SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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2013-14 NBA season begins with 12 Florida Gators spread across nine league rosters

The 2013-14 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with 12 former Florida Gators on active rosters across the league.

Those players are spread out over nine teams with the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies each employing a pair of Gators on their respective squad.

Below is a preview of all 12 Florida players to kick off the 2013-14 season.

STARTERS

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors
Drafted: 2005: 1st round, No. 30 overall pick (New York)
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 240 lbs.
Year: Ninth | All-Star: Twice

Since joining the Warriors in 2010-11, Lee has continued to display the dominant scoring ability he initially showcased as a member of the Knicks. He averaged 18.5 points, 11.2 boards and 3.5 dimes last year on the way to being chosen for his second All-Star game in four seasons. Lee tore his right hip flexor during Golden State’s first playoff game but remained on the active roster and even saw limited playing time during the rest of the series despite suffering an injury that would have immediately sidelined most players.

F/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 250 lbs.
Year: Seventh | All-Star: Twice

Horford was selected to be a big part of Atlanta’s puzzle. As he has developed (while the talented roster around him has simultaneously disappeared), he’s become the unquestioned team leader and go-to player. Horford averaged career-highs of 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals while playing a career-most 37.2 minutes per game last season but has not been selected as an NBA All-Star since 2011. He is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and is listed as day-to-day.

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 9 overall pick
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 232 lbs.
Year: Seventh | All-Star: Once

Noah has become one of the premier defenders in the NBA while improving his overall game on a year-to-year basis. He averaged career-highs of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals in a career-most 36.8 minutes per game last season. He also put together his best professional game with career marks of 30 points and 23 rebounds against Detroit on Dec. 7, 2012. For his efforts, Noah was selected to his first All-Star game. Later in the season, he recorded the third triple double of his career; his career-high 11 blocked matched Artis Gilmore’s franchise record and made him just the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks. Noah dealt with plantar fasciitis all season but played for Chicago in the playoffs; he is finally over that ailment but now dealing with an injured groin.

Continue Reading » 2013-14 NBA season begins with 12 Florida Gators spread across nine league rosters

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FOUR BITS: Noah, basketball, Eckstein, Robinson

1 » Despite being sidelined for a large portion of the preseason with a groin injury, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah told reporters Sunday that he is “100 percent” sure he will be active for his team’s season opener on Tuesday. Noah has not played more than 66 games in an NBA regular season since 2008-09, but he posted career-highs of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 blocks last year.

2 » Florida Gators basketball held a “secret” scrimmage on Saturday against Georgia Tech in Valdosta, GA. Though no official score was kept and no one in attendance is allowed to discuss either the outcome or news from the scrimmage, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (citing a source) reported that both Gators point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – stood out as the most impressive players on the court. Additionally, as expected, senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) was sidelined while junior guard Eli Carter (leg) saw limited action.

3 » Former Florida shortstop David Eckstein received a shout-out on a recent episode of NBC’s Parks & Recreation, which just so happens to be OnlyGators.com’s favorite active sitcom (though it is unfathomably on hiatus at this time). The law firm plaque utilized in the last episode to air includes a number of sabermetric measurements along with Eckstein’s name. (Image courtesy of Deadspin.com)


And how did Eckstein respond? By making a fake commercial for said law firm, of course.

4 » 2014 five-star forward Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) will make his verbal commitment official on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., and Florida has been after him hard as of late. Not only did Robinson pay a visit to Gainesville, FL, on Oct. 11, head coach Billy Donovan went in-home with the 20th ranked player in the nation just five days later and has definitely made an impression on the young man. Indiana is believed to be UF’s main competitor for Robinson, and head coach Tom Crean (who had assistants visit Robinson previously) smartly delayed his in-home visit with the prospect until night before he makes his decision. Robinson took his official visit to IU on Oct. 4.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Foley, Mizzou, Donovan

1 » You will be seeing plenty of center Joakim Noah on ESPN during the 2013-14 NBA season and not just because the Chicago Bulls are expected to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Noah was chosen to star in one of ESPN‘s comical NBA on ESPN tour bus television advertisements, which you can check out below.

