TWO BITS: Olympics, Murphy, Gators in Africa

1 » Currently competing at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela are former Florida Gators point guard Nick Calathes (Greece) and forward/center Al Horford (Dominican Republic) and redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario. Each competed with their country in preliminary round action early in the week and saw their teams pick up at least one victory; all advanced to the quarterfinals and will have the opportunity to move on to the semifinals without eliminating each other. Greece faces Nigeria, the Dominican Republic takes on “Macedonia” and Puerto Rico squares off with Lithuania all on Friday.

Calathes posted 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting with two rebounds and three assists in Greece’s 107-63 victory over Jordan on Monday and followed that up with eight points on 2-of-6 shooting with three rebounds and five assists in a 98-84 victory over Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Horford dominated the Dominican Republic’s 95-85 victory against Korea on Tuesday with a team-highs of 30 points, 12 boards and four dimes while going 10-of-14 from the field; he posted similar statistics in his team’s 84-69 loss to Russia on Wednesday when he posted team-highs of 22 points and nine boards, adding four assists while going 10-of-12 from the floor. Rosario did not play much in either game and combined for a total of six points and four rebounds while hitting just 1-of-6 shots over the course of his 14 minutes. Puerto Rico toppled Jordan 93-52 on Tuesday but fell to Greece on Wednesday. The top two teams from each group advanced.

2 » After performing well during his first two NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders, wide receiver Louis Murphy ran into some health issues in 2011 and was not able to contribute much, catching just 15 balls in 11 games as a reserve for 241 yards. With the 2012 season about to begin, the Contra Costa Times’ Steve Corkran believes “Murphy is in a fight for [the] final two [receiver] spots on the roster due to the fact that a pair of rookies – fifth-round pick Juron Criner and undrafted free agent Rod Streater – came on strong during minicamp and have impressed coaches. Murphy is due $1.26 million in the final year of his contract and certainly wants to put together a “contract-year” performance before becoming a free agent in 2013.

Extra BIT » Six current Gators student-athletes – junior center Patric Young, junior forward Will Yeguete, junior running back Trey Burton, sophomore tight end Clay Burton, sophomore hurdler Katrina DeKrey and junior thrower Ashley Miller – recently participated in a week-long mission trip to Africa sponsored by the organization Athletes In Action. While there, the guys played soccer with some children and Yeguete took a pair of videos of the players taking penalty kicks.


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FOUR BITS: ESPYs, Ball, mission, Crippen

1 » Four total Florida Gators were nominated for ESPYs this year: U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach (Best Female Athlete), then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (Best Moment), catcher Mike Zunino (Best Male College Athlete) and jumper Christian Taylor (Best Track & Field Athlete). Florida will also receive the 2012 Capital One Cup at the event, making July 11 at 9 p.m. a potentially very rewarding evening for the Gators.

2 » GatorZone.com senior writer Scott Carter recently spoke with Florida redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, who conveyed that he feels “great,” hasn’t “felt this good in a long time” and is ready to rejoin the Gators football team after being rushed to the hospital last February and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (tangling of blood vessels) in his brain. Doctors were able to correct the issue and Ball was allowed to go home a few days later but was ruled out for the season even after he was deemed to be stable a few weeks later. “I was devastated,” he said. “It was the worst pain I ever felt. I wouldn’t even call it a headache. It felt like somebody was squeezing my brain. I knew it was very serious. At that point, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it because I was in terrible pain.” The good news is, now that Ball is recovered, the AVM has no chance of coming back. “If something comes up again, it’s another injury,” Florida associate director of sports and health and head athletics trainer for football Anthony Pass said. “There is no chronic nature to this. If he gets a concussion, it’s a concussion, it’s not because he had an AVM. He is healthy and he is ready to roll. If he gets injured somehow again and it’s a head injury, it’s another injury. It’s football, so the risk of injury is always there, but he is healthy to play football.”

3 » Six current Gators student-athletes – junior center Patric Young, junior forward Will Yeguete, junior running back Trey Burton, sophomore tight end Clay Burton, sophomore hurdler Katrina DeKrey and junior thrower Ashley Miller – are currently on a week-long mission trip to Africa sponsored by the organization Athletes In Action. The four Florida players you are likely most familiar with created the following video update:

4 » Gators senior Teresa Crippen is currently in Omaha, NE with many of her Florida teammates competing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trails. Unfortunately for Crippen, she had had to scratch out of most of the early events (she qualified to compete in the preliminaries of seven total) due to a reoccurring illness. She was able to compete in the 200 Meter Freestyle on Wednesday and posted a 2:00.73, which almost qualified her for the semifinals. Crippen is expected to be able to swim in the remainder of her events so a spot participating in the 2012 London Olympics is not completely out of her reach yet.

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