TWO BITS: baseball and softball complete sweeps

1 » Simply put, the Boston College Eagles (2-4) were no match for No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (7-0). Already up two games, Florida completed the series sweep against Boston College with a 7-2 victory Sunday at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (2-0) had another stellar outing as the team’s starter; he allowed one earned run and five hits but struck out five in 5.1 innings of work. Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) led the Gators offensively with an outstanding performance including a two-run homer.

Florida started things off in the bottom of the second with a four-run rally that included RBI hits from sophomore center fielder Kamm Washington (1-2, RBI, R), senior second baseman Josh Adams (0-3, RBI) and sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3, 2 RBI, R), who drove in two on a one-out triple. The Gators added another run in the third when left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-3, RBI) singled to second base to score first baseman Brian Johnson (1-4, R), who tripled to center field with one out. After Whitson gave up his sole earned run in the sixth, Zunino added his two RBI in the eighth. The duo of juniors left-handed pitcher Nick Mardone and RHP Greg Larson got UF into the ninth, combining to strike out three in 2.2 innings. The Eagles had once last chance in the top of the ninth with sophomore third baseman/RHP Austin Maddox (2-4, R) on the mound; he surrendered one run before retiring the final two batters to end the inning.

2 » Playing all weekend at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, CA, No. 4/5 Florida softball (14-0) dominated their competition, winning a total of five games against Indiana, No. 11/12 Texas, San Diego State, No. 2/2 UCLA and the Utah Utes (5-10). The Gators took down the Utes 7-3 on Saturday to conclude the event behind 6.2 innings from ace senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. Brombacher struggled with her command a bit, giving up six hits and four walks while only striking out three; the defense behind her was porous as well, committing two errors and allowing an unearned run. Junior CF Michelle Moultrie (3-3, 3 RBI, R) was clutch at the plate for Florida, as was 1B Megan Bush (1-2, HR, RBI, R, BB), who hit a solo shot in the fourth to tie the game at 1-1. Moultrie finished the event 10-17 with three triples, a double, nine RBI, five runs, three walks and 17 total bases. Senior 2B Aja Paculba (2-4, RBI) hit 9-18 with two doubles, four RBI and two walks at the event.

4 BITS: Andrews, Schintzius, Brewer, Calathes

1 » Name a major sporting event, chances are ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews has covered it. Talk about one of the most popular reality shows (Dancing with the Stars), her name pops up as a contestant who almost won it. Just over a month after college football has ended and with college basketball in full swing, Andrews will be taking on a new task: reporting live from the red carpet and interviewing some of the winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. She has been in Hollywood, CA all week taping segments for Good Morning America but is still a bit edgy for the event. “I’m really, really nervous for Sunday,” she told Newsday. “I was talking to a couple of my buddies who are in the NFL and I was like, ‘I’m really nervous.’ They were, like, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I know you guys. I can talk to you guys. These people, they don’t know me. I’m really out of my comfort zone.’ It’s kind of cool to feel that way.”

2 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators Dwayne Schintzius has been cleared as healthy and made a very public appearance at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Thursday to cheer on his Florida basketball team as they faced and defeated the Georgia Bulldogs. Wearing an “I’m Awesome” shirt, one worn by WWE wrestler The Miz, Schintzius stepped into the O’Dome for the first time in 21 years and was introduced by the public address announcer to an ovation. “I did come back for a football game, when they brought us back once, but never for a basketball game since the time I played,’’ he told GatorZone’s Scott Carter on Thursday. “Wasn’t sure if I felt right about it or [if] people would want me back. I do like coming back and I want to come back again.’’ Schintzius’s hesitation to return was due to some off-the-court issues he had as a player (including allegedly hitting a student with a tennis racket and quitting on the team well before the season was over) but all of that is in the past now. “I’m very proud to be a Gator,’’ he said. “I feel like I helped start something. I don’t want to call it ‘The House That Dwayne Built,’ because that’s not true. I helped to build it. Makes me feel good where the program has come.’’

