Billy Donovan wins gold with USA Basketball in 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship

For the third time in as many summers, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan led USA Basketball to a gold medal as his under-18 team defeated Canada 113-79 in the finals of the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Donovan, who is now 19-0 all-time in international competition following Tuesday’s victory, also directed the under-18 team to gold in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in his first stint as a national team coach. He then led the under-19 team to a first-place finish in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.

His team this year went 5-0 in the tournament, defeating America’s opponents by an average of 52.2 points per game. Donovan’s three United States national teams combined have won their 19 games by an average of 43.7 points.

“I’m just honored,” Donovan said after the gold medal win. “I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you’re only as good as your players. I’ve been very fortunate that in the past three years; I’ve coached some great guys, great kids, and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. They bought in, they listened, and they’re the ones who really played well. I’m just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride.”

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Donovan, Zunino

1 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey probably wishes he could get a do-over for the last year of his life. He has been cast in a negative light in the public eye for his support of former Florida Gators teammate Aaron Hernandez and participation in bullying incidents against Jonathan Martin, showed no remorse for either and also got subpoenad during the 2013 season because of some connections with Hernandez. Now, Pouncey will be sidelined for three months or longer after tearing the labrum in his hip during organized team activities. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pouncey underwent surgery on Monday. He will miss the entire preseason and likely four 2014 regular-season contests as he is expected to be out of all of September. Luckily for Pouncey and the Dolphins, Miami has its bye week at the start of October, meaning he could return for the team’s fifth game on Oct. 12 after nearly four full months on the mend. Life without Pouncey will be tough for the Dolphins, just like it was last year for the Pittsburgh Steelers without his brother Maurkice Pouncey. In a way, Mike Pouncey’s injury could get Miami to realize how important it is to sign him to a long-term extension.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Harvin, Donovan, Zunino

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TWO BITS: Young & NBA Draft, Donovan & USA

1 » In his first two-round mock ($) of the 2014 NBA Draft, ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford predicts that Florida Gators center Patric Young will go off the board with the last pick of the first round (No. 30 overall) to the San Antonio Spurs. Ford explains: “The Spurs love players that are ‘over themselves.’ That’s a perfect description for Young. He does all the little things, rebounds, defense and uses his toughness to get buckets. He won’t do anything spectacular, but is NBA ready right now.”

Young, whose favorite team is San Antonio, worked out for the Spurs on May 30 and wrote about his visit in his exclusive Path to the Draft blog on OnlyGators.com.

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FOUR BITS: USA, Zunino, Whitson, Phillips

1 » USA Basketball’s under-18 team made a record-setting debut at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Friday, taking down Uruguay 156-58 on Friday evening. The Americans led 44-15 after one quarter and 84-26 at halftime before pulling off the 98-point victory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to USA Basketball, head coach Billy Donovan’s team set four team national records in the event including most points scored (156), largest margin of victory (98 points), most field goals made (59) and most assists (40). “I think the one thing we’ve been talking about is trying to play unselfishly, and they did that tonight. Forty assists. They were really unselfish; they played well together,” Donovan said after the game. “I was really pleased coming out of the half, and I feel we got off to a great start at the second half and then it kind of carried on. I thought overall, their willingness to pass and share the basketball was special.” Next up for the United States is Mexico; the teams will square off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in preliminary round action. USA will then take on Argentina on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the preliminary round.

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6 BITS: Muschamp, Lee, Easley, Donovan, Green

1 » The Florida Gators football team took a break from the offseason workout grind by going paintballing and playing other games like cornhole on Thursday. “It’s important for our players and coaches to get together off the field, outside the stadium and the weight room,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We thought this was an excellent opportunity for our team to spend some time together in a fun, team-building environment.” It is the second time since Muschamp took over the program that the Gators went on a paintball trip as they last went on the outing in April 2011. Florida’s players seemed to have a great time on the trip with many sharing their excitement via various social media outlets. By all accounts, the Gators have spent a large portion of spring practice and the early summer working on team chemistry and the concept of having each other’s backs. Certainly a fun outing like paintball will only help UF reach its offseason goal.

2 » Though still under contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward Kevin Love is one of the hottest names on the trade market this NBA offseason. One team that has expressed great interest in love is the Golden State Warriors, which are apparently in constant talks with Minnesota to find a package of players that could net them one of the best frontcourt players in the league. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, power forward David Lee is a key piece of a deal that could send Love to the Warriors, though no trade has been worked out as of press time. Should Lee get shipped off to the Timberwolves, he would team up once again with former Gators F Corey Brewer; the two were last teammates at Florida in 2004-05. Lee nearly averaged a double-double for Golden State last season, posting 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He will play his 10th season in 2014-15, and Minnesota would be his third team in that span.

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FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

1 » Teams understandably praise the players they draft, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly went above and beyond simply sharing the standard compliments when discussing Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins, his fourth-round pick, after making the selection. “Extremely high football intelligence,” he said of Watkins. “He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you’re drafting guys, you’re trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level. He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially [on day three]. He’s one of those guys that we were really excited about [Friday] night, where if we didn’t get a great offer then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen [with the first pick of the fourth round].” Watkins will start out at cornerback for the Eagles, according to general manager Howie Roseman (a Florida alumnus), but could play safety down the road as he develops and potentially adds more weight to his frame.

2 » The New England Patriots jumped at the opportunity to draft Gators guard Jon Halapio in the sixth round on Saturday with head coach Bill Bellichick “a little surprised to see him where he was” still available that late in the draft. While Halapio should make the team and could eventually develop into a starter in New England, he will also help the team’s first-round pick, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, with his transition to the NFL. “It’s good to have people [here] I’ve been around four years in college,” Easley said in his team press conference. “It makes it real comfortable.”

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Donovan returns as USA Basketball U18 coach

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has been retained to continue leading USA Basketball during the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which remains unscheduled without a hosting city as of press time.

Donovan, who is a combined 14-0 as a USA Basketball head coach with gold medals in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, also served as a court coach during the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp. It will be his fourth year working with the organization.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with USA Basketball again this summer,” Donovan said in a release. “I’ve said it before, but anytime you are chosen to represent your country, that is really something special. USA Basketball is an outstanding organization, and I’m looking forward to another challenge at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.”

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Gators Bradley Beal, David Lee make 28-man USA Basketball player pool for 2014-16

Two former Florida Gators have earned spots in USA Basketball’s 28-man player pool for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and 2016 Rio Olympics with Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee officially named to the team by the organization on Thursday morning.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reported all 28 players on Wednesday night, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul are on the team but will not participate in the World Cup. Also joining Beal and Lee will be Kevin Durant, Paul George, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Stephen Curry along with 20 other NBA stars.

Beal, Lee and their teammates could compete over each of the next three summers.

They will first report to Team USA shortly after the conclusion of the 2013-14 NBA season in order to begin practicing ahead of the World Cup, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. Should the United States win the World Cup, it will not have to participate in an international event in the summer of 2015. Either way, the team will come together again ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Continue Reading » Gators Bradley Beal, David Lee make 28-man USA Basketball player pool for 2014-16

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