No. 9 Florida Gators at No. 3 Syracuse Orange

Event: Big East·SEC Challenge
Location: Carrier Dome – Syracuse, NY [Capacity: 34,616]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 190
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(9) FLORIDA GATORS (3) SYRACUSE ORANGE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Boeheim
Record: 5-1 Record: 7-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +6.5; O/U 148.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the big game? No problem. OGGOA has been here all season long compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Friday night at 7 p.m.

Allen’s Alley: Previewing the 2011-12 Gators | The Countdown: 35-23, 15-1

Donovan’s Syracuse preview | Billy D hits 400 wins | Murphy back next week?

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Syracuse leads the all-time series against Florida 2-1. All three games have taken place at neutral sites while Donovan has been UF’s head coach. The Gators are 16-8 (7-2 since 2005-06) against current teams in the Big East under Donovan.
» Donovan is a former Big East player having spent his collegiate career at Providence.
» Boeheim is 13 victories shy of passing Adolph Rupp for fourth on the Division I career wins list. He is No. 2 on the active list, just 44 wins behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Boeheim has the most 20-win seasons among active Division I coaches (33).
» Florida has never defeated an opponent ranked in the top three in a true road game and has not taken down one ranked No. 4 or better in such a contest since 1988.
» The Gators won three out of every four road games they played in 2010-11 and captured eight true road victories for the first time since 1993-94.
» Florida has made a three-pointer in 652 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» UF has connected on 10 or more treys in all six games this season, the team’s longest streak under Donovan.
» The Gators have outrebounded every opponent this season.
» Florida is No. 3 in scoring offense (89.8 points), No. 6 in scoring margin (25.4 points), No. 6 in rebounding margin (11.4 boards) and T-No. 1 in three-pointers (11.6 per game) nationally as of Nov. 27.
» UF has the best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.552) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» The Gators lead the nation with 72 triples made through six games.
» The Orange have begun the season 7-0 for the fourth consecutive year.
» Syracuse is winning their games by an average of 26.1 points and is holding opponents to just 57 points per game.
» Three of the Orange’s subs are among the team’s top five scorers.
» Syracuse has outrebounded all but one opponent this season.
» Friday’s game is part of the recently expanded Big East/SEC Challenge, which features 12 teams from both conferences playing each other with all games taking place over three days and broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

LAST TIME OUT

Syracuse and Florida last met in 2009 with the Orange defeating the Gators 85-73 in Tampa, FL. Kenny Boynton scored a game-high 20 points, and Chandler Parsons added 19 for Florida, but Syracuse’s Rick Jackson led the way with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Gators held a small lead midway through the second half, but the Orange outscored their opponent 28-14 over the last 10:06 of the game.

INJURY REPORT

FLORIDA
» Active: Sophomore guard/forward Casey Prather (groin)
» Questionable: Junior forward Erik Murphy (knee)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 113 consecutive games with 52-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (3,361) and treys (226) but also ranks second in points (1,412), assists (409) and steals (130) as well as seventh in assists (409). Walker is No. 19 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 8 in free throws made (350), No. 5 in threes made (226) and No. 4 in treys attempted (595).
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shoot better than he has throughout his career (50.0 percent from the field and 48.9 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,112) and fourth in three-pointers (174).
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, one of the top five players in the country, and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He is averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field and 71 percent from the line (second best on the team).
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joins the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He opened the season with consecutive double-doubles and is posting averages of 10.2 points, 7.7 boards and 1.7 blocks per game.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and is seeing 20.2 minutes of court time each game, averaging 12 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 48.6 percent from beyond the arc.

SYRACUSE
» F Kris Joseph (#32)…who is the reigning Big East Player of the Week due to averaging a team-high 14.7 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 41 percent from downtown. Joseph has posted double-digit points in all but one game this season and is averaging the second-most rebounds with 5.7 per game.
» C Fab Melo (#51)…who is averaging 21.4 minutes per game and has grabbed 36 rebounds on the season with 22 coming on the offensive glass. He’s blocked at least three shots in four games this year including a season-high five against Virginia Tech.
» PG Scoop Jardine (#11)…who has been named one of 20 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award (top point guard) and leads Syracuse with 29 assists. Jardine needs just 15 points to become the 56th player in school history with 1,000 career points.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

11/30: Donovan on Murphy, Syracuse, zone

With No. 9/10 Florida Gators basketball set to travel to Syracuse, NY to take on the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange Friday evening, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss what preparations have been made for his team’s next road game.

