Led by Donovan (Coach) and Wilbekin (Player), Florida Gators clean up at 2014 SEC awards

Updated on Wednesday at 1:15 a.m.

The No. 1 Florida Gators cleaned up on Tuesday when the Southeastern Conference released its 2013-14 year-end awards as voted on by league coaches, earning five of the six honors and placing three players on various All-SEC teams.

SEC Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan
SEC Player of the Year: Scottie Wilbekin
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Patric Young
SEC Sixth Man of the Year: Dorian Finney-Smith
SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Patric Young

Leading the pack were head coach Billy Donovan, who captured his third SEC Coach of the Year award (all in the last four seasons), and senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who became just the second Florida player in the history of the award to win SEC Player of the Year.

Senior center Patric Young was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and picked up his third-straight SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor, while redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith was awarded SEC Sixth Man of the Year for his contributions off the bench.

It took Donovan 14 seasons to receive his first conference coaching honor despite winning two national championships (2006-07), coaching in three title games (2000, 2006-07) and leading his team to three-straight SEC Tournament victories (2005-07). Since winning his first SEC Coach of the Year award in 2011, he has dominated the voting with three in the last four seasons.

Continue Reading » Led by Donovan (Coach) and Wilbekin (Player), Florida Gators clean up at 2014 SEC awards

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Gators Lee, Noah, Beal earn 2012-13 NBA honors

Three former Florida Gators basketball players – two veterans and one rookie – earned 2012-13 regular season honors from the NBA this year.

On Thursday, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee was named to the All-NBA third team, becoming just the second player in school history to receive such an honor (Al Horford, third team, 2010-11). Lee concluded the season first in the league in double-doubles and top-five in defensive rebounds, total rebounds and efficiency. He was also top-10 in field goals made and triple-doubles.

Lee averaged a double-double of 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds (with 3.5 assists) per game while shooting .519 from the field and .797 from the charity stripe.

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was chosen to the NBA’s All-Defensive team for the second time in three years and remains the only Florida player to ever receive the honor. He was chosen for the second team in 2010-11 but garnered first-team honors this season as he received eight first-place votes (out of 30 voters).

Noah ranked in the top-10 in offensive rebounds, blocks and triple-doubles this season. He averaged career-bests of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals in a career-high 36.8 minutes per game in 2012-13.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was a near-unanimous selection to the NBA All-Rookie first team, receiving 28-of-29 first-place votes.

Beal became the sixth Gators player to be chosen to the All-Rookie team (Jason Williams, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Horford, Chandler Parsons) and the fourth to be picked for the first team (Williams, Miller, Horford).

While battling through numerous injuries, Beal averaged 13.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting .410 from the field, .386 from three and .786 from the free throw line in 31.2 minutes per game.

At least one former Florida player was named to each of the three teams in the same season for the first time in school history.

All-NBAAll-DefensiveAll-Rookie
David Lee (2012-13)
Third Team
Joakim Noah (2012-13)
First Team
Bradley Beal (2012-13)
First Team
Al Horford (2010-11)
Third Team
Joakim Noah (2010-11)
Second Team
Chandler Parsons (2011-12)
Second Team
Al Horford (2007-08)
First Team
Udonis Haslem (2003-04)
Second Team
Mike Miller (2000-01)
First Team
Jason Williams (1998-99)
First Team

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Billy Donovan named 2013 SEC Coach of the Year; six Florida Gators earn SEC postseason honors

It took 15 seasons with the Florida Gators for head coach Billy Donovan to earn his first conference coaching honor despite winning two national championships, coaching in three title games and leading his team to three-straight SEC Tournament victories. Coming off his fifth league regular season title (third outright), Donovan learned Tuesday that he has won his second conference coaching award in the last three seasons as he was chosen as the 2013 SEC Coach of the Year by his peers.

Donovan’s Gators (24-6, 14-4 SEC) opened the SEC slate with eight-straight victories and a 27.75-point margin of victory in those games. Though Florida slid a bit and lost four of its final 10 games in-conference, the Gators still won the league title outright and were the only team in the SEC to remain in the top 25 polls all season long.