Though Noah has recovered from the plantar fasciitis that forced him to miss large chunks of the last two seasons, he was recently shut down for the remainder of the preseason due to a groin injury. According to the Chicago Tribune, he is in “serious jeopardy” of not being available for the Bulls’ season opener, though the player is not concerned. “I want to be out there,” Noah said. “We’re looking good. But I have to be healthy. It sucks, especially this early in the season. … Of course I would rather be playing right now. But we have to do the right thing. This is the right thing to do. Just move forward and let it heal. I’ll be back in no time.”

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Foley, Mizzou, Donovan

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15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

From time to time, OGGOA 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.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps missed the entire offseason while running track but officially joined the team on Monday in hopes of earning a roster spot and playing football in 2013. The Buccaneers have a roster exemption or Demps, who will have one full week to prove his worth and take one of the 53 available spots or else be released by Tampa Bay. Though the Bucs will certainly see what Demps can do for them, head coach Greg Schiano was perturbed a few weeks ago when asked where Demps was in the world and why he had not reported at the time.

» Former Florida Gators forward Cody Larson, who lost his scholarship and then quit the basketball team before the 2012-13 season but remained at Florida for academics, transferred to play for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in May and had a waiver to play immediately accepted by the NCAA this month. “We want to thank the committee and the NCAA for taking the time to look at Cody’s waiver,” head coach Scott Nagy said in a school release. “We appreciate the fact that this ruling allows him the opportunity to be eligible to compete immediately.” Larson will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining but has not played college basketball in two full seasons.

» One of the greatest tennis players in school history, Jill Craybas has decided to retire at age 39 after spending the last 18 years playing professional tennis. One of two Florida women to win the NCAA Singles Championship, Craybas captured the title in 1996 while leading the Gators women’s program to the team NCAA Championship that same season. Inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2008, Craybas never won a Grand Slam title but advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2005 after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the Round of 16 that year. She also represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life,” she told Tennis Panorama about her retirement decision. “I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Check out 12 more Gator Bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

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FOUR BITS: bball, Cooper, Hernandez, Murphy

1 » Florida Gators rising senior center Patric Young has received plenty of attention over the last two offseasons by posting videos of strongman workouts with the team’s strength & conditioning staff. This year, Florida taped all of the players participating in the impressively difficult workouts and compiled their efforts in the video below.

2 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and running back Mike Gillislee are the first former Florida teammates to speak out in defense of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who blurted out a racial slur at a concert that was caught on video and has since begun a – what appears to be quite sincere – apology tour. “I think Riley is a great guy,” Pouncey told FOX Sports Florida. “I think obviously he made a mistake. I just feel bad for him because he’s a good friend.” Pouncey also said he never had an inkling that Cooper would have those thoughts in his head and plans to lend his former teammate his support soon. “When the time’s right, I will,” he said. “But right now I know he’s going through a tough time and I just hope for nothing but the best for him.” Gillislee called Cooper a “great person” and someone that “doesn’t have a bad character.” He said he doesn’t think much of him making the comment and hopes people can move on from the unfortunate incident.

UPDATE: On Friday, Cooper was suspended from all team activities while he undergoes counseling. He released the following statement through the team:

“The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me. My actions were inexcusable. The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better.

“Right now, I think it’s important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I’ve done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time.

“During this time I’m going to be speaking with a variety of professionals to help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone. As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I’m going to try to make this right.”

Speaking of Cooper, here are some other links to stories, columns and videos relating to the situation. NFL.com: Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks | ESPN.com‘s Ashley Fox: Riley Cooper won’t be an Eagle for long | Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel: Most deserving of apology from Riley Cooper: the security guard doing his job

3 » Jailed former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez professed his innocence for the first time…in a handwritten letter sent to a fan that wrote him a letter of support. TMZ obtained the letter, which includes a line at the end with Hernandez requesting it not be leaked to social media. “The world just makes things out of false accusations … and it will all die down, especially when they say NOT GUILTY,” Hernandez wrote in part. “All the people who turned on me will feel like crap. … [I] can’t wait to sign [autographs] again when I’m playing again [and] prove all the haters WRONG.”

