SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

1 » Opening up the 2010 NCAA Tournament at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on Friday, No. 5 Florida Gators soccer (19-2-2, 9-1-1 SEC) scorched the Mercer Bears (10-9-1, 7-3 A-Sun) 3-0. Redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney (15’, 73’) and junior MF/forward Tahnai Annis (48’) scored Florida’s three goals as the Gators out-shot the Bears 16-7. Unfortunately…

2 » Florida was not so fortunate in second-round action, taking the Duke Blue Devils (11-7-4, 7-3 ACC) into penalty kicks after the teams were held scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. In PKs, the Gators (19-2-3, 9-1-1 Sec) fell to the Blue Devils 4-2. Duke made all of its attempts while Florida only received goals from Barney and redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine with Annis’ saved and junior F Lindsay Thompson’s attempt going wide. The Gators end the 2010 season having won both the Southeastern Conference Championship and regular season title.

3 » In better news for the University of Florida, the No. 1 Florida volleyball team (24-1, 17-0 SEC) clinched at least a share of the 2010 SEC regular season title on Sunday by defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-17, 2-15 SEC) 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-17) on Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was impressive once again, leading the Gators with 10 kills and no errors along with 15 assists and seven digs. She notched her 12th-straight double-double and has been having an impressive season. Florida’s seniors also got in on the action with OH Callie Rivers, middle-back Lauren Bledsoe and libero Erin Fleming combining for 18 kills, 15 digs and six blocks on Sunday. UF has three more regular season matches – all on the road – before the 2010 SEC Tournament begins.

Three more BITS including an interesting piece on a Florida baseball commit…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

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Florida ranked in preseason basketball polls

The defending national champion Duke Blue Devils earned the No. 1 spot in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls released over the last two weeks. The Florida Gators were voted No. 9 and No. 11 in the respective polls.

The preseason top-10 for each poll was voted as follows:

Associated Press: Duke (55), Michigan State (8), Kansas State (2), Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Syracuse

ESPN/USA Today: Duke (29), Michigan State (2), Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Villanova, Kansas, Purdue, North Carolina, Kentucky

Other Southeastern Conference schools ranked in the preseason Top 25s include No. 11/10 Kentucky and No. 23/20 Tennessee.

Florida is set to play No. 4/5 Ohio State in Gainesville, FL, on Nov. 16 and No. 3/3 Kansas State at the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL, on Dec. 18.

The Gators finished the 2009-10 season unranked in both polls.

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FOUR BITS: Rivers commits, Florida wants canoe

1 » It is being widely reported Thursday that five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has officially committed to the Duke Blue Devils. Considered the top players in his class, Rivers was originally committed to the Florida Gators before opening up his recruitment and then completely spurning the Orange and Blue. His decision to play at Duke is not a surprise considering he has been raving about head coach Mike Krzyzewski for months and admitted that he is seeking the spotlight above all else.

2 » Though Florida and Miami (FL) may not play an annual football game anymore, the rivalry between the two schools continues to exist and, when they do face-off, it is as heated as ever. Intrepid University of Florida student senators Andrew Hart and Jon Ossip realized this and decided that because the Gators won the last game between the two schools (26-3 on Sept. 6, 2008), it is about time Florida is delivered the Seminole War Canoe Trophy. Though Florida symbolically holds the trophy now, it is physically in Miami’s possession and has been located at the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame since 1987 (the year of the final home-and-home series). You can read more about the senators’ mission to bring the trophy home in this story by The Alligator.

3 » Leave it to two columnists writing about Alabama and Florida the longest, The Birmingham News’ Paul Finebaum and The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley, to name the duo college football’s biggest rivalry. Finebaum believes this is the case because of the immense success of both programs and how dominant the Southeastern Conference. Dooley, on the other hand, contends that the Crimson Tide is the one team that can actually beat the Gators with any type of consistency, even though they only play twice every six years and in SEC Championship games. The fact is that both are right. While the rivalry may be stronger between Florida and Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee or even Miami, none of those games played today can match the importance and size of a game between these two behemoths.

4 » OGGOA columnist and former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel will be part of a special lunch with the Tampa Gator Club on Friday beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wuerffel will be on-hand to discuss Florida’s football season, tell the story of his life and sign autographs from fans. For more information, visit http://www.tampagatorclub.com.

Photo Credit: Doug Benc/Getty Images

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Austin Rivers – finally – drops Florida from list

Just over five months after decommitting from the Florida Gators, the team which he promised to play for as a freshman in high school, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has completely dropped them from his recruitment list.

At the time of his decommitment, Rivers called attending Florida “still a very possible option for me,” noting that he made the decision in order to open his eyes to other choices. When Rivers made it clear a day later that he wanted to go to a “program where it’s the big stage,” explaining that he committed to the Gators “right after they won two national championships when they were prime time,” it became obvious his eyes had wandered elsewhere.

Especially considering, just six months earlier, Rivers was not even wavering in his commitment, at least according to his father and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “[Florida is] where he wants to go. He’s going to Florida,” Doc said at the time. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there. He’s a Florida kid.’’

From the get go, word was that Rivers had fallen in love with the Duke Blue Devils. This became apparent a month after his decommitment, when he raved about Duke’s ability to develop players, calling the Blue Devils “the lead school for me right now.”

In a conversation with Scout.com on Wednesday, Rivers officially ruled Florida out. “I have my three schools: It’s Kansas, North Carolina and Duke,” he said. “I’m planning to visit all three of them. Some of them I’ll go alone and some I’ll go with my family. […] Basically those are the three schools that I really like. I like their style of play, their success and that they win and they get guys to the next level.”

