FOUR BITS: Tebow, softball, Haslem, Weis

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has a wide variety of interests these days, but up until this point no one has dared question his work ethic or dedication to football. Then comes running back LenDale White, who asked Tebow publicly last week to join the voluntary workouts being put on by veteran safety Brian Dawkins in Denver. Tebow has previously worked out with teammates (especially his wide receivers) both in Denver and Jacksonville, FL but was finishing up a round of appearances including at his own charity golf tournament and for Jockey in New York, NY.

Thursday he returned to Denver and was one of 13 players to show up at the workout – the only quarterback on his team to do so. According to The Denver Post‘s Lindsay Jones, Tebow got there an hour early to throw passes and stayed for the duration. “This part is more important to show that we’re all together. I know a lot of us have been throwing and catching and doing what we need to do other places, but I think this is big, just to show that we’re together,” he said. “You can come together a few times to show, ‘Hey, we’ve got each other’s backs.’”

2 » Six members of No. 3 Florida Gators softball were honored Thursday with selections to the 2011 Louisville Slugger/National Coaches Fastpitch Association All-Southeast Region Teams. Senior outfielder Kelsey Bruder, senior first baseman Megan Bush, freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers and sophomore utility player Brittany Schutte were voted onto the First Team, while junior OF Michelle Moultrie and senior second baseman Aja Paculba earned Second Team honors. Florida begins 2011 NCAA Tournament action by hosting the Gainesville Regional beginning Friday at 6 p.m. against Benthune-Cookman.

3 » Playing his first significant minutes for the Miami Heat since making an early recovery from a Lisfranc injury of his foot, power forward Udonis Haslem was a major spark off the bench on Wednesday. Haslem entered the game, started 4-for-4 from the field and finished with 13 points and five rebounds (three offensive) on 50 percent shooting. He was also a huge help in the post for Miami, which lacks strength and dominance down low, by limiting the offensive rebounds that the Chicago Bulls were able to grab. Game three of the Eastern Conference Finals is set for Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

4 » Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis may be getting paid handsomely by Florida ($765,000 in salary this year), but he is also still receiving checks from his last college job with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune printed on Friday, Weis has been paid $7.3 million by Notre Dame since he was terminated in 2009 including a $6.6 million lump sum upon being fired. He will continue receiving payments from the school through Dec. 2015 (when his 10-year contract extension was supposed to end).

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Mack outdoes Macklin as (8) Bulldogs eliminate (2) Gators in overtime, 74-71

Blowing an 11-point second-half lead and missing two three-pointers with the time ticking away in overtime, the (2) Florida Gators (29-8) were eliminated from the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, falling to the (8) Butler Bulldogs (27-9) 74-71 in the Elite Eight at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA.

Despite redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin posting a career-high 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, his four fouls proved to be a liability down the stretch. Butler guard Shelvin Mack was quick and elusive all game, scoring a game-high 27 points including his team’s final five in extra time.

Starting the game with gusto, Mack was responsible his team’s first eight points as Macklin countered by contributing 13 of his team’s first 25.

The Gators used a 7-0 run to jump out to a 10-point lead with 7:01 remaining, but the Bulldogs finished the half on a 17-8 run to cut UF’s advantage to just one point.

The Gators frontcourt scored their first 18 points of the game and was responsible for 11-of-12 baskets in the opening half; a fastbreak dunk from sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was the backcourt’s only field goal.

Butler forward Matt Howard began the second half with a bang, hitting a three-pointer out of the gate to give the Bulldogs their first lead since 14:12 remained in the first half.

Leading 37-35, Butler missed 13 of their next 14 field goals as Florida took off on a 14-3 run – including eight points by senior F Alex Tyus and a pair of layups by Boynton – to jump ahead a game-high 11 points, 51-40. Macklin, who sat on the bench for four minutes with three fouls, picked up his fourth two seconds after he returned and immediately left the court with 9:00 to go.

The Bulldogs did not wait long to get back in the game, using a miscue by Tyus and a quick pace to create a 9-2 run that cut the Gators’ lead to four points with 6:35 to play.

After sitting out 7:48 due to his four fouls, Macklin returned to the court for Florida. However, Butler continued to chip away at their deficit, using a 5-0 run to tie the game at 57 apiece with 3:02 remaining in the contest.

With the Gators leading 60-59 and 33.7 seconds left, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball to Howard, who missed a jumper but was fouled with 30.7 seconds still on the clock. He proceeded to hit only one of two free throws, but Walker missed a trey at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 60.

Tied at 62, Butler F Khyle Marshall turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play, putting his team ahead with 3:33 to play. With the Bulldogs back up three, Boynton found himself open at the top of the key and hit a huge three to tie the game at 67 with 2:21 left.

Two free throws by BU later, Walker put the Gators back ahead with his first field goal of the game, a three-pointer from the left elbow. Mack responded in kind, hitting a dagger trey to give Butler a 72-70 lead. On the line for two shots, Walker only hit one and the Bulldogs got the ball back with 52.1 seconds left and a one-point advantage.

Mack missed an open three-pointer on Butler’s next possession, giving the ball back to Florida down one with 29.2 seconds remaining. Quick out of the timeout, Boynton clanked a long but open three-pointer and Howard stole the rebound from Tyus, who fouled Mack on the next inbounds play. Mack hit both free throws, allowing the Gators one last chance to hit a three with 10.6 seconds to go.

Receiving the ball from Boynton, Walker threw up a three-pointer with eight seconds left but hit the front of the rim as the Bulldogs ran on the court to celebrate their second-straight appearance in the Final Four.

Butler hit nine more treys than Florida, a major difference in the game considering how cold UF was from beyond the arc. Howard was the Bulldogs’ only other double-digit scorer, posting 14 points and five rebounds.

Tyus achieved his second-straight double-double for the Gators with 14 points and 10 boards, while Boynton contributed 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Walker, who was a sloppy 1-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from three, added eight points (five on free throws).

Florida’s loss was their first in the Elite Eight in school history; previously the Gators were 4-0 in the NCAA Regional Finals, advancing to the Final Four each time and the national title game on three occasions. Butler won its first overtime game of the season on Saturday; they were 0-3 before the victory.

THREE NAMED TO ALL-REGION TEAM

Tyus, Macklin and Boynton were all honored with nominations to the 2011 NCAA All-Southeast Region Team. They were joined by Howard and Mack of Butler, the latter of whom also won the region’s Most Valuable Player award.

Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

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