Florida softball passes road test in Palm Springs

Participating in the 2012 Cathedral City Classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in Palm Springs, CA over the long weekend, No. 1 Florida Gators softball (13-1) won four of the five games they played and went 2-1 against top 25-ranked opponents. Though Florida may get knocked down from their top ranking when the new polls are released Tuesday, the Gators still found plenty of success over the weekend.

Florida started the event with back-to-back games against top competition on Thursday afternoon. UF defeated the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies in a 1 p.m. start before falling to the No. 5 Washington Huskies at 3:30 p.m.

The Gators scored six runs on five hits in the early contest, using sharp hitting from junior catcher Brittany Schutte (1-2, 2 RBI, R, SB) and senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB) to help propel them to a 6-5 victory. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers pitched a complete game, striking out seven while giving up four earned runs (three in the top of the seventh) on nine hits with two walks.

Freshman RHP Lauren Haeger suffered her first loss of the season in the latter contest, allowing five runs (three earned) on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 5.0 innings. Washington led 1-0 through 2.5 innings, but Florida took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third after a triple from freshman second baseman Katie Medina (2-3, RBI, R) and a single by freshman third baseman Sami Fagan (2-4, RBI) sent two runs in. UF would not score again, leaving six on base over the course of the contest), as UW scored pairs of runs in the top of the fifth and six to pull away with a 5-2 win.

Gators head coach Tim Walton gave Haeger an immediate opportunity for redemption, throwing her in the team’s 1 p.m. game against the Brigham Young Cougars on Friday. Florida took down BYU 3-0 thanks partially to Haeger (4-1), who struck out five while scattering five hits and two walks in six innings. Fellow freshman RHP Alyssa Bache came on for the final inning, striking out two to earn her first save of the season. UF scored all three of their runs on two dingers including a solo shot by junior designated hitter Ensley Gammel (1-3, RBI, R) and a two-run bomb by sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, 2 RBI, R, BB, SB) one inning later.

Gammel and Coyle found their power strokes again in the Gators’ second match-up on Friday, a 5-1 victory over the No. 8 Texas Longhorns. Florida got to the plate in the top of the first, but Texas matched the score with a run of their own in the bottom of the second. Gammel (1-3, RBI, R) and Coyle (1-3 RBI, R) then each connected on home runs in the top of the fourth, vaulting UF ahead of UT permanently. Haeger (1-2, 2 RBI) and Schutte (0-2, RBI, BB, SB) were responsible for the other runs in the game, while Rogers only gave up four hits while striking out eight in a complete game outing that did not include an earned run.

Rogers (8-0) earned her third win in as many days on Saturday by striking out five and scattering five hits with only one walk in a complete game outing as the Gators took down the Boise State Broncos 3-0 to close out their road trip. Schutte (1-3, 2 RBI) hit a two-RBI single in the top of the first to give Florida an early advantage, and junior right fielder Kelsey Horton (1-3, RBI, R) smacked a solo homer in the fifth to extend UF’s lead.

It should come as no surprise that some of the team’s best performers over the weekend – Schutte, Coyle, Gammel and Medina – all hail from the state of California.

The Gators returned to Gainesville, FL on Saturday and will remain in town by hosting an event next weekend. Florida will take on Eastern Michigan on Thursday before competing in the Lipton Invitational from March 2-4. UF will take on EMU again on Friday as part of the event along with Gardner-Webb (twice), Tennessee State and Campbell. The Gators are set to open Southeastern Conference play on March 7.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NCAA Sweet 16: Florida’s post-game thoughts

Shortly after the No. 2-seed Florida Gators got a measure of revenge with a thrilling 83-74 overtime victory against the No. 3-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday, a handful of players and head coach Billy Donovan participated in the postgame press conference. OGGOA has compiled some choice notes and quotes from the media availabilities.

TYUS A ONE-MAN WRECKING CREW

There are a lot of spur-of-the-moment proclamations that can be made after a game or a single player’s performance, but there is no doubt that senior forward Alex Tyus turned in a career-best effort for Florida on Thursday. Scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with a career-high 17 rebounds, Tyus did it all for the Gators. He even hit his second three-pointer of the season (first since the opening game on Nov. 12) and added a block that made it to No. 2 on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top Plays of the night.

“It means a lot, just being able to come out and play to the best of my abilities tonight and help the team win in many different ways,” he said after the game. “[I was concerned with] just mainly coming out and trying to make an impact during the game to help the team win: offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds and playing good defense.”

