FOUR BITS: Beal, Mitts, Howard, U.S. Open

1 » Preparing for the 2012 NBA Draft, Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal is up in Chicago, IL training with former college coach Josh Oppenheimer, the same trainer that Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons used one year ago. Beal, who like Parsons also signed with agent Mark Bartelstein of Prioirty Sports, told SLAMonline that he is working on his game in hopes of impressing scouts and being selected as high as possible. “I’m looking to really focus on creating my own shot offensively,” he said. “Just beating guys off of the dribble then finishing with a floater or pull-up in the lane. [I] just have to continue having high IQ for the game, focus in on ball handling and work on creating more space off the dribble.” Ironically enough, Parsons will be in New York, NY on Wednesday representing Houston on stage at the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery. The Rockets only have a 1.81 percent change of receiving a top-three pick (lowest amongst the 13 teams) so it is quite likely that Beal winds up elsewhere.

2 » Former Gators soccer star and current U.S. Women’s National Team defender Heather Mitts (34) told NBC on Sunday that the 2012 London Olympics this summer (her third appearance on the Olympic team) will be the end of the road for her as a soccer player. “Feeling the way I feel, it’s kind of weird to say that, but it’s always been my plan to hopefully play in one last Olympics and step away from the game kind of on my own terms,” she said. “I do love the game, and I am going to miss it, but I also have other things that I want to do. I just feel like I want to go out at the right time.” Mitts seems to excel Olympic years with her best performances coming in 2004 and 2008. Though she started all eight of the United States’ Olympic matches in 2008, she did not play in the 2011 Women’s World Cup and may not step on the pitch this time around either. “Ideally I want for our team to go over there and win gold,” Mitts said. “It would be great to play, but if I don’t play, I’ve been through that once before to be there and be supportive.” Despite her decision to hang up her cleats, Mitts says she is “probably the fittest I’ve ever been,” is completely healthy and still loves playing. “I feel so sharp and strong,” she added. Mitts has made 123 career appearances in the red, white and blue. Check out NBC‘s video interview with Mitts from this week.

3 » In an interview with his new team’s website, Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive tackle Jaye Howard expressed his excitement about finally being in the NFL and playing alongside some guys he grew up watching. “It’s been an unreal experience,” he said. “Walking into the same locker room and seeing Marshawn Lynch – a player that I look up to – and now I’m actually in the same locker room. It’s a great feeling. So I’m just embracing this moment right now.” There were also positive comments directed at Howard from head coach Pete Carroll and defensive line coach Todd Wash. “Jaye Howard showed up. He did some good things. He showed up on pass rush a couple of times. I know Todd mentioned that he was surprised at his quickness. That’s a really good sign,” Carroll said. Wash added, “Jaye is an explosive player. He’s learning that this level is a little bit different once our veterans got here. But we’re very excited about his progress. He’s eager to learn. He wants to know exactly what he can do better. He does a great job in the classroom, too. So we’re really pleased with what we’ve got so far.”

4 » According to The Florida Times-Union, seven former and current Florida golfers “will play in a 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier Monday at Black Diamond Ranch Quarry Course in Lecanto.” Among those players competing will be junior T.J. Vogel, freshman J.D. Tomlinson, redshirt senior Zach Lee and former players Tyson Alexander, Andres Echavarria, Brett Stegmaier and Bank Vongvanij. With the Gators competing for the 2012 NCAA Championship this week, Vogel, Tomlinson and Lee could have a tight window to get into town for the qualifier depending how well Florida does at the event.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Brantley, volleyball, Herring

1 » Writing for ESPN Insider, columnist Chris Sprow makes a case for why Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will indeed be a successful NFL signal caller – whether or not that ends up happening in Mile High. In the piece, Sprow cites quotes from 1986 that were said about Steve Young but are just as applicable to Tebow and uses ESPN‘s advanced metric “QBR” to point out how effective he is each game.

Ultimately, Young struggled and was traded away from Tampa in frustration; he was viewed as a bust. He didn’t become a starter, then a star, for years. Perhaps Tebow also will be traded at some point, a wasted pick, a project for another coach. But there’s also good reason to think that Tebow can be a very good NFL quarterback because, in the same way Tampa once miscalculated on Young, there’s reason to think we haven’t done a good job of accurately deciphering what a quarterback like Tebow can do. [...]

The bottom line is this: If you want to evaluate Tebow as a quarterback, you have to understand that what he lacks as a passer can be made up for by what he brings with his legs. This isn’t a new argument, but it now has additional context. [...]

Orton is a much better passer but a statue in the pocket, costing the Broncos points with sacks — and Tebow’s 82.1 passer rating in 2010 would have been the best among rookies if it had stretched for 16 games. [...] Tebow, were he to start in Week 1, would continue to be as raw a passer as you can find in the NFL. But this unrefined product is a lot better than some believe, and he might even be more valuable than Denver’s other option.

