CHOMPING: Billy Donovan has earned 2011 SEC Coach of the Year honors

The subtext of Tuesday’s de facto 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season title showdown between the No. 14 Florida Gators (23-6, 12-3 SEC) and Alabama Crimson Tide (19-10, 11-4 SEC) was the competition for SEC Coach of the Year between Florida head coach Billy Donovan and Alabama head coach Anthony Grant.

Yet while plenty has been said about Donovan having been snubbed for the honor on three previous occasions (2000, 2006, 2007), little has been mentioned about why his team’s accomplishments should earn him the award over Grant this season.
Continue Reading » CHOMPING: Billy Donovan has earned 2011 SEC Coach of the Year honors

Parsons reps SEC in Conference Voices Blog

For whatever reason, it was completely unknown to us that Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons was one of six college basketball players who had been writing a monthly post for ESPN Insider’s Conference Voices Blog. Though we will not reprint the posts in their entirety for you, here are portions of each so far this season along with a link to the full article on ESPN Insider (subscription only).

11/19/10: Early-season tests key for Florida

We have an experienced team that’s been through that before so we know that it matters what you do off the court, whether you’re eating right, putting the right stuff in your body. I think as an older team we realize you can’t burn the candle at both ends. I love playing a tough nonconference schedule but when I was a freshman we had a very young team. Coach Donovan didn’t necessarily schedule the hardest teams because he wanted to get our feet wet. He wanted us to play at home and get used to college basketball. This year, it’s different because we have an older team. We have Florida State on the road, Kansas State, Xavier. I’m all for it, especially going on the road because it’s like playing in the tournament. You could be playing anywhere in the country. It’s good to play in some hostile locations, not just the hostile places in your conference.

12/18/10: K-State and the SEC slate

UCF is still undefeated. I wouldn’t say it was a bad loss — they’re a good team. Afterwards, with his comments I think Coach Donovan was worried about our offense — not making the best decision when the ball is in our hands, turning the ball over, not getting the best shot. He basically wants us to play unselfish and for the people with the ball to get the best available shot. Ever since that game, I think we learned a lot from that and I think we’ve grown in the last three or four games our defense has been really good. We’re more worried about our defense. We know we have enough offensive firepower to win games.

1/22/11: No easy outs in the SEC this season

I’m sure that Auburn game was brutal to look at, it was brutal to play in, too. We were able to get a win even though we shot 15-for-53, and I think that says a lot about the character of this team. We went on the road and won in their building with our defense. […]But for us within the conference, we understand that every game is going to be a war. We understand that even if Auburn is 0-and-4, going into their place is not going to be an easy game.

3/2/11: Chandler Parsons is healthy and thriving

My teammates are going after me. I’m starting to think they did it on purpose. But no, really, at first it was Vernon [Macklin] at Georgia with the towel and then Alex [Tyus]. You see that all the time, the bench gets hyped and we’re throwing towels around and his hit me where it wasn’t supposed to. And then with the knee, it was just me and Alex both going for the rebound and he just happened to hit me.

It was close to my hip, like on the outside of my thigh, and it caused some serious swelling in my leg. My left leg was twice as big as my right one. I couldn’t put any pressure on it and I was on crutches. My trainer, who’s been training for 30 years, says it’s the worst thigh contusion he’s ever seen. Right where I got hit was bruised, but the swelling went down to my knee. It was so black and blue. I’ve never had to be on crutches in my life before that.

3/3: Donovan on Parsons, Vanderbilt, SEC

No. 14/14 Florida Gators (23-6, 12-3 SEC) 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 following his press availability Thursday.

KEEPING THEIR MINDS RIGHT

Capturing a portion of the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season title is quite an accomplishment but having it all to yourself is even more special. Donovan did not distinguish between the two scenarios, noting that he was just happy the team has achieved a SEC Championship in general.

“If you win a SEC Championship, you win a SEC Championship. Anytime you’re a part of a SEC Championship, it is meaningful,” he said. “Obviously we have an opportunity and a chance to win it outright on Saturday, but we got to play against a really good team that has been exceptional at home and had a great year.”

