FOUR BITS: Walker, Beisel, Dwyer, Watkins

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker is quickly making his way around Europe, announcing Monday that he has signed with JDA Dijon Basket of the ProA league in France. It is the third professional team Walker has played for since leaving Florida. He first signed with Veroli Basket out of Italy’s Legadue in the summer of 2012, averaging 17.9 points and 3.6 assists in 20 games with the club. He then inked a deal to play in Poland with Basket Zielona Góra but only lasted about three months with the team. During his stay, he averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists in 28 games spread between the EuroCup, Euroleague and Polish League. Walker finished out the 2013-14 season with Elan Chalon out of the LNB Pro A league in France where he saw 19.2 minutes per game, posting 9.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Beisel, Dwyer, Watkins

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FOUR BITS: ESPYS, Murphy, Williams-Mills

1 » The Florida Gators will have the opportunity to win an award at the ESPYS for the third-straight year as two former student-athletes have been nominated in separate categories. U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach is up for Best Record-Breaking Performance after setting the career international goal-scoring record in June. She will have to beat out quarterback Drew Brees (broke Johnny Unitas’s touchdown record), wide receiver Calvin Johnson (broke Jerry Rice’s season yardage record) and swimmer Michael Phelps (most decorated Olympian of all-time). Swimmer Ryan Lochte hopes to win Best Male U.S. Olympian but will have to earn votes over Phelps and decathlete Ashton Eaton. Wambach won an ESPY for Best Play in 2011 with QB Tim Tebow bringing home the award for Best Moment in 2012. The 2013 ESPYS will be held on Wednesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. and air live on ESPN.

2 » Holding up a No. 31 jersey at his team’s introductory press conference on Monday, new Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy is excited to get started and will begin working out with Chicago this week ahead of NBA Summer League action. The Bulls will compete in summer league games from July 12-22 at the Thomas & Mack Center and COX Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV. Chicago general manager Gar Forman said Monday that he is excited to see what Murphy, the No. 49 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, brings to the table. “We really haven’t had a guy that’s a stretch four,” he said. “We think as he continues to progress, it will give us an ability to space the floor.” The Bulls also released this one-on-one interview [Video] with Murphy from Monday.

3 » Former Gators sprinter Novlene Williams-Mills, who raced for Jamaica in the 2012 London Olympics and brought home bronze in the 4×400 Meter Relay, was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month before the games but never told anyone except for her husband, family and friends. In a feature by Laura Williamson of the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, Williams-Mills discusses the trying time, her mindset during the Olympics, deciding to have a double mastectomy and how she is doing now (hint: very well). Just one week ago, she won her seventh Jamaican national championship, finishing first in the women’s 400 meters and advancing to the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia, from Aug. 10-18. Williams-Mills will look to win her sixth World Championship medal to go along with her three Olympic bronzes.

4 » Three Florida swimmers will represent their country as USA Swimming competes at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, from July 19-Aug. 4. Over the last week, rising senior Elizabeth Beisel (200 Meter Individual Medley, 400 Meter I.M.), Conor Dwyer (200 Meter Freestyle, 200 Meter I.M.) and Ryan Lochte (200 Meter Freestyle, 200 Meter Backstroke, 100 Meter Butterfly, 200 Meter I.M., 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay) advanced in their respective events during the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, IN. Lochte, the current world record holder in the 200 Meter I.M. (a mark he set in 1:54.00 at the World Championships two years ago), won national titles in three of his events and was the only one of the Gators’ competitors to finish first in any race; Beisel finished second in both of her events.

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Wambach, Martin, Lochte

1 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin on Saturday noted via his Twitter account that he would be having “minor surgery.” Most assumed the surgery Harvin mentioned was for his injured ankle, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. However, Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN radio reported Sunday that Harvin actually went in for an emergency appendectomy. He is expected to be back to normal health in 2-3 weeks and will spend the entire offseason rehabbing his ankle and trying to get back on the field in the summer.

2 » The U.S. Women’s National Team concluded its 2012 campaign and its Fan Tribute tour across the United States with a 4-1 win over China in Boca Raton, FL on Saturday night. Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach scored twice in the friendly, increasing her international goal total to 152 and pulling within six of Mia Hamm, who holds the record with 158 career international goals. Florida head soccer coach Becky Burleigh was in attendance at the match, cheering on Wambach and former Gators defender Heather Mitts, who plans to retire. USA outscored China 10-1 in the three-game friendly series and concluded the 2012 campaign with a 28-1-3 record. Wambach ended 2012 with 27 goals (second-most in her career) and was the only member of the USWNT to start and play in all 32 games.

3 » Former Florida defensive end Chris Martin, who transferred in from USC but only spent his redshirt season at UF before forcibly transferring again to another school, spent the 2011 season playing for City College of San Francisco, the fourth institution he has attended since the beginning of his college career. The former five-star recruit, now a JUCO transfer, committed to the Kansas Jayhawks and head coach Charlie Weis on Saturday, according to JayhawkSlant.com ($). Martin is familiar with Weis from his days with the Gators and also has a relationship with strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple, a former Florida assistant who Weis hired when he left following the 2011 season.

