TWO BITS: Will advances, Dowling resigns

1 » Action continued in the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Saturday with Florida Gators women’s tennis fielding a singles competitor and doubles pairing.

No. 1 Allie Will (junior) def. No. 6 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (Texas A&M) – 6-3, 6-3

No. 10 Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (Tennessee) def. No. 22 Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (junior/senior) – 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3)

Will’s victory advances her to the Final Four round of the 2012 NCAA Individual Championships on Sunday at noon where she will face No. 3 Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) whom she defeated 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 earlier this season in team competition. The winner will take on either No. 5 Mallory Burdette (Stanford) or No. 13 Zsofi Susanyi (California) in the national title game on Monday.

2 » Florida athletics lost a head coach for the second-straight day after women’s golf’s Jan Dowling resigned from her position on Saturday. “It truly has been an honor to coach at the University of Florida for the past three seasons, and I want to thank Mr. [Jeremy] Foley and the entire administration for this opportunity,” Dowling said in a school release. “I am very proud of what these young women have accomplished, and feel very fortunate to be involved with such a great athletic association. My decision was extremely difficult, however, I have to make the right choices for my personal life too. I will cherish my time at Florida, and wish nothing but the very best for the future of the program and the entire athletic association.”

The women’s golf program made steady progress in Dowling’s three seasons at Florida improving from 10th in the Southeastern Conference in 2010 to fourth in 2012. The Gators did not participate in the NCAA Championships in her first year at the helm but finished tied for 10th in 2011 and alone in 12th in 2012. Downling also recruited and coached the 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year in Camilla Hedberg. A statement from Foley indicates that Dowling’s decision was her own and that she was not relieved by the university. “I was surprised with Jan’s decision, but I respect her decision to do what is best for her. We wish her the best in whatever her future holds,” he said. Foley and Florida announced the resignation of head men’s tennis coach Andy Jackson on Friday in a move that, while titled a resignation, appeared to be at the behest of Foley.

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FOUR BITS: baseball, Hunter, Every, Parsons

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (31-9, 11-7 SEC) won their second-straight weekend series on Sunday with a 6-3 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs (24-17, 8-10 SEC) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida won the series opener 3-2 in 16 innings on Friday before dropping Saturday’s contest 5-3 and needing a victory Sunday to clinch the series. The Gators started with a 1-0 lead via a solo homer by junior catcher Mike Zunino (2/4, HR, RBI, 2 R) in the bottom of the second, tied the game 2-2 in the fourth thanks to a RBI double by senior center fielder Daniel Pigott and fell behind 3-2 in the top of the sixth after the Bulldogs rallied. However, Florida would match and exceed that rally in the bottom frame, scoring four runs including three coming from a homer to right by Pigott (3/3, HR, 4 RBI, R, BB) to take a 6-3 lead.

Junior right-hander Hudson Randall (3.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K) got the start for the Gators but struggled with his command in the fourth. Florida’s bullpen allowed two more earned runs over the next 2.2 innings but was able to close out the contest with 3.1 scoreless innings including junior left-hander Steven Rodriguez striking out three of the five batters he faced. Senior RHP Greg Larson improved to 6-0 with the victory, and junior RHP Austin Maddox notched his 11th save of the season.

2 » No. 1 Gators gymnastics may have come up just short of winning the overall national championship on Saturday but that did not stop freshman Kytra Hunter from picking up her second individual 2012 NCAA Championship on Sunday. Hunter, who won the NCAA all-around title (first in school history) on Friday with a final score of 39.725, captured the NCAA vault title on Sunday with a score of 9.8750. Hunter also came within a hair (0.0125) of taking the floor exercise championship as well.

3 » Speaking of heartbreaking losses, former Florida golfer Matt Every (-7) finished two spots back of Ben Curtis (-9) in the 2012 Valero Texas Open on Sunday, losing out on the title and a $1.116 million championship purse. Every did, however, bring home $545,600 for tying for second place and was not the only former Gators golfer to win big money as Brian Gay (-5) tied for fourth and banked $244,125 and Billy Horschel (+14) came in 75th and won $12,090.

4 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons – averaging 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists while starting 56-of-62 games as a rookie so far – was recently profiled in the video below. Hours after this initial posting Parsons posted one of the best lines of his young NBA career, scoring a personal-best 23 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) with six rebounds, two assists, four steals and a block.

