SIX BITS: NBA All-Stars, Dunker’s legal status, Brissett, Quinn, Hilliard, players drafted

1 » Final balloting for the fan vote for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game was released on Thursday evening and none of the players initially selected for the game were former Florida Gators. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (230,796 votes) finished seventh in Eastern Conference frontcourt balloting. Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (165,875) checked in 10th in Western Conference frontcourt balloting with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (144,697) finishing 15th. The top three frontcourt players from each conference automatically became starters for their respective teams. The 30 NBA head coaches will vote for a total of 14 players – seven in each conference – to fill out the benches. Those reserves will be announced on Jan. 24 with Noah and Lee both expected to be chosen. Noah is averaging career-highs in points (12.4), assists (4.1), blocks (2.0), steals (1.3), minutes (38.4) and free throw shooting (.800) while also registering 10.7 rebounds per game. Lee is averaging 19.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists while playing a career-high 37.5 minutes.

2 » Arrested on Wednesday for third-degree felony grand theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, Florida freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker entered an Alachua County Court on Thursday morning and was eventually released on his own recognizance. Dunker, via his attorney Huntley Johnson, denied stealing the scooter that was reported stolen. “His position is he paid $600 for the scooter and I’m prepared to represent him on that basis,” Johnson told the judge, according to The Gainesville Sun. The State Attorney’s Office has yet to file formal charges against Dunker as it is still reviewing the case. He remains on the Gators football team as of press time, but head coach Will Muschamp is expected to address the player’s status on Friday at noon.

Read four more BITS in this post…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: volleyball title, Needles, soccer, cheer

1 » A young Florida Gators volleyball team struggled early this season in non-conference competition but has been on a roll since, winning 17-of-18 Southeastern Conference games and clinching the 2012 SEC Championship on Sunday. Florida (23-4, 17-1 SEC) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (17-14, 5-14 SEC) in a 3-0 sweep (25-19, 25-14, 25-19) to pick up the team’s 31th SEC title, its first since 2010. The Gators have now won 20 of the 22 SEC regular season titles awarded since 1991; UF also captured 11 SEC Tournament titles in that same time frame, though the event was discontinued following the 2005 season. All 31 league championships have comes under the stewardship of head coach Mary Wise, who took over the program in 1991 and will certainly be up for more Coach of the Year awards.

2 » Florida women’s basketball (3-1) dominated the North Florida Ospreys (0-4) to the tune of a 30-point win (74-44) on Monday, but the story of the game was the performance of redshirt freshman guard Carlie Needles, who set a program record with nine three-pointers in a single game. Needles scored a career-high 27 points in the contest while going 9-of-17 from beyond the arc. She did not take a single two-pointer or foul shot in her 31 minutes of court time. Her nine treys also tied the mark for second in SEC history for threes made by a women’s basketball player in a single game. She is just the fifth player in league history to make nine or more triples in a game. The old UF record (eight) was held by Bridget Pettis and set just over 20 years ago (Jan. 20, 1983).

3 » Coming off of winning two SEC titles – the regular season and tournament crowns – Gators soccer (19-5-1) put together an impressive run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament before falling to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (16-5-2) in the Sweet 16 on Sunday. Florida took down Florida Gulf Coast 2-0 in opening round action last week and defeated UCF on Friday before falling 2-0 to Notre Dame on Sunday. The Fighting Irish got on the board at 20’ and again at 71’; each team had four shots on goal. The match was the last in the careers of five seniors that have made a major impact on the program. Redshirt forward/midfielder McKenzie Barney, MF Jo Dragotta, MF Holly King, MF/F Erika Tymrak and redshirt defender Kathryn Williamson were all able to say goodbye to fans at home as the first three tournament games were played at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

4 » Learning last Friday that the team would no longer be allowed to perform tumbling or stunts at games, events or practices, members of Florida cheerleading were up in arms and expressed their frustration via social media. Supporters of the squad have now created SaveFloridaCheerleading.com in an effort to explain their position and give the administration reason to reverse their decision.

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Florida soccer tops Auburn 3-0 to win SEC title

One-seed Florida Gators soccer (17-4-1) captured the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday for the first time since 2010 by scoring two first-half goals and adding an insurance goal in the second half as part of a shutout victory over the six-seed Auburn Tigers (12-10-1).

No. 10 Florida topped Auburn 3-0 at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, AL, winning its second SEC title of the 2012 season after bringing home the regular season crown (11-2-0 SEC) on Oct. 25.

Junior forward Adriana Leon got the Gators on the board for the first time at 27’, scoring her fifth goal of the season on a give-and-go with assists from sophomore midfielder Havana Solaun and senior F/MF Erika Tymrak.

Florida was able to double up just four minutes later at 31’ when Tymark, off passes from Solaun and senior MF Holly King, struck the ball into the lower left corner of the net for her eighth goal of the year. She was later named the 2012 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player (three goals, three assists).

The Gators played tough defense in the second half but lost a key player due to injury. Senior MF Jo Dragotta contested a ball in the air and took an elbow to the side of her head. She remained on the field for a number of minutes but eventually walked off the pitch wearing a neck brace but under her own power.

Solaun added an insurance goal for UF at 70′, finding the back of the net on a corner strike off a nice pass by Tymrak.

