Austin Rivers raves about, names Duke as leader

Speaking with 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 [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.

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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 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 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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