3/21: Donovan on Boynton’s ankle, facing BYU

Two days after his team advanced to the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after defeating the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins 73-65, No. 2-seed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss his team and its upcoming game against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars on Thursday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the press conference.

SIGNS POINTING TO “GO” FOR BOYNTON

As sophomore guard Kenny Boynton laid on the court in agony Saturday with the game up for grabs, Florida’s chances of advancing looked to have suffered a setback. Just minutes later, Boynton returned from getting his sprained ankle taped up by the trainers and continued to play as UF took down UCLA. Immediately after the game, Donovan noted the Boynton had suffered a mild sprain and would likely miss practice this week but be good-to-go on Thursday against BYU. He reinforced that opinion on Monday.

“We fully expect him to play. He’s not going to do anything [Monday] in practice,” he said. “He definitely has some discomfort there, but I don’t feel like it’s a discomfort that will prevent him from playing. […] I’m still a little bit cautious of where he’s at because I haven’t seen him sprint, cut, change direction, do those kind of things. Kenny has had some ankle problems during his career. He has sprained that ankle quite a bit; he’s had to deal with it at different times during his career. I also think there’s probably a mental hurdle for him that he’s going to need to get over.”

Boynton, who is neither wearing a walking boot nor utilizing crutches, has already seen the swelling go down. Like in the 2010 match-up, he would have been tasked with defending Cougars star G Jimmer Fredette the majority of the time on Saturday. With a tender ankle, Boynton will probably have some help in that endeavor this time around.

“There’s going to be a lot of guys on [Fredette],” Donovan said. “Last year, because of our lack of depth, Boynton was having such a good offensive night he got worn out as we got into the first overtime, second overtime. I don’t think it can be one guy. Whoever’s going to be on him, they’re going to be on an island by themselves.”

That being said, Donovan does believe Boynton is the team’s best on-the-ball defender, comparing him to Corey Brewer and Justin Hamilton in terms of athleticism and ability to avoid screens. “What makes him good is he’s got great, great feet and he’s got great lateral movement. He can play close enough to people and keep people out of the lane,” he said. “He can really spread himself out, and athletically he can really move his feet. Because of his feet and his speed, he’s a guy that can get off and around screens.”

FIGURING OUT FREDETTE

Donovan had a chance to see Fredette last year, months before the hype machine surrounding him really got underway. Since then, he has been enthusiastic about what Fredette has been able to accomplish. “It’s pretty impressive what he has been able to do coming out of last year, taking his game and his team to a different level than they were a year ago,” he said. “I always have great admiration and respect when somebody can do what he did last year, have the publicity and exposure that he had last year, and then do it even better this year.”

Due to his experience coaching against Fredette, Donovan knows that there is no stopping him – but it is possible to contain him. “I really thought we did a pretty nice job defending Fredette last year. In regulation he had 23 points and then he exploded in the overtimes and ended up with 37,” he said. “If you look at the stat sheet, it was really the other players. They made 10 three-point shots in the game a year ago, and Fredette made three of them. There were other guys on that stat sheet that played well.”

That being said, Donovan also realizes that there is no underestimating or overlooking what Fredette brings to the table. “He’s going to make some very difficult shots,” he said. “Every game that he’s played, everybody’s trying to stop him, everybody’s trying to slow him down. He still averages 28 a game; he still does it regardless.”

TYUS THE UNSUNG HERO

With a career-high 13 rebounds on Saturday, senior forward Alex Tyus’s contributions against UCLA were certainly overlooked by the majority of fans and analysts. What Tyus was able to do throughout the game did not get past Donovan, who provided him with plenty of praise on Monday. “The one thing that got lost on the game that no one really talked about was Alex Tyus’s rebounding the last two minutes of the game – where we limited them to one shot and at least we closed the gap on the rebounding margin,” he said before discussing Tyus’s performance as a whole this season.

“I am really proud of him. People hear me talk about Chandler [Parsons], and there’s been a lot of talk about Chandler just because he was [SEC] Player of the Year and there was a lot more attention on Chandler and the way Chandler was playing the last eight games of the year. But I have an enormous amount of respect for Alex, just his attitude and the way he’s approached this year.