MURPHY’S DIAGNOSIS NOT TOO BAD

Considering the original thought was that junior forward Erik Murphy had a tear in his meniscus, Donovan was pleased to learn early this week that he only has a bone bruise and will be able to “get back to doing as much as he’s capable of withstanding.”

Donovan said Wednesday that Murphy could return as soon as the Arizona game after doctors figured out the “subtle and small” meniscus tear was from when he was a sophomore in high school.

“When you see a torn meniscus on the MRI, your initial reaction is that he’s going to need surgery. Waiting to get the other MRI from high school proved to be very helpful in making a decision for what he needs to do rehabbing to get himself back,” he said.

PLAYING IN THE DOME

One of the best venues for college basketball in the country, Syracuse’s Carrier Dome is always an interesting place to play. In addition to the fans being raucous and the atmosphere electric, the dome itself provides different site lines for shooters that sometimes can take some getting used to.

“Hopefully the memories that I had in the Dome they don’t have. We never won at Providence when I was plying there in the Dome,” Donovan joked. “[Florida] did have some success there in the NCAA Tournament in 2000, which was great. They’ve got a great home court advantage. They’ve got a great environment. It’s a unique situation. I don’t know if there’s any other college program that plays in a dome setting like that. It’s a special environment. Our guys will enjoy it. It’s a different place to play, and I was fortunate 25 years ago to play there several times.”

Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario, formerly on Rutgers, had the opportunity to step on the court a number of times and provided his opinion on what it is like to play there.

“It’s a crazy atmosphere. It’s loud and it’s a lot of orange. A lot of orange,” he said with a smile. “It’s a dome and those guys love to go out there and just have fun out there. Their fans are loyal, so it’s going to be a good atmosphere for us to play in.”

Junior G Kenny Boynton was not too concerned with his team’s ability to perform in the dome. “A gym is a gym. You just got to go in there and try to get a win,” he said.

ATTACKING SYRACUSE’S ZONE

Famous for perfecting and running the 2-3 zone, the Orange will undoubtedly use the defense against the Gators regardless of the fact that Florida’s three-point shooting is some of the nation’s best heading into the game. Though Syracuse will allow UF to take its share of threes, Donovan is cautioning the team against settling for the historically low-percentage shot.

“One of the reasons why their zone is effective to me is they have great length, they have great size. They can alter shots around the basket. Their perimeter guys do a good job getting out to shooters,” he explained. “Certainly you’ve got to make great decisions. I’ve always felt like, when we’ve played against Syracuse, they’ve always been one of the best fast breaking teams in the country. They’re leading the country right now in turnovers. They get out on the break.

“Our guys have got to be strong with the ball. They’ve got to play and they’ve got to take care of the ball. [....] We’ve got to make some shots, move the ball and make good decisions and then we’ve got to try to eliminate those careless passes, careless shots that really get them into what they do well, and that’s play out in transition with their length and athleticism.

“It’s pretty clear when you watch them play, they guard everybody a little bit differently. [...] A lot of the zone is adjusting and moving based on your personnel. I’m not opposed to taking threes, but you really possession-by-possession have got to take what you create.”

Rosario, for one, is excited about the opportunity. “I wish every team would play a 2-3 zone. I love to play against 2-3 zones so you can shoot threes,” he said. “It’s a very good zone that we’re going to play against. That’s basically what Syracuse lives off of – their defense – and their zone is real good. They’re long. They have like 6’5” and 6’6” guys on the wing, so sometimes it’s hard to shoot over those guys. It’s going to be a good experience for us.”

However, like Donovan, he is also cautious of staying beyond the arc and not attacking inside the paint. “The guys at the top of the zone are going to be physical and athletic and can get out there as quick as they possibly can to shooters,” Rosario said. “It’s going to be a game where we’re going to have to go in-and-out. Go inside and then go out and let the game come to us from there.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how chaotic he thinks things are for Jim Boeheim: “I can only imagine. It’s a tough situation for everybody – for the victims, for the university. Jim knowing Bernie Fine for as long as he’s been around him, I’m sure it’s difficult for everybody.”

» Donovan on playing at Syracuse with the current situation ongoing: “It’s not a situation right now where the players on either team are involved in this. When the game takes place between the lines, both teams kids are going to go out there and play.”

» Donovan on the team learning to be more patient: “If we don’t have what we want within the first 10 seconds, we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and making decisions unlike what we did in Columbus there the second game.”