UF finished 15-0 at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the season, the second-best home record in school history (18-0 – 2006-07) and fifth time Donovan has led his team to an undefeated record in the O’Dome.

Florida also helped Donovan achieve his 15th-straight 20-win season dating back to 1999. He has the third-longest active streak of 20-win seasons behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (17) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (16) and fifth-longest all-time.

Donovan is now known as the dean of SEC coaches despite being younger than five of his other 13 peers. In his 17th season with the Gators, he is the longest tenured active head coach in the league and has seen 28 coaches come and go through the SEC while he has remained at Florida.

He also this season became the third coach in SEC history to win 400 games and heads into the 2013 SEC Tournament with 410 wins, just 38 behind LSU’s Dale Brown (448) and many more back of Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (875).

Florida also had a number of its players honored Tuesday by the league’s coaches:

Senior forward Erik Murphy was chosen for the First Team All-SEC with senior guard Kenny Boynton, redshirt senior G Mike Rosario and junior center Patric Young each earning Second Team nods. (Rosario and Young tied in voting; ties are not broken.)

Young, who was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Monday, and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin were named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, and freshman G Michael Frazier II won a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Other league awards went to Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SEC Player of the Year), Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel (SEC Freshman of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year) and UK’s Kyle Wiltjer (SEC Sixth Man of the Year).

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Gators baseball racks up 2012 All-SEC honors

A league-high four Florida Gators baseball players received 2012 All-SEC First Team honors on Tuesday as voted on by the 12 confernece coaches.

Junior catcher Mike Zunino, the 2011 SEC Player of the Year, led the way for Florida on the first team and is joined by senior right fielder Preston Tucker, junior left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson and junior lefty reliever Steven Rodriguez. Zunino, Tucker and Johnson also made the 2011 All-SEC First Team.

Junior shortstop Nolan Fontana earned 2012 All-SEC Second Team recognition, third baseman Josh Tobias was chosen as a 2012 SEC All-Freshman Team member, and both Fontana and Zunino received placement on the 2012 SEC All-Defensive Team.

» SEC Player of the Year: Raph Rhymes, LSU
» SEC Pitcher of the Year: Chris Stratton, Mississippi State
» SEC Freshman of the Year: Austin Cousino, Kentucky
» SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Michael Roth, South Carolina
» SEC Coach of the Year: Gary Henderson, Kentucky

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Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2011 (check out Friday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 On the Field Moments of the Year.

11 » JOHNSON, BRANTLEY, KITCHENS SUFFER SCARY INJURIES
Plenty of Florida student-athletes suffered injuries in 2011 but three in particular caused fans to gasp and remain worried about the future of said player. Participating in the semifinals of the 2011 SEC Tournament, Gators baseball wound up dropping a close game 4-3 to Georgia, a loss that forced an elimination game which Florida would later win. However, UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Johnson was taken off a stretcher in the top of the first inning after giving up two earned runs and accidentally being beaned in the back of the head with the baseball by sophomore catcher Mike Zunino. Trying to pick off a runner stealing second, Zunino got his leg tangled with the batter, tripped and flung the ball into the head of a crouching Johnson. He was quickly stabilized, brought to the hospital and deemed responsive though he had a massive headache and was diagnosed with a minor three concussion (no skull fractures or bleeding). Johnson missed the entire Gainesville Regional but returned to action in the Super Regional after being sidelined for more than two weeks.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was in the middle of playing the best game of his collegiate career (despite throwing a costly pick-six) when he went down with an ugly lower leg injury at the end of the first half against Alabama. Brantley had thrown a pretty 65-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose on the first play of the game and was in the middle of driving Florida in for another score before being sacked twice and having his lower leg contorted the second time. Brantley was nearly immediately ruled out of the team’s next game against powerhouse LSU with a high-ankle sprain, and UF was forced to start a true freshman who had not even taken a snap in the team’s first five games in consecutive road contests against LSU and Auburn. Needless to say, the Gators lost both of those contests.

