FOUR BITS: Black, Harvin, Lee, soccer

1 » Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ahmad Black, who put together a standout performance with two forced fumbles and an interception on Sunday, was cited for marijuana possession last week, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The paper, citing court records, notes that Black was “charged with possession of cannabis, less than 20 grams,” which is a first-degree misdemeanor offense. Though Black was not arrested, he will appear in court on Dec. 3 to face the charge and may be disciplined sooner by the NFL for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. As it is his first offense, a fine would be more likely than a suspension.

2 » Sunday was a rough one for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. Not only did he wind up with his lowest offensive output of the season, he seriously sprained his ankle during the game and got into a heated argument on the sideline with head coach Leslie Frazier. After getting injured and limping off the field, Harvin returned to the game and pressed on, a move that may have compounded the seriousness of the injury and is likely to keep him out of action next week. “It wasn’t to prove anything,” he said, according to NFL.com. “I think you guys know, if I’m able to get out there and go, I’m going to try to go. Maybe I did [push too hard]. Maybe I didn’t.” As far as his argument with Frazier goes, Harvin said he was “frustrated” with the production of the offense but refused to discuss it further. “He wants to win. He was frustrated, as we all were at the moment,” Frazier said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

3 » Many in the NBA are tired of Los Angeles Clippers center Blake Griffin’s constant flopping during games, and Golden State Warriors C David Lee decided to express his frustration with those antics quite loudly. During a game on Monday, the two players were bumping in the post when Lee decided he had enough.

4 » Fresh off a pair of 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship victories, Florida Gators soccer (17-4-1) was given a No. 2 region seed when the brackets for the 2012 NCAA Tournament were announced on Monday. Florida will host the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (14-3-3) at 3 p.m. on Friday with the victor playing the winner of Miami-Central Florida one day later. The Gators defeated the Eagles 3-0 in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

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Former Gators offer advice as Beal preps for draft

In just over two months Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal will take the stage in New York, NY, shake commissioner David Stern’s hand and put on a hat representing the team that selected him early in the 2012 NBA Draft.

But before that day arrives, Beal must first hire an agent, attend league-affiliated events and take part in private workouts and interviews with interested teams. OGGOA spoke with three former Florida players the day Beal announced his decision to go pro and each was quick to offer plenty of advice for him as he takes the next step in his career.

Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and second highest-drafted UF player in school history (Neal Walk, No. 2), actually spoke with Beal while he was in the process of making his decision and said that no matter what he decided to do he had to concentrate each day on doing whatever it takes to improve as a player both on and off the court.

“I had a chance to speak with him right after the season,” Horford said. “He is very, very talented, so my advice to him was just to focus on working on his game and to make sure he got stronger. The most important thing is just to keep working and keep getting better because he has a lot of potential. He showed some positive things throughout the season, but he has a lot more to offer in the long run if he can get there.”

Horford did not attempt to influence Beal’s final decision one way or another and pointed out that the sharpshooter’s game may even be at a higher level than even his was after his sophomore season.

“He was asking me what I thought about his situation as far as him having to make a decision about whether to stay or go. I went through that experience. For me it worked out that I stuck around another year and I was able to get better,” he explained.

“He’s very talented, so I think that he was way ahead of what everybody would expect from a freshman. He’s a guard, and I told him that if it is something you want to do to then go for it. He could have stayed in school and worked on his game, but he’s talented enough to go to the NBA. With hard work and everything, he will be a good player in this league.”

Continue Reading » Former Gators offer advice as Beal preps for draft

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Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah continues to play a major role for his team, posting a line of 20 points and 17 rebounds (13 offensive) on Sunday night to help lead Chicago past Detroit in overtime. Noah now has 21 double-doubles on the season though that was his first in the month of April.

» Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford told OGGOA on Friday that it is “realistic” to believe that he will be able to return to his team for the playoffs after tearing his pectoral early in the season. Horford, who has missed almost the entire shortened season, said he doubts he will be at 100 percent when the playoffs begin because he will not have the proper time to practice and condition. However, he hopes to be able to contribute in some way and help his team win.

» Unlike Horford, Golden State Warriors F/C David Lee will not see a basketball court again this year. Lee, whose Warriors are out of the playoffs and vying for a better draft slot, will be benched for the remainder of the season after injuring his groin last week. He was already dealing with a hip injury and will be rested mostly for precautionary reasons. Lee averaged nearly a double-double this season, posting totals of 20.1 points and 9.6 boards per game.

