FOUR BITS: Grant on Donovan, track & field

1 » Like his former boss and close friend did for him a few days ago, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant expressed plenty of positive thoughts and warm wishes toward Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan upon learning he was voted 2011 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. “It’s a great honor – 15 years in the league and the success that he’s enjoyed,” Grant told The Birmingham News. “It’s really, really hard – the expectations were extremely high for his team this year. They may have surpassed those expectations with what they’ve done. […] There is not a more deserving recipient because of the way he approaches what he does and the passion that he has. I’m really happy for him and their program.”

2 » As OGGOA tweeted about Monday, Florida basketball was not the only sport to pull in high praise from the SEC. Gators track and field head coach Mike Holloway was named the 2011 SEC Coach of the Year for his sport on Monday, and junior jumper Christian Taylor earned 2011 SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year honors. Also awarded by the conference were hurdler Eddie Lovett and Cory McGee, who were each named 2011 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year for their respective gender.

3 » The 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships begin on Friday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, TX, and Florida track and field will be represented by 15 student-athletes (13 men, two women) at the event. The Gators men’s team is looking to defend its title after claiming the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship. Sophomore sprinter and defending champion Jeff Demps will compete in the 60-meter dash, while defending champion Taylor will try to once again win the triple jump. Junior Will Claye and sophomore Omar Craddock will also compete in the triple jump. Other Florida athletes participating in the NCAA Indoors include Clay (long jump), junior runner Dumisani Hlaselo (mile), junior Gray Horn (heptathlon), Lovett (60-meter hurdles), McGee (mile), sophomore Tony McQuay (200-meter dash, 400-meter dash), senior Kemal Mesic (shot put), senior Terrell Wilks (60-meter dash). The Gators will also field men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay teams.

4 » Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka, speaking with Chicago Sun-Times, provided his opinion on the future of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Ditka only had good things to convey about the second-year pro. “People talk about the combine, about body fat, 40 times, bench presses, how high you can jump. That’s great, but how do you measure heart?” he said. “People talk about Tim Tebow like he can’t do this or he doesn’t have this throwing skill. But all that matters is can he lead you from Point A to Point B. I like him. You cannot coach character. You cannot coach leadership.”

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FOUR BITS: Top 100, bracketology, SEC loss, track

1 » ESPN college football analyst Joe Schad took some time out to compile a 2010 Top 100 College Football Stars list featuring names you need to know going into next season. Among his 100, Schad listed four Florida Gators: redshirt sophomore quarterback John Brantley (19), freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (54), sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins (77) and redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey (88). Brantley was his eighth of 29 QBs, Debose was his eighth of 15 WRs, Jenkins was seventh of 10 DBs and Rainey was 19th of 21 RBs.

2 » Also from ESPN, bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has released his latest edition, and Florida remains a part of the projection. Lunardi has the Gators even after a close home loss to the No. 13/19 Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday. He lists Florida as a No. 11 seed squaring off against the No. 6-seed Baylor Bears in first-round action in Buffalo, NY.

3 » Competing in 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament first-round action Thursday, the No. 7-seed Gators women’s basketball team (14-16) fell 74-61 to the No. 10-seed Auburn Tigers (15-15). Senior guard Steffi Sorensen led the team with 14 points (12 in the first half), while senior forward Sharielle Smith contributed 11 points.

4 » Three members of Florida’s women’s track and field team were awarded end-of-season honors from the SEC Thursday. Head coach Mike Holloway was named Women’s Coach of the Year, senior jumper Shara Proctor won Women’s Field Athlete of the Year and sprinter Lanie Whittaker shared Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year. The ladies won the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship on Feb. 28.

Bubble Watch » Richmond (23-7), which beat the Gators 56-53 on Dec. 19, took down Dayton (19-10) 60-56. Dayton was on bubble and is now considered out of the running.

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