“It was important to me for Dwayne to come back here,” head basketball coach Billy Donovan told the Tampa Tribune. “Every time I’m down in Tampa or St. Petersburg for a Gator function, Dwayne is there. He’s very supportive. He still feels part of it. Yet he never came back. I think he felt he wasn’t welcome here, but that wasn’t true. He is an important part of this program’s history. He needs to feel welcome here, regardless of what happened in the past.”

Read two more BITS on Corey Brewer and Nick Calathes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Andrews, Schintzius, Brewer, Calathes

Gators at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine – Part 1

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive will be covering the seven former Florida Gators players who have been officially invited to participate in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) in Indianapolis, IN, at Lucas Oil Stadium each day.

Five Florida Gators – center/guard Mike Pouncey, tackle Marcus Gilbert, guard Carl Johnson, guard Maurice Hurt and punter Chas Henry – have already been measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams, undergone psychological tests and completed their full combine workout. The quintet was on the same schedule throughout the week; they arrived Wednesday and departed Saturday. Below is how each player measured in and performed at the NFL Combine.

Center/guard Mike Pouncey (Group 02, OL39)
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 303 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 ¼ in.
Hand Size: 9 ¾ in.

40-Yard Dash: 5.12 seconds
Bench Press: DNP
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.64 seconds
Broad Jump: 8’0”
Vertical Jump: 25.0
3-Cone Drill: 7.66 seconds

Overview: The consensus top interior offensive lineman in the draft, Pouncey has been touted for his outstanding footwork, hand speed and overall football IQ. His work ethic is unquestionable and many teams look at his brother’s early success as an indicator of his future ceiling. Pouncey is determined to be selected earlier.
Strengths: Size, quickness, experience, awareness, discipline
Weaknesses: Shotgun snap issues, can improve run blocking

Tackle Marcus Gilbert (Group 02, OL27)
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 330 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 ½ in.
Hand Size: 9 ¾ in.

40-Yard Dash: 5.46 seconds
Bench Press: 30 reps
20-Yard Shuttle / Broad Jump / Vertical Jump / 3-Cone Drill: DNP

Overview: The measurables are all there for Gilbert, and he has shown proficiency both in pass and run blocking. Not the most explosive offensive lineman, Gilbert is projected as an NFL starter down the road.
Strengths: Size, length, athleticism, mobility, instinctive
Weaknesses: Quickness, tenacity, awareness

Quote: “I just want to show that I’m one of the best tackles out there. Come out here and compete and have fun. Just showcase my skills and try to elevate, show them that my game is higher than what most people realize.”

Check out how the other five Gators performed in Indianapolis…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gators at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine – Part 1

Kentucky gets revenge, hands Florida 76-68 loss

A last-minute win on Feb. 6 in Gainesville, FL helped propel the No. 13 Florida Gators over the No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats in the Southeastern Conference standings. Saturday in Lexington, KY, the Wildcats (20-8, 8-6 SEC) got a measure of revenge by defeating the Gators (22-6, 11-3 SEC) 76-68 in Rupp Arena, extending their home winning streak to 33 games and earning head coach John Calipari his 500th victory.

Guard Darius Miller posted a career-high 24 points for Kentucky on 9-of-15 shooting, and the Wildcats piled it on late in the second half to pull away with a decisive victory.

A 7-0 run toward the end of the first half capped by a three-pointer by G Brandon Knight put UK up four with 5:01 to play. UF responded quickly as G Kenny Boynton scored five-straight as part of a 7-2 run to give the Gators a 27-26 lead. The teams went back-and-forth with the Wildcats pulling ahead 34-33 on a free throw by Knight.

Kentucky scored five-straight to start the second half, but an 8-2 run by Florida including two treys from Boynton tied the game at 41. That is when things fell apart for the Gators.

The Wildcats took off on a 10-2 run to go up 58-49 with 9:39 to go. Florida cut their deficit to five on a layup from senior forward Chandler Parsons, but a three from Miller and a 8-2 run gave Kentucky an 11-point lead with 4:13 remaining.

