Florida gains two 2012 commits Saturday night

Just five days after receiving their third commitment for the 2012 recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators nearly doubled their class when running back Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) and linebacker Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL) each announced their intention to play in The Swamp on Saturday.

Davis, the brother of former Clemson now-Washington Redskins RB James Davis, is Florida’s second running back commitment for 2012; four-star Matt Jones (Seffner, FL), considered to be the best rusher in the state of Florida, committed on Monday.

“They said that they are only going to take two running backs this year and I’m the other one they wanted, so I went ahead and made my commitment,” he told Rivals. “I know it takes more than one [running back]. I split carries last year. I don’t mind that. Florida recruited me hard and said that I am needed.”

Powell is the Gators’ second defensive commitment for 2012 and the team’s first at linebacker, a much-needed position. “This was the best experience I’ve had in my entire life man,” said Powell, according to Rivals‘ Mark Wheeler. “I went to visit USF the other day, and I felt like I was comfortable and a good fit there, but when I got here today, man, I can’t imagine going anywhere else. When I committed in coach [Will] Muschamp‘s office, it was like a dream.”

Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina and Tennessee also offered Davis, while Powell was picking from South Carolina, South Florida, Iowa State and Purdue early on. Both unrated prospects visited the Univeristy of Florida over the weekend.

The duo join four-stars defensive tackle Omari Phillips (Venice, FL) and wide receiver LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) as the Gators’ 2012 commitments.

FOUR BITS: swimming, gymnastics, tennis win

1 » The third day of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Swimming Championships, held at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, was just as eventful for the Florida Gators as the previous two. Senior Conor Dwyer, who had already set three SEC records combined, broke yet another on Friday by swimming the 400-yard individual medley in 3:37.75. Freshman Elizabeth Beisel matched his accomplishment on the women’s side, also breaking the SEC record in the individual medley with a time of 4:00.35. Both competitors, in addition to now owning the top SEC mark in the event, broke the pool and school records in the event. Though both teams are performing well, neither leads their gender’s team category. Saturday is the final day of competition.

2 » Performing in their home finale Friday, No. 1 Florida gymnastics (8-0, 5-0 SEC) remained unbeaten by defeating the No. 22 Auburn Tigers (2-5, 2-4 SEC) 196.850-194.950. The Gators once again swept the event titles with sophomore Marissa King winning the vault (9.95), senior Maranda Smith taking the floor exercise (9.90), freshman Mackenzie Caquatto conquering the uneven bars (9.90) and both Caquatto and freshman Ashanée Dickerson winning the balance beam (9.875).

3 » Competing in the round of 16 at the 2011 ITA National Team Indoor Championships Friday, No. 2 Florida women’s tennis (8-0) defeated the No. 9 Miami Hurricanes (5-1) 4-1. No. 7 sophomore Allie Will, No. 19 junior Joanna Mather and No. 31 freshman Olivia Janowicz all won their singles matches with the No. 30 duo of sophomore Lauren Embree and Mather also taking home a doubles win. The No. 1 doubles pairing of Will and freshman Sofie Oyen did not finish their doubles match (which they led 7-3); No. 36 Embree and No. 40 freshman Alex Cercone were tied in their respective singles matches but also did not finish.

4 » Also victorious in the round of 16 at the ITA Team Indoor Championships on Friday was No. 10 Gators men’s tennis (7-1), which defeated the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal 4-3 and gave head coach Andy Jackson his 400th career victory. Though the No. 15 duo of senior Alexandre Lacroix and junior Nasslim Slilam fell to their No. 11-ranked opponents, No. 9 Lacroix’s three-set 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over No. 7 Bradley Klahn, the defending NCAA singles champion, clinched the match for Florida. Slilam also lost his singles match, but No. 43 sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. was victorious both on his own and when paired up with freshman Andrew Butz. The Gators will advance to the quarterfinals for the second-straight year.

Florida baseball tops USF 7-2 in season opener

There is plenty of pressure on No. 1 Florida Gators baseball this year, but the team looked at ease Friday night as they opened the 2011 season with a dominant 7-2 victory over the South Florida Bulls at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Fueled by six scoreless innings from sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson, Florida (1-0) shut out USF (0-1) for the first eight innings of the game. Johnson (1-0) only faced 18 batters, struck out and allowed two singles.

The Gators scored all of their runs in two innings, posting three in the third and four more in the fifth.