Photo Credit: ESPN Rise

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Bradley Beal reaffirms his commitment to Florida

When five-star 2011 shooting guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) decommitted from the Florida Gators in April, fans and skeptics began assuming the worst – that fellow five-star SG Bradley Beal (St. Louis, MO) would follow suit and leave the program. Instead, Rivers’ departure has maintained Beal’s commitment to Florida, perhaps even strengthening it.

“It’s still solid as I know of right now,” Beal told Rivals last week. “I still talk to coach [Billy] Donovan every week and talk to the rest of the staff pretty much every week so I’m still solid with them. I like their style of play really. I found a system that really fits me best. The offense is great and I like the defense because it’s full court and it’s always up and down.”

Rivers’ decommitment and naming of the Duke Blue Devils as his new leader was not surprising and most consider his chances of rejoining the Gators’ class as slim. However, his decision has also propelled Beal – a top five recruit in the nation in his own right – into the limelight as the prize of Florida’s 2011 recruiting session.

Beal is currently competing with the USA Basketball Men’s U-17 National Team and scored 29 points on nine-of-18 shooting while going five-for-nine from downtown and a perfect six-for-six from the line in a loss to Russia’s U-18 team on Sunday in Lithuania.

Photo Credit: Wiley Price/The St. Louis American

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FOUR BITS: Rivers, Pouncey, baseball, Dixon

1 » Five-star 2011 guard recruit Austin Rivers decommitted from the Florida Gators on April 8 and named the Duke Blue Devils his new leader a month later on May 5. He went in-depth on why he made this decision just a week ago, but now his AAU coach – Therion Joseph of Each 1 Teach 1 – is adding some fuel to the movement away from Florida and to Duke. “Florida is obviously a very good program but basketball is just one of their sports,” Joseph told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog. “Duke sells out every game and Florida is fighting to get half their students there. He likes to play with a bulls-eye on his back. He plays better with a bulls-eye. He wants to play at a school that is on ESPN every day, kind of like Notre Dame in football.” Once Rivers decommmitted, OGGOA believed he was all but gone from the Gators for good – now it is looking like they may even be falling out of his top five. To Joseph’s credit, attendance last year was embarassing.

2 » New Pittsburgh Steelers center/guard Maurkice Pouncey sat down with WTAE ABC 4 in Pittsburgh, PA, to discuss his transition to the NFL “This team here is just like college – family here, there aren’t any individuals,” Pouncey said. “Everybody pulls together, so it kind of feels like Florida.” Obviously he is looking forward to getting on the field and competing, but Pouncey is also anxiously awaiting one more perk of playing in the NFL. “Oh man, I can’t wait for that first paycheck, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I’m kind of living the college life still with no money, but whenever that first paycheck comes in, it will be amazing.” You can watch the entire interview by clicking here.

3 » No. 4/5 Florida baseball (38-12, 20-7 SEC) and the No. 6/7 South Carolina Gamecocks (42-11, 20-7 SEC) begin a three-game series on Thursday that will ultimately decide the Southeastern Conference’s 2010 regular season champion. Tied atop the standings, the weekend road series’ pitching match-ups are as follows: Thursday – sophomore Alex Panteliodis (8-2, 3.34 ERA) vs. senior Blake Cooper (10-0, 3.01 ERA); Friday – freshman Hudson Randall (6-3, 2.96 ERA) vs. junior Sam Dyson (5-4, 3.79 ERA); Saturday – freshman Brian Johnson (5-2, 3.53 ERA) vs. TBA. The Gators have won eight of their last nine conference series and are 10-time conference champions (last in 2005). Saturday’s game – perhaps the decider – will air live on Sun Sports at 4:00 p.m.

4 » Former Florida assistant basketball coach Nate Dixon, who was a member of head coach Billy Donovan’s Gators staff from 2003-05, has been hired by the Wyoming Cowboys to a similar assistant position.

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Austin Rivers raves about, names Duke as leader

Speaking with Rivals.com on Tuesday, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers named the Duke Blue Devils as his new leader while barely mentioning that the Florida Gators were even left in the picture for his services next year.

“I want to go to a school where I can fit in and play well,” Rivers told Rivals’ Jerry Meyer. “Duke and North Carolina run a similar offense and like to get up and down the court. Florida runs some too, but their offense is different. They like to slow it down and make more passes. That’s fine, but that’s really not me.”

“I also want to work on my defense and become a better all-around player. I like how Duke picks up their man full court, and Duke does a great job developing their players. Duke is the lead school for me right now.”

A long-time Gators commit and life-long Florida resident, Rivers appears to be looking to the state of North Carolina for his basketball future.

Photo Credit: ESPN Rise

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Austin Rivers decommits, opens up recruitment

In a decision that has seemingly been coming for quite some time, five-star 2011 guard recruit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has officially decommitted from the Florida Gators and decided to open up his recruitment.

“I have reopened my recruitment as of last night,” Rivers told TheDevilsDen.com [paid subscription required]. “I have decommitted to Florida at this time. I still really like them, but I needed to go ahead and reopen things right now. Right now I’m looking at three schools: Duke, Florida and North Carolina. I may open it up a little more later on, but right now it’s just going to be those three programs. I have a long history with both Duke and Florida. North Carolina is trying to recruit me as well. So, we’ll see what happens.”

There should be no question that the Duke Blue Devils’ recent success in winning the 2010 NCAA Championship made some impact on Rivers’ decision. Nevertheless, he claims his affection for Florida is unwavering.

“It’s only right to look at other schools just to compare,” Rivers told the Orlando Sentinel. “I still love Florida the same. Coach Donovan, he respects it. I still have the same relationship. They didn’t do anything.”

“When people hear the word de-commitment, they think I’m not going there anymore, but Florida’s still a very possible option for me. This process will help me see where I’m at with Florida.”

OGGOA will continue to stay on top of Rivers’ recruitment as more information is made available and he nears a final decision.

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

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