4 » Chicago Bulls rookie Erik Murphy turned around his life and career in his final two seasons playing under head coach Billy Donovan at Florida, so much so that his much younger brother – 2017 forward Tomas Murphy – is seriously considering playing for the Gators…in four years. The younger Murphy was officially offered a scholarship by Florida this week, though he is likely quite a while away from making his decision. His brother Erik told OnlyGators.com last month that Tomas has UF and Duke (where his other brother, redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy, is playing) ahead of the pack early in the process. Tomas also has offers from Boston College, Maryland and Rhode Island, among others. “He’s a monster,” a college coach told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello. “At this stage, he’s better than both [his brothers].”

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Murphy, Donovan, Parsons

1 » The Miami Heat officially announced Tuesday that the team has decided to use the amnesty provision on guard Mike Miller, waiving the remaining two years and $12.8 million of his contract in order to save approximately $17 million on the team’s luxury tax bill in 2013-14. Miller, who will earn every penny of his $12.8 million whether another team bids on him during the wavier period or not, is now without a team but does not plan to quit playing basketball. “I’m excited about the next spot. I’m re-energized. I really am,” he told the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday. “I’m just feeling healthy. I’m ready to play. I started [to] get back in there again last week and I can’t wait to play next year.” Entering his 14th NBA season, Miller has not played more than 20 minutes per game in two years. After posting double-digit scoring averages in nine of his first 10 seasons, Miller has not scored more than 6.1 points per game since 2009-10. His best chance of continuing his career is as a reserve with a contender looking for a three-point shooter.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy has gone through his share of ups and downs already while in Las Vegas, NV, competing in NBA Summer League action. Murphy went 0-for-6 from three in his first game, picking up 10 fouls and therefore fouling out in under 19 minutes, but responded by going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc for 18 points (and committing seven more fouls) in the second game. His hot shooting continued Tuesday as Murphy was 2-for-3 from the perimeter (with no fouls) when he was forced to leave the game after breaking his nose. It was actually the second time this week that Murphy broke his nose as he told OnlyGators.com late Tuesday night that it previously happened during practice a few days earlier. He hopes to continue playing in summer league games but will do as instructed by team trainers.

Also on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the Bulls’ team website about Murphy and explained how he can fit in with the team. You can read the entire story by clicking here.

“The one thing about Erik is that when he’s on the floor, offensively he immediately provides spacing for your team because you have to account for him behind the line. Obviously [Derrick] Rose is as good of a player in the backcourt as any player in the league. He’s a great penetrator, so the more space he can play in, the better off he is going to be.

“Erik is not Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah; he’s different and he brings something different to the table. He’s a pick-and-pop guy, someone you can space behind the line. He’s a guy you can run pick and roll with and he’ll put some teams into dilemmas because they can’t switch on him and put their power forward on someone like Rose.”

Watch two Florida Gators VIDEO BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Miller, Murphy, Donovan, Parsons

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SIX BITS: Grow, Murphy, Parsons, Horford, Hernandez, Lee, Haslem

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Monty Grow, best known for a vicious hit on West Virginia quarterback Darren Studstill during the 1994 Sugar Bowl [Video], was arrested Sunday night on child abuse charges after leaving a three-year-old girl unattended in a car outside the Diamond Dolls strip club in Redington Beach, FL. The girl’s mother had tracked her via GPS in his car and called the police when she realized that her daughter was stationary at that location for an extended period of time. Grow, 41, left the girl in the car for approximately 20 minutes; he ran up to the car upon leaving the club and admitted to leaving her unattended, telling police he was just making a quick stop inside to collect money that was owed to him by an employee of the strip club. He was released on $5,000 bail on Monday. Grow played at Florida from 1989-1993 but was suspended for the 1991 season after testing positive for steroids. He played two years in the NFL after leaving college.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy put together a much-improved showing during his second NBA Summer League game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-of-5 from three) in 33:37 on Monday night. Murphy was 0-for-6 from downtown in his first game and has now picked up 17 fouls in 52 combined minutes over his two contests.

3 » Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons is getting a lot of attention for his style as of late. A viral video attempt by the sports management company that represents him, Relativity Sports, takes a comical look at how obsessed some are with Parsons’s hair.

Read three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Grow, Murphy, Parsons, Horford, Hernandez, Lee, Haslem

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