TWO BITS: Brown’s search, Donovan’s honor

1 » Looking for a new home after being cut outright by the Chicago Bears, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is making the rounds. Visiting Tuesday with the New Orleans Saints, Brown has also scheduled a meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. With the Saints, Brown would likely receive a starting job should he be amenable to their contract offer.

2 » From OGGOA on Oct. 14, 2009:

University of Florida men’s basketball head coach Billy Donovan will be honored with the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching Award” on April [9,] 2010. This award recognizes successful coaches who exemplify Wooden’s high standards of integrity on the court. Winners are selected based on character, success, student-athlete graduation rate and coaching philosophy. Donovan will be one of only four active coaches who have both guided teams to multiple NCAA National Championship titles (20006, 2007) and received this honor. The others are the Duke Blue Devils’ Mike Krzyzweski (4), North Carolina Tar Heels’ Roy Williams (2) and Connecticut Huskies’ Jim Calhoun (2). Donovan is 333-139 (.706) in 14 seasons as coach of the Gators with 12 consecutive 20-win seasons, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances and three SEC Championships.

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Florida Gators’ One (Two) Shining Moment(s)

On the eve of the 2010 NCAA Championship between the Duke Blue Devils and Butler Bulldogs, OGGOA thought it would be a good time to take a look at the Florida Gators‘ back-to-back National Championship victories in 2006 and 2007. Enjoy.

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Coach K speaks on meeting with Urban Meyer

PART I: Urban Meyer learns about recovery from Coach K

This weekend, OGGOA told you Duke Blue Devils head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer met at some point over the last few months to discuss returning to coaching after taking a leave of absence. Like Meyer did after last the 2010 Sugar Bowl at the end of the season, Krzyzewski took some time off after his team’s 1994-95 campaign due to back issues and an intense level of exhaustion.

Speaking with the media Sunday, Krzyzewski touched on the conversation the two coaches had, explaining that he told Meyer that there is nothing wrong with taking time off to rest and recharge your batteries.

“My athletic director, Kevin White, is really good friends with Urban Meyer. He had suggested when that occurred, he said, ‘Why don’t you give him a call?’ So I gave him a call. I think the main thing we talked is that he wasn’t the only guy who, you know, that kind of stuff can happen to. I think it happens to a lot of people, whether you’re in sport or business, and you haven’t done anything wrong by feeling that way. The main thing I told him was not to make decisions while you’re feeling [tired or sick]; to feel better and then make decisions, whatever that means. Getting away, counseling, whatever it means. He actually came up to Duke about a month later. He was doing a physical there. I got a chance to talk to him for a little bit. You know, I didn’t call him to tell him about press relations about a month ago, but showed me he may have had his vigor back. Showed me, he’s back quicker than I thought he would ever be back. […] If you follow the people around you that you trust and love, you know, when it goes against sometimes what you think at that moment, you’re more apt to be successful.”

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Urban Meyer learns about recovery from Coach K

PART II: Coach K speaks on meeting with Urban Meyer

Duke Blue Devils head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer have something unique in common aside from each being at the top of their game coaching-wise. Like Meyer did after last the 2010 Sugar Bowl at the end of the season, Krzyzewski took a leave of absence from his team after its 1994-95 campaign due to back issues and an intense level of exhaustion.

Speaking to the media after practice Friday for the first time in over two weeks, Meyer told reporters that he sought out and met with Krzyzewski recently to discuss his return to coaching from a leave of absence he took to deal with his own health issues.

“I did meet with Coach Krzyzewski. I went up there and talked to him for a little while. I didn’t really meet with many guys [during my leave of absence], just my closest friends. He actually went through something where he had some kind of health issue that he dealt with and actually took a year off. And I think the biggest thing I learned from him — without giving it much detail — is he surrounded himself with a little pack of people he really trusts. If you look at his staff, they’re all former players and they’re all people [he can trust]. And he can do that because it’s such a small staff. I think that’s important, to get that little foxhole mentality where you’re with the guys who care about you and you care about them.”

This appears to be advice Meyer needed, especially after losing his defensive coordinator (twice), secondary coach, wide receivers coach and running backs coach all within a few weeks of each other. He has raved about their respective replacements – Teryl Austin, Zach Azzanni and Stan Drayton – and seems to have already maintained a solid comfort level with his new staff.

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FOUR BITS: Rivers, Denson, Thompson, Haden

OGGOA STORY UPDATE » Assistant basketball coach Richard Pitino has interviewed for the Iona head coaching job, per FOX Sports.