Brantley was never the same after the injury. He nearly helped Florida beat Georgia but was pretty much immobilized in the pocket and threw three interceptions in the team’s first five possessions against Florida State before being knocked out of the game with a head injury that was equally painful to watch. However, that was not the Gators’ only major injury in that game. Perhaps the scariest incident of the year came on kickoff coverage when sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was hit hard from his blindside and laid motionless on the field while trainers attended to him. To this day Kitchens does not remember anything about being hit. Lucky for him, he was cleared that evening with “just” a concussion, released from the hospital and allowed to return to practice with the team just before Christmas. He is expected to play in the 2012 Gator Bowl.

10 » LACROSSE WINS FIRST CONFERENCE TITLE, REACHES ELITE EIGHT

The Florida lacrosse program has been making history since the day it signed the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class prior to the team’s inaugural season in 2010. The Gators were a young but talented group and won over the school even if falling short of some of their goals one year ago. Florida took the next step in 2011, ending the regular season with an 11-0 record at home and on a 13-game winning streak. The Gators capped their stellar regular season by defeating Northwestern for the 2011 ALC Championship just 419 days after the team played its first game in school history. Florida would fall to Northwestern just over three weeks later in the finals of the 2011 ALC Tournament, splitting the season’s conference title down the middle, but took home a number of awards from the league. Sophomore midfielder Kitty Cullen won Player of the Year honors while head coach Amanda O’Leary was named Coach of the Year in just her second season. Two more players were All-ALC first team selections and three others earned spots on the second team. The ladies made it all the way to the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament as well before being taken down 13-9 by Duke, their only loss at home on the season. The Gators were the first program in the history of the sport to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in only their second year of existence and defeated some of the top teams in the country on the way to an unforgettable season that sets Florida up as a favorite heading into 2012.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: On the Field Moments of the Year

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Seniors take Gators softball to new heights

Five members of the Florida Gators softball team saw their collegiate careers come to an end Tuesday night in the final game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series. And while they may not have won the national title and are likely returning to Gainesville, FL on Wednesday with heavy hearts, their accomplishments as a senior class are unmatched in school history. Let’s take a look at their impact…

2011 Senior Class
- Compiled a 238-33 record (.878 winning percentage)
- Set a NCAA record with 70 wins in 2008 (freshman year)
- First SEC team to appear in four-straight WCWS
- Played in WCWS Championships Series twice in three years (2009, 2011)
- Won two SEC regular season and two SEC Tournament titles (2008, 2009)
- Won four-straight SEC East division titles (2008-11)

OF Kelsey Bruder
- Hit .357 (221/619) with 52 homers, 195 RBI, 185 runs scored and 103 walks
- School record for career batting average (.357)
- School record for total bases in a single season (152, 2011)
- School record for runs scored in single season (79, 2011)
- Only player in school history to hit two sacrifice flies in a single game
- 2011 NFCA First-Team All-American
- 2011 SEC Player of the Year
- 2011 WCWS All-Tournament Team
- 2009, 2011 All-SEC First Team
- 2009 SEC All-Tournament Team
- 2009 SEC All-Defensive Team

RHP Stephanie Brombacher
- Compiled a 1.50 career ERA; won 97 of 108 decisions and struck out 683 batters
- School record for career winning percentage (.898)
- School record for winning percentage in a single season (1.000 in 2008, 2009)
- Only pitcher in school history to start her career 10+ wins before suffering a loss
- 2010 All-SEC First Team
- 2009 & 2010 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
- 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

1B Megan Bush
- Hit .318 (225/707) with 65 homers, 217 RBI, 138 runs scored and 113 walks
- School record for career home runs (65)
- School record for RBI in a single season (80, 2011)
- 2011 NFCA First-Team All-American
- 2010, 2011 All-SEC First Team
- 2010 SEC All-Tournament Team
- 2009 WCWS All-Tournament Team
- 2009, 2010 NFCA All-Southeast Region First Team
- 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

