SIX BITS: awards, Tennessee, blog, BCS, SEC

1 » Learning they earned a unanimous No. 3 ranking on Tuesday – earning placement in the top-three for the first time program history – Florida Gators lacrosse continues to celebrate their 2011 ALC Championship while riding a 14-game winning streak. The team finished the ALC schedule 5-0 and completed the regular season 11-0 at home. With all six ALC schools ranked in the top-20, Florida is among great company and only behind Maryland (15-0) and Duke (13-2). The team also received great news as sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen was named National Player of the Week by WomensLax.com, National Offensive Player of the Week by WomensLacrosse.com and Offensive Player of the Week by the ALC. Joining her is redshirt freshman M Hayley Katzenberger, who took home ALC Rookie of the Week honors.

2 » The Gators brought home two other Player of the Week awards on Monday, with the Southeastern Conference recognizing senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder for softball and sophomore Allie Will for women’s tennis. Bruder hit a home run in three-straight games, while Will won two matches (including the 75th of her career).

3 » The Tennessee Volunteers are planning to begin their annual spring tour in Orlando, FL, prompting columnist John Adams of GoVolsXtra to point out that Tennessee fans in general have a number of conspiracy theories about some of their own in regards to connections with Florida.

4 » Former Gators forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, the No. 4 overall pick of the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks is back with the team after spending two years in Washington and continues to play great. In addition to winning tow Olympic gold medals and a pair of WNBA Championships she is 11th all-time in both scoring and rebounding, sixth all-time in steals and eighth all-time in minutes played in the league. Milton-Jones wrote a guest blog for SLAM Magazine, which you can check out here.

5 » Whether or not you like the BCS is no matter as its existence may be a matter of legality going forward. The United States Justice Department is currently looking into whether or not they should investigate the BCS for violating federal antitrust law, and a University of Florida professor is lending his hand (and signature) to the anti-BCS regime, according to The Gainesville Sun.

6 » For the first time since 1999, the 2011 SEC Tournament for men’s tennis will be held at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gaiensville, FL. The event begins Thursday at 9 a.m. and will continue through the championship game on Sunday.

Former Gators PG Jason Williams retires

Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams announced his retirement from the NBA Monday night in an official press release from the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 12-year veteran missed the final 17 games of the regular season with an injured back and was left off the team’s playoff roster.

Selected No. 7 overall in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, Williams played for four teams in his professional career.

After spending three years with Sacramento, Williams was traded to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies (which relocated to Memphis), where he played from 2001-05. He was again traded to the Miami Heat and won a NBA Championship in 2005-06, his first season with the team. Williams played there for three years before signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers; however, instead of playing for the team, he decided to retire.

Coming out of retirement after a full year away from the game, he played 98 games in an Orlando Magic uniform before being cut in January; the Grizzlies signed him just over a week later. He ends his career as Memphis’ all-time assists leader (2,069).

Known by the nickname “White Chocolate,” Williams finished with career totals of 8,266 points, 4,611 assists, 1,810 rebounds and 933 steals. He averaged 10.5 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds for his career while shooting 39.8 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line.

Before making his career as an NBA point guard, Williams played one season (1997-98) for the University of Florida and averaged 17.1 points and 6.7 assists per game. Already having received three suspensions, he was permanently dismissed from the program due to drug use after the season and immediately declared for the draft .

While with the Gators, Williams recorded a school single-game record 17 assists. Upon entering the NBA as a rookie, his No. 55 jersey was top-five in the league in sales. Williams was disciplined numerous times throughout his professional career.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Florida adds 2011 walk-on punter Todd Fennell

Looking for competition for freshman three-star punter Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN), the Florida Gators have accepted a walk-on commitment from Todd Fennell (Vero Beach, FL), OGGOA exclusively learned on Monday.

“Todd’s a high level student and wanted a strong athletic and academic school. He grew up a Gator fan and Florida fit the type of school he was looking for,” his kicking coach, Brandon Kornblue, told us in an interview. “He was really impressed with how the staff and players welcomed him on his unofficial visit. With Chas Henry graduating, the coaches told him they want him to compete for the starting spot.”

Listed at 6’2” and 185 lbs., Fennell made his decision on Sunday, picking Florida over an opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at N.C. State. Michigan was also highly considering offering him an chance to compete, Kornblue said.

“Good punters are tougher to find than good kickers and Todd is a pure punter. He’s also a good athlete, similar to how Henry was out of high school,” he explained. “He doesn’t have the leg strength or size that Henry has but very few do. Punting at the college level is all about consistency, so if Todd can get a little stronger and comfortable mentally in that environment, he’ll have a good chance to contribute.”

Fennell, also Vero Beach High School’s staring quarterback, is an unranked prospect.

Photo Credit: Michael C. Bielecki

Gators baseball, softball each win weekend series

Both suffering through some midseason struggles, Florida Gators baseball and softball each won their respective three-game series over the weekend. No. 4/4 Florida baseball (28-9, 11-4 SEC) won two of three in Athens, GA, while No. 10/10 softball (37-7, 13-6 SEC) swept a three-game road series in Auburn, AL.