4 » Former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte, who set a pair of world record times at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships this past week, also concluded the event with six gold medals and eight total medals, setting a record at a short-course championship event. Lochte took gold and set world records in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Individual Medley and finished first as part of four-man American teams in the 4×100 Meter Freestyle, 4×200 Meter Freestyle and 4×100 Meter Medley Relays. He also captured silver in the 200 Meter Backstroke and bronze in the 100 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was fully or partially responsible for eight of the 27 medals won by the United States at the event. Fellow former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer joined Lochte with a gold in the 4x200M Freestyle Relay and picked up an individual bronze in the 200M Freestyle. Jemma Lowe, swimming for Great Britain, won a pair of bronze medals in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was the only swimmer to set a world record at the event.

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FOUR BITS: O’Dome, NFL Draft, Beal, Lochte

1 » University of Florida trustees on Friday approved a $10 million contribution as part of a $50 million renovation for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabbe, who spoke with trustee Steven Scott, it will take 2-3 years to raise the remaining $40 million, so the O’Dome will not be looking much different any time soon. Eventually, the arena will feature an updated entrance; new seating areas including a permanent, non-retractable lower level, club seats and boxes; and additional concession stands and team shops. Florida will also improve the audio-visual elements inside the arena. The school just completed a $900,000 renovation on the structure in the summer of 2011 that included brand new seats in the lower bowl, wider aisles, handrails and more. UF also recently remodeled the gymnastics studio on site at the O’Dome. Read more | Pictures

2 » The 2013 NFL Draft is fast approaching and no Florida Gators player is generating more buzz right now than junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. On the heels of a fantastic junior campaign in which he started every game at his natural position, Floyd is unanimously considered a first-round pick in the draft. In fact, ESPN’s Todd McShay projected him as the No. 29 pick in his first mock draft ($) and Mel Kiper, Jr. lists him as the No. 23 overall player on his Big Board ($); both lists were released Wednesday. “Floyd’s versatility to play inside or kick outside to end makes him a great fit,” McShay wrote. “He can anchor against the run, chases plays all over the field and had a monster 2012 season.”

3 » The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, guard Bradley Beal came one decision away from never suiting up for the Washington Wizards. According to The Washington Post, the Wizards turned down a trade proposed by the Oklahoma City Thunder over the summer in which the team was looking to trade James Harden for Beal and forward Chris Singleton. Oklahoma City, which had been infatuated with Beal throughout the draft process and was rumored to be looking to trade up into the top three selections in order to pick him, wound up trading Harden to Houston after Washington rebuffed its advances.

4 » Former Gators swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte won a pair of gold medals on the first day of the FINA World Swimming Championships (short-course) in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday. Lochte took the 200 Meter Freestyle in 1:41.92 and was part of the 4×100 Freestyle Relay team that won gold in 3:06.40. The last short-course world championships were held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2010; Lochte won six gold medals including five in individual events. Fellow former Florida swimmers Conor Dwyer and Jemma Lowe also captured individual bronze medals on day one of the event.

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FOUR BITS: offense, LSU, Meyer, Olympics

1 » X&O Labs, a football research company for coaches, took a special look on Tuesday at the Florida Gators offense and how the team’s downhill running game was able to dominate the LSU Tigers last Saturday. Noting that new offensive coordinator Brent Pease has “has implemented some of the same heavy, unbalanced formations that he used at Boise to gash defenses,” senior research manager Mike Kuchar outlined five of the different formations and went into even greater detail in the video below.

2 » Asked to explain this week why they were so gassed on Saturday in Gainesville, FL, LSU players told the Shreveport Times that heat-related fatigue was at fault. “It is Florida,” said linebacker Kevin Minter, who cramped up in the third quarter after dominating the first half and still finished the game with a school-record 20 total tackles. “The humidity is ridiculous. [...] We had a lot of miscues when we were breathing hard. You can’t let fatigue take over.”

3 » With the Gators having started the season 5-0 and looking like a team rejuvenated under head coach Will Muschamp, it was only a matter of time before new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was asked about presumably leaving the cupboard bare for his successor. “I don’t want to get into all that cupboard is bare [stuff], because that’s one man’s opinion, and we’ve got to move on,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m very proud of those guys. Love those guys.” Meyer also said he was proud of Florida’s victory over LSU. “Always be a Gator. I keep in touch with some of those players. Great win. Great, tough win against a tough opponent, absolutely,” he said.

4 » The University of Florida honored on Saturday nearly two dozen athletes and coaches that participated in the 2012 London Olympics. In the video below, courtesy of GatorVision.tv, swimmers Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer and triple jumper Christian Taylor are all interviewed about their respective experiences. (Note that Dwyer thought a 6-0 halftime lead by LSU could realistically result in a 13-10 win for Florida.)

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Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics concluded on Sunday with the Florida Gators bringing home 16 event medals including four gold, six silver and six bronze over the course of 19 days worth of action across the pond.