C Tiffany DeFelice
- Hit .280 (132/472) with 24 homers, 106 RBI, 70 runs scored and 100 walks
- School record for career fielding percentage
- One of three players in school history to record perfect fielding percentages in a single season and the only player to do so twice
- 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

2B Aja Paculba
- Hit .340 (279/821) with 35 homers, 176 RBI, 253 runs scored and 160 walks
- School record for career hits (279)
- School record for career runs scored (253)
- School record for career walks (160)
- School record for career stolen bases (67)
- School record for walks in a single season (49, 2009)
- School record for most walks in a single game (four, 2009)
- Longest hitting streak in school history (16, 2010)
- 2009 All-SEC First Team
- 2008-10 SEC All-Defensive Team
- 2009 SEC All-Tournament Team
- 2008 SEC All-Freshman Team

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Mike Zunino named 2011 SEC Player of the Year; seven teammates awarded All-SEC honors

The team’s leader in hits, runs, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, Florida Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino was named the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

He is the second University of Florida baseball player to ever win the award. Former Gators first baseman Matt LaPorta captured the honor in 2005 and 2007.

A terror at the plate for Florida all season, Zunino leads the conference in home runs (15), RBI (59), runs scored (62) and total bases (141); he is second in the SEC in batting average (.383, -.002) and slugging percentage (.701, -.008). Zunino is also tied for third in doubles (19), places fifth in on-base percentage (.455) and is tied for sixth in hits (77).

He was named to the 2011 All-SEC First Team alongside teammates junior outfielder Preston Tucker and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson. Also on the team are Vanderbilt’s Aaron Westlake, Tony Kemp and Grayson Garvin; South Carolina’s Scott Wingo, Michael Roth and Matt Price; Kentucky’s Casey McElroy; LSU’s Mikie Mahtook; and Auburn’s Casey McElroy.

His Gators teammates – senior second baseman Josh Adams, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana and sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall – were placed on the All-SEC Second Team. RHP Karsten Whitson and third baseman Zack Powers were honored on the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team, and both Zunino and Fontana earned spots on the 2011 SEC All-Defensive Team.

It is the first time in UF history that student-athletes representing the school have won SEC Player of the Year in baseball and softball (senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder). Florida now has 11 SEC Players of the Year for 2010-11 also including Chandler Parsons (men’s basketball), Bank Vongvanij (men’s golf), Christian Taylor (men’s indoor track & field), Will Claye (men’s outdoor track & field), Conor Dwyer (men’s swimming), Monica Dodson (women’s diving), Kathryn Williamson (women’s soccer), Allie Will (women’s tennis) and Kelly Murphy (volleyball). Gators lacrosse’s Kitty Cullen also won ALC Player of the Year.

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner/Icon SMI

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TWO BITS: SEC baseball awards, Pearl’s praise

1 » Champions of the 2010 Southeastern Conference regular season, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball received two major awards and 14 honorable placements on Tuesday. Kevin O’Sullivan was named the 2010 SEC Coach of the Year, third baseman Austin Maddox was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year and junior left-hander Kevin Chapman was named to the All-SEC First Team as the relief pitcher. Other honors awarded: All-SEC Second Team – sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker, Maddox, freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker; All-Freshman Team – Maddox, Fontana, catcher Mike Zunino, pitcher Hudson Randall, DH/P Brian Johnson; All-Defensive Team – Tucker, Fontana, den Dekker.

2 » Tennessee Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl heaped the praise on the Gators basketball program and head coach Billy Donovan on Tuesday, claiming that Florida is easily the most talented team in the SEC going into the 2010-11 season. “Billy Donovan has had several years of really, really good recruiting,” Pearl told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “They will be by far the most talented team in the SEC.” Pearl made this declaration while acknowledging the fact that Kentucky is bringing in easily the best recruiting class in the nation.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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