(1) Florida Gators sharpshooter Michael Frazier II improving team by stepping up his game

It is no surprise that (1) Florida Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was visibly frustrated playing against (15) Albany in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, a contest he would like to forget aside from the result.

Though the Gators won 67-55 and advanced in the event, the Great Danes showed dogged determination to eliminate Frazier from Florida’s game plan and take away the team’s most efficient offensive weapon.

Frazier, coming off a nomination to the 2014 SEC All-Tournament team for draining two-thirds of his triples (10-of-15) in a three-game span, went just 1-for-4 from long range and scored in single digits for just the 12th time in 38 games this season.

But head coach Billy Donovan was not dismayed by Frazier’s lack of production. Rather, he was impressed that Frazier continued to play with grit and did not get down even though he followed up that contest with a lackluster 2-for-9 showing from downtown two days later in what was still a 61-45 win over (9) Pittsburgh.

“We have nothing to do with what a team tries to take away from us,” Donovan explained. “Would I like Michael Frazier to knock down five, six, seven threes a game? That would be great for us. But sometimes the defense has something to do with that. If they are taking him away, the maturity thing we need to understand what else is open.

“Sometimes that is the greatest sign of respect for a player is when they try to take you out of the game. Some teams tried to do that to Michael, but we’ve still been able to move on and advance by doing different things.”

The fact that Frazier has adopted this mindset is one of the reasons that the Gators have been so effective even when he’s not putting the ball in the bottom of the net from beyond the arc. He has learned to play with pride even if he’s not shooting the ball well or failing to get off his preferred number of attempts any given night.

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SIX BITS: Miller, bowl, Tebow, volleyball, soccer

1 » Even though his recent hernia surgery will keep him out for up to two months, Miami Heat forward Mike Miller said Tuesday that he is “pretty secure” in his future with the team. Miller, who has four years remaining on his contract with the Heat, is thinking about getting healthy much more than he is about possibly being waived. “I’ve been in this league now 12 years,” he told the Associated Press. “I’ve been traded 675 times. First time I’ve been amnestied, but you get used to it. You do what you can. I’ve always done the same things. I prepare myself to play every year. Whether it’s where I’m at or it’s a different place, that’s how I’ve always looked at it. Put yourself in the best position to succeed when you’re there.”

2 » The gift package for the 2012 Gator Bowl was announced this week and the Florida Gators will each get five different items when they travel to Jacksonville, FL in the coming weeks. Every player will receive a Fossil watch, Gator Gear performance headwear, rolling luggage bag, Jostens ring and commemorative football. Many other packages feature electronics like video game systems, iPods and televisions or gift certificates so players can pick out whatever they want.

3 » A fake movie trailer showcasing Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s progression from college star to doubted professional to successful signal caller has been making the rounds recently. You can check it out below:

4 » Florida senior setter/right side Kelly Murphy was featured in a story by ESPNW.com’s Mick Elliott Wednesday about her going into a special zone while on the court no matter how stressful the situation. Since Murphy joined the Gators, the team is 107-17 and has won two SEC Championships while making it to the NCAA Tournament all four years. Murphy has one more chance to win the big one with Florida, something she’s striving to do as the team begins Sweet 16 action on Friday. “I came here because I wanted to win a national championship,” she said. “To finally do that, that would mean everything. That’s the one goal that I’ve always wanted.” Head coach Mary Wise also praised her ability both as a player and leader. “A unique talent,” Wise said. “She has a picture-perfect arm swing coming from a 6-foot-2 left-hander. She has great court vision and great arm speed. That by itself would be enough to make her a special talent. But then she has one of the best deliveries and touches on the ball…of any setter in the college game. She makes it look effortless.” No matter how the season ends, Murphy will always be remembered as one of the best volleyball players ever to wear the orange and blue.

5 » Murphy was one of two Gators – the other being senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel – to earn a spot on the 2011 AVCA Division I South Region Team, the organization announced Tuesday. Two of the best players ever to suit up for Florida, Murphy and Jaeckel are now automatically eligible to be named AVCA All-Americans due to their selections to the regional team.

6 » Three Gators soccer players were listed on the 2011 NSCAA All-South Region team on Thursday. Juniors midfielder Erika Tymrak and defender Kathryn Williamson were named to the first team, while junior MF Holly King earned second-team recognition. Tymrak and Williamson were also given All-SEC first team nods, while King was placed on the second team.

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TWO BITS: soccer honored, women’s b-ball splits

1 » Two Florida Gators soccer players were named to the NSCAA/Performance Subaru All-America teams last Friday. Sophomore defender Kathryn Williamson was named to the second team, while junior midfielder Tahnai Annis earned fourth team honors. Six different Florida players received recognition when the NSCAA announced its All-South Region awards. Senior MF/D Ashlee Elliott, Annis, Williamson and sophomore MF/forward Erika Tymrak were chosen for the first team, while redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine and freshman F Taylor Travis were placed on the second team. Congratulations to the ladies for their two 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships (regular season, tournament) and for a great season.

2 » Gators women’s basketball (7-2) had an up-and-down weekend at the Brown BEAR Basketball Classic in Providence, RI, defeating the Providence Friars (5-5) 73-56 on Saturday before being upset by the Brown Bears (3-6) 56-50 on Sunday. Saturday’s victory was led by redshirt junior forward Ndidi Madu, who achieved her first career double-double, and junior guard Jordan Jones, who scored a game-high 19 points in the win. Sunday’s effort was a juxtaposition of the one Florida put forth the day before. After posting their best shooting percentage of the season the day before, the Gators shot a season-worst 30.6 percent from the field in their loss. Though Brown did not perform much better, Florida’s play was worse and ultimately led to their defeat. Jones shot only 2-of-13 from the field (2-of-11 downtown), while Madu led UF with 14 points.

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Florida women’s teams soar and fall this weekend

Florida Gators soccer, cross country and women’s basketball were all in action this weekend coming off a Friday that saw softball, soccer and volleyball compete just one hour apart from another.

Just two days after defeating the Illinois State Redbirds in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH, the Florida soccer team (16-6-2, 8-1-2 SEC) fell in a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to the Oregon State Beavers (14-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10). Having reached the round of 16 in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the Gators’ loss was the earliest exit for the team in four years. UF had multiple opportunities to score throughout the first 90 minutes, but a ball would not see the net until a turnover in the defensive third resulted in a through ball from Oregon State’s Rachael Axon to Melinda Ingalls for the goal. The Beavers’ first overtime win of the season ended the Gators season and hopes of a title.

The No. 3 women’s cross country team, on the other hand, found success this weekend, winning the NCAA South Region Championship on Saturday morning. Earning an automatic bid to the National Championship on Nov. 23, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe led the way by winning the individual title while the Gators placed five runners in the top 17 and earned six All-South Region honors. Florida won their third regional title in program history, their first in over a decade (1998).

Men’s basketball was not the only Florida team to take their shot at the Stetson Hatters on the hardwood. The women faced them first on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, earning an 85-63 win to open the season. Leading the way for the Gators were freshman forward Jennifer George and redshirt sophomore transfer guard Jordan Jones, who combined for 38 points in their first career games in the Orange and Blue. Florida shot 50 percent from the field, grabbed 14 steals and was 7-of-18 from beyond the arc. Jones also led the team in assists (5) and George helped out on the boards (5) while seniors F Sharielle Smith (9) and G Steffi Sorensen (6) led the way in rebounds. The Gators will face the No. 15/12 Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

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