In an effort to highlight the Gators’ praiseworthy accomplishments while simultaneously recapping over two weeks worth of athletic action, OGGOA presents this wrap up of the presence that Florida’s athletes made at the Olympics. Below you will find facts, figures and highlights of what the Gators accomplished from July 25 through Aug. 12.

You can check out the Olympic results as they happened as well as the official Gator Nation vs. The World medal count and plenty of other information by checking out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

FACTS AND FIGURES

» If Gator Nation was its own country, it would have been ranked 17th overall in the final Olympic medal both in weighted and grand total calculations. The Gators won as many gold medals (four) as Jamaica and Czech Republic and captured one more than Spain, Brazil and South Africa (among others).

» Twelve Florida athletes won a grand total of 18 individual medals (16 event medals) for three countries. Fourteen of the 16 medals won were captured for the United States.

» 35.3 percent of the Gators that competed in the Olympics (12-of-34) won at least one medal. 50 percent (17-of-34) at least reached a final or competed for a medal.

» Ryan Lochte (swimming, United States) led the way with five medals including two golds (one shared in a relay with Conor Dwyer), two silvers and a bronze. Following Lochte with two each were Elizabeth Beisel (swimming, United States) and Will Claye (athletics, United States), who both brought home a silver and a bronze.

» Three other Florida athletes won gold including Christian Taylor (athletics, United States), Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts (football, United States). The rest of the medals included a silver each from Tony McQuay and Jeff Demps (athletics, United States) as well as a bronze each from Lisa Raymond (tennis, United States), Melanie Booth (football, Canada) and Novlene Williams-Mills (athletics, Jamaica).

» Beisel is the only current UF student-athlete that medaled in the Olympics. She will be entering her junior year in 2012.

» Seventeen countries were represented by Gators including the United States (11), Great Britain (6), Cayman Islands and Iceland (two each) and Australia, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia (one each). Florida athletes also competed in five sports categories including swimming (19), athletics (10), football (three), basketball and tennis (one each).

Read the rest of “Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics” after the break…

Continue Reading » Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

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Lochte and Dwyer lead USA to gold in 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay, help Phelps set Olympic record

Tuesday was redemption day for Ryan Lochte and the United States relay team, which made up falling short on Sunday by dominating the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay and earning their third-straight Olympic gold medal in the event.

Lochte and fellow former Florida Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer swam the first two legs of the race, giving the Americans a significant and crucial two-second lead through the first 400 meters. Ricky Berens and Michael Phelps took it the rest of the way and cinched a 3.07-second victory for the United States.

For Lochte it was his ninth Olympic medal and third (second gold) of the 2012 London Olympics. He now has five golds, two silvers and two bronzes and has medaled in all but one Olympic final in which he has participated (Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle on Monday).

The gold for Dwyer is his first career Olympic medal; he swam in the event’s preliminary Tuesday morning and finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle on Saturday.

The cushion provided by Lochte and Dwyer, which was expanded by Berens, gave Phelps a nearly impossible-to-lose four-second lead. He cruised all the way to the end, breaking the career Olympic medals record by capturing his 19th career medal (15 golds, two silver, two bronzes) spanning three Olympics.

Also in the field for the event was Sebastien Rousseau (South Africa), whose relay team finished in seventh place, 9.95 seconds behind the Americans.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Tuesday though Jemma Lowe (Great Britain) advanced to the finals of the Women’s 200 Meter Butterfly after finishing eighth overall (2:07.37, +1.47) in the semifinals. She will be the only former Gators swimmer competing for an individual medal on Wednesday.

Florida also had athletes in action on the soccer pitch and tennis court on Tuesday.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Wednesday), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

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Lochte takes gold, Beisel silver in 400 Meter I.M.

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) made an immediate impact on the 2012 London Olympics on Saturday, winning the first swimming gold medal of the games with a blazing 4:05.18 time in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley. He was joined on the medal stand just minutes later by current Florida junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States), who captured silver in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley.

The gold is the fourth of Lochte’s Olympic career as well as his seventh overall medal in the Games. He won the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke in 2008 Beijing and was a member of the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay team in 2008 Beijing and 2004 Athens.

Lochte won a Bronze medal in the Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley in 2008 Beijing. He also captured a Bronze in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley that year and won Silver in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley in 2004 Athens.

His gold medal time of 4:05.18 on Saturday beat the next-fastest competitor, Brazilian silver medalist Thiago Pereira (4:08.86), by 3.68 seconds marking the largest margin of victory in the event’s history.

Beisel was back in eighth place after the first 100 meters but found herself leading the pack through 250 meters. Unfortunately for her China’s Shiwen Ye exploded over the last 150 meters and won the gold while setting a world record (4:28.43) in the process.

The silver medal is the first of Beisel’s Olympic career. She had previously won gold in the same event at the 2011 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, China.

Also competing in a medal event and representing the Americans on Saturday afternoon was former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer. Dwyer finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle with a time of 3:46.24 (+6.25); a member of the Gator Swim Club for the last two years (and Michigan graduate Peter Vanderkaay) took Bronze in the event.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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