“He has been all about the team. He has been all about winning. The one thing we’ve tried to explain to Alex is, because of his athleticism, he can have an impact on the game regardless of if he gets the ball or doesn’t get the ball. His impact on the game was huge; we were getting killed on the backboard. We had 10 rebounds in the first half; Alex had six of them. And then he got seven in the second half.

Erving Walker’s points overshadowed really a big part [of the win]. Those plays kind of get lost. Alex has had a great year. His points may not be what they were, but he’s given up very similar to what [Joakim] Noah, [Al] Horford and Brewer have done for the betterment of our team. He could score more points, but I’m not so sure our team would be where it could be. I do have confidence that, on any given night, Alex could get 20 points. We do need his energy, we do need his rebounding, and we do need his defense. When he does that, it really adds a dimension to our frontcourt.”

QUOTES

On the game being a rematch from 2010: “We could play better than we played last year in the NCAA Tournament and still not beat these guys. […] For us to even think about last year, we have our hands filled just worrying about this BYU team this year. Because this year, they’re better than they were a year ago. We could play better than we did a year ago and still not beat this team.”

On whether or not Florida has improved as well: “We are better as a team, but that does not necessarily mean we are going to play better in the game. […] We’re a little bit of a deeper team than maybe we were a year ago.”

On BYU as a team: “They’re a better team than they were a year ago. Jimmer certainly gets a lot of publicity and a lot of exposure, but it’s really their whole team. He’s certainly a hard guy to defend and stop, but they’ve also got some other good players.”

On Walker controlling the game: “What Erving’s got to understand is, he can’t just think at the end of the game, ‘OK, I’m just going to go right now,’ because he’s got to make the right decision. He can’t allow his competitiveness put our team at a disadvantage.”

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FOUR BITS: Alvarez, bat saver, Brewer, Johnson

1 » The National Football Foundation announced Monday that former Florida Gators wide receiver Carlos Alvarez (1969-71) has been added to the ballot of 79 players eligible for the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame. Florida’s all-time leading receiver, having compiled 2,563 yards during his career, Alvarez has never been up for the award before. He was the Gators’ top pass catcher every year he was in school and still holds records in passes caught in a single game (15 vs. Miami, 1969) and most 100-yard games in a season (8). Alvarez is second in UF history for career receptions (172), yards in a season (1,329), yards in a game (246) and 100-yard games (13).

2 » There are plenty of Florida fans from Brooklyn, NY but only one, Mitch Davie, made the news over the weekend. Attending an Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays spring training game, Davie saved a few fans and earned himself a souvenir by grabbing bat flying through the air off the hands of Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla with a single hand…all while not spilling a drop of his Red Stripe beer (see below).

3 » Now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, former Gators forward Corey Brewer has already seen two games of action with the team. Last week, ESPN’s Jeff Wade took a look at how Brewer’s addition will add an increased level of flexibility for Dallas as they look to make a run to the NBA title.

On nights where Dallas is faced with the difficult task of contending with a Kobe Bryant or a Kevin Durant, Brewer is your option. If they don’t feel like a Nic Batum or a Grant Hill will kill them, then Peja starts and keeps the floor properly spaced. They key to all this working is that the Mavs keep winning so that everyone stays content in their role. It was also critical that Brewer signs a multi-year deal so that he knows his playing time or lack thereof, depending on the opponent, doesn’t impact where he’ll be next year. Brewer could also see minutes at the two, though that seems less likely considering the giant logjam in the backcourt that has already squeezed Stephenson out of the mix.

4 » Also last week, The Times and Democrat reported that Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan was in the area that Tuesday take a look at four-star 2012 power forward Brice Johnson (Cordova, SC), who is reportedly favoring UF and Clemson.

Photo Credit: David Goldman/Associated Press

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Dallas Mavericks snag free agent Corey Brewer

Updated March 2 at 7 p.m.

One day after being bought out and waived by the New York Knicks, who acquired him as a side deal in their blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets for forward Carmelo Anthony, former Florida Gators F Corey Brewer is in the process of signing a multi-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks.

Brewer, who was released on March 1 in order to be eligible to participate in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, was courted by nearly a dozen teams as late as Monday but narrowed his list down to a handful that included Dallas, San Antonio, Boston and Charlotte.

The Mavericks ended up landing Brewer due to the fact that they could offer him more money than his other suitors, ESPN‘s Marc Stein reports. His deal is expected to start in the $2 million per season range and could be worth as much as $7-8 million over the three-year life of the contract.

