1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

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 following Florida’s 77-71 defeat of the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday.


As a young team the last few years, the Gators’ propensity for turning the ball over has been somewhat understandable. However, the team as-assembled features three seniors in the frontcourt and a junior point guard in Erving Walker, meaning it was time for bad habits to change. Going into Saturday’s game with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1:1 (201-200), Florida finally turned things around and dished 22 dimes compared to coughing the ball up only seven times. Though Walker has not been the only one turning the ball over, his ratio was the most concerning (he went 3:1 on Saturday). Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin and senior forward Chandler Parsons were part of the solution, combining for 11 assists and zero turnovers on the evening.

“I was really disappointed with us defensively tonight. Offensively we’re getting better. We’re starting to utilize each other. We’re taking higher percentage shots,” Donovan said after the game. “We ended up going 22 assists and seven turnovers – that’s how I’d like our teams to play. Our guys are getting better on offense; they’re getting better taking care of the ball.”


There is no question that after they fell to Jacksonville, even though they first defeated then-No. 6 Kansas State 48 hours earlier, the Gators were in turmoil. Donovan condemned the team for its selfishness and said the only way they could truly turn things around and have a great season was to play for each other. He expanded on that philosophy on Saturday.

“Selfishness is an interesting word because it’s all about how you play, what kind of intentions you play with,” he said. “When you’ve been around the game long enough, you know when guys are playing with intentions like, ‘I got to go do something.’ I would classify that as being ‘selfish.’ But it’s not so much selfish as, ‘I want to get my points,’ as much as it is, ‘I want to help my team.’

“It still comes across as they’re trying to do what they think they need to do to help the team. It looks that way. I think our guys are doing a better job. Our shot distribution is better balanced. Our guys are a little bit more patient. We have a better balance of inside-out than we’ve had in the last month or so.

“I started to see that change after the holidays. It was probably a blessing in disguise that we did not play the Fairfield game. Because we’re playing Xavier with no classes, and I got these guys with no time constraints on me. Playing Xavier on the back end, with what they did to us last year, we had [the players’] attention and I thought we got better that period there. I thought we made some strides.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, faced with his own struggles this season, said a team meeting during that time really turned things around. “We had a team meeting and we basically told each other, in order for everyone to be successful and do better as a team, we have to play as a team and not worry about individual stuff,” he said. “Since we had that team meeting, we’ve come out and played better.”

Read more from Donovan and the players on Saturday’s win…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/8: Donovan’s post-game notes and quotes

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Wild Card

With the 2010-11 NFL regular season having come to a close, a number of Florida Gators participated in Wild Card Weekend action during the NFL Playoffs. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the first week of the playoffs.

DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Six tackles (five solo, two for loss), pass def.
RB DeSHAWN WYNN, New Orleans Saints: Played but did not record statistics.
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Two receptions for 18 yards (targets: 4)
DE BOBBY MCCRAY, Philadelphia Eagles: Played but did not record statistics.

– Wynn was released by San Francisco and signed with New Orleans on Monday.
– McCray, a free agent this season, was signed by Philadelphia on Dec. 30.
– Both teams featuring former Gators lost this weekend in the wild card round.

Linebacker Mike Peterson (Atlanta Falcons); safety Major Wright (Chicago Bears); LB Jermaine Cunningham, tight end Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes, running back Fred Taylor, defensive tackle Gerard Warren (New England Patriots); center Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers)

REGULAR SEASON: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17

FOUR BITS: early enrollees, Dowling, Outback

1 » Though National Signing Day is nearly a month away, half of the Florida Gators current 2011 commitments have already enrolled at the University of Florida for the spring semester. Five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), four-star tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) and kicker/punter Kyle Christy (Brownburg, IN) will all be taking classes at UF by Monday. The Gators have eight more commitments to sign in the first week of February and have more than half a dozen spaces to fill before then.

2 » Five-star 2010 commitment S Jonathan Dowling, who was kicked off the Florida football team in November due to a violation of team rules, recently decided to transfer to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and is petitioning the NCAA for a waiver so he does not have to miss another season. According to the Bradenton Herald, new Gators head coach Will Muschamp “made a last-ditch effort” to get Dowling back on the team but was rebuffed even though the player reportedly passed his first semester of classes.