With Alabama and Georgia squaring off before Florida takes on No. 20/21 Vanderbilt, Donovan is aware that he has to do something to make sure the Gators are focused on winning their game no matter the earlier outcome.

“I talked to our guys about this. We cannot allow ourselves to emotionally get caught up spectating in that game. That’s the human element and human nature that I’ve always talked about. They’ve got to distance themselves from that,” he said. “We’re going to know something before we go into Vanderbilt, and they’re probably going to hear things. But you can emotionally get sucked into that. We need to be focused on what we got to do in this game. We should not even worry or concern ourselves with stuff that’s going on outside of the guys that are inside that locker room. That’s something that I’ve got to address with those guys and I’ve got to talk to them about. That game should have no bearing on how we go out and play; to me, that’s easier said than done.”

Though Donovan indicated he has yet to discuss the topic with his team, senior forward Chandler Parsons seemed to have an idea what his coach’s instructions would be.

“I’m sure obviously we’re going to know who won going into the game, but I don’t think with as good of a team as we are…we’re still going to want to win the game even if Georgia happens to win, he said. “We’re still going to come out with the same mentality that we want to win the game. The same mentality we come out with for every game. It doesn’t matter what other teams do; it just matters what we do.”

FLORIDA’s FIRST SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR?

Donovan refused to prop himself up Tuesday night after his team’s big win for SEC Coach of the Year, but he had no problem heaping praise on Parsons in the hopes that he captures SEC Player of the Year honors.

“Chandler has had a terrific year. In my opinion, he should really, really strongly be considered for that,” Donovan said. “He is really multi-dimensional. He does a lot for our team. He rebounds, he passes it, he’s shot the ball better, he take sit to the basket. You can put the ball in his hands to make plays. There’s no question as far as versatility is concerned, he’s definitely the most versatile small forward in the league with all the things he can do.”

Asked who he thinks should win the award, Parsons refused to say himself, nervously stammering and trying to find the right words. Eventually he was able to answer the question in a politically correct manner.

“That’s really a tough question. I put myself in a good situation where I can be talked about, but I don’t know if I’m going to win or not. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just worry about my team right now,” he said. “It’s really flattering and stuff that people are talking about me winning it, but seriously I’m more worried about us winning Saturday, us going to the SEC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament.”

Read what else Donovan and Parsons had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 3/3: Donovan on Parsons, Vanderbilt, SEC

Eleven Gators who must step up in 2011

With a few days until No. 14 Florida Gators basketball plays its final regular season game, OGGOA decided to allow our Twitter followers to choose a content topic for Thursday. Overwhelmingly, our readers wanted to read something – anything – about Gators football. So that is exactly what we present to you here, 11 Florida footballers who will be counted on to step up big-time next season.

Redshirt senior QB John Brantley
2010: 200/329 (60.8 percent) for 2,061 yards, nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions

There is plenty of hype surrounding freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel, but the fact of the matter is the Gators have the best chance of being supremely successful in 2011 with Brantley behind center. Say what you will about his struggles in 2010 – blame them on the coaching staff not adjusting the offense to suit his skill set, the offensive line doing a poor job in pass protection or Brantley simply not living up the billing he received before the season. No matter what you choose to believe, Brantley will be given a chance to start fresh in 2011. If he makes the most of it and pans out the way Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews have personally told us he will, Florida’s QB problems will be solved by the same player who was universally panned for causing them a year ago. Whether or not he will live up those expectations, however, remains to be seen.

Redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose
2010: 10 receptions for 96 yards (long 26); 22 kickoff returns for 587 yards (26.7 average), two touchdowns

Like Brantley, Debose did not live up to the hype in 2010. Unlike Brantley, he was not given much of an opportunity. Debose is a dynamic athlete who is explosive in the open field, something blatantly obvious by the job he did in the return game last season. He was criticized by former head coach Urban Meyer for his inability to learn all of the offensive plays and was “rewarded” early in the season with some packages that utilized his abilities. Those packages seemed to disappear as the year went on, and Debose ended up getting injured for the second time in as many seasons (hamstring in 2009, ankle in 2010). Though the Gators have some hungry pass-catchers looking to win the job across from redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson, none of them will likely have the potential impact game-in and game-out that Debose can bring to the table.