Averaging 24.3 minutes per game with the Minnesota Timberwovles this season, Brewer posted 8.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game (all below his career numbers). However, it is his athleticism and defensive prowess that had him coveted so heavily once he reached the free agent market.

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

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New York Knicks waive forward Corey Brewer

Updated March 1 at 4 p.m.

Just days after making sure they acquired him in a side deal included in the blockbuster trade for forward Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks bought out and waved former Florida Gators F Corey Brewer on Tuesday.

New York decided to buy out Brewer in order to free a roster spot to sign veteran F Jared Jeffries, who the team traded to Houston in 2010.

Brewer, who was released on March 1 in order to be eligible to participate in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, was already being courted by four teams on Monday, according to ESPN‘s Marc Stein. Boston, Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio – all playoff teams – are all vying for his services as a defensive specialist on the wing.

Yahoo! Sports’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that “nearly a dozen teams have checked in” with Brewer’s representatives, who are “sorting through the suitors” in order to find the best fit for their client. In addition to the four teams above, Stein reports that Miami, Chicago, New Orleans and Cleveland have also joined the hunt for Brewer. Chances are he will wind up with a contender, but Cleveland can offer almost $3.7 million of their mid-level exception, a figure which could sway him toward the Midwest.

Averaging 24.3 minutes per game with the Minnesota Timberwovles this season, Brewer posted 8.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game (all below his career numbers). He did not see the court for a single minute with the Knicks in the three games played while he was a member of the team.

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Brewer’s fate, Meyer’s compensation

1 » As a supplement of the trade between the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks for star forward Carmelo Anthony, the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to exchange former Florida Gators F Corey Brewer for two players from New York. However, Brewer was supposed to be headed to Denver – that is until the Nuggets demanded rookie center Timofey Mozgov from the Knicks. ESPN’s Chris Sheridan explains…

A league source told ESPN.com that the final sticking point in the trade, which was agreed to late Monday night, was the final destination for Corey Brewer, who is being dealt by the Timberwolves to New York. The Nuggets wanted Brewer, but the Knicks wanted him, too, and made a successful argument that since they were relinquishing the final piece of the puzzle that Denver wanted — center Timofey Mozgov — fairness dictated that the Knicks receive the player Minnesota was trading away.

With Brewer back in orange and blue for the second time, it appears New York plans to retain and play him rather than send him away for additional compensation. OGGOA has learned that Brewer will once again wear a No. 2 jersey, this time for the Knicks.

2 » Though former Gators head coach Urban Meyer and the University of Florida have officially severed financial ties, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida is still discussing and attempting to finalize additional compensation for Meyer. Whether bonuses, donations or additional salaries owed to him, Meyer could receive some payments from the school in the short term. “It had been a work in progress all along,” UF associate athletics director Steve McClain told the paper. “The only thing we could say right now is the details have not been finalized yet.”

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TWO BITS: Futures of Tebow, Brewer up in air

1 » With Josh McDaniels ousted as Denver Broncos head coach, questions immediately sprung up about how secure quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the team’s first-round draft pick last season, could feel about his future in Mile High. Assurances appeared to have been given upon the hiring of head coach John Fox, a man who praised Tebow in the past, that he would have every opportunity to win the starting job and prove he was the man to lead Denver from this point forward.

However, a report by the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi paints a different picture of the Broncos’ stance on Tebow. “Most members of the Broncos who were there when the Tebow pick was made are looking to distance themselves from the choice, which is a classic way for things to operate in the NFL,” Lombardi writes. He continues, “So Tebow is a man without much support in Denver, making quarterback a huge need.”

2 » As OGGOA reported late Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to send former Florida Gators forward Corey Brewer to the New York Knicks in a side deal latched on to New York’s trade with the Denver Nuggets for F Carmelo Anthony. Our immediate reaction was positive, that Brewer would be given a fresh start in a system where he could thrive and actually contribute a quality the team doesn’t have – defense.

However, multiple reports surfaced Tuesday that the Knicks may not end up hanging on to Brewer and could trade him once again before the NBA‘s trade deadline passes on Thursday. “From what I’m told neither Brewer nor the first round pick may remain in the Knicks’ possession beyond Thursday’s trade deadline,” Newsday‘s Alan Hahn wrote, “but what either could be used for remains unknown.”