Donovan was certainly a fan of his upperclassman’s effort. “The one thing with Alex is a lot of times he never really gets fazed in the moment of what’s going on. One of the things I’ve tried to pull out of him and get him to see is when he has a lot of activity, he has a great ability to impact the game,” he said. “When they were double-teaming the low post, they were leaving Alex to get Vernon [Macklin]. So when Vernon was throwing the ball back out, Alex’s man had to go from a double team to try and find him. He was freed up in a lot of instances to get to the glass. He didn’t grab a whole lot of offensive rebounds, but he was great on the glass. He did a great job defensive rebounding and limiting them at times to second shots. He was just really athletically very active and that helped. He really played a terrific game. I’m happy for him. Being a senior, he’s really been a great kid. It’s great when you can have a senior like that on a stage like it was today be able to really impact the game.”

BYU head coach Dave Rose was also complimentary of Tyus following the contest. “Somebody on every team always steps up, especially in big games,” he said. “Tyus is a really good player – athletic, long. He’s a guy who can hit shots from the perimeter, but I thought that the Florida coaching staff did a good job isolating him in space and giving him a good chance to have some pretty good match-ups.”

FATIGUING FREDETTE

Forget the tight calf muscle or the cut below the chin, Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette was noticeably exhausted in the second half mostly due to the stout defense of Gators sophomore G Kenny Boynton. With assistance from freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin, Boynton was all over Fredette, forcing him to take tough shots and work hard for any jumper he chose to throw up.

Donovan explained after the game that UF’s defensive game plan was relatively simple: ensure that none of Fredette’s teammates scored double figures while making certain every shot he took was heavily contested. The result was an inefficient 32-point performance compiled on 11-of-29 shooting; Fredette only made 3-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc and turned the ball over six times.

“I know there’s a lot made of Jimmer Fredette, and he’s certainly a great player, but we felt coming into the game that the key was going to be trying to shut down the other four guys that were going to be on the floor with him,” Donovan said. “Because a lot of times you cannot dictate when he’s going to shoot the ball and where he’s going to shoot the ball from. Kenny did a terrific job defending him. One of the things we just tried to do was keep our shoulders parallel to half court and not get on the side of him.

“It’s like I said before, he’s going to take a lot of shots. The thing you want him to do is to take a lot of shots and you hope you’re not in a situation where he scores 52. He almost took as many shots as points he made. When I look at the stat sheet, the 32 points is misleading because of the number of shots it took him to get to 32. The key for us defending him [Thursday] was nobody left the floor. We all stayed down and nobody jumped. The first 13 minutes, he was trying to get us in the air to react to shots – and we never reacted. But he’s such a good scorer that, after that first 13 minutes, he started to kind of figure out some different ways to score – and he did.”

Senior F Chandler Parsons was especially complimentary of Boynton’s defense and noted that Fredette got frustrated because of the extra effort. “He did an unbelievable job just limiting his open looks. If you look back, pretty much every shot he took was off-balance,” he said. “Kenny was right there with him, staying down on him. If you look, he had 32 points, but it was a great job defensively we did on him making him take tough, long shots. Everyone gets frustrated out there. He’s seen pretty much every defense all year long. He’s been effective basically against everybody. You could definitely tell he was getting a little frustrated, and that’s just credit to our guys that were guarding him, especially Kenny Boynton.”

FRESH LEGS PROVIDE OVERTIME BOOST

Heading into overtime for a second-straight season against BYU, Florida started hot out of the gate and outscored their opponent by nine points in the final five minutes of the game. In addition to being more focused, mature and composed than 2010, the Gators were also fresher while the Cougars appeared quite winded.

“We just know how to stay focused and stay in the moment,” junior point guard Erving Walker said when asked why UF played so well in extra time. “They made a run to come back at the end of the second half, but we stayed together. We’re conditioned pretty good, and we got a lot of energy left in us.”

Fredette also noticed how well Florida handled playing an extra handful of minutes after a hard-fought game in regulation. “They definitely had fresh legs and were ready to go in that overtime,” he said.

That being noted, the Gators did have two opportunities to win the game in regulation and missed on both. First up was Boynton, who missed a nice look from beyond the arc but was bailed out by Walker, who chased down a rebound to give his team a second chance. “I was actually kind of lucky because I was supposed to get back after Kenny’s shot, but I just hung around a little bit and I saw the ball go to the corner, so I just made a hustle play and was able to come up with the ball,” Walker said of his extra effort.

Then Donovan drew up a play that was not likely to wind up in Parsons’s hands but did anyway. With less than five seconds to go, Parsons drove to the hoop but was met with four defenders and was unable to make the shot or draw a foul. “I was coming off a double screen, and I saw that the guy guarding me kind of jumped over,” Parsons said. I just wanted to make sure we got the last shot to not give them a “chance to get the ball back. I just went up and three-or-four guys jumped at me, so I really just tried to draw a foul and throw it up there. It didn’t slip or anything; it was just a forced shot.”