UK went up a game-high 12 points with the clock winding down. Back-to-back field goals from redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior F Alex Tyus reduced the Wildcats’ lead to six with 42 seconds left, but the Gators were unable to capitalize.

Complementing Miller’s 24 points was Knight, who scored 16 while adding six assists. G Doron Lamb added 14 more for Kentucky. Fs Josh Harrellson (12) and Terrence Jones (nine) were strong on the glass, combining to grab 21 of the team’s 32 rebounds.

Boynton led the way for the UF with one of his best all-around performances this season. He scored a team-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting while nailing 5-of-9 three pointers and dishing four assists. Parsons was an efficient 6-for-11 from the field for 15 points to go along with eight boards and seven dimes. Macklin contributed 10 points and five rebounds, and Tyus scored nine with three offensive rebounds.

Junior point guard Erving Walker struggled all game, finishing 2-of-11 from the field (1-for-6 from downtown). He hit all five of his attempts from the charity stripe but was blocked numerous times, took a few questionable shots and turned the ball over twice.

It was a block party for the Wildcats, who rejected the Gators seven times; former Florida F Eloy Vargas blocked Walker twice in five minutes. Kentucky won the rebounding battle 32-29, coughed up four fewer turnovers (6-10) and was more disciplined defensively by committing seven fewer fouls (14-21).

Luckily for UF, SEC West leader Alabama (19-9, 11-3 SEC) simultaneously fell 68-63 to Ole Miss (18-11, 6-8 SEC) on Saturday; the teams remain tied for the conference lead and will square off in Gainesville on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU and marks Senior Day for the Gators.
 
 

No. 13 Florida at No. 22 Kentucky Gameday

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 23,000]
Time: 4:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 13 FLORIDA GATORS No. 22 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 22-5 (11-2) Record: 19-8 (7-6)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Kentucky -8

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Kentucky leads the all-time series against Florida 88-33; the Wildcats swept the Gators last season. However, Florida is 9-4 in their last 13 games against Kentucky and Donovan is 13-18 against them all-time.
» Calipari is 2-1 against Donovan as UK’s head coach.
» Florida has won 17 of its last 20 games (and 14 of their last 16) with 12 victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are 19-1 (8-0 in SEC play) when holding an opponent under 70 points this season after limiting Georgia to 62 on Thursday.
» Florida is 7-1 in true road games this year and has a chance to notch eight true road wins for the first time ever under Donovan.
» The Wildcats have a 32-game home winning streak in Lexington (13-0 this season).
» Gators junior point guard Erving Walker, with 194 three-pointers, is sixth all-time at Florida. He is four treys away from moving into the top five.
» Florida is 9-1 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. Just 11 more points Parsons will move him into the top 20 in school history in scoring.
» Defeating Tennessee two Saturdays ago, UF reached 20+ wins for the 13th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the SEC. They have also reached 10 wins in league play for the ninth time in the last 13 years and first time since 2007 (13-3).
» A win Saturday would give Florida six-straight victories against SEC opponents for the first time since 2007 (11).
» The Gators, struggling all season from the line, are hitting 73.2 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe over the last five games.
» Kentucky bests Florida in three of four major statistical categories including points per game 77.7-70.9 (20th-121st), rebounds per game 38.7-38.0 (23rd-44th) and field goal percentage .463-.57 (51st-77th). However, the Gators dish more assists per contest 13.6-13.0 (124th-167th) than the Wildcats and hold their opponents to fewer points per game 61.7-64.3. UF ranks 10th in RPI (.6438) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to UK being 13th (.6334) and 11th, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and Kentucky will square off for the second time this season; the Gators defeated the Wildcats 70-68 in Gainesville, FL on Feb. 6. Florida fought off a late surge by Kentucky after being up a game-high 13 points with 11:50 remaining. The Gators out-scored the Wildcats 5-2 in the final two minutes of the game to hang on for the win.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (11.0) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Parsons ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (775), No. 3 in points (1,330) and No. 4 in assists (295) and steals (119). At one point he notched three-straight double-doubles and now has six this year.
» Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.8 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.424) and three-point percentage (.383). Walker also leads Florida in turnovers (67) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.2 percent from the floor this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but is struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is only hitting 36.3 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 13.3 points per game and makes a team-high 83.1 percent of his free throws. He is also shooting 90.2 percent from the line (46-of-51) in SEC play.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging over 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.25:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.4 boards.
» Kentucky G Brandon Knight…who plays a team-high 35.3 minutes as a freshman, averages 17.7 points per game and picks up nearly four rebounds and assists per contest, too. Knight and Boynton are friends who grew up and played both against each other and together in South Florida.
» Wildcats F Terrence Jones…who leads his team in rebounding with 9.1 boards per game and nearly matches Knight in points with 17.6 per contest.
 