For now, Brewer remains in limbo even as his former teammates praise him. “It’s all a part of it,” Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis said of the situation, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune. “You have the basketball side of the NBA and the business side of the NBA. This is part of the business side of things. It’s an absolutely horrible spot [for Brewer] to be in. It’s something that has weighed on his mind for a while now. You could just see it. It’s awful that that’s what happens to guys in this league. But, again, that’s a part of the business side of it.”

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Brewer traded to Knicks as part of Carmelo deal

The New York Knicks have been after forward Carmelo Anthony for months. Monday night, they got their man by completing a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets.

In the deal, New York will send point guard Raymond Felton, forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallanari, center Timofey Mozgov, their 2014 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks from Golden State to Denver in exchange for Anthony, point guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter and power forwards Shelden Williams and Renaldo Balkman.

Also taking part in the trade, the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to send former Florida Gators forward Corey Brewer to the Knicks in exchange for forward Anthony Randolph, center Eddy Curry and $3 million in cash considerations.

Brewer, who is averaging 8.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in his fourth NBA season, should benefit from a change of scenery. His numbers are down across the board from 2009-10, and he had been playing only 24.3 minutes per game for Minnesota.

Reports previously had Brewer headed to the Denver as part of the trade, but ESPN and CBS Sports report he will instead be playing in Madison Square Garden.

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

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Gators in the NBA through 2011 All-Star break

With the 2010-11 NBA season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators have been making strong impressions on the league with a few having a significant impact on their team’s game-to-game performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores for the first half of the season to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished thus far. Figures below are per-game averages:

F/C AL HORFORD`, Atlanta Hawks: 16.0 points [56.8% shooting – team-best], 9.8 rebounds [team-high], 3.6 assists, 0.85 blocks, 1.06 steals, 82% FT …in 35.4 minutes with 51-of-55 starts [51 games played*]

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: 14.0 points [51.4% shooting], 11.7 rebounds [team-high], 2.7 assists, 1.63 blocks [team-high], 1.17 steals, 73% FT …in 36.8 minutes with 24-of-54 starts [24 games played*]

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: 15.9 points [49.2% shooting], 9.4 rebounds [team-high], 3.4 assists, 0.37 blocks, 0.89 steals, 77% FT …in 36.2 minutes with 46-of-55 starts [46 games played*]

G/F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves: 8.6 points [38.4% shooting, 26.3% downtown], 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.25 blocks, 1.59 steals [team-high], 71% FT …in 24.1 minutes with 22-of-56 starts [56 games played]

F/C MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: 7.3 points [48.4% shooting, 50% downtown (team-best > 5 mpg.)], 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.38 blocks, 0.30 steals, 73% FT …in 22.0 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [40 games played*]

G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: 5.9 points [41.1% shooting, 38.7% downtown], 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.32 steals, 78% FT …in 19.3 minutes with two-of-56 starts [22 games played*]

C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Philadelphia 76ers: 5.4 points [50.8% shooting], 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.22 blocks, 0.11 steals, 75% FT …in 11.6 minutes with 1-of-56 starts [45 games played*]

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: 8.0 points [51.2% shooting], 8.2 rebounds [team-high], 0.5 assists, 0.23 blocks, 0.54 steals, 80% FT …in 26.5 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [13 games played*]

PG JASON WILLIAMS, Memphis Grizzlies: 1.9 points [35% shooting, 32% downtown], 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.42 steals …in 10.2 minutes [19 games played, two teams~]

PG ORIEN GREENE, New Jersey Nets: 1.0 points [50% shooting], 0.3 assists, 0.33 steals …in 1.7 minutes [three games played~]

NOTES
` Horford was named to his second-straight NBA All-Star Game this season.
* Horford missed four games with a back injury.
* Noah missed 30 games with an injured thumb (torn ligament).
* Lee missed nine games with an infected elbow.
* Bonner missed 16 games with an injured knee (marrow edema).
* Miller missed 34 games with a broken thumb.
* Speights did not play in 11 games (coach’s decision).
* Haslem has missed 43 games with an injured foot, is thought to be out for the entire season but has an outside chance of returning.
~ Williams was traded from the Orlando Magic to Memphis and has yet to step on the court for the Grizzlies.
~ Green was recently called up by New Jersey from the NBDL.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

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