Ironically, it was the third time in two games against BYU that Parsons missed the final shot – he also failed to connect at the end of regulation and at the conclusion of the first overtime during the opening game of the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

QUOTES

Donovan’s opening statement (truncated): “I was really proud of our guys. Coming into the game, these guys prepared really hard. I thought they prepared well. […] Alex, on the glass, did a tremendous job. He was great tonight. He made shots, but he really was aggressive; he was active. Chandler really contributed and gave us what he normally gives us, an all-around game where he rebounded, gave assists and scored some. We were able to hold all their guys under double-figure points besides Fredette.”

Donovan on the perception that the team is about offense and how much the defense has improved: “Our [championship teams were] really underrated defensively. We were a great defensive team. This year’s team has gotten better. A couple things have happened. One, we’ve got some older guys that understand schemes, scouting reports and changing of defenses – changing coverages inside of a game. They’re pretty cerebral and they’re older so you can do that a little bit more with them. With the addition [of the freshmen], they give us a different defensive dimension.”

Donovan on Fredette’s ability to transition to the NBA: “There’s no question that he has the offensive capability to be a terrific NBA player. His biggest challenge is going to be: What kind of defensive player can he be? I know he’ll work hard at it, because he’s worked hard at every other part of his game, but the biggest question is going to be: What kind of effort he will really put in to defending?”

Walker on why it is tough to defend Fredette: “It was difficult because he’s a great player. He’s got a lot of combination moves. He can shoot from long distance and he can shoot at any time. We did a good job as a team, especially Kenny, defending him the whole game.”

Fredette on Boynton: “He did a pretty good job. He just contested shots. He’s athletic, a good defender.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Elite Eight: Florida vs. Butler tip set for Saturday

The No. 2-seed Florida Gators (29-7) will face the No. 8-seed Butler Bulldogs (26-9) in the Southeast Regional Finals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., the NCAA announced Thursday evening. The game will air live on CBS with Gus Johnson doing play-by-play and both Len Elmore and Reggie Miller providing color commentary.

Florida and Butler will square off for the third time in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are 2-0 all-time against the Bulldogs in the event, defeating them 69-68 in overtime in 2000 and 65-57 in a Sweet 16 game in 2007.

UF earned its spot in the Elite Eight by defeating the No. 3-seed Brigham Young Cougars (32-5) 83-74 in an overtime thriller early Thursday night. BU earned their second-straight appearance in the round with a tremendous 61-54 win against the No. 4-seed Wisconsin Badgers (25-9) later that evening.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Forget Fredette, Tyus proves Gators are elite as Florida tops BYU 83-74 in overtime

Trying to avoid comparisons to a match-up between the same two teams in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament all week, the Florida Gators found themselves in the same spot they were one year ago – tied with the Brigham Young Cougars at the end of regulation. However, No. 2-seed Florida (29-7) proved they are a more mature and composed team than they were last season, outscoring No. 3-seed BYU (32-5) by nine points in overtime to win the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament 83-74 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA on Thursday night.

Senior forward Alex Tyus led the Gators with the best game of his career, scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds in an all-around effort that kept Florida in the game and helped them prevail in the end. UF’s guards were relentless on BYU star G Jimmer Fredette, who scored a game-high 32 points but did so on 11-of-29 shooting (3-for-15 from downtown) with six costly turnovers.

The Gators started out hot, hitting eight of their first nine shots from the field to take a 20-10 lead. A trio of three-pointers from Cougars G Jackson Emery kept the score close as Florida missed five-consecutive treys after starting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Fredette, who started out 0-for-6 and was blocked three times in first half, hit his first shot of the game with 6:17 left before the break. As he heated up, BYU took off on a 16-5 run to and jumped ahead 32-30 on UF. With under three minutes to play before halftime, Fredette hit two layups while senior F Chandler Parsons and junior point guard Erving Walker each dropped in a three for the Gators. Walker went to the line for a one-and-one at the end of the half but missed the front end to send the game into halftime tied at 36.

The Gators came out of the break with an 8-0 run to take a 44-39 lead. Fredette quickly responded with five-straight points – including his first trey after starting 0-for-5 from downtown – to bring his team within two with 15:12 remaining. A 6-0 run by the Cougars a few minutes later jumped them ahead 50-49, but Florida answered back with a 12-5 scoring streak to quickly retake the lead.

Down six, Brigham Young looked to Fredette to get them back in the contest; he answered the call, capping an 8-2 run with a 30-foot three-pointer to tie the game at 63 with 4:59 to play. He would go on to score 32 of his team’s final 47 points in regulation.

UF and BYU traded field goals and free throws from there, and the Gators led by one with under a minute left and the clock winding down.

