1 » USA Basketball’s under-18 team made a record-setting debut at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Friday, taking down Uruguay 156-58 on Friday evening. The Americans led 44-15 after one quarter and 84-26 at halftime before pulling off the 98-point victory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to USA Basketball, head coach Billy Donovan’s team set four team national records in the event including most points scored (156), largest margin of victory (98 points), most field goals made (59) and most assists (40). “I think the one thing we’ve been talking about is trying to play unselfishly, and they did that tonight. Forty assists. They were really unselfish; they played well together,” Donovan said after the game. “I was really pleased coming out of the half, and I feel we got off to a great start at the second half and then it kind of carried on. I thought overall, their willingness to pass and share the basketball was special.” Next up for the United States is Mexico; the teams will square off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in preliminary round action. USA will then take on Argentina on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the preliminary round.
1 » The Florida Gators football team took a break from the offseason workout grind by going paintballing and playing other games like cornhole on Thursday. “It’s important for our players and coaches to get together off the field, outside the stadium and the weight room,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We thought this was an excellent opportunity for our team to spend some time together in a fun, team-building environment.” It is the second time since Muschamp took over the program that the Gators went on a paintball trip as they last went on the outing in April 2011. Florida’s players seemed to have a great time on the trip with many sharing their excitement via various social media outlets. By all accounts, the Gators have spent a large portion of spring practice and the early summer working on team chemistry and the concept of having each other’s backs. Certainly a fun outing like paintball will only help UF reach its offseason goal.
2 » Though still under contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward Kevin Love is one of the hottest names on the trade market this NBA offseason. One team that has expressed great interest in love is the Golden State Warriors, which are apparently in constant talks with Minnesota to find a package of players that could net them one of the best frontcourt players in the league. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, power forward David Lee is a key piece of a deal that could send Love to the Warriors, though no trade has been worked out as of press time. Should Lee get shipped off to the Timberwolves, he would team up once again with former Gators F Corey Brewer; the two were last teammates at Florida in 2004-05. Lee nearly averaged a double-double for Golden State last season, posting 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He will play his 10th season in 2014-15, and Minnesota would be his third team in that span.
From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» Florida Gators redshirt sophomore guard Dillon Graham on Friday tweeted that he has “finally [been] cleared” by team doctors after missing most of the 2013-14 season following surgery to repair bone spurs in his hips. Less than a month ago, head coach Billy Donovan said he did not expect Graham to be cleared for contact until August or September. Doctors are likely allowing Graham to work out and practice in non-contact situations at this time. “He’s missed a whole entire year of development and now you’re talking about an entire summer and into the fall without it,” Donovan said on May 22. “So, when he does get back, what is he like as a player and maybe how long does it take to get him back to maybe where he was? I think that’s going to be a long process for him.”
» Florida junior jumper Marquis Dendy on Thursday captured the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championship in men’s long jump. The outdoor long jump title in school history, Dendy’s 8.00m/26-3 championship-winning mark was his best of the season. Actually, all three of his jumps would have won the crown for Dendy, who previously won the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship in the same event. He did not even need to take the last jump but chose to do so because he was “in the moment” and also wanted to qualify nationally in the event. He returns to the field on Saturday for the men’s triple jump, an event UF has dominated in recent years.
1 » Though the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to let the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs choose whether to offer EverBank Field‘s new cabana seating for the annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the schools have turned down the opportunity both for 2014 and the foreseeable future. The 17 cabanas, which according to the Associated Press can seat a maximum of 640 people, take up the space of 7,000 seats that Florida and Georgia would otherwise be able to sell for the game. The athletic directors for both schools prefer to have temporary seating added in that space rather than waste the real estate. “Our No. 1 priority is to have the same number of tickets available to our fans and we don’t have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets,” Gators AD Jeremy Foley told the AP’s Mark Long. Jacksonville removed 9,500 seats as part of its new renovation but should still come close to its capacity of 84,000 for the game.
2 » ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after speaking with personnel throughout the NBA, listed Florida head coach Billy Donovan as the coach in the college ranks who best prepares his players to be professionals. “He runs a lot of pro stuff and integrates a lot of wrinkles,” a league executive told Goodman. “He has an innovative playbook. … He just gets it.” The rest of the 12-person list, in order: Ben Howland (unemployed), John Beilein (Michigan), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas), Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech), Rick Pitino (Louisville), John Calipari (Kentucky), Sean Miller (Arizona), Tony Bennett (Virginia).