With the bases loaded on three consecutive singles in the third, junior right fielder Preston Tucker hit a fourth to left field, scoring freshman third baseman Zach Powers for Florida’s first run of the season. Sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox followed with a deep sacrifice fly to right field to score sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana, and Johnson’s RBI double to right center on the next at bat allowed senior second baseman Josh Adams to cross the plate for the inning’s final run.

Back up at bat in the fifth, UF used a a two-run homer by Tucker with Fontana on third to jump ahead 5-0. A few batters later, senior left fielder Bryson Smith stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and hit a two-RBI single to the third base side to score both sophomore catcher Mike Zunino and Johnson.

Relieved in the seventh, Johnson was supported by back-to-back shutout innings from junior right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and freshman RHP Jonathon Crawford. The Gators’ 2010 ace, junior LHP Alex Panteliodis, came in to close out the game but ended up allowing three hits and two earned runs – including a solo shot to right by Bulls RF James Ramsay – before notching the final out.

Tucker finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI and was a triple away from the cycle. Fontana (4-5) scored two runs while earning a career-high four hits.

With the victory, Florida won its 16th consecutive game at McKethan Stadium, and head coach Kevin Sullivan improved to 4-0 in season openers. The Gators are back on the field Saturday with sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (8-4, 3.24 ERA in 2010) on the mound for the second of the three-game series. The contest will begin at 4 p.m. and will be available live on GatorVision.tv.

Photo Credit: Brad McClenn/The Gainesville Sun

2/18: Parsons questionable for Sunday at LSU

No. 14/15 Florida Gators (20-5, 9-2 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 Friday.

PARSONS DAY-TO-DAY FOR WEEKEND MATCH-UP

Though he will travel with the team to Baton Rouge, LA, senior forward Chandler Parsons (deep thigh bruise) is questionable to play in Sunday’s game and will almost certainly not be in the starting lineup for Florida, Donovan said Friday. Parsons has been hobbling around all week after injuring himself last Saturday against Tennessee and has been receiving treatments multiple times per day.

“Because of the internal bleeding in his leg, the first 48 hours were pretty critical in terms of him staying off of it, on crutches, elevation,” Donovan said. “The pain in his leg is subsiding. He’s done some workouts in pools, but he has not done any running. He has not done any shooting. “

Donovan, who noted that Parsons will make a “full recovery” has had “no issues” and could be “100 percent” by next Thursday, said he has a “50-50″ chance of playing Sunday, partially because he will not have practiced all week up until the game. “If he does play, I’d say that he probably definitely will not start,” he said. “It would probably be a situation where we put him in there just to see how he [feels]. As a coach, I’m going into the game planning that he’s not going to be able to play. I know in his mind he wants to play, thinks he’s going to play.”

Aggravating the injury further is not an issue UF needs to worry about, Donovan noted. “We’re not concerned that, if he does play, there’s going to be any more damage to his leg,” he said. “He’s going to be padded up enough that, if he did get hit there, they’re confident it’s not going to be an issue.”

Luckily for the Gators, the LSU Tigers (10-15, 2-8 SEC) are one of the worst performing teams in the Southeastern Conference. Nevertheless, Parsons has been on fire for Florida recently, notching three consecutive double-doubles before getting injured.

He will probably be replaced in the starting lineup by either freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin or freshman guard Casey Prather, Donovan noted. Prather would be the more natural fit, while Wilbekin would push Walker to the two and Boynton to the three. “When you got a really good player that’s out, it’s got to be a collective group of people that’s got to try to raise their play,” he said.

ADDITIONAL TIME OFF CAN BE GOOD OR BAD

With at least two games per week since 2011 began, the Gators have not had much time to relax, recover and get healthy in the second half of the season. Playing Sunday after eight days off could be a gift or a curse, Donovan said.

“We’ve been on a pretty regular schedule, playing a lot of games. This is the first time probably since Christmas break that we’ve had [extra time off],” he noted. “We play Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday. Although we have a little bit of a break with one game in 12 days, we then have a lot of games in a short period of time. […] You’re always concerned how your team is going to come out and play when you have eight days off.”

One group with no issues about the extra time off is the players. “This break has done a lot for us,” sophomore guard Kenny Boynton said. “[Thursday] we had a great practice. The LSU game, we should be energized. We should come out with a lot of intensity and be ready to play.” Walker agreed. “It was huge for us, especially with Chandler being hurt right now,” he said. “The extra time to rest up may help us get him back on Sunday.”