3 » Some believed that Florida did not necessarily deserve the opportunity to play in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to their regular season performance but apparently the committee knew exactly what they were doing in scheduling them to face the equally underwhelming Penn State Nittany Lions The Outback Bowl drew a 7.6 overnight rating on ABC, up 105 percent from the 2010 contest between Northwestern and Auburn (3.7 on ESPN) and up 171 percent from the 2008 game which featured South Carolina and Iowa (2.8 on ESPN). UF-PSU drew the highest overnight rating for a non-BCS college football bowl game on broadcast television since 2008, according to SportsBusiness Daily, and even out-drew the 2011 Fiesta Bowl later that night (6.7).

4 » Four-star WR Kelvin Benjamin, a long-time Gators target who was scheduled to visit Florida next week after Muschamp initially convinced him to delay his decision, committed to the Florida State Seminoles over the weekend and will no longer take a trip to Gainesville, FL. Benjamin, who was choosing between the big three colleges in Florida, is considered an impressive WR prospect and adds yet another big name to head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s 2011 recruiting class.

Gators hang on to prevail 77-71 against Rebels

Suffering some disappointments early in the season, the Florida Gators (12-3, 1-0) started Southeastern Conference play with a bang in the form of a 77-71 win over the Ole Miss Rebels (12-4, 0-1) on Saturday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida junior point guard Erving Walker eclipsed 1,000 points in a victory that saw the Gators take a large lead, give it up and still manage to win handily.

The game got off to a rocky start for both teams until Florida took off on a 14-2 run over the last 3:04 of the half to head into the locker rooms up 39-28.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons hit the Gators’ first trey of the game to give them a 28-26 lead. Walker followed with a three of his own; he stole the ball on the next possession and lobbed a terrific outlet pass to freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin for the layup. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin followed with a dunk, and Parsons hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half strong for Florida.

Up a game-high 12 points on a dagger three-pointer by sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, the Gators quickly lost their lead as the Rebels erupted on a 13-3 run and eventually narrowed the gap to 45-43 with Florida ahead.

Ole Miss G Chris Warren, who caught fire in the second half, hit a trey to tie the game at 51. After some back-and-forth action, UF would re-take the lead permanently on four-straight points by Walker (including a floater that helped him eclipse the 1,000-point mark) to put them up 65-61.

Boynton closed out the game for the Gators with a four-point play, three-pointer off a missed trey and acrobatic lay-up to score nine-straight points on his own. His four-point play was his fourth this season (he’s a perfect 4-for-4 when given the opportunity), third in as many games and sixth of his career.

Walker became the 47th player in school history to eclipse 1,000 career points and did so while dishing three assists and turning the ball over twice. Wilbekin, Walker’s reserve, dished six dimes and did not commit a single turnover. Florida, as a team, had a 22-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio with the trio of primary ball handlers (Walker, Wilbekin and Parsons) going 17-to-2.

Four of the Gators’ starting five did the majority of the work on the evening. Boynton and Parsons each finished with 17 points; the former added three dimes while the latter contributed seven boards and five assists. Macklin’s 16 points came on 8-of-12 shooting, and he added seven rebounds.

For the Rebels, Warren – after being shutout in the first half – scored all 20 of his points in the second period. He shot 6-for-7 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown in the second half and hit all four of his free throws. F Reginald Buckner posted the game’s only double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds), and F Terrance Henry was efficient scoring 12 points and grabbing eight boards.

Florida was uncharacteristically out-rebounded 33-28 in the contest but dished 14 more assists (22-8), committed four fewer turnovers (7-11) and was safer on defense (11-17 turnovers). The Gators shot 50 percent from downtown and 80 percent from the charity stripe, two areas they had struggled previously.

Hoping to build on their third-straight victory, Florida will look to make it four-in-a-row when they travel to Knoxville, TN, to face Tennessee on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN with live coverage online from OGGOA.