BASEBALL

Coming off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Florida State, the Gators were faced with the tough test of facing another rival on the road just a few days later. Florida rebounded, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 5-4 in Friday’s contest behind a solid effort from sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (6-1). Randall allowed three runs (two earned) but tossed 6.1 innings for UF before giving way to three relievers. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Steven Rodriguez came through with his second save of the season after striking out the final batter. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-5, R), junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-3, RBI) each connected twice, but sophomore first baseman/reliever Austin Maddox (3-4, 2 RBI, R) led the way offensively with a two-RBI single to center in the sixth.

The Gators were not as lucky Saturday, falling 7-2 to the Bulldogs after junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (4-2) blew a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning. Relieving sophomore LHP Brian Johnson (6.0 IP, 4 K, ER), DeSclafani got one out before walking the next batter, giving up two hits and intentionally loading the bases before being pulled. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (3-3, BB) hit two singles and a double but his teammates were never able to capitalize.

Wrapping up the series, Florida watched as Tucker took over Sunday’s contest with an absolutely explosive performance. Down 7-6 to Georgia through six innings, UF jumped on the back of Tucker, who came through in the clutch. He hit home runs in back-to-back innings in one of the best performances all season for the Gators. Tucker (2-4, 6 RBI, 3 R) hit a two-run moon shot in the seventh and grand slam in the eighth to propel his team to a 14-7 victory over the Bulldogs (19-18, 9-6 SEC).

Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson (5.0 IP, 5 K, 3 ER) got the start but lost his opportunity at a win when junior LHP Alex Panteliodis coughed up four earned runs on four hits without recording a single out in his relief appearance. Junior RHP Greg Larson (1-1), pitching the final 3.2 innings of the game, recorded the win striking out one and scattering five hits. Other top-notch offensive performances came from Fontana (1-3, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB), sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (3-4, 3 R, BB), Maddox (3-4, RBI, 2 R, BB) and DH Johnson (3-4, 3 RBI, R).

SOFTBALL

Rebounding from a six-game losing streak with seven-straight wins, Florida softball outscored the Auburn Tigers (32-12, 11-9 SEC) 35-10 over the weekend beginning with an impressive 14-4 victory early Saturday.

Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers earned the victory in a complete game performance due to an impressive rally by her offense over the final four innings. Down 4-1 through three, the Gators scored 13 runs in the last four frames including five in the seventh. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (2-5, 3 RBI, R), senior LF Kelsey Bruder (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R), senior 1BMegan Bush (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB), senior C Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) and freshman SS Cheyenne Coyle (2-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB) all showed major power with a combined five home runs.

Coming back out for the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, Florida saw the return of ace senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. Out since March 12 (bicep), Brombacher (15-0) did not throw her normal complete game effort but earned the win by striking out four and only allowing one earned run in 4.2 innings. Rogers (S2) got the save while Bruder (2-5, HR, 2 RBI, R), sophomore RF Brittany Schutte (3-3, R, BB), Coyle (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) and sophomore designated hitter Kelsey Horton (2-2, RBI) did the heavy lifting for the team offensively.

Rogers (22-5) completed the weekend with two victories and a save, earning her second win Sunday in yet another complete game performance. The Gators’ bats were alive once again as the team connected for eight total home runs. Senior 2B Aja Paculba (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), Bruder (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), Schutte (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), DeFelice (1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB), Horton (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R) and freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R) all connected to earn Florida the series sweep.

Bruder ended the weekend 7-13 with three homers, five RBI and four runs, while Coyle was an outstanding 5-7 with three homers, five RBI, seven runs and five walks.

Gators rack up five titles over the weekend

The weekend of April 15-17, 2011 was a good one for the Florida Gators as University of Florida student-athletes brought home five separate titles for the school.

No. 3/5 Gators men’s golf won the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship, leading after every single round of the event. Florida finished with a combined 848 (+8), five strokes ahead of second-place Alabama to win the school’s 200th all-time SEC title.

Competing for the Gators in the event, redshirt senior golfer Andres Echavarria also won the 2011 SEC Men’s Individual Championship with a three-round total of 209 (-1).

With No. 7 Florida gymnastics failing to advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Six, the team had three student-athletes competing individually. One came through as sophomore Marissa King claimed the 2011 NCAA Championship in the vault on Sunday. King scored a 9.8750 in the vault and became UF’s first NCAA event winner since 1998.

Two other Gators teams clinched outright conference titles over the weekend.

No. 5/6 Florida lacrosse (14-1, 5-0 ALC) defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores (7-7, 1-4 ALC) 8-7 Sunday to continue a 14-game winning streak and take sole possession of the regular season 2011 ALC Championship. No. 1 Gators women’s tennis (22-1, 11-0 SEC) followed suit, shutting out the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-9, 4-7 SEC) 7-0 on Saturday to go undefeated in conference play and capture the 2011 SEC title.

Photo Credit: Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

Florida Gators athletics wins 200th SEC title

Florida Gators men’s golf captured the University of Florida’s 200th Southeastern Conference title on Sunday, setting a milestone for the school and athletic program.