Check out Donovan’s thoughts on Walker’s freedom with the ball…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2/18: Parsons questionable for Sunday at LSU

Gators in the NBA through 2011 All-Star break

With the 2010-11 NBA season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators have been making strong impressions on the league with a few having a significant impact on their team’s game-to-game performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores for the first half of the season to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished thus far. Figures below are per-game averages:

F/C AL HORFORD`, Atlanta Hawks: 16.0 points [56.8% shooting – team-best], 9.8 rebounds [team-high], 3.6 assists, 0.85 blocks, 1.06 steals, 82% FT …in 35.4 minutes with 51-of-55 starts [51 games played*]

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: 14.0 points [51.4% shooting], 11.7 rebounds [team-high], 2.7 assists, 1.63 blocks [team-high], 1.17 steals, 73% FT …in 36.8 minutes with 24-of-54 starts [24 games played*]

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: 15.9 points [49.2% shooting], 9.4 rebounds [team-high], 3.4 assists, 0.37 blocks, 0.89 steals, 77% FT …in 36.2 minutes with 46-of-55 starts [46 games played*]

G/F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves: 8.6 points [38.4% shooting, 26.3% downtown], 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.25 blocks, 1.59 steals [team-high], 71% FT …in 24.1 minutes with 22-of-56 starts [56 games played]

F/C MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: 7.3 points [48.4% shooting, 50% downtown (team-best > 5 mpg.)], 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.38 blocks, 0.30 steals, 73% FT …in 22.0 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [40 games played*]

G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: 5.9 points [41.1% shooting, 38.7% downtown], 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.32 steals, 78% FT …in 19.3 minutes with two-of-56 starts [22 games played*]

C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Philadelphia 76ers: 5.4 points [50.8% shooting], 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.22 blocks, 0.11 steals, 75% FT …in 11.6 minutes with 1-of-56 starts [45 games played*]

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: 8.0 points [51.2% shooting], 8.2 rebounds [team-high], 0.5 assists, 0.23 blocks, 0.54 steals, 80% FT …in 26.5 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [13 games played*]

PG JASON WILLIAMS, Memphis Grizzlies: 1.9 points [35% shooting, 32% downtown], 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.42 steals …in 10.2 minutes [19 games played, two teams~]

PG ORIEN GREENE, New Jersey Nets: 1.0 points [50% shooting], 0.3 assists, 0.33 steals …in 1.7 minutes [three games played~]

NOTES
` Horford was named to his second-straight NBA All-Star Game this season.
* Horford missed four games with a back injury.
* Noah missed 30 games with an injured thumb (torn ligament).
* Lee missed nine games with an infected elbow.
* Bonner missed 16 games with an injured knee (marrow edema).
* Miller missed 34 games with a broken thumb.
* Speights did not play in 11 games (coach’s decision).
* Haslem has missed 43 games with an injured foot, is thought to be out for the entire season but has an outside chance of returning.
~ Williams was traded from the Orlando Magic to Memphis and has yet to step on the court for the Grizzlies.
~ Green was recently called up by New Jersey from the NBDL.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

FOUR BITS: Dwyer, Holloway, baseball, watch list

1 » The second day of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Swimming Championships, held at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, was just as exciting for the No. 5 Florida Gators men’s team as Wednesday’s opening day. Senior Conor Dwyer, who set two SEC records in one race (800-yard freestyle relay) a day ago, broke yet another on Thursday by swimming the 500-yard freestyle in 4:11.36. The No. 8 women also had some celebrating to do as junior Sarah Bateman set the school record in the 50-yard freestyle. The men’s team jumped up to second place overall after day two (70 points behind leader Auburn), while the women’s team took a hold of first place with a new total of 291 points (five above Georgia).

2 » Florida head swimming coach Gregg Troy was named the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team on Dec. 8. Joining him as a Team USA coach in England for the 2012 London Olympics is Gators head track & field coach Mike Holloway, who was picked as an assistant coach for sprinters and hurdlers on Thursday. “It’s an incredible honor to be chosen by my peers to coach on the United States Olympic staff,” Holloway said, according to the University of Florida. “It’s something that I am very proud of, and I look forward to serving my country.”

3 » No. 1 Florida baseball will begin the 2011 season over the weekend with a trio of home games against the South Florida Bulls. The Gators have announced starters for the series but will be without last year’s ace, junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis (11-3, 3.51 ERA), as the team is being cautious with his return from offseason hip surgery. Sophomore LHP Brian Johnson (6-4, 4.03 ERA) will start the season on the hill. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall (8-4, 3.24 ERA) takes over Saturday, and freshman RHP Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, will start his career in the orange and blue on the mound Sunday.