Florida outscored the opposition 8-1 in the SEC Tournament, defeating Ole Miss 2-1 on Wednesday and Missouri 3-0 on Friday. Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Burke was in net all 270 minutes and saved 15 total shots.

The SEC Tournament title is the 10th in the program’s 18-year history but the first for Florida since 2010. The Gators also captured their 12th regular season crown this year, the team’s first since winning five-straight from 2006-10. Becky Burleigh has now led UF to 22 total SEC titles in 36 opportunities since she took over as the program’s first (and only) head coach in 1995.

Florida now awaits word on its seed for the 2012 NCAA Tournament; UF will learn where it is slotted during the selection show airing live on NCAA.com on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The Gators are looking to win the program’s third NCAA Women’s College Cup in school history and first since 2001.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, November 1

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.

» Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden has been a fan favorite in his short time as a superstar in Cleveland, OH but not only because of what he does on the field. Haden shows up to a ton of local sporting events (especially Cleveland Cavaliers games), attended prom as a high school student’s date, sponsored a kid’s baseball team and even invites fans to meet him out at random places in Cleveland for free food and drinks. Haden’s latest gesture of good will occurred this week when he bumped into a fan looking at NFL jerseys at Finish Line. Noticing that the fan, Bradley Morrison, was specifically looking at his jersey, Haden took it off the rack, paid for it and then signed it on the spot without being asked. It is rare for an athlete to embrace a city he never previously lived in as much as Haden has Cleveland, but he has proven to be completely authentic in his love for the town which he now calls home.

» Though it is not yet official, it appears as if Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will soon be signing a multi-year deal with Nike. Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein told The Washington Post last week that they are “excited” about the relationship and opportunity. “Obviously Nike does terrific things and I think he’s going to be a big part of their plans going forward,” Bartelstein told the paper.

» Does New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow have a celebrity girlfriend? The rumors and tabloid gossip appear to be real this time as TMZ recently spotted Tebow out bowling with actress Camilla Belle. Reports the website:

Tim and Camilla Belle showed up at Latitude 30 in Jacksonville, Florida Tuesday night, where they bowled and partied. Camilla has a history with other putatively pure celebs. She dated Joe Jonas for awhile, but they split up in 2009. People who were at Latitude 30 last night tell us … Tim and Camilla were overly affectionate throughout the evening, holding hands and touching. Camilla’s rep didn’t get back to us, but sources connected with Camilla tell us they are definitely an item.

Check out SIX more Gator Bites…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Spikes, volleyball, soccer

1 » The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that head coach Billy Donovan’s son of the same name has decided to transfer to Florida and walk on to the team to play for and learn from his father. Billy Donovan , who spent his last two years playing for the Catholic Cardinals (Division III) in Washington, D.C., has already joined the team and will don the No. 42 though fans will not see him on the court this year as he will be forced to ride the bench during games due to NCAA transfer rules. As was noted a year ago when Catholic traveled to Gainesville, FL to play the Gators in an exhibition game, the younger Donovan originally chose to attend that university in order to further his passion for politics. A change of career path – he is now interested in a coaching or administrative role in a basketball organization – led him right back to where he grew up. “I never wanted it to be like I was telling him what to do career-wise,” Donovan told UF’s GatorZone.com. “I think he needs to figure that out on his own. My job, my wife’s job, is to be supportive and help put him in the best situation for him to pursue what he wants to pursue.” There is probably no better spot for the younger Donovan to learn how to coach or run a basketball team than under the wing of a future hall of fame coach.

2 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes received some bad news on Friday when he learned that the NFL decided to fine him $21,000 for an illegal blindside block he threw in a game on Sept. 30. Spikes, who leveled Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return for his team, told the team’s website earlier in the week that he did not believe that he did anything wrong. “A lot of guys, they know the new rules. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep it legal, but I just want to kind of try to make a point – when I hit a guy, I want him [to say], ‘Oh, that was Spikes that hit me. I know that already.”

3 » No. 11 Florida volleyball (13-2, 7-0 SEC) has been on a roll as of late, wrapping up their ninth- and 10th-straight regular season wins over the weekend while hosting a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents in Gainesville. UF registered a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-18, 25-15) the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 4-2 SEC) on Friday before coming from two sets down to win 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8) against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-7, 4-3 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek of Slovenia was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts over the weekend. She registered a total of 32 kills and 14 digs combined over the two matches. Impressive in her own right was junior middle back Chloe Mann, who notched a combined 22 kills and 30.0 points on the weekend.

4 » No. 12 Gators soccer (10-3-1, 7-1 SEC) is on a roll of their own, shaking off early season disappointment to rebound with a seven-match winning streak including two big road victories over the last weekend. Florida won 2-0 over the LSU Tigers (5-5-4, 1-4-2 SEC) on Friday before, like volleyball, coming back from a deficit to take down the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (12-2-1, 6-1-1 SEC) 2-1 on Sunday. Four different players scored goals for the Gators over the weekend with senior midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak and sophomore MF Havana Solaun finding the back of the net on Friday and senior defender Jo Dragotta and junior F Adriana Leon scoring on Sunday. Tymrak, who garnered SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, also notched an assist on Leon’s game-winning goal.

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