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Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah continues to play a major role for his team, posting a line of 20 points and 17 rebounds (13 offensive) on Sunday night to help lead Chicago past Detroit in overtime. Noah now has 21 double-doubles on the season though that was his first in the month of April.

» Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford told OGGOA on Friday that it is “realistic” to believe that he will be able to return to his team for the playoffs after tearing his pectoral early in the season. Horford, who has missed almost the entire shortened season, said he doubts he will be at 100 percent when the playoffs begin because he will not have the proper time to practice and condition. However, he hopes to be able to contribute in some way and help his team win.

» Unlike Horford, Golden State Warriors F/C David Lee will not see a basketball court again this year. Lee, whose Warriors are out of the playoffs and vying for a better draft slot, will be benched for the remainder of the season after injuring his groin last week. He was already dealing with a hip injury and will be rested mostly for precautionary reasons. Lee averaged nearly a double-double this season, posting totals of 20.1 points and 9.6 boards per game.

» Julie Quittner of Gainesville Television Network sent over a copy of her interview with former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey that aired on Friday. In the piece, Quittner asks Rainey directly about the allegations made recently in a Sporting News column about former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Below are a few standout questions/answers from the interview:

Did you see the incident when Billy Gonzales was apparently choked by Percy Harvin at practice and apparently he wasn’t disciplined for it? Is that a situation where maybe guys like that got away with certain things?
Rainey: “I heard that story from players; I ain’t never saw it and just like I said, players like that…certain players even the coaches are scared of and there are certain players that the players were scared of but you can’t just answer a question like that because they’re good in sports and you just can’t do nothing about it.

What do you mean by scared?
Rainey: “Scared, like a player if you’re scared of another player…just like that. Coaches can be scared of players.”

What do you have to say to the fact that [safety Bryan Thomas] said at one point that the program got “out of control”?
Rainey: “It wasn’t ever ‘out of control’ they just were scared of certain players and when the younger guys can’t do nothing but watch and see, you’re scared for your life too, so you just got to be quiet because if you say the wrong thing, you might get beat up from him or get in trouble by a coach.”

Do you remember incidents here that happened with [those elite players] specifically that you can remember them getting special treatment or something being covered up for them?
Rainey: “I don’t remember everything being covered up, but I just know a lot of stuff that happened through my college career…like you see people doing bad stuff off the field, fights, getting in trouble in school, whatever it is but if they made it to the NFL, they made it. It’s too late now.”

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

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TWO BITS: Hamilton’s commitment, Tebow out

1 » One of two schools vying for the services of five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton (Ramsey, NJ), the Florida Gators were thought to be behind the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in contention for his commitment. The New Jersey boy was expected to stay in-state and play for Rutgers but his thoughts may be in the process of changing when it was reported Thursday morning that the Scarlet Knights’ head coach, Greg Schiano, is on his way to take the same job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hamilton has said that Florida and Rutgers were his final two and planned to make an announcement sometime before National Signing Day on Feb. 1. He was supposed to meet with Schiano on Wednesday, but it is unknown if that visit took place.

Should the Gators miss out on Hamilton and/or five-star athlete Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, GA), Florida could offer a scholarship to three-star DE Junior Gnonkonde (Lakeland, GA). According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, UF has been calling about the former Georgia Tech commitment but will only have room for him in their class if they miss out on one or both of Hamilton and Harvey-Clemons.

2 » Originally scheduled to participate in the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been forced to withdraw from the event due to the multiple injuries he suffered against the New England Patriots in the second round of the NFL Playoffs. Though Tebow does not need surgery and is expected to make a full recovery, he will not be able to participate in the event from Feb. 9-12. An avid golfer, Tebow was undoubtedly looking forward to the event, and the tournament’s directors were certainly hoping he would be able to play as well.