» Donovan on if the team’s decision making has improved: “We’ve gotten better. We’ve made some good strides. If you look at our turnovers coming out of that game, they’ve been drastically down and our assists have been up. We’ve taken better care of the ball. This is a different game than the last 3-4 we’ve played talent-wise. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of jump we’ve made.”

» Donovan on the Gators success at rebounding: “We’ve gotten better in that area. I didn’t think we did a great job against Stetson. They came up with a lot of loose balls and did a great job physically coming down with a lot of difficult rebounds. At the half we were down rebounding margin, but we’ve done a pretty good job. They’ve made an effort to do it. The one thing that is happening is when you see a guy like [Brad] Beal gets 10 rebounds, Erving Walker getting six, Rosario had a game where he’s had seven, Boynton’s gotten in there and got five or six. That’s what we need to happen. It can’t be just Patric [Young] or Will Yeguete or our frontcourt guys who have to get 15 rebounds apiece and our guards don’t do anything. We’ve got to get back in there. Our guards can help in that area, and they have, and that’s what’s helped us defensively limit teams.”

» Donovan on if he expected this type of play from Yeguete during recruiting: “Watching him play, he really did a lot of little things. He was physical. He stepped in and took charges. He had good athleticism on the floor. He could rebound in traffic. He’s always kind of been – that’s who he was in high school – he could do a lot of different things. He really understands defense. He understands positioning. He can really keep balls alive. He’s a hard guy to block out. He showed quite a bit of that in high school.”

» Boynton on slow ball movement at times: “A majority of the teams we’ve played, we’ve been getting stops and easy turnovers. A team like Syracuse, you don’t want to go through stretches where you stop ball movement and don’t score because they can score right back at us.”

» Boynton on the lift Yeguete brings to the team: “He’s definitely helped out on the rebounding, too. Yeguete provides energy. He forces turnovers with those long arms.”

» Rosario on how Young has helped the team: “We just need Pat to stick to his strengths. His strengths last game were him being patient, waiting for the game to come to him and doing the things we need him to do to help us win. That’s rebound the ball, block shots and run the floor. He’s been doing a great job at that.”

» Rosario on playing Syracuse: “This will be a great challenge for us. Another step forward. We built from our game that we played against Ohio State. We got better at the things we needed to get better in. I think we’re prepared to go out and win the game Friday.”

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

UCLA’s John Wooden, a legend in coaching and life, passes away at age 99 (1910-2010)

With all former UCLA Bruins head basketball coach John Wooden did for the game of basketball, his impact was felt just as much off the court in the life lessons he taught his players, fellow coaches and just about anyone else who crossed his path. Wooden’s intelligence, game management and coaching style made him the most successful college basketball coach of all time, but his life lessons made him a legend. That is why, with his passing at the age of 99 Friday night, the Wizard of Westwood will be remembered just as well for what he said as for what he did as a coach.

Below are some of his greatest “Woodenisms,” courtesy of CoachWooden.com.

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“Be prepared and be honest.”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

“Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

“It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

Players and coaches speak on the impact Wooden had in their lives:

Former UCLA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “It’s kind of hard to talk about Coach Wooden simply, because he was a complex man. But he taught in a very simple way. He just used sports as a means to teach us how to apply ourselves to any situation. He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn’t let us do that.”

Former UCLA star Jamaal Wilkes: “He was always the boss. He always knew what to say. Even in the heyday of winning and losing, you could almost discuss anything with him. He always had that composure and wit about him. He could connect with all kind of people and situations and always be in control of himself and seemingly of the situation.”

Florida coach Billy Donovan: “John Wooden was a great coach and a great man. He was a man of humility who embodied the best in character and values, and exemplified what coaching is all about. 

I was fortunate enough to be honored with the Wooden Award in April, an award that now takes on added significance to me personally. I found out that I was being honored on his 99th birthday. To have the opportunity to go out to Los Angeles and see firsthand how great an impact he still has is something I will always be honored and humbled to be a part of. His legacy will endure forever.
”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: “Today, we’ve lost a giant in all of sport with the passing of Coach Wooden. Quite likely, his accomplishments as a college basketball coach will never be matched. Neither will the impact he had on his players or the greater basketball community. Many have called Coach Wooden the ‘gold standard’ of coaches. I believe he was the ‘gold standard’ of people and carried himself with uncommon grace, dignity and humility. Coach Wooden’s name is synonymous with excellence, and deservedly so. He was one of the great leaders – in any profession – of his generation. We are blessed that the sport of basketball benefited from his talents for so long. Coach Wooden and his wisdom will be sorely missed.”