» Julie Quittner of Gainesville Television Network sent over a copy of her interview with former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey that aired on Friday. In the piece, Quittner asks Rainey directly about the allegations made recently in a Sporting News column about former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Below are a few standout questions/answers from the interview:

Did you see the incident when Billy Gonzales was apparently choked by Percy Harvin at practice and apparently he wasn’t disciplined for it? Is that a situation where maybe guys like that got away with certain things?
Rainey: “I heard that story from players; I ain’t never saw it and just like I said, players like that…certain players even the coaches are scared of and there are certain players that the players were scared of but you can’t just answer a question like that because they’re good in sports and you just can’t do nothing about it.

What do you mean by scared?
Rainey: “Scared, like a player if you’re scared of another player…just like that. Coaches can be scared of players.”

What do you have to say to the fact that [safety Bryan Thomas] said at one point that the program got “out of control”?
Rainey: “It wasn’t ever ‘out of control’ they just were scared of certain players and when the younger guys can’t do nothing but watch and see, you’re scared for your life too, so you just got to be quiet because if you say the wrong thing, you might get beat up from him or get in trouble by a coach.”

Do you remember incidents here that happened with [those elite players] specifically that you can remember them getting special treatment or something being covered up for them?
Rainey: “I don’t remember everything being covered up, but I just know a lot of stuff that happened through my college career…like you see people doing bad stuff off the field, fights, getting in trouble in school, whatever it is but if they made it to the NFL, they made it. It’s too late now.”

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

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FOUR BITS: baseball, softball, NBA, Tebow

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (1-0) played like the top team in the country during their season opener on Friday, fighting back every time they were down and eventually toppling the No. 16 Cal State Fullerton Titans (0-1) 7-3 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Down a run after a throwing error in the top of the second, the Gators tied the game when freshman designated hitter Taylor Gushue (1-4) turned on his first collegiate pitch and belted a homer to left field. Behind 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Florida used another solo shot – this time from senior right fielder Preston Tucker (1-3) – to even things up again. The Gators’ clutch hitting continued as a four-run seventh inning – including to pair of RBI singles by juniors catcher Mike Zunino (1-4) and first baseman Brian Johnson (2-4) – to jump ahead 7-3 and hold on for the victory. Junior right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall got the start for UF but gave up three earned runs on five hits with only one strikeout in 5.2 innings for the no decision. Coming on in relief with his team down a run, junior left-hander Steven Rodriguez (1-0) struck out three and gave up just one hit in 2.1 innings before senior RHP Greg Larson tossed the final inning to clinch the victory. Florida’s series with Cal State Fullerton continues Saturday and Sunday though neither game is being televised.

2 » No. 1 Florida softball (7-0) continued its hot start to the 2012 season with yet another run-rule victory as the Gators shut out the Michigan State Spartans (1-5) 8-0 in five innings Friday night at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville. Florida took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth but crossed the plate five times in the inning to take a 7-0 lead. A RBI single by sophomore left fielder Kasey Fagan (1-2) in the bottom of the fifth wound up being a walk-off hit as it became the game-deciding run. Freshman 1B Lauren Haeger (2-2) led the way for the Gators with four RBIs, and junior C Brittany Schutte supported her with a 3-3 performance and a RBI of her own. Freshman third baseman Sami Fagan (2-3) also plated two runs and crossed home once herself. Continuing to prove her dominance on the mound, sophomore pitcher Hannah Rogers (5-0) tossed a complete game one-hitter with four strikeouts and a walk in 5.0 innings. UF will take on Michigan State twice more before the weekend concludes.

3 » It was a big night in the NBA for four former Gators stars. Friday night’s standout performance came from Denver Nuggets guard/forward Corey Brewer, who scored a team-high 26 points (10-of-14 shooting) with five rebounds, a steal and a block in 32 minutes. Joining him at the top of their team’s respective box scores were Golden State Warriors forward/center David Lee with a team-high 23 points (8-of-17 shooting) and eight boards in a team-high 30 minutes; Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons with a team-high 18 points (8-of-15 shooting), a team-high six rebounds and three assists in a team-high 40 minutes; and Memphis Grizzlies C Marreese Speights with a double-double of 12 points (5-of-8 shooting) and 10 boards with two blocks in 35 minutes.

Parsons also learned Friday that he will be participating in the NBA’s All-Star Weekend as one of three players representing Houston in the Shooting Stars competition.