Extra BIT » No. 5 Florida lacrosse will begin its 2012 campaign with an exhibition match Thursday against England at 6:30 p.m. The Gators are looking to build on consecutive impressive years and hope to win their first national championship in the program’s third season of existence.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, PGA, Caldwell

1 » In his season-ending meeting with the media, Denver Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway gave quarterback Tim Tebow his biggest endorsement thus far even if it was not completely what Tebow’s fans may have wanted. “Tim is the starting quarterback going into training camp,” Elway said Monday, according to the Denver Post, failing to go further than that designation. “He made great strides. He has earned the right to be the starter going into training camp next year.” Elway also admitted, as expected, that Denver will look to add some competition for Tebow at the quarterback position because the Broncos’ “passing game was not where we want it to be.” As he mentioned during the season, Elway plans to work with Tebow in a number of areas including in the film room and on his footwork, drops and timing with receivers. He expands on these comments in the video below:

2 » Continuing his stellar play this year Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons had yet another solid game Monday, again earning the start and scoring eight points (on 4-of-7 shooting) with eight boards (three offensive), four assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. He also had two impressive plays in the game including one put-back slam and another dunk over Washington’s 7’0″ center JaVale McGee, which you can see below:

In related NBA news, center Marreese Speights had his best performance with his brand new team the Memphis Grizzlies, registering a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards. Speights went head-to-head with Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah, who has been struggling with a hand problem this season and had just two points and five rebounds. Memphis beat Chicago 102-86 on Monday.

3 » Former Gators golfer Matt Every, who led the 2012 Sony Open for two days, wound up finishing tied for sixth in the event…with fellow former Florida golfer Brian Gay and two other players. Every and Gay (-10) each ended the tournament three strokes back of the leader (Johnson Wagner, -13) and were two of three former Gators in the top-13 with Chris DiMarco finishing -8 over four rounds. As OGGOA mentioned over the weekend, Every recently opened up about a marijuana arrest. This video provides more on that and includes a discussion he had while leading after the second round.

4 » According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, it is not likely that former Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell will be back with the Cincinnati Bengals next season. Caldwell, who brought in 37 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns last season, is now a free agent and is unlikely to be retained by the team. Caldwell himself is probably looking for a better opportunity as well and may find that with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Bengals’ former offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, has taken that same position with the Jaguars.

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FOUR BITS: Every, Tebow, Dickerson, Petrick

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every, back on the PGA Tour after recovering from a broken finger and being reinstated following a three-month suspension received for being arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge (marijuana), took a two shot lead at the 2012 Sony Open on Friday thanks to him finishing his round with a 6-under 64. Every said that a “perfect storm” of bad luck led to his arrest and that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He told the Associated Press that though he did not smoke marijuana that night and still does not now, he will not stop hanging out with his friends because of one unfortunate incident. “I have great friends, man. If one of my friends likes to smoke marijuana every now and then, I’m not going to say, `Well, you can’t be my friend anymore,’” Every said. “Honestly, man, I know more people who smoke marijuana than who don’t smoke marijuana. I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say, but it’s the truth.” He added that he “feels like a rookie” playing this year and hopes to add to his lead when he tees off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ ThePostGame caught up with longtime NFL scout and executive Ken Herock, which the website describes as “the one NFL scout who believed in Tim Tebow,” to discuss the Denver Broncos quarterback and how he has performed so far in the first 15 starts of his career. “I spent five hours with him,” Herock said, “and I knew he was special.” He continued, “He’s just like a coach. He can see things. He’s not particularly fast. He’s not particularly quick. He has good vision when he runs. He sees the holes when he runs. He’s got a special gift for seeing things on the field. He has a sixth-sense vision. [...] There are so many things you can do with him. There are things you can do with him that they did years ago. When Len Dawson was the quarterback at Kansas City they had the moving pocket. They could so something like that with Tebow.” Herock also said that Tebow’s arm strength is not an issue and even though his throwing motion is a concern for some, it can be worked on and tweaked.

3 » The Nationwide Tour, the developmental arm of the PGA, recently published a list of the top 20 players to watch in 2012 and one former Florida golfer, Bubba Dickerson found his way on the list at No. 17. Dickerson jumped 68 spots on the Nationwide money list from 2010 to 2011 and finished 46th last year while posting three top 10 showings in his first six tournaments. However, “he missed 11 of 12 cuts [at the end of the year] to take himself out of a position to get a PGA Tour card for 2012,” according to tour. “I’m looking forward to being able to plan my schedule because last year I started out with conditional status so in that respect I think things should go a little better for me,” he said. “I just need to be more consistent on my chipping and putting.”

4 » Former Gators runner Sara Petrick, who has continued competing since leaving Florida, has qualified for the women’s trails for the 2012 London Olympics but must shave 23 minutes off of her marathon time in order to earn a spot on the team. Though she knows the chances are slim, Petrick is just happy to be “competing against the best” runners in the country. Petrick is looking to run the marathon on Saturday in a total time of 2:45.28, which is just over six minutes per mile. “To give you an idea of how fast that pace is, you have to turn the speed on a treadmill to 9.7 and run 26 miles at that speed to reach that time,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. Petirck considers herself “just a novice when it comes to marathon running” but that does not mean she’s not happy with what she’s been able to accomplish up to this point. “One of my proudest moments was knowing I had a qualifying time to compete in the trails,” Petrick said.

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4 Tebow BITS: Tebowie, Tebowing, comics, golf

1 » Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the which airs weeknights at 12:35 a.m. on NBC, may very well be the best late night talk show going these days. Fallon, known for his pitch-perfect impressions and solid comedic timing, created a new character Thursday night/Friday morning named “Tebowie,” a combination of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and singer-songwriter David Bowie. In the clip below, Fallon (as Tebowie) performs a remixed version of Bowie’s hit song “Space Oddity.”

2 » While there have been Tebowing pictures floating around the internet featuring a seemingly never-ending number of individuals, from fans and teammates to celebrities and politicians, being able to find one with a cat mimicking Tebow’s now-famous pose is…well…just a little extra special.

Look we all know the cat is probably just scratching the top of its head with its paw but honestly who really cares at this point. This is a cat Tebowing. The picture is courtesy of Anna Chan, who sent it in to the NBC Sports blog Off the Bench.

3 » Two Tebow comics were sent in by readers over the last two days, each dealing with fans and pundits who seem to dislike the former Broncos’ signal caller. Check them out.

4 » Golfer Tiger Woods announced on Monday that he plans to participate in the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a charity golf tournament that takes place Feb. 9-12. According to GlobalGolfPost.com, “a highly placed source” at the event said they are “strongly considering” inviting Tebow to play in the tournament with hopes of pairing him with Woods. While the event has a ways to go in order to make this happen, Tebow is an avid golfer who can drive the ball far, enjoys playing and likes charitable causes. All he would have to do is agree to play and the tournament would have to work on convincing Woods to accept the pairing.

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FOUR BITS: Dunlap qualifies, Cosby on Tebow, Donovan’s adjustments, Reynolds commits

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Scott Dunlap earned his PGA Tour card on Monday by finishing Qualifying School tied for 18th with a final score of -10 (422). Dunlap, 48, has earned $2.7 million playing in 184 events in his PGA career. He’s made 96 cuts, finished in the top 25 a total of 33 times, finished in the top 10 on 13 occasions and has never finished an event higher than third place (three times).

2 » Comedian Billy Cosby, who will be in Denver, CO for a comedy show on New Year’s Eve, released a YouTube message Monday promoting the event while complementing the Denver Broncos and quarterback Tim Tebow. You can check it out below:

3 » Florida basketball is getting it done from long range so far this season, and junior guard Kenny Boynton is leading the way. However, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Glockner, the Gators may not be able to continue with this philosophy throughout the remainder of the season. “Gone, too, appears to be the offensive approach from last season, where Florida took almost 70 percent of its field goal attempts from two-point range,” he writes. “Now with five shooters in their primary seven-man rotation, the Gators have thus far been one of the nation’s most three-point-dependent teams, taking 43.5 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Of their top six shot-takers, only [Patric] Young has taken fewer threes than twos. Everyone else is letting it fly.”

He continues, “Seven games into a campaign is far too early to draw any concrete conclusions about a team and its style of play, but what Florida has served up thus far — whether against Stetson or Syracuse — seems like a short-term salve rather than season-long salvation. The Gators certainly have the talent to make it to New Orleans, but they’re probably going to have to find a slightly different route by which to get there.”

4 » Florida track and field added another dynamic athlete this week as sprinter Robin Reynolds has committed to play for the Gators beginning next season. Reynolds, who hopes to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, currently runs for Miami Jackson Senior High School and “owns the most state championships of any Miami-Dade County female track and field athlete [of] all-time,” the Miami Herald reports. Both of Reynolds’s parents went to Florida, and she chose to follow in their footsteps. “I wanted to go somewhere close enough to them, but still far enough to go away to school,” she said. “I grew up a Gator fan, and I bleed orange and blue. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop at the next level and I felt [Florida] gave me the best chance of doing that.”

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