have already obtained. “We’re not satisfied. We want to keep going,” Parsons said after the game. “We’re excited to see who we play, and we’re excited to get back to work tomorrow and keep taking it one game at a time.”

Freshmen Wilbekin and C Patric Young agreed. “I knew coming in we had a chance to go deep in the tournament with this team. That’s part of the reason I chose to come early, because I knew we had a great team, great starting five returning,” Wilbekin said. “We’re happy for this win but we can’t celebrate it too much. We have more games to go. We’re trying to get to the Final Four and win the championship.” Young shared a similar sentiment on the team’s goals. “You want to make it all the way. We all have our dreams of winning a national championship,” he said.

TWO OTHER BIG MOMENTS

In addition to Walker’s athletic bank shot and dynamic three-pointer, a number of other memorable plays were made down the stretch. Walker and Parsons discuss two game-changing plays they were involved in near the end of the game.

Walker on the trap turnover he and Wilbekin forced: “We were just trying to force the tempo the whole game and they did a good job handling our pressure. Scottie got him in a speed dribble when I came from behind and we got a huge turnover. I think that just changed the momentum for us.”

Parsons on his athletic block of the much-bigger Smith: “There were multiple plays in the game that were big, like Erving’s shot and different defensive stops we made. It was actually my fault on the block because I was late rotating there, so I just tried to get a hand on the ball. That guy’s really strong. It was just a big play.”

QUOTES

Donovan on UCLA as a quality opponent: “UCLA was as good as any team we’ve played all year long. […] We were as tested by them as any team we’ve played all year.”

Donovan on coaching Walker: “I love coaching him just because he’s highly competitive. When you’re dealing with a guy that’s highly competitive, you can always do things to get that competitiveness to come out. It is pretty remarkable what he has been able to do at his size. Six-seven years ago, when his high school coach called me about him, he visited our campus when he was a sophomore in high school and he’s telling me how good he is. I’m like, ‘Listen, you got to be kidding me. This guy is like 5’2”. He’s got no chance.’ Erving’s one of those guys that kind of bides his time during the game and I want to see his engine running a little bit earlier. What you saw the last six minutes of the game, I want that for 40 minutes when he’s out there. I’m always pulling and grabbing for more time to play like that.”

Donovan on how the team will be viewed after this win: “If we would have lost today, my dealing with them every single day would not change at all just because we made it to the Sweet 16. I understand how fragile winning and losing is in this tournament – and even during the year. It has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to see where these guys have gotten to at this point in time. Because we’ve won and gotten to the Sweet 16, people now want to talk about the interesting story of where these guys have come [from] to get to that point.”

Parsons on beating UCLA three-straight times: “Any game that has take place before our team is really irrelevant to us. It’s definitely exciting to beat a team of that caliber, because they’re very good.”

Parsons on the team having experience in close games: “Our schedule all year long has really prepared us for teams we’re going to face this late into March. Our freshmen have been great all year long just asking questions and being listeners. They understand their role perfectly and they’ve been providing us good minutes all year long.”

Walker on the team’s toughness: “We try to do everything in a total team effort. All five of our starters are basically averaging double figures, and if one person is down, we try to pick each other up. Coach does a good job of keeping us connected and all on the same page.”

Walker on if he has/had a nickname: “I had a couple, but we can just go with what Kenny [Boynton] said [Big Shot Erv], I like that one.”

Young on the team’s balance: “Any given night one of our guys can just go off and have whatever amount of points. If someone’s not having a good game [scoring], they can still affect the game in another way and help our team out.”

Murphy on Walker’s big shot ability: “I’ve seen him hit some ridiculous shots. The Georgia game? That was unbelievable. I inbounded him the ball on that play when he hit that three to send it to double overtime. He told me as I inbounded it to him, he told me he was going to hit it. He just makes crazy plays.”

Murphy on Walker: “He’s got that New York swagger to him.”

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