Below is a portion of the official release sent out by UF’s University Athletic Association:

The Gator athletic program reached a milestone on Sunday afternoon which has been in the works since 1933. That was the year the first Southeastern Conference titles were awarded by the league which was established in December of 1932. Florida, one the 13 founding members of the SEC, waited until 1937 for the men’s swimming & diving program to claim the Gators’ first league title. When the men’s golf team title claimed the SEC title, Florida’s number of SEC team titles now stands at a league-leading 200.

“The 200th SEC title is a testament to the dedication and drive shown by Gator student-athletes and coaches over these many seasons. Every title is celebrated because winning a championship in any of the league’s sports is a truly an accomplishment because of the strength of the SEC,” UF Athletics Director Jeremy Foley said.

Sport# of SEC TitlesYears Titles Won
M. S&D331937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957,
1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966,
1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984,
1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
W. Tennis251980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001,
2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011
Volleyball191991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
W. S&D171981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990,
1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009
M. Golf151955, 1956, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1985, 1989, 1991,
1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2011
Baseball111952, 1956, 1962, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1988,
1996, 1998, 2005, 2010
Soccer111996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
M. Tennis91950, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2005
Football81991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2008
W. Golf81981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2008
Gymnastics71982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2007, 2010
M. Indoor T&F61975, 1976, 1987, 1988, 2004, 2011
W. Indoor T&F61990, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2010
M. Basketball51989, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2011
W. Cross Country51984, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2010
W. Outdoor T&F51992, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2009
M. Outdoor T&F41953, 1956, 1987, 2010
M. Cross Country31955, 1986, 1987
Softball31998, 2008, 2009

FOUR BITS: tennis wins SEC, gym, Davis, Hill

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (22-1, 11-0 SEC) shutout the South Carolina Gamecocks (12-9, 4-7 SEC) 7-0 on Saturday to capture the outright 2011 Southeastern Conference Championship for the regular season at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The victory not only won Florida the SEC title and a No. 1 seed (including a bye) in the upcoming 2011 SEC Tournament, it was also the team’s 102nd consecutive regular season victory and 93rd-straight at home. The No. 8 doubles team of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone took down their No. 32-ranked opponents 8-4. No. 7 Will and No. 51 Cercone each won their singles matches, as did No. 20 sophomore Lauren Embree, No. 37 junior Joanna Mather, No. 49 freshman Olivia Janowicz and No. 104 freshman Sofie Oyen. The No. 43 duo of Embree and Oyen also won their doubles match earlier in the day.

2 » No. 5 Gators gymnastics was not as successful over the weekend, failing to advance to the 2011 NCAA Super Six team final by finishing fourth in Session II of the 2011 NCAA Championships semifinals. Florida finished with 196.125 points behind Alabama (197.05), Nebraska (196.85) and Utah (196.20). Fortunately for the Gators, three of the ladies advanced to the NCAA individual event finals on Sunday. Freshman Alaina Johnson will compete in vault, uneven bars and floor exercise; sophomore Marissa King will try her hand at vault and floor exercise; and senior Maranda Smith will participate in the floor exercise. All three were named to the All-American First Team.

3 » Florida 2012 running back commitment Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) won a Most Valuable Player award for his group at the Nike Football Training Camp in Athens, GA on Friday. “Mike did some incredible things,” Jake Campbell, running backs coach at the camp, told ESPN. “He has great lateral movement and change of direction. He’s terrific in the open field. He’s a true running back where things come so natural to him. He’s versatile and has soft hands. He’s also a strong ball carrier who really seems to understand the position.”

4 » Gators safety Will Hill, waiting to find out who will take a chance on him in the 2011 NFL Draft, participated in a local prospect day for the New York Giants on Thursday. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Mike Garafolo says Hill “has the Giants intrigued” to the point that they have “look[ed] into the personal side of things” regarding his character.

Florida Gators WRs Dunkley, McRoy transferring

A pair of Florida Gators wide receivers have decided to transfer, the University of Florida announced on Friday. Redshirt freshman Chris Dunkley and freshman Javares McRoy will both continue their college careers at other institutions.

Dunkley, who was suspended from team activities this spring for academic reasons, has not announced where he will play.

“It’s been a great learning experience being here at the University of Florida,” he said in a release, “but I feel like it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start somewhere else.“

McRoy, who sat out the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut with what head coach Will Muschamp called a “medical procedure with his lung,” will join his brother on the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a school he initially committed to before switching to Florida.

“I enjoyed my time at Florida, but I really want the chance to play with my brother Ben, who is at Texas Tech,” he said in the release. “Florida has been very understanding and is giving me that opportunity.”

The Gators will enter the 2011 season with only nine scholarship receivers on the roster: redshirt senior Deonte Thompson; redshirt juniors Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines; redshirt sophomores Andre Debose and Stephen Alli; sophomores Robert Clark, Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton; and freshman Ja’Juan Story.

The departures of Dunkley and McRoy open up two additional scholarships Florida can use for the 2012 recruiting cycle.

“We wish both of these guys the best of luck in their future endeavors, both on and off the field,” Muschamp said.

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