1 » A week ago, OGGOA reported that the North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida Gators 2011 five-star guard commit Austin Rivers shared a mutual interest in each other. Now, Rivers’ consideration of UNC seems to have increased, and he is starting to lean away from Florida in favor of opening his recruitment back up. “It would be Duke, Florida and [North] Carolina,” Rivers told CarolinaBlue.com this week. “And just because I might open it back up doesn’t mean that Florida wouldn’t be one of my schools, because they would. I like Florida – a lot.” Should Rivers decommit in order to open up his recruitment, gaining his commitment back against the likes of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels would seemingly be tough for Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

2 » Tuesday, OGGOA mentioned three-star 2010 point guard recruit Chris Denson (Midland, GA) as a prospect Florida is going after to help fill out its incoming recruiting class. Denson spoke with GAVarsity.com Thursday and said that the Gators are one of the teams leading for his services. “I’d say the top of my list are Western Kentucky and Florida […] they’re closer to home and that’s a big part,” Denson said. The site does not list UF as having offered Denson a scholarship yet, instead pointing out that he has already received them from WKU, Buffalo and UNC-Greensboro. Perhaps an offer is all it would take to acquire the 6’2”, 180 lbs. PG.

Two more BITS on Deonte Thompson and Joe Haden…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rivers, Denson, Thompson, Haden

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TWO BITS: UNC wants Rivers, Shipman’s transfer

1 » Florida Gators fans have grown nervous that five-star 2011 guard commitment Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) may end up changing his mind and picking the Duke Blue Devils rather than playing basketball in Gainesville, FL. According to Evan Daniels of Scout, the Gators now also have the North Carolina Tar Heels to worry about. Apparently head coach Roy Williams is headed down to watch Rivers workout and the junior will likely give the school permission to recruit him. Though he remains committed to UF (something that could change at any time), other schools are entering the mix and obviously piquing his interest.

2 » Now that sophomore guard Ray Shipman has decided to transfer from Florida, several “high-major schools” are vying for his services according to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald. Shipman’s high school coach, Mark Lieberman, told Goodman that he has already been contacted by a number of teams including Shipman’s hometown Miami Hurricanes, which would likely be near the top of his list.

Extra Bit » It did not take ESPN’s Page 2 long to take a crack at the Gators and head coach Urban Meyer for his actions after practice Wednesday. Patrick Hruby released a copy of Meyer’s new media policy for journalists covering the team. This is a parody.

Some of the funnier excerpts:

“DO NOT … Question innocent and delicate student-athletes who, like newborn fawns, cannot be expected to hold opinions and/or speak for themselves, nor understand adult concepts such as context and consequences”

“Media members that do not adhere to the above guidelines will be removed from team practice, barred from games and forced to live with the knowledge that they are, in fact, bad girls and guys.”

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Austin Rivers reaffirms UF commitment…sort of

Five-star shooting guard recruit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), a Florida Gators commitment for over a year, spoke to The Gainesville Sun about his commitment status after his team won the semifinals of the FHSAA Class 6A state tournament Friday night.

Rivers, who has also been entertaining an offer from the Duke Blue Devils, claims that his recent trip to Durham, NC, was mostly for due diligence.

“Right now, if I had to [sign] somewhere, it would be Florida,” Rivers said. “I went up there to see stuff. It’s always been Florida, Florida, Florida. I went on a visit to see [somewhere different].”

Already settled with the Gators is his sister, Callie Rivers, currently a junior outside hitter on Florida’s volleyball team. Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Austin’s father, has spoken highly of Gators head coach Billy Donovan and the Florida basketball program on numerous occasions.

Rumors have swirled over the last few months that Rivers was planning to drop the Gators and commit to the Blue Devils instead. This was fueled by the relative success of each team. However, he suggests that is not the case whatsoever.

“I haven’t told anybody I’ve decommitted from Florida,” Rivers said. “I don’t think [fans] should be worried. At the end of the day, I’ll do what’s best.”

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SIX BITS: NCAA bubble, PGA, Brantley, Brown

1 » After a huge upset win over the No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers last Tuesday, the Florida Gators looked to be squarely in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. A few days later, the Gators found themselves back on the bubble falling to the Georgia Bulldogs on the road. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach looks at what happened and what the team needs to do from this point forward.

2 » Four former Florida golfers were at the top of the leaderboard going into the final round of the PGA‘s Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday. Mark Calcavecchia, Matt Every, Camilo Villegas and Chris Couch were all in the hunt for the tournament title, but each wound up falling short in the end. Couch finished T4 (-13), Villegas was T8 (-11) with Every and Calcavecchia shot a final-day 74 to fall to T43 (-7).

Four more BITS on Brantley, Brown, tennis and baseball…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NCAA bubble, PGA, Brantley, Brown

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