Florida Gators vs. Ole Miss Rebels Gameday

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

Online Video: ESPN3.com
Sirius/XM: 121/141
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Andy Kennedy
Record: 11-3 (0-0) Record: 12-3 (0-0)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9


» Florida leads the all-time series against Ole Miss 58-42, is 8-1 in the last nine meetings, 5-0 in the last five games played in Gainesville (+19 points per game), and 11-6 all-time under Donovan.
» The Gators were a perfect 6-0 against the SEC West last year and are 50-16 against the division since 2000 including 29-4 at the O’Dome.
» Florida’s defense has significantly improved over the last nine games. They are holding opponents to just 59.4 points per game and have only allowed two teams to reach 70 points this season. After failing to score at least 70 points in seven-straight games, the Gators have surpassed that total in their last two contests (71, 84).
» UF has out-rebounded 13 of 14 opponents this season – including in its three defeats – and is doing so by a +8.5 rebound per game advantage.
» The Gators and Rebels each best each other in two of four major statistically categories nationally. Florida holds advantages in rebounds 61st-71st (38.5-38.2) and assists 99th-116th (14.4-14.1), while Ole Miss scores more points 38th-163rd (78.1-70.3) and field goal percentage 40th-60th (.475-.466). However, the Gators rank 14th in RPI (.6356) and 8th in strength of schedule (.6130) compared to the Rebels being 62nd (.5749) and 128th (.5126).


» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring and assists with 13.9 points and 3.1 dishes per game. He has accounted for 32 of Florida’s 77 treys.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-high 57.3 percent this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 10.5 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while being a major presence for the Gators.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is averaging 9.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game after posting his best performance of the season against Rhode Island. Parsons scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, was 3-for-4 from downtown and added 12 boards.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably Florida’s most talented player but has been marred in a slump all season. Boynton is only shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from beyond the arc. He is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game and hits 73.7 percent of his free throws.
» Ole Miss G Chris Warren…who leads his team with 18.5 points and 4.3 assists in an average of 33.7 minutes per game (five more than the next closest player). Warren a fantastic 94.1 percent from the charity stripe and is clutch in end-of-game situations.
» Rebels G Zach Graham…whose 14.1 points per game and 28.6 minutes per game are second on Ole Miss. Graham also averages 4.4 rebounds and a steal per game.

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Correspondent

Florida’s game against then-No. 6 Kansas State on Dec. 18 was supposed to be a litmus test. How the team performed would cue outsiders whether or not UF should be taken seriously going forward. The double-digit come-from-behind-win over KSU, coupled with a subsequent overtime loss to Jacksonville, managed only to solidify Donovan’s team as a collection of contradictions that even the coach himself had to figure out.

The particular oxymoron that is the 2010-11 Gators manage to simultaneously be stellar in key areas and abysmal in others. This undoubtedly makes them, at times, frustrating to watch but also places them on track to make the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

The following statistics are where UF ranks in national averages out of 345 schools playing Division I college basketball.

Read the rest of Malik’s column…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators vs. Ole Miss Rebels Gameday

Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

1/6: Donovan speaks before SEC schedule begins

With the Florida Gators set to begin Southeastern Conference competition on Saturday at home against Ole Miss, head coach Billy Donovan, senior forward Chandler Parsons and junior point guard Erving Walker spoke with the media about their collective 11-3 start to the season and where they can go from here.


Donovan and his players believe that a difficult out of conference slate has set Florida up quite well for SEC competition this year. “Because we’ve played against a lot of different styles and a lot of different teams, I feel like our team is prepared, competitively, going into the SEC now,” Donovan said. “How well we perform and how well we play remains to be seen. But I do think we’ve had a lot of learning experiences, experiences we have been able to grow from.”

Though the team struggled with consistency up until the last week, Parsons believes the Gators are raring to go. “I think we’re ready,” he said. “We’ve played some really good teams. We’ve been in some battles and it has really helped us prepare for conference play.” Walker thinks the last two games have done plenty to help Florida’s confidence. “Definitely. We got a long way to go. We just got to keep going, but I think it’s finally starting to come together,” he said.


Depending whether you are an optimist or a pessimist probably determines how you feel about Walker as a basketball player. On one hand, he has easily been the most consistent scoring threat for the Gators this season. On the other, his assist-to-turnover ratio (which should be 2:1 for a PG) is nearly even. Donovan sees both sides of Walker, who will likely reach 1,000 career points in one of the next two games.

