Silver Lining: Billy Donovan exits Florida Gators as friend, AD Jeremy Foley looks for replacement

There are successful coaches, championship-winning coaches, hall of fame coaches … and then there are transformative coaches that come around once in a generation to shape a program in their image.

After 19 years with the Florida Gators, the efforts made and results produced by now-former head basketball coach Billy Donovan cannot be constrained by even such a broad categorization. Not when they extend well off the court to the athletic program as a whole, the university and even the surrounding community of Gainesville, Florida.

How, then, do you go about replacing a man like Donovan?

Continue Reading » Silver Lining: Billy Donovan exits Florida Gators as friend, AD Jeremy Foley looks for replacement

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Eli Carter to transfer from Florida Gators

Eli Carter, a guard transfer from Rutgers who was made eligible immediately and played one full season with the Florida Gators, will transfer for the second time in his college career, a source close to the program confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here at Florida,” Carter said in a statement released by the school. “I’ll always appreciate the coaches, teammates and fans that made my time here memorable.”

CBSSports.com‘s Jon Rothstein first reported Carter’s move, noting that the player will be immediately eligible in 2015-16 as he will earn his undergraduate degree. The Gators confirmed it later in the day.

Continue Reading » Eli Carter to transfer from Florida Gators

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KeVaughn Allen, Keith Stone sign National Letters of Intent with Florida Gators

Two of the four members of the Florida Gators‘ 2015 men’s basketball signing class – four-star guards KeVaughn Allen (North Little Rock, AR) and guard Keith Stone (Deerfield Beach, FL) – put ink to paper on their National Letters of Intent during National Signing Day on Wednesday.

The Gators have not announced their 2015 signing class, which also includes two other four-star prospects in forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) and Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL). A source told OnlyGators.com last week that Dickerson and Hayes had previously signed their NLIs.

Allen remained committed to Florida despite heavy pressure from those close to him to remain in state and play for Arkansas. Stone as long been a dedicated UF commit who was simply waiting until signing day to make his pledge official.

Continue Reading » KeVaughn Allen, Keith Stone sign National Letters of Intent with Florida Gators

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Forward Dorian Finney-Smith to return to Florida Gators for fifth season

The Florida Gators on Thursday announced that forward Dorian Finney-Smith has decided to remain with the team for his redshirt senior season.

“I got all the information I needed to make a decision,” said Finney-Smith after meeting with head coach Billy Donovan, according to a release on the school’s website. “He didn’t pressure me into anything, but rather let me be a grown man. Coach D is a mentor to me, I trust him and I’m happy and anxious to have another year with him.”

Continue Reading » Forward Dorian Finney-Smith to return to Florida Gators for fifth season

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Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II set to declare for 2015 NBA Draft

Updated on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NBA Draft, a source close to the player confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Thursday.

Frazier, Florida’s second-leading scorer in 2014-15 with 12.1 points per game, is expected to make his decision official on Friday, a source said.

He will sign with Andy Miller and Matt Ramker of ASM Sports, according to a source, as first reported by Darren Heitner of Heitner Legal.

Update: Frazier released the following statement via his personal Twitter account on Friday afternoon …

“Thank you to my coaches, teammates, and the entire Gator Nation for 3 special years of my life. I will be pursuing a career in professional basketball and have signed with Matt Ramker of ASM Sports. I will never forget my time in Gainesville and look forward to returning each summer to complete my degree. I will always be representing the Gator Nation. Go Gators.”

Continue Reading » Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II set to declare for 2015 NBA Draft

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2015 SEC Tournament Fastbreak: No. 1 Kentucky pulls away from Florida 64-49

(8) Florida Gators basketball (16-17) dropped its third game to the (1) Kentucky Wildcats (32-0) this season, this time in the quarterfinals of the 2015 SEC Tournament on Friday afternoon at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

With the loss, Florida finished below .500 entering the non-conference postseason for the first time since head coach Billy Donovan‘s second season with the program in 1997-98. The Gators also lost to their longtime-rival Wildcats thrice in a single season for the fifth time (1995-96, 2002, 2012).