FOUR BITS: gymnastics, baseball, softball

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (11-1, 5-1 SEC) suffered its first defeat of the season on Friday, falling 196.70-196.10 to the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks (5-3, 5-1 SEC) in Fayetteville, AR. Florida captured three individual events with sophomore Ashanée Dickerson winning the vault and floor exercise and freshman Mackenzie Caquatto taking home the even bars; however, Arkansas surpassed UF in their team totals and came out on top. The Gators final match before the 2011 SEC Championships begin on March 19 is against Utah next Friday in Salt Lake City, UT.

2 » Florida’s other top-ranked team, No. 1 baseball, had better luck Friday, taking down the Boston College Eagles 9-3 in the second game of the teams’ three-game series. The Gators (6-0) scored three runs in the seventh inning alone to escape a 3-3 tie and move past the Eagles (2-3) for the victory. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (1.64 ERA) got the start for Florida and tossed four innings of shutout ball before giving up an earned run in the fifth and getting pulled at the end of the inning. The Gators led 2-1 at that point on a solo homer from junior right fielder Preston Tucker (3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R) in the third and an RBI from junior first baseman Ben McMahan (2-2, RBI) in the fourth. Junior left-handed pitcher Nick Mardone allowed a batter on via a bunt in the top of the seventh and junior RHP Greg Larson, coming into relieve him, let another batter hit himself on base. Freshman LHP Daniel Gibson, trying to get out of the inning, struck out his first batter before giving up a two-RBI triple to clear the bases and put Boston College up 3-2.

Looking to get out of a jam, Florida utilized the infamous hidden-ball trick to get the final out of the inning. With Eagles shortstop Brad Zapenas (2-4, 2 RBI) on third after his game-tying triple, freshman third baseman Zach Powers corralled the ball as Gibson pretended to wind up. Once Zapenas took a lead, Powers tagged him out, ended the inning and stopped the bleeding. The Gators responded with a three-run bottom of the seventh including a RBI each from Tucker (via a bases loaded walk), sophomore catcher/1B Austin Maddox (1-5, RBI) and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (3-5, 3 RBI, R). Florida added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth with sophomore center fielder Kamm Washington (1-1, RBI, R) doubling down the left field line to score sophomore C Mike Zunino (BB, R) and Johnson singling through the left side to bring home sophomore SS Nolan Fontana (1-2, 2 R, 3 BB) and Washington. Gibson (1-0) earned the win after juniors RHP Tommy Toledo and LHP Alex Panteliodis combined to strikeout three in 1.2 innings.

3 » No. 4 Gators softball (13-0) earned a pair of victories Friday at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, CA, defeating the San Diego State Aztecs (5-6) 4-2 in the afternoon and the No. 2 UCLA Bruins (10-2) 4-1 in the evening. Junior RHP Stephanie Brombacher (7-0) earned the win in the early game after giving up two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (6-0), who tossed the final 1.2 innings of the San Diego State game in relief of Brombacher, threw a complete game against UCLA; she struck out 10 and only gave up a single earned run in the second inning. Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder led the way for Florida offensively, combining to go 4-6 with three RBI and a walk in the two games. Junior CF Michelle Moultrie scored three runs and notched a pair of RBI on a 4-8 outing from the plate.