Junior RB Mike Gillislee
2010: 58 rushes for 325 yards (5.6 average), seven touchdowns

The first thing new head coach Will Mushcamp said he wanted to implement at Florida was a pro-style offense. With senior running back Jeff Demps (5’8” 190 lbs.) a bit undersized to run between the tackles on a consistent basis, the onus will be on Gillislee (and to a lesser extent redshirt freshman RB Mack Brown) to carry the rock for the Gators in 2010. Listed at 5‘11” and 198 lbs., Gillislee can add some bulk to his frame and showed flashes in the limited playing time he received last season.

The real question for Muschamp, and more specifically offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, will be how the team can best utilize Demps and redshirt senior RB/WR Chris Rainey. Demps will likely be the kick returner once again, but the coaching staff must find a way to get him heavily involved in the offense without having him carry the ball a dozen times each game. He was the team’s best offensive weapon last year, and his absence (even when he played, he was far less than 100 percent) was one of the main reasons Florida struggled down the stretch offensively.
Continue Reading » Eleven Gators who must step up in 2011

Dallas Mavericks snag free agent Corey Brewer

Updated March 2 at 7 p.m.

One day after being bought out and waived by the New York Knicks, who acquired him as a side deal in their blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets for forward Carmelo Anthony, former Florida Gators F Corey Brewer is in the process of signing a multi-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

Brewer, who was released on March 1 in order to be eligible to participate in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, was courted by nearly a dozen teams as late as Monday but narrowed his list down to a handful that included Dallas, San Antonio, Boston and Charlotte.

The Mavericks ended up landing Brewer due to the fact that they could offer him more money than his other suitors, ESPN‘s Marc Stein reports. His deal is expected to start in the $2 million per season range and could be worth as much as $7-8 million over the three-year life of the contract.

Averaging 24.3 minutes per game with the Minnesota Timberwovles this season, Brewer posted 8.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game (all below his career numbers). However, it is his athleticism and defensive prowess that had him coveted so heavily once he reached the free agent market.

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

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Muschamp, spring, Strong

1 » The media hits keep coming for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Just one week after his new head coach, John Fox, decided that veteran Kyle Orton will be the starter when the team’s training camp opens and a disputed report surfaced that Tebow does not have the support of the front office, new team president John Elway said the following on Denver radio this week:

“Tim came in and started the last three games and played well but was also very raw. […] If we sit here right now Kyle would be the starter. Now, Fox likes competition and I think that is what makes everybody better, is competition at every position, and so therefore when he gets here he does not know anybody here so when he comes into camp and brings these guys into camp, every position is going to be competed for and the best player’s going to play there.”

Tebow, competing in the Honda Classic Pro-Am on Wednesday, dismissed that he was concerned about the comments made over the last week by his coach. “He’s great,” Tebow said of Fox. “I had a great relationship with him last year in the whole recruiting process. We had several dinners together when he was at Carolina.” He told the Associated Press that he recently spent time with Fox and is not worried about competition for the starting job. “That’s fine,” Tebow said. “It doesn’t matter until you go out and start competing. That’s my attitude.”

2 » The University of Florida Alumni Association announced 10 Gator Club appearances for new head coach Will Muschamp this spring. They are listed below:

4/20 – Polk County … 4/26 – Broward County … 4/27 – Fort Myers … 5/3 – Orlando
5/12 – Tampa … 5/13 – Jacksonville … 5/17 – Tallahassee … 5/19 – Atlanta, GA
5/24 – Volusia County … 9/2 – TitleTown (Gainesville)

3 » Former head coach Urban Meyer may have closed fall practice last season, a decision that enraged media members exponentially more than fans, but he made sure to leave spring practice open to the public. The Gainesville Sun’s Robbie Andreu believes “there is a good chance that many, if not all, Florida practices will be closed to the public and media.” Andreu goes on to point out that, while fans may be disappointed, closing practices could be a great move for a brand new coaching staff that is looking to start from scratch with open competitions for positions and different schemes for each player to learn. You can read what else Andreu had to say on the topic here.