4 » Johnson and junior first baseman Preston Tucker received nominations to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list on Thursday. The award, presented to the top amateur player in the country, is sponsored by Major League Baseball but has never been presented to a Florida player in its 33-year history. Both Johnson and Tucker are preseason All-Americans according to Baseball America.

LB Neiron Ball improving but still hospitalized

Updated Feb. 18 at 12:15 a.m.

Florida Gators freshman linebacker Neiron Ball continues to receive treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at Shands Hospital after a blood vessel ruptured in his brain on Monday but will be moved out of ICU and into a standard hospital room on Friday, his high school coach told The Gainesville Sun.

Ball, a special teams standout this past season who registered 10 tackles in 13 games, has been ruled out of spring practice. The severity of his condition and the amount of recovery time doctors deem necessary for him to be 100 percent healthy will determine if and when Ball can return to the field. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association, which disclosed on Monday that Ball was in the hospital being treated for a congenital vascular condition, has yet to release any additional information. However, the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser has been updating his condition all week and the Sun’s Robbie Andreu filed an additional report Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, the Post reported that doctors were able to stop the bleeding and have prevented his brain from swelling. Though it is currently unknown what – if any – aftereffects there may be from the health scare, Ball’s family and friends have noted that his condition has improved.

“He’s out of life-threatening mode,” Mike Parris, Ball’s former head coach at Jackson High School, told the Post. “There isn’t any imminent danger. They’re just trying to let it heal.” Parris also spoke with the Sun. “He’s doing OK. He’s having headaches. He’s scared more than anything,” Parris said. “Other than that, he’s doing pretty good. I think he’s going to be fine. The doctors told his family he is out of a life-threatening situation.”

Natalie Myricks, Ball’s older sister, is hopeful that he everything will be OK. “He’s doing fine; he’s doing better,” she said, according to the Post. “The people at Florida and Shands have been 100 percent helpful and great to us.” Myricks sent an e-mail to the Sun further praising the assistance from Shands and UF. “We appreciate the care that the doctors at Shands Hospital are providing. The support of the coaching staff at the University of Florida has been phenomenal,” she said.

“Thank you for your prayers and concern.”

A continuous stream of friends, teammates and coaches have been visiting Shands to check on Ball, OGGOA has learned from a pair of readers who work in the hospital but wish to remain nameless. It will likely be quite a while before anything definitive is known about Ball’s health one way or another. We continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

DE Trattou: “I’m glad we went out the right way”

Having returned home to New Jersey now that his Florida Gators career has come to a close, defensive end Justin Trattou took some time out from training for upcoming NFL workouts to sit down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging interview.

Trattou, who plans to return to Gainesville, FL to showcase his talents for NFL scouts and coaches at Florida’s Pro Day, recounted his collegiate career and looked ahead to his future during our conversation. Check it out below!

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You made all-state as a junior and senior and won the New Jersey state title in your final season. What was it like to see four years of hard work pay off?
JUSTIN TRATTOU: “It was definitely a huge accomplishment. My senior year, me and those guys, we went to the state championship in my sophomore and junior year and lost both times. That senior year we went 12-0, ran the table and then blew out St. Peters 41-0. That was a great way to go out. And then I ended up going to the All-American game and did well there, so it was definitely a good way to go into college.”

AS: For a while you were committed to Notre Dame, but you eventually switched to Florida. What made you change your mind, and how did all that come about?
JT: “After my season ended, I kind of just committed to get it out of the way and concentrate on my senior year. I didn’t want to be bothered by people. After I won the state championship and everything was all good, I started looking around again. Took a visit down to Florida and immediately fell in love with the place – The Swamp and the whole atmosphere. I knew that was the place for me.”

AS: Was it tough telling Notre Dame that you had switched?
JT: “At the end of the day, I’m the one that has to live it out. I didn’t owe anybody anything, so it was definitely my choice.”

AS: During your recruitment, Charlie Weis was the Notre Dame head coach. Obviously he’s now the offensive coordinator at Florida. Can you talk about the type of recruiter he was – his demeanor in your home, how he spoke to you, etc?
JT: “It was always good. Obviously I ended up committing there, so… He was definitely good. For me personally, I just wanted to go to Florida.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Justin Trattou…after the break!
Continue Reading » DE Trattou: “I’m glad we went out the right way”

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