4 » Struggling all season, Gators women’s basketball (16-13, 6-9 SEC) scored a much-needed 74-69 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (18-10, 9-6 SEC) on the road in Nashville, TN on Friday. Postponed a day due to severe weather, the game marked Florida’s first win on the road against Vanderbilt since 2004. Three Gators junior starters – center Azania Stewart (14) and guards redshirt Jordan Jones (16) and Lanita Bartley (15) – scored in double figures as Stewart also grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double. UF has now won back-to-back contests after dropping four-in-a-row to begin the month of February.

Gators paying new coaching staff handsomely

With a new head coach comes a new coaching staff, and the University of Florida decided to dish out some hefty salaries in order to make sure the Florida Gators two coordinator positions under head coach Will Muschamp were filled by experienced, talented coaches for 2011 and beyond.

According to information released by Florida on Friday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has signed a three-year, $2.625 million contract with the university. The deal makes the highest-paid assistant coach in school history.

Weis will earn salaries of $765,000 in 2011 and $865,000 in both 2012 and 2013; he also received a $100,000 signing bonus.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2011 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2010:

2011 Coach2011 Salary2010 Coach2010 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Urban Meyer
Head Coach
$4M
(6 years)
Charlie Weis
Offensive Coordinator
(Quarterbacks)
$765K
(3 years)
Steve Addazio
Offensive Coordinator
(Offensive Line)
$375K
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator
(Defensive Line)
$490K
(2 years)
Teryl Austin
Defensive Coordinator
(Cornerbacks)
$440K
Brian White
Running Backs
$240K
(1 year)
Brian White
Tight Ends coach
$240K
Frank Verducci
Offensive Line
$290K
(2 years)
Scot Loeffler
Quarterbacks
$240K
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers
$230K
(1 year)
Zach Azzanni
Wide Receivers
$240K
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$265K
(1 year)

D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$240K
Travaris Robinson
Cornerbacks
$230K
(1 year)
Chuck Heater
Co-Defensive Coordinator
(Safeties)
$305K
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Stan Drayton
Running Backs
$240K
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(2 years)
Dan McCarney
Assistant Head Coach
(Defensive Line)
$330K
* White and Durkin are both in the second year of two-year contracts signed in 2010.

Contract notes (as of 2010):
– All coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
– All coaches receive a car and other tangible incentives

Universal bonuses (as of 2010):
– BCS National Championship Game appearance – up to 30 percent increase
– Other BCS bowl game appearance – 20 percent increase
– SEC Championship Game appearance – 10 percent increase
– Non-BCS bowl game – 10 percent increase
– Bowl game with less than $2 million payout – one month’s salary increase

The Associated Press, Gainesville Sun, Palm Beach Post, Florida Times-Union and other media outlets obtained the above salary information via an open records request.

GM Xanders denies that Tebow lacks support

Denver Broncos general manager Brian Xandres took issue Friday with a report the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi published Monday implying that quarterback Tim Tebow was slowly being pushed out of Mile High.

“Most members of the Broncos who were there when the Tebow pick was made are looking to distance themselves from the choice, which is a classic way for things to operate in the NFL,” Lombardi wrote. “So Tebow is a man without much support in Denver, making quarterback a huge need.”

Xanders denied that was true.

“First of all, I think that report was false. I think there’s a lot of people in our building that are behind Tim Tebow,” Xanders told Pro Football Talk during an interview Friday. “[Tebow] is someone the franchise invested a lot into in terms of draft picks, the contract, but he’s going to create his role. But he’s done a good job so far with his limited opportunities. So that report was false.”

It is important to note that, while Xanders disagrees with Lombardi’s report, it is not necessarily entirely untrue. There very well could be a large faction of people in Denver’s front office who do not believe in Tebow long-term. Then again, the new coaching staff has only watched him on video and may not see him step on the field for months.

With head coach John Fox speaking out Thursday in support of veteran QB Kyle Orton, unnecessarily naming him the starter during the 2011 NFL Combine, Tebow will once again have plenty to prove if/when practice begins for next season.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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