TWO BITS: women’s basketball, Frazier, Strong

1 » Participating in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center-hosted Gator Holiday Classic, Florida Gators women’s basketball (10-3) defeated the Alabama State Hornets (2-7) and Robert Morris Colonials (4-6) in consecutive days to capture the tournament title. Florida’s freshman guard Brittany Shine was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after accounting for 47 points and 10 assists in a two-game span. Also honored after the event was freshman G Jattera Bonds, who scored 16 points and notched 12 assists to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The Gators dominated the Hornets 95-38 on Monday and took it to the Colonials 70-50 on Tuesday.

3 » With Florida basketball struggling already this season, there is plenty of anticipation from fans to see 2011 five-star shooting guard Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) burst on the scene next season. While Beal is expected to be the next great player to step foot in the O’Connell Center, 2012 four-star SG Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) – also a Gators commitment – is making a name for himself during his junior season. Frazier posted 45 points in the Bright House Networks Tournament Championship game on Tuesday, leading his team to a 71-69 victory while earning MVP honors. He scored 110 total points in three games in the tournament including 40 in the semifinal game.

Extra BIT » Former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, currently in his first season as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, led his team to victory in the 2010 Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, FL. Strong’s Cardinals defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and head coach Larry Fedora, a former offensive coordinator of the Gators. Louisville’s victory marked the team’s seventh bowl game win since it started playing football in 1912 and capped an inaugural season in which Strong posted a 7-6 record. The Cardinals finished 4-8 in 2009.

Lochte sets two world records, wins seven medals

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, a three-time Olympic gold medalist who is just hitting his prime in the international swimming community, set two world records and won seven medals at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over the weekend.

The two world records Lochte set – in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys – were the only individual world records reached in international swimming in all of 2010 after the high-tech bodysuits responsible for many of the record numbers in the 2008 Olympic Games were banned at the beginning of the year.

Lochte competed in eight events overall and won gold in all five of his individual contests. He also led the United States to gold in the 400-meter medley relay, earned a silver medal with his team in the 800-meter freestyle relay and did not medal after finishing fourth in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Before Lochte can enter a pool for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, he will first compete in the 2010 FINA Long Course World Championships in Shanghai, China and then the U.S. team trials.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team will be coached by University of Florida head coach Gregg Troy. Lochte is expected to attempt to compete in eight events with hopes of matching 2008’s big victor Michael Phelps.

Lochte won six gold medals in August at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships and was named back-to-back Male Athlete of the Year during the USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggle Awards in 2009 and 2010.

Photo Credit: USA Swimming

FOUR BITS: Addazio, baseball, lacrosse, Tebow

1 » According to OrangeBloods.com, the Texas Longhorns have decided to hire current Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as the team’s new offensive line coach. Addazio, who has struggled calling plays for Florida for the last two seasons, is a terrific offensive line coach and recruiter and should do quite well at Texas if the report is accurate. He was named ESPNU‘s recruiter of the year after helping corral the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class and served as interim head coach for Urban Meyer after he briefly stepped down and then during his recovery last offseason. It is worth noting that OrangeBloods.com previously reported that current Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had been hired to the same position at UT; however, that has neither been confirmed nor denied since it was initially mentioned two weeks ago.

Addazio was recently named one of three head coach candidates for the open Temple Owls job. He reportedly interviewed for the position on Monday.

2 » Gators baseball has earned a No. 2 ranking in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll, which the organization released on Monday. Florida is coming off a season in which they finished 47-17, won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship and participated in the 2010 College World Series in Omaha, NE. The Gators are returning eight starters, 11 pitchers and 22 total letterwinners and begin their 2011 season with a three-game series against South Florida from Feb. 18-20.

3 » Participating in its inaugural season last year, Florida lacrosse is already making national waves after being ranked No. 17 in Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason poll. The Gators, who finished the 2010 season 10-8, reached the finals of the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament and was only the sixth team in Division I history to have 10 or more wins in its first season. Inside Lacross ranked Florida’s 19-person 2010 recruiting class No. 1 in the nation; every player is returning the team this year.

4 » Denver Broncos interim head coach Eric Studesville plans to start former Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow for his team’s final two games this season, according to numerous reports. Similarly, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has decided to start former Florida signal caller Rex Grossman for his team’s two remaining games after Grossman’s strong performance on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Tricia Coyne/Gainesville Sun

12/20: Donovan dismayed by competitiveness

No. 19/20 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Suffice to say Donovan was none-too-pleased with his team’s performance against the Jacksonville Dolphins.

GATORS LACK COMPETITIVENESS AGAINST OPPONENTS

One of the main things that stood out to Donovan after Monday’s embarrassing loss to Jacksonville is the fact that his team plays down to its competition and does not get up for “smaller” games the same way it does for big-time showdowns.

“Clearly for the people that watched us play against Kansas State – two totally different teams. One team unable to handle the human element,” he said. “We were riped to be beat. We were totally riped to be beat. I’m not so sure we could have beat anybody tonight. And that’s not to take anything away from Jacksonville because their kids did a great job. [...] We don’t handle that human element part of it well. You talk about being a great team? The great teams are able to do that.”

