4 BITS: Spikes pleads guilty, Gators in NBA

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident that occurred on a highway in Massachusetts on June 7. Spikes, who was released the very next day by the New England Patriots and remains an NFL free agent one month later, was issued one year of probation along with fines and the loss of his driver’s license, according to WBZ 1030 News Radio. Putting the issue to bed was important for Spikes, who should wind up on a team at some point this offseason. While limited, he is still at least a two-down contributor as one of the highest-graded run-stopping linebackers in the league.

2 » Giving Gators point guard Nick Calathes the opportunity to play in the NBA after the player started his career overseas, the Memphis Grizzlies continue to make a concerted effort to hold on to the reserve floor general. The Grizzlies decided to make Calathes a qualifying offer, turning him into a restricted free agent and allowing Memphis the right to match any offer sheet he may sign with a team. Though rumors have Calathes interested in going back overseas for significantly more money and a greater role on a team, he has not given any indication that he plans to leave the United States at this time.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Spikes pleads guilty, Gators in NBA

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SIX VIDEO BITS: Gators, Bates, Spurrier, Muschamp, Embree, Easley, Williams

1 » Florida Gators football released this 2013 season promo. It’s quite good.

2 » Former Gators linebacker James Bates impersonates and tells stories about former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier. Bates was recently hired as a college football analyst by FOX Sports for the new FOX Sports 1 channel.

Check out four more Gators videos…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX VIDEO BITS: Gators, Bates, Spurrier, Muschamp, Embree, Easley, Williams

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FOUR VIDEO BITS: Williams, Noah, Taylor

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams, a 12-year NBA veteran, retired during the 2010-11 season but is still displaying his signature flare in exhibition games. Competing in China during a USA Legends Tour game this month, Williams looked like the young “White Chocolate” when he successfully made a fastbreak elbow pass for a dunk, just like he did during the 2000 NBA Rookie Game.


2 » Competing in the Steve Nash Foundation Showdown in Chinatown on June 26 in New York, NY – a celebrity soccer event that benefits underserved children affected by poverty, illness, abuse or neglect – Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah scored the game-winning goal and celebrated in typical fashion. (Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons will participate in the west coast version of the game on Sunday, July 14.) Speaking of Noah, he and Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford will participate in the 2013 Basketball Without Borders program this summer. Noah, Horford and six other players will visit Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 to coach and lead life seminars.

Continue Reading » FOUR VIDEO BITS: Williams, Noah, Taylor

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Donovan speaks on Orlando, Noah, Williams, NBA

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan appeared on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket in South Florida on Wednesday and spent 15 minutes on the air discussing a wide variety of topics with host Dan LeBatard, co-host Stugotz and special guest co-host Stan Van Gundy. Below are the topics that the interview touched on and what Donovan had to say about each.

On if he came back to Florida in order to not screw up being happy

“I don’t really think it was about being happy or trying to be happier. The University of Florida has been great to me. It was just one of those things, deep down inside of my gut, that just did not feel right after I did it. I felt terrible going that far down the road. I was very happy that Orlando could get a quality coach like Stan to go in there. There was just something that just did not sit well with me. I can’t put my finger on it. It was just kind of one of those gut feelings.

“Obviously it’s a tough decision when you make the decision and commit to do it and then all of a sudden you retract. I knew in my heart that it just didn’t seem right for me. I don’t know what it was. That’s really what I did. Obviously it was difficult to make that decision when you’re that far down the road.”

On if doing the about-face on Orlando was embarrassing for him

“I think I put Orlando in a very difficult situation. That organization, they’re great people, they treated me very well. For myself to put them in that situation, I felt bad about that. But I was very excited because I know the quality of coach [that] Stan is, I know how respected he is. You look at the job he did in Orlando. At the end of the day, it ended up working out well for both parties. Surely, going through what I went through, embarrassed or felt bad, you just don’t want to put somebody through that. I don’t think Orlando deserved to go through that, and I felt bad about that.”

Read the rest of what Donovan had to say on the air…after the break!
Continue Reading » Donovan speaks on Orlando, Noah, Williams, NBA

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Lin drawing comparisons to the wrong Gator

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

A great deal of national attention has been paid to NBA phenom New York Knicks‘ point guard Jeremy Lin as of late; unfortunately much of it has consisted of the second-year player being compared to former Florida Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who had a breakout season in his second year in the NFL.

And though Lin and Tebow do share a few parallels – mostly in the social realm – the less obvious and more interesting comparison is actually with another former Florida player – point guard Jason Williams. What Lin has done and continues to do night-in and night-out is without question on an exponentially greater level but there are historical, racial and other parallels to what happened when Williams burst on the scene.

WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL
* Feb. 6, 2012: In a season shortened by a lockout, Lin bursts onto the national scene at the age of 23 years and 167 days, posting 25 points in 36 minutes for the struggling New York Knicks, a team in need of a spark and plenty of victories.
* Feb. 5, 1999: Exactly 13 years earlier (minus a day) – after a bitter lockout and the second retirement of Michael Jordan sapped the NBA of fans and support – Williams, at the age of 23 years and 79 days, scores 21 points in 36 minutes for the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the league the year before.

A PLAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
* Feb. 14, 2012: Lin’s game-winning shot against the Toronto Raptors is endlessly played on SportsCenter, furthering his breakout campaign.
* Feb. 17, 1999: Almost exactly 13 years earlier, Williams’s crossover of Gary Payton (video) in a win over the Seattle Supersonics is played on a loop on SportsCenter.

EARLY HYPE AND ADORATION
* The slightly offensive nickname “Yellow Mamba” pops up for Lin.
* The slightly racial nickname “White Chocolate” pops up for Williams (though it was started by a team staffer and embraced by Williams).
* Lin is prematurely compared to Steve Nash.
* Williams is prematurely compared to “Pistol” Pete Maravich.
* Lin’s No. 17 jersey (including counterfeit versions) cannot be printed fast enough to keep them in stock in the United States or China.
* Williams’s No. 55 jersey becomes one of the top five sellers nationally in the NBA.

Perhaps the most interesting parallel between Lin and Williams how their physical characteristics have played a role in their acceptance, popularity and backlash.

Any time there is something that is out of the ordinary or different, the curiosity factor becomes a compelling reason for people to pay attention. Whether a player is really tall (Shawn Bradley), really ugly (Shawn Kemp), really tall and ugly (Manute Bol) or has a certain characteristic that is stereotyped to be one thing and not another, he becomes particularly noteworthy to the masses.

Continue Reading » Lin drawing comparisons to the wrong Gator

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Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.

10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Billy Donovan talks about hitting 400 wins

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan won the 400th game of his career on Monday when Florida routed Stetson 96-70 in Orlando, FL. Following the game, Donovan was hit with a Gatorade shower in the locker room and got to celebrate for a short while with the team and visitors Chandler Parsons and Jason Williams. In his post-game press conference, Donovan spoke at length about reaching 400 victories and his coaching career.

On what winning 400 games means to him: “One, I’m definitely clearly getting older. A guy like Jason Williams is here at the game, and he was obviously a part of it when it first started, coaching him. Chandler came in the locker room [and I thought about] his time here. Joakim Noah has been on campus a lot with the lockout. The Brent Wrights of the world. The [Udonis] Haslems. I think more about the time here and the guys that have come through. There have been a lot of special guys. Not only the guys that people get a chance to watch that are in the NBA, because those are obvious guys, but the Justin Hamiltons, the Brent Wrights, the Major Parkers – that first recruiting class. Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh, Brett Nelson, there have been so many guys that have come through that were close to making the NBA that maybe didn’t make it that had a huge significance and impact on our program. It’s not just the NBA guys, it’s a lot of really good quality kids I’ve coached for a period of time. It’s hard to believe you see Jason Williams. The guy is married, he already has a couple of kids and is retired from the NBA. It’s definitely a reflection that time is moving on and you’re getting older.”

Read everything else Billy Donovan had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » Billy Donovan talks about hitting 400 wins

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Florida Gators in the 2011 NBA Playoffs

With the regular season wrapping up Wednesday night, the participants in the 2011 NBA Playoffs have now been determined. There are seven Florida Gators with roles on their squad’s active rosters among the 16 teams competing to appear in the 2011 NBA Finals. OGGOA has put together a comprehensive list of these players.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) Chicago Bulls
No. 13 C Joakim Noah
Season: 4th
Averages: 32.8 mins., 11.7 pts., 10.7 rebs., 2.8 asst., 1.5 blk., .525 FG%, .740 FT%

(2) Miami Heat*
No. 13 SG Mike Miller
Season: 12th
Averages: 20.4 mins., 5.6 pts., 4.5 rebs., 1.2 asst., .401 FG%, .364 3P%, .676 FT%

(5) Atlanta Hawks
No. 15 F/C Al Horford
Season: 4th
Averages: 35.1 mins., 14.3 pts., 9.3 rebs., 3.5 asst., 1.04 blk., .557 FG%, .800 FT%

(7) Philadelphia 76ers
No. 16 C Marreese Speights
Season: 3rd
Averages: 11.5 mins., 5.4 pts., 3.3 rebs., .495 FG%, .750 FT%

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) San Antonio Spurs
No. 15 F Matt Bonner
Season: 7th
Averages: 21.7 mins., 7.3 pts., 3.6 rebs., 0.9 asst., .464 FG%, .457 3P%, .740 FT%

(3) Dallas Mavericks
No. 13 G/F Corey Brewer
Season: 4th
Averages: 11.4 mins., 5.3 pts., 1.8 rebs., 0.85 stl., .490 FG%, .308 3P%, .710 FT%

(8) Memphis Grizzlies
No. 3 PG Jason Williams
Season: 12th
Averages: 11.3 mins., 1.9 pts., 0.7 rebs., 2.5 asst., .310 FG%, .200 3P%

Playoff teams without Gators on their rosters: (3) Boston, (4) Orlando, (6) New York, (8) Indiana, (2) Los Angeles, (4) Oklahoma City, (5) Denver, (6) Portland, (7) New Orleans

* Miami PF Udonis Haslem has been out most of the season with a foot injury. He has not been listed as active for the playoffs.

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