“Point or turnovers?,” a laughing Donovan said when asked his opinion about Walker hitting 1,000. “The one thing I’ve always admired about Erving – and you can say this about any really good player whose got a high competitive level – is they don’t get wrapped up in who is in the program. They realize that wherever they got to go at this level they’re going to have to compete and earn playing time. Erving came in here and really earned his way. […] He’s a great kid to coach. He works very, very hard. I think he has a toughness about him and a competitiveness about him that I love.

“He’s got to make better decisions. I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s a fine line with any aggressive player. He’s shooting the ball well and he’s been playing with a level of confidence. There’s good turnovers and there’s bad turnovers. We got to eliminate his bad turnovers where he’s down the lane, he’s two deep and he leaves his feet. He’s got to keep his dribble alive and dribble the ball back out. Those are the kind of decisions that I think he’s got to get better at. When you look at the fact that he’s got one more assist than turnover on the year going into SEC play, that’s not a good thing for your point guard. You’d like your point guard to be two-to-one.”

Walker is not really concerned about the milestone. “It really doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I’ve played a lot of minutes on the court since I was a freshman, so that kind of comes along with the territory,” he said. “It’s nice to have, but it’s not a big deal.”


Donovan announced that only sophomore F Erik Murphy (mid-foot sprain) would miss Saturday’s game as he’s classified as doubtful. Everyone else – including Walker (hip pointer), Parsons (sore ankle), redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin (strained pectoral) and freshman F Will Yeguete (unknown) – is expected to be active. He added that the team was concerned about Macklin because he was having chest and rib pain; the MRI and X-rays both came back negative (for a torn pectoral or fractured ribs, respectively) and Macklin will be able to play as long as he can tolerate the pain.

Read additional quotes from Donovan and the players …after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/6: Donovan speaks before SEC schedule begins

TWO BITS: Tebow and Meyer all over ESPN

1 » Doing promotion for his documentary Tim Tebow: Everything in Between, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was everywhere you looked if you turned on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS or ESPN Radio on Thursday. Below are just a few clips and quotes from his appearances.

Tebow on SportsCenter:

Tebow on the Colin Cowherd radio show:
On changing his game for the NFL; running quarterbacks don’t survive: “I’m going to always try to improve my game. Yes, I want to be that guy that sits in the pocket and throws darts. At the same time, if I have to, to be able to also be a football player and make a play, I think that just adds to be able to help. If it’s an added dimension, if it’s another attribute, then I don’t see how it hurts. But I definitely do want to focus on being a pocket passer and just throwing from the pocket. Throwing those darts.”

On if he is too “collegiate” and his positive attitude rubbing people the wrong way: “To be honest, I don’t necessarily think so. I think I got a great relationship with a lot of my teammates, especially the veterans. When they understand that you’re not about college anymore, you’re about trying to make it this league and trying to help the broncos, when you’re able to earn that respect and they see your work ethic and then they see your passion and love for the game very day and they say its real and not fake and not a show you put on and it’s the actual person you are…then I think they respect you and then they look up to you and begin to like you.”

On whether he is worried about the new head coach not liking him as a player: “To be honest I’m not really apprehensive or anxious right now. I still consider myself extremely blessed to be a Bronco and to be in this great Broncos organization. I also consider myself very blessed that John Elway has taken the position that he has. It’s a great opportunity and a great situation for me. I’m not apprehensive or anxious about anything right now.”

On Cowherd’s opinion of Tebow: “I’m going to try to prove you wrong for what you think of me in the NFL. I don’t think you’re a bad guy at all, but I appreciate you having me on.”

Tebow and Michelle Beadle talking behind the scenes:

2 » Though OGGOA has previously reported this news item, ESPN confirmed in an official release Thursday that former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will be joining the network for coverage of the 2011 BCS National Championship. Along with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, Meyer will be an on-site analyst leading up to and through the contest. He will provide his thoughts and opinions on SportsCenter, College GameDay, ESPNEWS, College Football Live and during the pre-game, half-time and post-game coverage for the event.

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