Donovan provided a thought-provoking example. “Can we be a team that is almost playing like a faceless opponent, a nameless opponent? We would have been better off tonight playing the Los Angeles Lakers,” he said. “That would have been better for us. If you’re a competitor, it doesn’t make a difference who you’re lining up and playing against. That’s an internal make-up, and I don’t know if you can all of a sudden instill that in guys. Our guys are competitive. But can you be competitive when there is no reason to be competitive? We don’t have that mentality. And I have to find a way to help them get it.”

Who exactly has that mentality? “There are certain guys that I would [say] are just killers. When they line up, competition doesn’t make a difference,” Donovan said. “You talk about Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant; there’s just a certain kind of guy that it doesn’t make a difference what happened yesterday. They do not live in any level of success. They are just focused about competing and putting their reputation on the line every time they play or compete. That’s what [Al] Horford and [Joakim] Noah, [Udonis] Haslem, [Matt] Bonner – those guys had the ability to move from one thing to the next.”

WHO IS GOING TO SHOW UP FOR FLORIDA?

Another issue Donovan says the team is facing is a relatively simple concept. “I don’t know who’s going to show up necessarily from game-to-game. So [I'm always] trying to find combinations and pieces to throw out there,” he said adamantly.

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton showed up big against Kansas State on Saturday and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin was the man over the last few games. Aside from junior point guard Erving Walker, who put up a lot of points out of necessity, no one truly stepped up on Monday.

“I made the comment after the Kansas State game that I was very anxious to see our guys’ level of maturity coming into a game like this,” Donovan said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever, ever sat over there in 15 years and seen a team that I’ve coached effort-wise and playing-wise and awareness-wise…forget about playing good or bad…just [being] in the game. We have 13 turnovers in the first half. I’m not so sure we ran a play.”

BLAMING HIMSELF FOR PREPAREDNESS

“I certainly did not do a good enough job in a quick turnaround in 36 hours getting them prepared to play,” Donovan admitted early in his post-game press conference. “I’m the head coach and I did not do a good enough job getting them prepared to handle Saturday-to-Monday. I did not.”

He went on to compare Florida’s faltering to how it played Central Florida coming after the tough and competitive victory against Florida State just a few days before.

“The one thing that happens during the course of the season is you’re dealing with either prosperity or adversity. We’re dealing with adversity. Our guys handle adversity pretty well. They really are a resilient group. They bounce back pretty quickly. They fight. They try to improve,” he said. “In order to be a great, great team you have to be able to handle prosperity. Because if you’re really good that means you’re winning a lot.”

THEY’RE NOT “THERE” YET…

Donovan made it a point before the season to tell the media that he did not have the high expectations for his team that were thrown on them by all of the analysts surrounding college basketball. He reiterated that statement on Monday. “I think you know why [before the season I said] I’m ‘optimistically cautious.’ And I’m probably not even optimistic right now; I’m really cautious,” he said.

Much more from head coach Billy Donovan can be read…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/20: Donovan dismayed by competitiveness

Tebow spurns Gatorade for…FRS Health Energy?

Though he briefly did sponsorship work for the company prior to the 2010 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow has decided not to sign an endorsement deal with Gatorade, the sports drink invented by University of Florida researchers in Gainesville, FL. Instead Tebow has agreed to a multi-year deal with the wellness drink company FRS Health Energy.

“I use their products regularly and can honestly say I believe FRS has helped me perform at my best on and off the field,” Tebow said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing my FRS story with fans and spreading the word on this amazing brand.”

According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, FRS Health Energy first “got on the map three years ago by signing Lance Armstrong, who endorses the product and owns a piece of the company.” Rovell reports, according to XV Enterprises marketer Angel Gonzalez, that Tebow’s endorsement deal includes some equity in the company.

One of the reasons Tebow and his representatives picked FRS over Gatorade is because Tebow actually used the product while training for the combine. The company reportedly “became intrigued with Tebow when they heard he walked into a Gainesville GNC while training for the NFL combine to purchase the product,” Rovell reports.

Both Gatorade and Powerade were also vying for Tebow’s services.

