1 » Now that his brother has set a course for greener pastures in the NFL, Florida Gators junior guard/center Mike Pouncey will play without him next to him for the first time in years. Rather than feel a sense of longing, Pouncey sees this as an opportunity to take on a leadership role. “I’ve got to lead this team,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “I’ve got the most starts on the team – just gotta go out there and prove everybody day-by-day that we’re going to be a good team this year. […] It’s going to be weird [not having Maurkice there], but I’ve been with these guys on the offensive line for three or four years. I feel ike they’re all my brothers, so they’ll be there for me.”
2 » Though acquiring a tougher schedule was somewhat of a mandate by the Southeastern Conference, the Gators’ willingness to do so may very well be what separates their 2009-10 campaign from that of the last two seasons. “I don’t know if there’s any exact science, but certainly we’re really, really loaded up on our schedule competitively,” head coach Billy Donovan told The Sun. “What kind of dividends that pays for us remains to be seen.” While the opponents may have been tougher, Donovan believes his team is better than it has been since the Oh-Fours departed. ‘Probably a couple of years ago, we weren’t even in position to beat a Michigan State or a Florida State or go on the road and win some of the games that we’ve won,” he said. “This team has certainly played a much, much more difficult schedule and probably as difficult a schedule as we’ve played in quite some time.”
Two more BITS on recruit Brandon Knight and the Horfords…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, schedule, Knight, Horford
Opening BIT » Congratulations to forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks for a career-high 31 points in his 200th NBA game on Wednesday! “In the fourth quarter, I looked up at the scoreboard and I was pretty excited about it,” Horford said. “Obviously, I’m more concerned about winning. But when you’re able to do something like that individually, it always feels good.”
1 » Coming through with two titles, one Southeastern Conference record and one school record on the first day of competition, Florida Gators swimming and diving completed its second of four days of competition in the 2010 SEC Championships by taking home three more individual conference titles as well as a relay title. Junior Conor Dwyer and seniors Shaune Fraser and Gemma Spofforth all won individual SEC Championships, while the Gators women’s 200 free relay team defended its title. Florida now has six SEC titles in the first two days of the meet. The Gators men’s and women’s teams each led their respective fields going into Thursday’s events; however, both fell to second by the time the day was over. UF also achieved numerous NCAA qualifying times throughout the day. Day three of the SEC Championships begins Friday at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.
Men: Auburn (291 points), Florida (282), Georgia (205)
Women: Georgia (300 points), Florida (266), Auburn (248)
2 » While the men’s team bounced back with a win Thursday against Auburn after suffering consecutive losses, Florida women’s basketball (13-13, 6-7 SEC) fell to their third-straight ranked opponent on the road against the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (22-4, 10-3 SEC) in the Memorial Coliseum. A three-pointer by senior guard Lonnika Thompson with 9:04 remaining in the game brought the Gators within two points of the Wildcats (47-45), but Florida would allow Kentucky to outscore them 30-6 in the remaining time to pull off a 77-51 victory. Dooming the Gators were 23 turnovers and poor defense – the Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Florida will try to bounce back against another ranked opponent, the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs, who they host in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sun., Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.
1 » Former Florida Gators forwards David Lee and Al Horford, now respectively with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, competed for the Eastern Conference Sunday night in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game – the first for each player. Assisting their team in its 141-139 victory, Horford scored eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and accounted for four rebounds in 12 minutes of action while Lee made two buckets (2-for-3) for four points and added two rebounds in six minutes. ESPN dished out grades on their performances (really, for an All-Star Game?) and gave Lee a weak C- while propping up Horford with a praiseworthy B+.
2 » The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway takes a look at the Gators’ struggles in the month of February since 2005 (hint: the team only has one winning record in those five seasons) in his latest column. “To me it’s pretty clear cut and dry, if you don’t win some of those games, you are not going to deserve to get in and if you do win those games, then you put yourself in the conversation as a team that can maybe get in,” head coach Billy Donovan told Brockway. “So I think our schedule has been a positive thing for us coming down the stretch but now it’s: Can we find a way to win some of those games?”
Former Florida Gators forwards David Lee and Al Horford, now respectively with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks, competed for the Eastern Conference Sunday night in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game – the first for each player. Lee and Horford were two of five players representing the Southeastern Conference in the game along with Hawks guard Joe Johnson (Arkansas Razorbacks), Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (Kentucky Wildcats) and Charlotte Bobcats F Gerald Wallace (Alabama Crimson Tide).
Assisting their team in its 141-139 victory, Horford scored eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and accounted for four rebounds in 12 minutes of action while Lee made two buckets (2-for-3) for four points and added two rebounds in six minutes.
OGGOA interviewed Horford last week about a number of issues including his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, memories from his time at Florida and advice for younger Gators on how to finish the season strong. We forgot to include an audio clip Horford happily gave us promoting the Web site. You can listen to it below.
1 » New York Knicks forward/center David Lee, a former Florida Gators standout who is averaging a double-double of 20 points and 11.4 rebounds in his fourth professional season, has been selected as a replacement reserve for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Lee will take the place of Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson (personal reasons) and will join Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford in Dallas, TX.
2 » Former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes has decided to continue training in Gainesville, FL, as he prepares for the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. His agent, Terry Watson, spoke with The Gainesville Sun about Spikes. “He’s doing well,” Watson said. “He continues to work out hard and he’s eating well. He’s fully committed to a plan that will get him ready for the Combine.” Also in Gainesville working out with Florida strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti is wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Coach Mick is the best,” Cooper said. “I’m following the same plan Percy (Harvin) did a year ago under Coach Mick.”
Four more very informative Florida Gators BITS after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Lee, Spikes, Cooper, Tebow, Jones-Drew
Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford is in the middle of the third season of what will hopefully be a lengthy NBA career. Averaging career highs in minutes, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and points per game, he was recently selected as a reserve for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game for the first time in his professional career. OGGOA caught up with the two-time National Champion, two-time NCAA Finals Most Valuable Player and member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team while he was on his way to prepare for a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Horford spoke with us about a variety of topics including his professional success, memories of Florida and advice for younger Gators who are trying to propel the team back into March Madness.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: The biggest thing going for you right now has to be your selection to your first NBA All-Star Game. How did it feel to earn that honor in only your third season in the league?
AL HORFORD: “It’s a real honor to be nominated to that game. The coaches really have a lot of weight into that decision, and I felt really special that they picked me over a lot of other guys.”
AS: The NBA has been utilizing you to help grow its product abroad. Do you feel any extra pressure in this regard?
AH: “Not really. I think if anything, it’s good. It’s something that, even when I played at Florida, I wanted to put myself in the position to be able to come and play in the NBA. It just feels a good to be a part of the league and a good team.”
Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Al Horford after the jump!
Continue Reading » Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford: “I tried to act tough.”
1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks has been named as a participant in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Though OGGOA is quite pleased with Horford’s accomplishment, we would be remiss if we did not speak out for fellow former Gators F/C David Lee. Lee, who has played with the New York Knicks his entire career, was snubbed by voters after averaging an impressive 19.4 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game thus far. To his credit, Horford is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.
2 » The following commits to Florida’s 2010 recruiting class have been named PARADE All-Americans: five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw.
3 » One aside from the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl is that players from the Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing together on the South team – and they’re having a good time doing it. “We’re getting along really well,” former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “They’re good guys. We’ve had fun, trash-talking back and forth and giving each other a hard time. It’s been a lot of fun. When we break down (after a play), they say, ‘Go Alabama.’ They’ve been trying to get me to say that, but I haven’t yet. It’s been fun.”
Three more BITS including a Florida Gators bobsledder after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled