The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 16

What is this?

This is something I have wanted to bring to OnlyGators.com for a while, a weekly column combining opinion, entertainment and information. Seeing as this is still the offseason – and today also happens to be my birthday – I felt there was no better time than the present to begin The Silver Lining, which will be posted every Wednesday right here on OnlyGators.com. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

Unprecedented success

The “football school” tag was removed from the Florida Gators long ago, but it is nevertheless noteworthy how much of an impact head basketball coach Billy Donovan has made not just on the school but the NBA as well.

Consider this: On Tuesday, forward Chandler Parsons officially became the best-paid former Florida basketball player in school history (based on average salary) when he signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He will earn $14.7 million next year, $15.4 million in 2015-16 and $16.1 million in 2016-17; the latter two salaries are the highest ever scheduled to be paid to a player out of UF.

Consider this, also: During the 2014-15 season, the Gators will have four players earning $12 million or more from their respective NBA teams including Parsons, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee ($15.0 million), Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah ($12.2 million) and Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford ($12.0 million).

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Jeremy Foley again throws full support behind Will Muschamp, talks Meyer, Spurrier, Donovan

In an appearance Thursday afternoon on ESPN Radio’s The Paul Finebaum Show, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley once again threw his full support behind head football coach Will Muschamp ahead of the 2014 season.

Muschamp, who last season led an injury-plagued Florida team to its worst record (4-8) since 1979, has been written about plenty this offseason as the top name on college football’s list of coaches on the proverbial hot seat.

Foley did not deny that Muschamp is facing a pressure situation in 2014 but had no problem making it clear that he trusted him to right the ship after it sunk just seven months earlier.

“If you’re not being successful in this business, you’re going to catch heat no matter what the sport is or who the coach is, and we understand that,” Foley explained.

“We hired Will three years ago now and felt very strongly about his capabilities and his talents. Certainly in year two, I think those were on full display when we finished 11-1. Last year didn’t go our way; we’ve never made any excuses about it. It’s not who we are. It’s not good enough. We need to get better and nobody understands that more than Will.

“It doesn’t change and didn’t change how we felt about him. If you feel strongly about somebody, sometimes you just got to take the heat and you got to go and be strong. That’s what we did there, and we’re excited for the future under Will’s leadership.

“He made some tough calls himself by making some changes in his coaching staff. Now we just got to go do it. The University of Florida is not a 4-8 program. That’s not who we are. We’re going to be better, and we’re excited about the future under Will. [We] feel the same way about him as the day we hired him.”

RELATED: Foley puts legacy on the line by sticking his neck out for Muschamp

Finebaum also asked Foley how difficult of a decision it was to ultimately keep Muschamp in the fold and not jettison him out of the program.

Continue Reading » Jeremy Foley again throws full support behind Will Muschamp, talks Meyer, Spurrier, Donovan

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has done an admirable job during his first two NBA Summer League games with the Memphis Grizzlies in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando Sentinel caught up with him on Sunday, and Wilbekin explained that he is doing well but having some difficulty adjusting to the limited minutes. The Grizzlies’ summer league coach, Shawn Respert, told the paper that he is pleased with what he’s seen from Wilbekin. “You can’t teach an overall IQ,” he said. “The guy plays with a pace that I think is healthy for a successful basketball team. He doesn’t force things. He knows when to push the gas pedal and when to push the brake. I think it’s just an innate ability that some players naturally have: to know how to play. With Scottie, I’m really proud of the fact of how he’s handled himself. He’s going to be very, very successful. He’s going to be a guy that, if you look in our league six or seven years down the road, he’s going to be an important part of a team that’s winning.”

Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.
Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Vernon Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan last week participated in the Southeastern Conference’s summer teleconference and spoke briefly about a couple of issues somewhat concerning the Gators. Below are some of Donovan’s thoughts from the media availability:

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

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ESPN Forecast names Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan the best in college basketball

An ESPN-commissioned 45-member panel “that collectively possess[es] vast college basketball experience, knowledge and perspective” has spent the last five weeks breaking down the top 50 college basketball coaches in the country. On Thursday, the panel known as ESPN Forecast listed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan as its No. 1 coach in the nation.

Though Eamonn Brennan, writing on behalf of the panel’s decision, does not state exactly why Donovan edged out the rest of the group in a head-to-head comparison – the remainder of the top five included Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino – a compelling case is made for how successful Donovan has been at Florida over the last five seasons.

Even though the departure of the Oh Fours and an about-face decision about leaving the Gators for the NBA were part of the reason the program missed back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2008 and 2009, UF has bounced back in a major way.

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Patric Young leads three Florida Gators not selected in 2014 NBA Draft

The Florida Gators, with a core group that brought the team to three-straight Elite Eights and a Final Four this past season, did not have any of their three seniors selected on Thursday in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Regarded as an early second-round pick entering the draft, center Patric Young was expected to be selected between picks 25-40 but did not get chosen among the 60 players drafted on Thursday. Young, who averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest, was the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin, the 2014 SEC Player of the Year, nor forward Casey Prather were selected, though both entered the draft projected as undrafted free agents. Forward Will Yeguete, who was also draft-eligible, did not participate in the process.

Young, Wilbekin and Prather each came with their share of concerns. For Young, who was one of 60 players invited to the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Combine, issues concerning his offensive game and range likely came into play.

Wilbekin was seen as an undersized floor general who also had to answer plenty of questions about off-court troubles that got him suspended twice during his collegiate career. Though athletic, Prather is seen as a player without a jump shot and very much a work in progress as he did not truly blossom until his senior season.

Continue Reading » Patric Young leads three Florida Gators not selected in 2014 NBA Draft

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Billy Donovan wins gold with USA Basketball in 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship

For the third time in as many summers, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan led USA Basketball to a gold medal as his under-18 team defeated Canada 113-79 in the finals of the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Donovan, who is now 19-0 all-time in international competition following Tuesday’s victory, also directed the under-18 team to gold in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in his first stint as a national team coach. He then led the under-19 team to a first-place finish in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.

His team this year went 5-0 in the tournament, defeating America’s opponents by an average of 52.2 points per game. Donovan’s three United States national teams combined have won their 19 games by an average of 43.7 points.

“I’m just honored,” Donovan said after the gold medal win. “I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you’re only as good as your players. I’ve been very fortunate that in the past three years; I’ve coached some great guys, great kids, and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. They bought in, they listened, and they’re the ones who really played well. I’m just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride.”

Continue Reading » Billy Donovan wins gold with USA Basketball in 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Donovan, Zunino

1 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey probably wishes he could get a do-over for the last year of his life. He has been cast in a negative light in the public eye for his support of former Florida Gators teammate Aaron Hernandez and participation in bullying incidents against Jonathan Martin, showed no remorse for either and also got subpoenad during the 2013 season because of some connections with Hernandez. Now, Pouncey will be sidelined for three months or longer after tearing the labrum in his hip during organized team activities. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pouncey underwent surgery on Monday. He will miss the entire preseason and likely four 2014 regular-season contests as he is expected to be out of all of September. Luckily for Pouncey and the Dolphins, Miami has its bye week at the start of October, meaning he could return for the team’s fifth game on Oct. 12 after nearly four full months on the mend. Life without Pouncey will be tough for the Dolphins, just like it was last year for the Pittsburgh Steelers without his brother Maurkice Pouncey. In a way, Mike Pouncey’s injury could get Miami to realize how important it is to sign him to a long-term extension.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Donovan, Zunino

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TWO BITS: Young & NBA Draft, Donovan & USA

1 » In his first two-round mock ($) of the 2014 NBA Draft, ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford predicts that Florida Gators center Patric Young will go off the board with the last pick of the first round (No. 30 overall) to the San Antonio Spurs. Ford explains: “The Spurs love players that are ‘over themselves.’ That’s a perfect description for Young. He does all the little things, rebounds, defense and uses his toughness to get buckets. He won’t do anything spectacular, but is NBA ready right now.”

Young, whose favorite team is San Antonio, worked out for the Spurs on May 30 and wrote about his visit in his exclusive Path to the Draft blog on OnlyGators.com.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Young & NBA Draft, Donovan & USA

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