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: A 7-0 run, including four free throws, pushed Kentucky ahead by 14 with under five minutes to play. Donovan got a bench warning for complaining about the uneven officiating, and Florida was unable to fight back from a devastating foul disparity built throughout the contest. UK ended the contest with a 14-2 stretch as UF went 5:09 without a field goal.

“I thought we had some moments. I thought we played very, very well. Certainly we got off to a good start, which was positive. … Statistically, if you look at the game, everything was pretty even,” Donovan said. “The difference in the game was the free throw line. Twenty-three attempts to our five was a huge factor in the game. … If you take away the free throw line, it’s pretty consistent all the way through. Just about every stat’s pretty even. But the one huge drastic difference was the free throw line and that was really, ultimately, the margin in the game.”

Significant stretch: Two Florida turnovers helped fuel a 9-0 run for Kentucky, which gave the Cats an 11-point lead with 14 minutes to play. UF redshirt senior center Jon Horford responded with five straight points to cut his team’s deficit to six, but his the Gators never got within fewer than five over the duration of the contest.

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SEC Tournament Fastbreak: (8) Florida Gators take down (9) Alabama 69-61 in opening game

(8) Florida Gators basketball (16-16) earned a decisive 69-61 victory over the (9) Alabama Crimson Tide (18-14) on Thursday afternoon, advancing to the second round of the 2015 SEC Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan improved to 10-0 all-time against former Gators assistant and Alabama head coach Anthony Grant as UF ensured itself a difficult second-round match-up against (1) Kentucky.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Thursday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: With Florida’s 11-point lead cut to seven, sophomore point guard Kasey Hill attempted a would-have-been-clutch steal, though Alabama corralled the loose ball and Rodney Cooper drove it to the hoop. Gators redshirt junior forward Alex Murphy stepped in Cooper’s way and drew the offensive foul, sending the Tide’s leading scorer to the bench with five on the afternoon and three minutes left in the game. Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith drained a three on the ensuing possession, pushing UF’s lead back to 10.

Significant stretch: Finney-Smith and freshman F Devin Robinson drained back-to-back threes, negating an Alabama stretch and giving the Gators a nine-point lead at 49-40 with 12 minutes left. UF would extend that advantage to a game-high 11 points just minutes later. Robinson scored 10 points in the contest, hitting 5-of-6 attempts from the charity stripe.

Continue Reading » SEC Tournament Fastbreak: (8) Florida Gators take down (9) Alabama 69-61 in opening game

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2015 SEC Tournament: Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – Now or never

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, Tennessee [Capacity: 19,395]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham, Shannon Spake)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(8) FLORIDA GATORS (9) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 15-16 (8-10 SEC) Record: 18-13 (8-10 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -4

IT’S NOW OR NEVER FOR THE GATORS

Despite the team’s dismal campaign, Donovan’s worst since his second season at Florida (1997-98) … despite the Gators averaging their fewest points per game (64.0) since 1950-51 … despite UF being so inefficient from the foul line that the term “free throw” has become ironic (.632 is its worst mark since 1951-52) … despite all of that, Florida enters the SEC Tournament on Monday on equal footing with the rest of the league.

It will likely take at least one win – if not two – to give the Gators a chance at earning an NIT berth. It will assuredly require winning the tournament outright for Florida to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth-straight year. And if you ask Donovan, this particular UF squad is as ready as it will ever be for this test.

“Hopefully, they’re excited to play. You’re getting a chance to go somewhere and play at a neutral site. It’s an opportunity to play again. I think our guys, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten better as a team,” he said on Tuesday.

“Better” is a relative term when it comes to these Gators. Injuries and suspensions have limited how much Florida has been able to develop as a complete unit this season, but for team with known talent deficiencies (according to Donovan), the Gators’ schedule – one of the toughest in the nation – did not do it any favors either.

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