Suddenly, after a missed triple by Walker, Tyus was called for a questionable over-the-back foul, which sent Cougars F Kyle Collinsworth to the line with a chance for his team to take the lead. Collinsworth proceeded to make his first free throw but missed his second to leave the game tied at 68 and the ball in the Gators’ hands.

UF head coach Billy Donovan immediately called a timeout to draw up a play for sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, who missed a three with 25 seconds left. Walker rushed across the court to get the long rebound, allowing Donovan to call a second timeout and create another play. Parsons got the ball, drove down the right side and missed a short jumper to send the contest into overtime. It was the third time in as many tries that Parsons missed a potential game-winner against BYU in regulation or extra time.

Florida started hot out of the gate in the final five minutes, knocking down four-straight points and concluding the game by outscoring Brigham Young 15-6 in overtime while holding Fredette scoreless.

Three other Gators starters scored in double figures to complement Tyus’s career-best performance. Boynton dropped in 17 points on a relatively poor shooting night (5-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-13 from downtown), though he did hit 3-for-4 from the line and scored five-straight in overtime. Walker and Parsons each finished with 16; Walker added six rebounds and five assists, while Parsons contributed nine boards and seven dimes.

Florida redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, who saw double teams in the post most of the night, was 4-for-5 from the field for nine points with five rebounds.

Fredette did not get much help from his squad offensively as none of his teammates posted double-digit points. Emery and F Noah Hartsock each contributed nine points, but it was Collinsworth came up big for Brigham Young with a team-high 15 boards.

UF was more efficient than BYU overall, hitting a better percentage of their shots both from the floor (.477-.352) and from beyond the arc (.324-.270). However, the Cougars kept it close by making the most of their chances from the charity stripe, connecting on 14-of-16 attempts (87.5 percent) compared to the Gators only hitting on 10-of-22 tries (45.5 percent). Florida outrebounded BYU 42-39, dished 10 more assists (23-13), smacked four more blocks (5-1) and committed seven fewer fouls (12-19).

The teams set a NCAA Tournament record by combining for 71 three-point attempts.

With the victory, the Gators advance from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in school history (1994, 2000, 2006-07). Florida has never in the Elite Eight, advancing to the Final Four on all four occasions.

UF will face No. 8-seed Butler on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The game will air live on CBS.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida-BYU most-watched game in Web history?

ESPN claims the United States soccer team’s exhilarating 1-0 extra-time victory over Algeria on Wednesday drew the “largest U.S. audience ever for a sports event on the Web.” CBS refutes that assertion, stating that the viewing crowd put together for the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament – featuring the Florida Gators and Brigham Young Cougars – surpassed that by a few thousand.

OGGOA attempted to reach out to CBS Friday for more information than provided by the initial story from Mediaweek, but we were unsuccessful as they did not have any specific release on the matter to send us. However, CBS did cite the Florida-BYU game because it got the highest ratings out of any of their online broadcasts for March Madness this past year. Nevertheless, ESPN senior director of digital media research backs up the organization’s claim, citing that “CBS isn’t comparing their apples to our apples.”

Tags: , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Tebow, prayer, Dungy, UAA donations

1 » NFL.com senior analyst Pat Kirwan takes a look at which NFL teams have former Florida Gators quarterback Tebow in their sights and where he may be able to find an ideal situation. Simultaneously, senior columnist Vic Carucci calls the Buffalo Bills a great landing spot for the former Heisman Trophy winner.

2 » Pro Football Talk reported that Tebow received from verbal harassment for asking his colleagues to pray before the Wonderlic exam at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. Tebow called the story’s author shortly after its posting to dispute the entire account. Now former Brigham Young Cougars QB Max Hall, who was in the session with Tebow, corroborates his denial. “Yeah, I heard about that report,” Hall told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It didn’t happen. I sat right next to Tim the whole time, and he didn’t say anything at all about praying. It’s totally not true. Not at all.”

NFL analyst Tony Dungy speaks on Tebow and the University Athletic Association makes a huge donation to the University of Florida…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, prayer, Dungy, UAA donations

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

UF falls to BYU 99-92 in double overtime thriller

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, the No. 10-seed Florida Gators had two chances to put away the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars. Alas, the Gators failed on both occasions, leading the game to enter a second overtime and the Cougars to an eventual 99-92 victory in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, OK.

BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette led his team with 37 points on 50 percent shooting, while Michael Loyd, Jr. came off the bench for the Cougars with a career-high 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting in a surprising turn of events. Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton posted a career-high 26 points of his own, hitting 8-of-17 shots from the field and 5-of-10 from downtown. Unfortunately for the Gators, Boynton fouled out with 3:57 remaining in the second overtime, removing the team’s most dynamic player from the court in the waning minutes.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s Florida vs. BYU NCAA Tournament story after the jump!
Continue Reading » UF falls to BYU 99-92 in double overtime thriller

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »