1 » Yahoo! Sports took a closer look at the Florida Gators football program that has been remade this season under head coach Will Muschamp. As part of the feature, a couple of players described how fractured the team had become under Urban Meyer. “Toward the end of Coach Meyer’s time here, a lot of guys were out for themselves – not buying into the team concept,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter explained. “He was out for himself, so they thought the same thing. … Guys were showing up late for practice and workouts. Guys were supposed to be back on Sunday and didn’t get back until Monday. There was no discipline.” Muschamp also discussed his recruiting philosophy in the piece. “I’ll turn my back on a five-star guy if he isn’t a good guy,” he said. “I have zero reservations about that. Zero reservations. … I’m the recruiting coordinator here. You’re not a good guy, you go somewhere else. We’ll play you. We’ll beat you.”
2 » The New York Jets will face Arizona on Sunday, three weeks after quarterback Tim Tebow fractured his ribs in a game. Though Tebow has been dressed for each of the last two game and even played two weeks ago, he missed last week’s contest. Head coach Rex Ryan on Wednesday said Tebow will again be cleared to play on Sunday. Whether or not he actually steps on the field remains to be seen.
3 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, off to a great start in his sophomore NBA season, missed Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City and is undergoing an MRI on his right shoulder on Thursday. The MRI is believed to be precautionary, and he is expected to return on Saturday if he is cleared by team doctors as expected.
1 » As those that follow Florida Gators basketball are well aware, senior forward Erik Murphy’s perfect shooting performance on Wednesday came very close to not even being a possibility due to a number of incidents that happened over his first three years of college. Murphy had considered transferring on two different occasions (with a push coming from his father), obviously deciding to stay both times, and faced third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car in April 2011. A feature on Murphy by CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman notes that two of those incidents happened one after another with both being major reasons why the player is better than he has ever been. “It made me grow up overall in my life,” Murphy said. “I realized I wasn’t really that focused on anything.”
2 » The NBA 2012-13 season began two weeks ago (more on that at the end of the month), and a pair of former Gators have most certainly been turning heads with their respective performances. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is averaging 16.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.4 steals in 39.8 minutes per game (all career-highs) and has registered 17 or more points in five of eight games with four double-doubles. His best performance came Wednesday night when he sunk two late baskets to lead Chicago over Phoenix 112-106 in overtime. In a similar fashion, Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons is averaging career-highs in points (12.4), boards (6.4) and dimes (3.6) in a career-most 38.3 minutes per game. He also registered a career-high 25 points on 5-of-10 shooting from three against Miami on Monday and hit the last basket in a 100-96 win over New Orleans on Wednesday.
3 » It only took nine games for the cowardly New York Jets’ anonymous player sources to rip quarterback Tim Tebow with them doing so Wednesday in a story for the New York Daily News. In the story, “more than a dozen Jets players and members of the organization painted a sobering picture” of Tebow with one defender coming out and saying “he’s terrible.” Left guard Matt Slauson, months ago, went so far as to refuse to name him a quarterback, calling him “an athlete” while a member of the organization said recently that “it would take extremely poor play … like a five-interception game … something where it was just ridiculous” for Tebow to even get a legitimate shot behind center. Another player said “nobody” on the team wanted Tebow to be the starter with yet another laughing that the question was even asked. All anonymously, of course.
With his 2013 recruiting class already stacked with a pair of consensus top-10 prospects, head coach Billy Donovan secured another big man on Sunday when three-star power forward Schuyler Rimmer (Boone, FL) committed to the Florida Gators.
Rimmer, a 6’9” 233 lbs. burgeoning prospect, chose Florida over Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Stanford (among others) and told Rivals in July that academics would play a big part in his recruitment.
An underrated prospect heading into this summer, his performances at multiple AAU events drew strong reactions and seriously increased his offer count.
Rimmer will be a redshirt candidate during his freshman season due to the Gators’ suddenly deep frontcourt. He can play both in the post and on the perimeter and is a developmental player along the lines of Chandler Parsons and Erik Murphy.
Rimmer joins five-stars point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) and PF Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) as a member of Florida’s 2013 class. The Gators will have at least five players stepping on the court for the first time that season as transfer forwards Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith will be coming off of their redshirt years.
With three seniors – Murphy and guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario – set to graduate after the 2012-13 season, Donovan does not appear to have additional space to add to his 2013 class unless he anticipates that players will either depart early (junior center Patric Young, for example) or transfer.
Rimmer’s commitment was first reported by Alex Kline of Rivals’ The Recruit Scoop.
Societa Veroli Basket announced over the weekend that it has signed former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker to play for the team this season. Known more commonly as Prima Veroli, the team plays in Legadue Basket (Lega2 Basket), which is the second-highest division of professional basketball in Italy.
In the release (translated), Prima Veroli says the head coach “has decided to again focus on a rookie for the direction of the team” and that acquiring Walker “scored a major hit against the competition of different teams that were [in] on the American talent.”
The team added that working with Walker’s Italian agent Matteo Comellini on a contract was a breeze (it has already been signed) and that it hopes Walker is in uniform by Aug. 20 after he completes the necessary visa paperwork.
Walker, who played more minutes than anyone in the history of Florida basketball, set the program’s career assist mark (547) before graduating and left the team ranked second in three-pointers made (285) and fourth on the all-time scoring list (1,777 points).
It is the second-straight year that a former Gators player has signed to play overseas after forward Alex Tyus played professionally for Maccabi Ashdod of Israel’s second league during the 2011-12 season. He averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds over the course of the season and was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Tyus will join Walker in Italy this season after signing a two-year, $525,000 deal to play for Pallacanestro Cantu of the Euroleague, which is known as the highest tier of international club basketball in Europe. He also received his Israeli passport and has begun training with Israel’s national team.
Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons, after being selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, also played for Cholet Basket of the French Pro A League last season during the NBA lockout.
1 » Described as one of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow’s “harshest critics” by ESPN.com’s James Walker, Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc.recently admitted that even he believes Tebow will eventually replace Mark Sanchez as his team’s starting signal caller. “My prediction is he will see immediate time as a backup, maybe 15-20 snaps a game from the start,” Williamson told Walker. “Then, I think [coach] Rex Ryan will look at it more and more like Tebow gives the Jets the better chance to win. The Jets’ defense is so strong and they’re pretty good on special teams that they could play Tebow more and more, because it gives them the best chance to have a winning record this year. That may not be the right answer long term, but I don’t think Rex cares about that. He’s probably feeling a little heat there with the Jets. I think Tebow becomes the starter before midseason.” Williamson adds, of course, that he thinks “Sanchez is the better player right now, just because he’s the better passer” but chooses Tebow if he had to win one game “because he’s harder to prepare for, his physicality, and he’s so unique.”
2 » According to ESPNNewYork.com’s Rich Cimini, Tebow will have the opportunity to impact the Jets right away as, according to a source close to the team, he reports that “the plan is to use Tebow in the red zone, where they can replace Sanchez with another player/blocker to bolster the running game.” Urban Meyer, his former coach with the Florida Gators, told NFL.com that Tebow would be successful in that role. “That’s kinda how we used him his freshman year,” he said. “We used him as a short-yardage specialist and change-of-pace guy, so yeah. I think he’s just gotta get on the field.”
3 » Bradley Beal’s first NBA Summer League finally came to an end in Las Vegas, NV and though he led the Washington Wizards in scoring in all five games (averaging 17.6 points per contest), he did struggle with his shot. Beal made just 41.8 percent of his field goals and 30.0 percent of his threes and told The Washington Post that he knows he needs to shoot better than that. “I’ve got to improve on everything. I could’ve shot the ball a lot better,” he said. “I definitely got to work on that, and my defense, more than anything. The working doesn’t stop. I always have to get better. I was happy and unhappy with my performance. I can always get better and make my team better.”
1 » A report early Friday morning from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford notes that former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons, a second-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets last year who had a stellar rookie season with the franchise, may wind up playing for the Orlando Magic in 2012 if his current franchise is successful in completing a trade for All-Star center Dwight Howard. Sources told Stein and Ford that Houston recently “sweetened” its offer to Orlando and that Parsons is one of four current players the Rockets would send to the Magic as part of an enormous package. Though nothing is imminent whatsoever, Houston has been in hot pursuit of Howard as of late. The Rockets traded for numerous first-round draft selections that they used in June (all of which would go to the Magic in the deal) and are trying to clear tons of cap space in order to give Howard a maximum contract and absorb expensive contracts as part of the trade. Should Parsons wind up getting traded, he would be able to play professionally in front of his family as he grew up in nearby Casselbery, FL.
2 » Coming off of a successful rookie season with Maccabi Ashdod of the Israeli league in which he averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, former Gators F Alex Tyus has signed a two-year deal to play for Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy, according to Sportando. Tyus, who recently received his Israeli citizenship and passport, will also play for the Israeli National Team while he is over in Europe. His contract with Cantu is worth $525,000 over the two seasons.
3 » Florida basketball is set to compete in the 2012 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic this season and will take part in the event for the 12th time in the last 13 years and 14th time in team history. It was revealed on Tuesday via a press release that UF will take on the Air Force Falcons in the event, marking the first time since 2008 that they will play a “lower-tier” program in the event (the Gators have faced Richmond, Kansas State and Texas A&M in Sunrise, FL over the last three seasons). The two-game tournament will be held on Dec. 29 at the BankAtlantic Center with Florida State and Tulsa going head-to-head in the first game of the doubleheader.
1 » Making an appearance on 1010 XL radio on Tuesday, executive director of sports and entertainment for the City of Jacksonville Alan Verlander confirmed that tickets for the Navy/Marines Corps Classic will be bundled with the Jacksonville Jaguars-Indianapolis Colts game and will begin at $1,000. That package would include two tickets to watch the Florida Gators take on the Georgetown Hoyas on an aircraft carrier and two more to see Jacksonville-Indianapolis on that Thursday. Verlander also noted on the program that a well-known artist will hold a concert before the Florida-Georgetown game. A press release is supposed to be available Thursday with tickets going on sale Monday. OGGOA reached out to Verlander late Tuesday and is currently awaiting his reply.
2 » The University of Florida has chosen former Gators outfielder Preston Tucker to represent the school when the men’s athletic program accepts the 2012 Capital One Cup at the ESPYs in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday. It is the second-straight year that Florida’s men’s program has won the award; forward Chandler Parsons was in L.A. to accept the award one year ago.
3 » Former Florida striker and current U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach is a part of the latest edition of ESPN Magazine – “The Body Issue.” In it, Wambach and a number of other big-name athletes bare all in carefully chosen poses that show plenty of skin but hide their private parts. Check out the picture of Wambach in the magazine, an extensive interview with her about the process and a video of her discussing the experience (below).
4 » The Gators announced the hirings of two more coaches over the last few days as Janice Olivencia was added to the women’s golf team as an assistant on Friday and Nic Peterson was named an assistant track coach (jumps) on Monday. Olivencia, who played for Texas, served as an assistant for South Florida last season after spending seven years playing professionally. UF notes that “she was the first Puerto Rican woman to have ever qualified to play on the Ladies European Tour.” Peterson comes to Florida after a successful career as an assistant at Texas Christian by way of Nebraska, where he competed and served as a volunteer coach.
Extra BIT » Though she did not confirm it directly, new FOX sports reporter/host Erin Andrewsdid not dismiss the fact that she interviewed for a hosting gig on X Factor, a story first reported by SPORTSbyBROOKS and more recently by Entertainment Weekly. EW (and E! Online) noted on Monday that Andrews has some stiff competition for the gig going up against names like Stacy Kiebler, Mario Lopez and Rocsi Diaz (among others). “Sources emphasize that prospective hosts are still being interviewed and actual testing for the gig is not expected for several more weeks,” EW reports.
1 » Preparing for the 2012 NBA Draft, Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal is up in Chicago, IL training with former college coach Josh Oppenheimer, the same trainer that Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons used one year ago. Beal, who like Parsons also signed with agent Mark Bartelstein of Prioirty Sports, told SLAMonline that he is working on his game in hopes of impressing scouts and being selected as high as possible. “I’m looking to really focus on creating my own shot offensively,” he said. “Just beating guys off of the dribble then finishing with a floater or pull-up in the lane. [I] just have to continue having high IQ for the game, focus in on ball handling and work on creating more space off the dribble.” Ironically enough, Parsons will be in New York, NY on Wednesday representing Houston on stage at the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery. The Rockets only have a 1.81 percent change of receiving a top-three pick (lowest amongst the 13 teams) so it is quite likely that Beal winds up elsewhere.
2 » Former Gators soccer star and current U.S. Women’s National Team defender Heather Mitts (34) told NBC on Sunday that the 2012 London Olympics this summer (her third appearance on the Olympic team) will be the end of the road for her as a soccer player. “Feeling the way I feel, it’s kind of weird to say that, but it’s always been my plan to hopefully play in one last Olympics and step away from the game kind of on my own terms,” she said. “I do love the game, and I am going to miss it, but I also have other things that I want to do. I just feel like I want to go out at the right time.” Mitts seems to excel Olympic years with her best performances coming in 2004 and 2008. Though she started all eight of the United States’ Olympic matches in 2008, she did not play in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and may not step on the pitch this time around either. “Ideally I want for our team to go over there and win gold,” Mitts said. “It would be great to play, but if I don’t play, I’ve been through that once before to be there and be supportive.” Despite her decision to hang up her cleats, Mitts says she is “probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” is completely healthy and still loves playing. “I feel so sharp and strong,” she added. Mitts has made 123 career appearances in the red, white and blue. Check out NBC‘s video interview with Mitts from this week.
3 » In an interview with his new team’s website, Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive tackle Jaye Howard expressed his excitement about finally being in the NFL and playing alongside some guys he grew up watching. “It’s been an unreal experience,” he said. “Walking into the same locker room and seeing Marshawn Lynch – a player that I look up to – and now I’m actually in the same locker room. It’s a great feeling. So I’m just embracing this moment right now.” There were also positive comments directed at Howard from head coach Pete Carroll and defensive line coach Todd Wash. “Jaye Howard showed up. He did some good things. He showed up on pass rush a couple of times. I know Todd mentioned that he was surprised at his quickness. That’s a really good sign,” Carroll said. Wash added, “Jaye is an explosive player. He’s learning that this level is a little bit different once our veterans got here. But we’re very excited about his progress. He’s eager to learn. He wants to know exactly what he can do better. He does a great job in the classroom, too. So we’re really pleased with what we’ve got so far.”
4 » According to The Florida Times-Union, seven former and current Florida golfers “will play in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier Monday at Black Diamond Ranch Quarry Course in Lecanto.” Among those players competing will be junior T.J. Vogel, freshman J.D. Tomlinson, redshirt senior Zach Lee and former players Tyson Alexander, Andres Echavarria, Brett Stegmaier and Bank Vongvanij. With the Gators competing for the 2012 NCAA Championship this week, Vogel, Tomlinson and Lee could have a tight window to get into town for the qualifier depending how well Florida does at the event.