2 » ESPN also takes a look at Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley and in what ways he needs to improve under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis this season. Specifically, he points to Brantley’s first down completion percentage and touch with balls thrown more than 20 yards down the field. Brantley completed passes on first down with a 110.8 efficiency in 2010 (113th in the nation), 28 points lower than the FBS average (138.8). On deep balls, Brantley only completed 20.8 percent of his passes (5-of-24) including only two against Southeastern Conference opponents. It is also noted that 41.7 percent of Brantley’s deep passes were overthrown.

3 » A pair of Florida senior volleyball players, outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and setter/right-side Kelly Murphy, were named to the 2011 Preseason All-SEC Team on Tuesday. The first volleyball players in league history to be named to the preseason All-SEC Team (2009-11, All-SEC First or Second Team (2009, 2010) and SEC All-Freshman Team (2008), the duo hopes to lead their team to another conference championship this season. The Gators are ranked No. 9 nationally in the preseason poll and begin competition at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Aug. 26 against Boston College.

4 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan has officially lost his fourth staffer this offseason. Following the departure of three assistants in the late spring, Donovan’s strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring has decided to leave the Gators to take the director of athletic performance job with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. With Florida for both national championships, Herring is excited about his new opportunity. “I really hadn’t thought about it until San Antonio came calling,’’ Herring told UF senior writer Scott Carter. “The main reason why we even considered it is one, it’s a great organization and we certainly follow them, and then the draw to get closer to family and see my little girl get a chance to get closer to her grandparents and foster those relationships. It was just a tremendous opportunity for us on a personal level. The University of Florida is a fantastic place to be and Coach Donovan and the administration certainly tried to encourage me to stay here, but at the end of the day, they can’t move Gainesville to Texas, and that was the biggest draw.’’

Extra BIT » Incoming freshman golfer J.D. Tomlinson has a unique opportunity next week as he will be competing to win a U.S. Amateur event at the age of 18. Only four former Gators have accomplished this feat thus far, but Tomlinson plans to give it a go before even taking a swing in an Orange & Blue polo shirt.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Lee hurt, Moss cut, golf, swimming

1 » Just one week ago, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee knocked out New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler’s tooth during a game. When Lee’s elbow hit Chandler’s face, it was deeply punctured by the tooth, which was then removed by force. Lee was only expected to be out of action a few days to let the deep wound heal properly, but he has no missed a week and has yet to return to the court. In fact, Lee has been hospitalized most of the time due to a massive infection and serious swelling that occurred in the area. He has already undergone two procedures to clean the infection and may mess two-to-three more weeks as he tries to recover. “I know there is a lot of speculation out there, but it almost doesn’t matter how it was treated,” Dr. Bill Maloney told the media on Wednesday. “I don’t think they could have avoided this. The die was cast when he got the tooth through the skin with a deep enough puncture wound to allow the bacteria to get in there.” The infection may need to be “washed out” four or five more times before Lee can leave the hospital, which the team hopes will occur by week’s end.

2 » In a move many fans of the team have expected to come for quite some time, the Denver Broncos have released the No. 17 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, defensive end/outside linebacker Jarvis Moss. Since being drafted by Denver, Moss has totaled 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 33 games; however, he has only registered five tackles and has not notched a single sack in 16 games since the start of last year. When head coach Josh McDaniels took over in 2009, he began utilizing a 3-4 defense and moved Moss from DE to OLB. Unfortunately for the former Florida Gators star, the change in position did not help his production. “He’s been a great kid for us, done everything we asked him to do. It just hasn’t been a perfect fit,” McDaniels said. “Hopefully he can find a place that will be a better fit and suits what [he] can do.”

Read about Florida’s big-time signees in golf and swimming…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Lee hurt, Moss cut, golf, swimming

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TWO BITS: Toledo returns to mound in UF win

1 » No. 4/6 Florida Gators baseball (34-12) topped the Florida Atlantic Owls (31-19) 7-3 Wednesday night, but the story of the game was the return of sophomore pitcher Tommy Toledo from a serious injury sustained on March 14. Toledo, who broke facial bones after taking a line drive off the face two months ago, tossed a scoreless inning without trepidation. Senior Jeff Barfield (3-0) got the win after four innings of work as the Gators added three home runs behind him from freshman shortstop Nick Fontana (2-3, three runs), senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (1-3, two RBI) and freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (1-4, two RBI). Maddox’s blast tied Florida’s single-season record for homers by a freshman (16).

2 » The Gainesville Sun’s reigning two-time golfer of the year, J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, FL), has committed to join the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, according to the paper. The 10th-ranked golfer in the nation, Tomlinson can officially sign with Florida on Nov. 10. “It is amazing, I have grown up wanting to play golf at the University of Florida and I had worked really hard to make that happen,” he told the Sun. “I am really glad my hard work has paid off.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,