4 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has officially scheduled his “experience” event at the new D1 Sports Training and Therapy facility in Citrus Park, FL. Tebow will hold a special training session at D1 on March 10 where members and special guests will have the opportunity to train alongside him while checking out the new workout center. For more information on D1 and Tebow’s involvement with the company (he’s a part-owner of two facilities), check out OGGOA‘s post from Jan. 17.

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FOUR BITS: Lee, women’s tennis, Rivals, Lochte

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee posted the second triple-double of his career Tuesday night, scoring 25 points (on 9-of-19 shooting) with 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Golden State Warriors in a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma City. Lee’s triple-double and Monta Ellis’s career-high 48 points were simply not enough to propel the Warriors to victory. In 21 games this year with Golden State, Lee is already playing better than he did a year ago, averaging 18.7 points (+2.2) and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 50.8 percent from the field.

2 » No. 1 Florida women’s tennis (4-0) swept the South Florida Bulls (3-2) 7-0 on Tuesday, winning their 98th consecutive home match at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. Junior Allie Will (No. 3), senior Joanna Mather (No. 4) and sophomores Sofie Oyen (No. 34) and Alex Cercone (No. 41) each won their singles matches in straight sets while junior Lauren Embree (No. 25) took three sets to win her singles tilt. The No. 10-ranked team of Oyne/Will and No. 15 duo of Embree/Mather each won their doubles matches handily. The Gators will travel to California over the weekend for back-to-back contests on Friday and Sunday against Pepperdine and Stanford. Florida topped Stanford 4-3 for the 2011 NCAA Championship on May 24.

Check our two more BITS (including a video)…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Lee, women’s tennis, Rivals, Lochte

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Former Gators light up the NBA on Tuesday

Eight former Florida Gators basketballers competed in five of the seven NBA games played on Tuesday and most ended the night with praiseworthy performances.

Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee posted a team-high 29 points (on 13-of-20 shooting) with nine boards (four offensive) and three assists in a team-high 35 minutes as Golden State went on to upend Cleveland 105-95.

Similarly dominant, Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer played a team-high 34 minutes off the bench, scoring a team-best 22 points (on 8-of-14 shooting) with four rebounds, two steals and a block. Denver defeated Milwaukee 105-95.

The Miami Heat had two former Gators in action but guard Mike Miller, who dressed for the first time this year after being forced to miss the first 12 games of the season due to having offseason hernia surgery, was the most impressive. Miller went a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown for 18 points and added four rebounds in just 15 minutes.

Also coming off the bench for the Heat was PF Udonis Haslem, who registered four points and two boards. Like Haslem, San Antonio Spurs PF Matt Bonner was efficient with three points and six rebounds, but San Antonio Fell to Miami 120-98.

Still fighting through a hand ailment, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had arguably his best game of the season, posting his third double-double of the year with 13 points (6-of-10 shooting) and 12 boards (six offensive) to go along with three dimes in 28 minutes. Chicago took down Phoenix 118-97.

Wrapping things up were former teammates going head-to-head as the Houston Rockets and surging rookie F Chandler Parsons defeated the Detroit Pistons and PF Vernon Macklin 97-80. Parsons once again earned the start and played 31 minutes (second-most on the team), scoring seven points and adding seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Macklin only saw one minute of on-court action.

And though the game occurred one day earlier, former Florida C Marreese Speights, now with the Memphis Grizzlies, had his most impressive showing of the season on Monday. Speights started and saw 34 minutes of action, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 boards (four offensive) for his first double-double this year. Memphis wound up beating down Chicago 102-86.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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NBA season begins with 10 Gators on rosters

The shortened 2011-12 NBA season is set to tip-off on Sunday with 10 former Florida Gators standouts on professional rosters. Some won National Championships while wearing the Orange & Blue, others went undrafted, but all want to prove that the Florida basketball program has and can produce legitimate NBA stars.

Al Horford, F/C, Atlanta Hawks
- 2010-11: Averaging career highs in points (15.3), field goal percentage (.557), assists (3.5) and minutes (35.1), Horford also contributed 9.3 rebounds and 1.0 block per game last year. He led his team to the second round of the playoffs for the third-straight season; nlike the previous two years, the Hawks were not swept but rather fell 4-2.
- 2011-12: The Godfather was named a captain in Atlanta one year ago and wound up earning his second-straight NBA All-Star nod as a reserve. The Hawks resigned him to a five-year, $60 million extension in Nov. 2010, and he enters this season as one of the team’s two best and most popular players.

Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
- 2010-11: Averaging a double-double with career highs in points (11.7), field goal percentage (.525), assists (2.2) and minutes (32.8), Noah was also good for 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steal per game. He only played in 48 games due to having two surgeries for ligament damage in his hand and a right thumb injury but helped lead Chicago to the conference finals where the Bulls lost 4-1 in five games.
- 2011-12: Noah was rewarded by Chicago for his hard work with a five-year, $60 million extension last offseason. His defense and shot blocking makes him an elite big man in the league and he will be a key piece for the Bulls this season as they hope to earn a spot in the NBA Finals.

David Lee, F/C, Golden State Warriors
- 2010-11: Falling just short of a double-double average aver accomplishing that feat in consecutive seasons with the New York Knicks, Lee contributed 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game in 36.1 minutes on average last season. He shot 50.7 percent from the floor and 78.7 percent from the line in 73 games after missing nine due to an elbow injury that got infected.
- 2011-12: Lee agreed to a six-year, $80 million contract with Golden State after being traded from New York before last season and shined as a efficient big man in an up-tempo offense. His numbers fell because he was not relied upon as heavily with the Warriors, but he should have ample opportunities to showcase his talent.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s 2011-12 NBA Preview…after the break!
Continue Reading » NBA season begins with 10 Gators on rosters

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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Preparing for the combine in Chicago

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

In Chicago, IL preparing for the 2011 NBA Combine, Parsons got in touch with us on Monday to submit his first entry while relaxing at the suburban home of former Florida big man and Chicago Bulls starting center Joakim Noah.

Noah, who was relaxed and focused between games of the Eastern Conference Finals, is about an hour away from the city where Parsons will work out for all 30 NBA general managers from Wednesday until Saturday.

After I spoke to you on Monday, I spent the rest of the week continuing to workout in Los Angeles, CA, doing the same stuff and working on my conditioning. David Lee actually came out there and was working with all of us, and the trainer and I were just putting on some finishing touches and sharpening a few things up before I left.

I headed over to Oklahoma for my first workout, which went really well. The Oklahoma City Thunder invited 12 players to the Sunday workout and split us up into two groups of six. They held it at 9 a.m. on the day the team played game seven [of the Western Conference Semifinals].

Right when I got in there Saturday, there was a room in the hotel where a bunch of people who work in the front office for the Thunder interviewed me. [They asked] typical questions about my game, upbringing and childhood – basically every question you could imagine they were asking just to get to know me better. There were also a lot of questionnaires and surveys and a background check.

On Saturday night before the workout, the GM [Sam Presti] took me to dinner. There were 12 players there, and I was the only one to go to dinner, so that was pretty special.

Sunday was everything else including a psychological test and physical tests. They looked at my vertical [jump], height, [wingspan], the size of my hands and legs, did balance testing and a shuttle run. You do everything possible testing-wise and then you actually go on the court and do a hour workout with their player personnel staff.

The workout was at 9 a.m., and I had a flight already scheduled right out of there to Chicago. I ended up getting in around 10 p.m. on Sunday and just checked into my apartment. [Monday] morning, I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and started doing just everything I’m going to do at the combine this week.

I did spot-shooting at 18-feet and from three-point range, worked on catching and shooting on the move, and did four-spot one-dribble pull ups going each way. I also had a little conditioning and some ball handling drills mixed in to stay sharp. That lasted until 11:30 a.m. I grabbed lunch, came back at 3:30 p.m. and lifted with E’twaun Moore from Purdue, who is also with my agent [Mark Bartelstein].

All of my Chicago workouts are with my trainer Josh Oppenheimer and strength coach Ryan Thompson. I worked out with them in Chicago before I went to Los Angeles. Josh is a great guy; he’s really intense.

Over the next few days I will basically just be getting a lot of reps up – because you know exactly what they’re going to be doing at the combine. There’s nothing competitive this year. It’s just basically all shooting, two-on-one/three-on-two fast breaks and a whole interviewing process where every team there that is interested will interview you.

I will go through a whole bunch of tests, go to the hospital and get X-rays, ultrasounds and all sorts of tests to make sure my body is right and I don’t have any injuries. The next couple of days I will be rehearsing those things while keeping my conditioning, working on my all-around game and working on my shuttle run and vertical.

My agent has said that tons of teams are very interested in me, so I’m going to have anywhere from 12-16 workouts. I’ve already done Oklahoma City, I have the combine this week, and then I got invited to a group workout – the only group workout – in Minnesota. It’s where the top 24 prospects get invited and all 30 NBA GMs can come and watch you.

Go Gators,

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