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun: “My reaction is sadness yet at this point we have to celebrate maybe the most important guy in the history of the game. There has been no greater influence on college basketball not just about the game but the team. He gave so much to basketball and education. In my opinion if he’s not as important as Dr. Naismith, he’s right next to him.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: “When I think of a basketball coach the only one I ever thought of was Coach Wooden. He had a great life and helped so many coaches until well in his 90s. Every time I talked to him he would give me some words of advice. He’s the best of all time. There will never be another like him, and you can’t say that about too many people. It’s a sad day but he had such an unbelievable run. I can’t tell you what he’s done for game of basketball and it’s not just the wins. It’s the attitude and the way he carried himself. I just can’t say enough about him.”

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson: “I always sat and chatted with him before our games at UCLA and about five years ago he asked, ‘Can I come out and watch one of your practices?’ … We had a jet pick him up at Van Nuys Airport, just a few minutes from where he lived, and bring him [to Tucson]. We had lunch and I asked if he could say a few words to the team. He said yes and spoke for 20 or 30 minutes. He never said a word about basketball, just talked about his philosophy of life and being the best that you could be. He has been anxious to be reunited with Nell for a lot of years, so this is not a sad experience for him I don’t believe. I don’t think there is anyone who had influenced the number of people in his life than he had.”

St. Johns coach Steve Lavin: “Even though we anticipated this day, the finality still strikes with a force equal to a ton of bricks. There was the common affinity we shared for Purdue and UCLA and that forged a unique bond. I turned to him for perspective at every critical juncture over the past 20 years. Ninety-nine years of goodness and now he’s back with Nell [his wife].”

“Coach Wooden leaves all of us a lasting legacy from a lifetime devoted to goodness. Coach believed the court was his classroom and basketball was a metaphor for life. He was an eternal learner and teacher. He was the best friend and mentor one could hope for and it is difficult to imagine a college basketball season without John Wooden being with us.

Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt: “The takeaways we all have been blessed with from knowing John Wooden are numerous. For all of his successes, he was such a humble man. Tonight, we have lost a true American icon.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari: “[Wooden was] one of the greatest coaches in any sport. He did it without being a bully and the players at the time probably struggled with the structure but when they left, there was a burning love for him. He is what this game is all about. When you talk about how he taught, how he was with his late wife. You talk about his character as a person. That’s what he was about.”

L.A. Times: John Wooden dies at 99; UCLA basketball coach won 10 national titles
Bill Plaschke (LA Times): Coach’s lasting lesson is one of simple devotion
T.J. Simers (LA Times): John Wooden’s life was a love letter
L.A. Times: John Wooden’s pyramid stands test of time


Image courtesy of ESPN

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

No. 10 Florida Gators vs. No. 7 Syracuse Orange

Event: SEC/Big East Invitational
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online: ESPN360
Sirius: 214; XM: 199

No. 10 Florida Gators No. 7 Syracuse Orange
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Boeheim
Record: 8-0 Record: 8-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Syracuse -3, O/U 146
Head-to-Head Stats: ESPN Insider Pick Center

KEEP AN EYE ON…
– Senior forward Dan Werner…who has struggled with his career from three-point range but is hitting a team-high 51.9 percent from beyond the arc in 2009.
– Five-star freshman guard Kenny Boynton…who has a 15:1 assist-to-turnover ratio combined in the last two games.
– Head coach Billy Donovan…who is coaching his 500th career game on Thursday.
– Redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin…who has hit 12 consecutive free throws and is shooting 73.7 percent from the line after hitting just over 30 percent during his time with the Georgetown Hoyas.
– Senior F Chandler Parsons…who comes off the bench as Florida’s sixth man, is fourth on the team in scoring and leads them in rebounding with averages of 11.1 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He is averaging a career-high 27.1 minutes per game.

STREAKS:
– The Gators are 8-0 for the first time since 2005 and just the third time in school history.
– Florida is 4-2 all-time at the St. Pete Times Forum.
– The Gators are 43-30 (.589) all-time against the Big East, 15-7 under Donovan and 2-1 all-time against the Orange.
– This is Florida’s first appearance in the SEC/Big East Invitational.
– The Gators have allowed only two opponents to score 60 points or more in 2009.
– Florida has come up with 49 steals in the last five games, reaching double-digits in steals three times over that stretch.
– Since 2005, the Gators are 24-3 in the month of December.
– Florida has the best winning percentage in the SEC against ranked opponents during the last nine seasons (42-29, .592).

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Syracuse Orange preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » No. 10 Florida Gators vs. No. 7 Syracuse Orange

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