4 » When Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong took over the program after deciding to leave his position as defensive coordinator of the Gators, he did not have high hopes for his team in year one. “If you would have asked me a year ago at the end of spring ball, I would have said I don’t know if we’ll win one or two games,” Strong said, according to ESPN. After a successful season which included seven wins and a victory in the 2010 Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl, Strong is much more optimistic about the direction his program is heading.
 

SEC title a dream come true for UF’s seniors

“I couldn’t dream of a better way of finishing my career here.”

That is how Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons described the perfect storm of good fortune that his team encountered Tuesday night.

“This is a great feeling. I just feel honored right now.”

Emotional words coming from a 6’10” 240 lb. redshirt senior center named Vernon Macklin, who has shown flashes of dominance in only his second season as a starter after transferring from Georgetown.

“It means everything.”

The only way senior F Alex Tyus could verbalize the expression on his face as he walked off the court after the 78-51 beating Florida put on the Alabama Crimson Tide to capture at least a share of the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season title.

His next thought?

“I don’t want to hear anything about ‘co-‘ or ‘share.’ I want to win it outright. Let’s get this win against Vandy.”

Just another thing he has in common with his classmates.

“The best thing about it is Saturday we have an opportunity to go and win on the road and be the only SEC champs, not just have a share of it,” Parsons said. “We did it tonight, but we want to win out and win against Vanderbilt. I’m glad we did it for Coach Donovan,” Macklin added.

So while the Gators have another obstacle in front of them Saturday, facing No. 20/21 Vanderbilt to earn more than a “share” of the SEC title but instead the whole thing, Tuesday was a day where dreams were reached and emotions were, well, shared. And it all started with head coach Billy Donovan.
Continue Reading » SEC title a dream come true for UF’s seniors

Gators at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine – Part 2

OGGOA Related: Gators at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine – Part 1

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

Two Florida Gators safeties – Ahmad Black and Will Hill – have now been measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams, undergone psychological tests and completed their full combine workout. The duo was on the same schedule throughout the week; they arrived Saturday and departed Tuesday. Below is how each player measured in and performed at the NFL Combine.

Strong safety Ahmad Black (Group 10, DB3)
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 184 lbs.
Arm Length: 31 in.
Hand Size: 9 7/8 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.74 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.20 seconds
60-Yard Shuttle: 11.25 seconds
Bench Press: 18 reps
Broad Jump: 9’11”
Vertical Jump: 35.5
3-Cone Drill: 6.85 seconds

Overview: When discussing Black’s future, analysts usually say something along the lines of, “He was great in college, but…” and conclude the sentence referencing the fact that he is undersized for a NFL safety. This is a known obstacle, but Black has proven over a four-year college career that he has every other attribute needed to succeed at the next level. He is tough, durable, smart and can sniff out passes with the best of them. His stature will prevent him from lining up one-on-one against more physical receivers, but he makes up for that in athleticism, tackling ability and overall football intelligence. Black can blitz and cover and should be an immediate starter on special teams who works himself into a starting safety role on the next level.
Strengths: Athleticism, instinctive, awareness, intelligence, tackling ability, leadership
Weaknesses: Size, speed, backpedaling

Free safety Will Hill (Group 10, DB22)
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 202 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.65 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.19 seconds
Broad Jump: 10’3″
Vertical Jump: 31.0
3-Cone Drill/60-Yard Shuttle/Bench Press: ? / DNP

Overview: Coming out of high school as a five-star recruit, Hill was expected to be a world beater at Florida. He possesses all of the physical tools necessary to make it in the NFL but has struggled with his awareness and football IQ. Hill’s best trait on the field is his ball skills and ability to stop the run, but he did not prove to be especially productive in the former area with the Gators. As a special teams player, Hill could start right away as a rookie; as a safety it will probable take a while for him to develop, if he ever does.
Strengths: Athleticism, size, speed, strength
Weaknesses: Instinctive, consistency, awareness, intelligence

Touching down in Indianapolis, IN, last Wednesday were five other Gators. You can check out how their participation in the combine went by clicking here.

The event, which was held for six days from Feb. 23 to March 1, consisted of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staff look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2011 NFL Draft commences on April 28.

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