Other endorsers for FRS Health Energy include Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 15 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 15 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 15th week of the season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 8/16 for 138 yards, touchdown (QB rating: 100.5); eight carries for 78 yards (long: 40), touchdown [Video highlights]
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Four receptions for 31 yards, two touchdowns (targets: 5, long: 13); rush for 16 yards

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Three receptions for 61 yards, touchdown (long: 23)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Four receptions for 89 yards [team-highs] (targets: 6, long: 53)
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two sacks, three QB hits
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings: Five receptions for 72 yards [team-high], touchdown (targets: 7, long: 23); rush for -1 yard
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: 25/43 for 322 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions (QB rating: 93.4)

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Three tackles (two solo)
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Three solo tackles
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Five tackles (two solo)
CB KEIWAN RATLIFF, Cincinnati Bengals: Three tackles (two solo)
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Eight tackles (seven solo)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Reception for 32 yards (targets: 2)
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two solo tackles
DL JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Solo tackle
LB CHANNING CROWDER, Miami Dolphins: Solo tackle
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Tackle
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Three tackles (two solo, QB hit)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Two tackles (one solo)
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Five tackles (four solo, two for loss)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Reception for 14 yards (targets: 2)
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Onside kick recovery
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Two solo tackles (one for loss)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Four tackles (three solo)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rush for -1; three rec. for 21 yards

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Raiders) – DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), RB Fred Taylor (Patriots), DE Jarvis Moss (Raiders)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills), LB Brandon Spikes (Patriots), LT Max Starks (Steelers), RB DeShawn Wynn (49ers)

NOTES
– Tebow received his first career NFL start on Sunday.
– Nelson has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games.
– Grossman received his first start of the season on Sunday.
– Harvin returned after missing two weeks of action due to migraine headaches.
– Cooper’s onside kick recovery was key in his team’s come-from-behind victory.
– Ratliff signed with the Bengals on Wednesday.
– Spikes continues to serve his four-game suspension.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

Four-star CB Waisome drops Florida for FSU

Four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) became the third Florida Gators commitment to leave the program since Nov. 29 after switching his pledge to the Florida State Seminoles on Monday.

Waisome, who originally picked Florida over Florida State when making his official commitment on Aug. 18, said as recently as Dec. 3 that he was “firm” in his decision even after former head coach Urban Meyer stepped down.

After previously taking a trip to Tallahassee, FL, he met with new head coach Will Muschamp while taking an official visit this past weekend and apparently things did not go as well as all had hoped. Waisome’s final decision will likely stick as he is planning to enroll early at the university of his choosing in Jan.

Waisome had previously stated that his relationship with the Gators’ coaching staff was one of the main reasons for his commitment. With a lot of turnover likely – especially at defensive coordinator – he may have felt uncomfortable with the situation. Especially considering he would have been enrolling at Florida without a position coach in place.

Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) left the Gators for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Dec. 17, and four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) decommitted in late Nov. Pagan had been back-and-forth over his decision. With Waisome’s departure, UF has lost their three best defensive recruits in under 20 days.

The Gators now have only five defensive commitments remaining as part of the 2011 class: four-star CB Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (Deland, FL), four-star DE Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star CB Chris Johnson (Ocala, FL) and three-star ATH/CB Valdez Showers (Madison Heights, MI).

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Jacksonville stuns No. 19/20 Florida in overtime

Coming off their biggest win of the season, the newly-minted No. 19/20 Florida Gators were looking to continue the momentum just under two days later against the Jacksonville Dolphins at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida (8-3) instead proved that they were not up to the task and dropped a 71-68 overtime thriller to their in-state visitors.

The Gators began the game just like their last: slow and inefficient. Florida only posted six points in the first seven minutes of the game while simultaneously turning the ball over five times. They completed the first half with 13 turnovers and only shot 9-of-20 from the field, allowing Jacksonville (7-3) to take a 29-27 lead into the locker rooms.

UF looked like it was starting to turn things around in the second half as they went up a game-high seven points on a trey by junior point guard Erving Walker with 6:58 remaining. That advantage would be short lived, however, with JU putting together a 7-0 run to tie the game up at 56 just three minutes later.

Up two with the ball and 33 seconds left in the game, the Gators looked to close out the contest. Unfortunately senior forward Chandler Parsons turned the ball over near mid-court; Dolphins guard Ayron Hardy stole it and dunked it with 21 seconds remaining to force overtime..

Walker hit three of four free throws early in overtime to give Florida a 64-63 advantage, but a turnover in the backcourt by sophomore G Kenny Boynton allowed Jacksonville to take a 65-64 lead.

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin knocked in a missed layup by Walker to put UF back up one, but four-straight free throws by JU G Keith McDougald would end up icing the game for the underdogs.

Though he scored a season-high 21 points and made 9-of-13 free throws, Walker missed a game-winner in regulation and game-tying shot in overtime for Florida. He also shot only 5-of-12 from the field and 2-for-6 from downtown.

Filling out the box score for the Gators with double-digit points were Macklin (13), Boynton (12) and senior F Alex Tyus (10). Macklin and Boynton combined to go 10-for-27 from the field, part of the reason why the team as a whole only shot 35.6 percent (21-of-59).

The Dolphins were led by McDougald’s game-high 18 points but were also fortunate enough to have an impressive showing from Hardy, who scored 12 points to go along with eight rebounds.

Jacksonville out-shot Florida from the field and downtown, but the Gators out-rebounded the Dolphins 42-30. UF turned the ball over four more times than JU, but Jacksonville fouled Florida twice as often (26-13), part of the reason the offense was so off-balance.

The Gators will try to collect themselves before facing Radford on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on Comcast Sports South (check your local listings).

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