1 » New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson made headlines Monday by tweeting out a picture of himself teaching Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo how to throw an American football while the Portuguese National Team was working out at the training facility. But Nelson would not have even been at practice had he not been cleared by the Jets after being quarantined away from the team. Nelson, who does a ton of charity work in the offseason, got back from Haiti a few weeks ago but came down with a major illness – 104-degree fever and strep throat – after getting bit by a mosquito while out of the country. He rejoined his teammates last week and is now fighting for the No. 2 wideout job. Coming back in 2013 after tearing his ACL in the first game of 2012, Nelson bounced around before landing with the Jets. Catching passes from rookie quarterback Geno Smith, Nelson finished with 36 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns.
— David Nelson (@DavidNelson86) June 9, 2014
1 » The 2014 MLB Draft begins Thursday night and unlike years past, members of the Florida Gators baseball team will not have their attention diverted from postseason competition due to the program being eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Also unlike previous years, Florida does not have anyone projected to go in the early rounds of the draft, though that does not mean that draft-eligible Gators will not leave the program early (there were no seniors on the roster).
Junior catcher Taylor Gushue should be the first Florida player off the board at some point during the second day of the draft on Friday (Rounds 3-10). Juniors right-handed pitcher Ryan Harris, first baseman Zack Powers (previously drafted), left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner, outfielder/RHP Justin Shafer, third baseman Josh Tobias (previously drafted) and second baseman Casey Turgeon (previously drafted) could all be selected. Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, is expected to be picked and choose to a professional after dealing with injuries throughout his Gators career. Florida will also have a number of players from its 14-member 2015 recruiting class drafted.
2 » USA Today on Thursday released its college athletic department financial database, and Florida checked in sixth nationally in total revenue by bringing in more than $130 million last year. Weighed against its $107 million in expenses, UF netted over $23 million (second to Alabama’s $27 million) in 2013. Florida brought in $1 million more in ticket sales ($24.6 million) and $2 million more in contributions ($48.4 million) compared to 2012, figures that increased for the third-straight year (2011-13) after dipping in consecutive years (2009-10). The Gators also spent $1 million more on coaching and staff ($41.9 million) compared to 2012 but were nearly $2 million below its nine-year maximum of $43.7 million in 2011.
Billy Donovan is not looking to leave the Florida Gators.
Donovan is happy to be living in Gainesville, Florida. His father, 73-year-old Bill Donovan, Sr., moved into town years ago and misses less than a handful of games each season. His son – yes, also named Billy Donovan – is on the Gators roster and will be a redshirt senior during the 2014-15 season. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Donovan is well-paid by the athletic department and its director, Jeremy Foley, a close friend who inked Donovan this spring to a new deal that will result in him earning $3.7 million before bonuses each season through 2019.
Donovan is revered by a fan base that bought into his talent long ago but is now prepared to make him a legend, all but begging Foley to erect a statue or name a portion of the soon-to-be remodeled Stephen C. O’Connell Center after arguably the best coach in school history.
Donovan is also a basketball junkie, and he has made it no secret that his passion for the game and desire to coach the sport year-round tugs at his brain and his heart.
The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings got underway on Tuesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, head football coach Will Muschamp and head basketball coach Billy Donovan all in attendance.
In addition to participating in league meetings, school representatives make themselves available to discuss a number of hot topics concerning the SEC and college sports nationwide. Below are some highlights from the first day of the SEC Spring Meetings.
NO MORE FCS OPPONENTS?
Strength of schedule has been a key issue for members of the power five conferences now that the College Football Playoff has been put into place. With the SEC deciding to stick at eight league games and mandate at least one opponent from those four other conferences beginning in 2017, SEC schools are looking for ways to make their schedules even stronger going forward.
Muschamp on Tuesday said seemingly matter-of-factly that Florida is “probably going to move forward without playing FCS opponents.” As it turns out, the Gators do not currently have one on deck past 2014. Foley appreciated Muschamp’s sentiment, which falls in line with a recent Big Ten mandate, but does not necessarily think it is feasible. “In a perfect world, you play all [FBS] schools,” he told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson, “but you also have to have 12 opponents.”
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban agreed with both Muschamp and Foley, noting that he would ideally like to schedule all non-conference games against big-five league teams before conceding that it is much easier said than done. “We can’t just call people up and say, ‘We want to have a game.’ It’s not like setting up a golf game,” he said.