FOUR BITS: Parsons, Gillespie, basketball praise

1 » Just a day after being named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, Florida Gators senior forward Chandler Parsons was honored with the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Parsons averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in back-to-back wins last week against No. 24 Vanderbilt and No. 11 Kentucky, Florida’s first consecutive wins against ranked opponents since 2007. He is the first Gators player to ever pick up the honor, which was instituted last season, and earns an automatic nomination to the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list.

2 » If you think Florida head coach Will Muschamp’s first choice to replace former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton was to simply change tight ends coach Brian White’s responsibilities and hire someone in his place, that would be an incorrect assumption. In fact, the Gators initially reached out to former Florida running back Robert Gillespie, who accepted the same position with the West Virginia Mountaineers one month earlier. For Gillespie, not returning to his alma mater was possibly the toughest choice he has had to face as a coach. “I’m a man of my word,” Gillespie told The Daily Athenaeum. “I left a good job at Oklahoma State to come [to West Virginia], and I gave [offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen] my word that I would help him build this program. [Florida's] a place that holds a special place in my heart, but I didn’t make a decision based off of emotions.”

3 » Looking at No. 17/19 Gators basketball’s status for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan considers them an absolute lock to make a second-straight appearance in March Madness…this year with a much better seed.

How impressive is Florida’s NCAA tourney profile at this point in the season? Let’s count the ways: The Gators have the benefit of high RPI and strength of schedule numbers, as well as a 6-1 record against the RPI top 50 and an 11-2 record against the top 100. They’re also 7-2 in conference play, which puts them alone atop the jumbled SEC East standings. They added notches to all three of the aforementioned belts Saturday night with their huge home win over Kentucky. After that win, few teams in the nation can boast a more impressive résumé against top competition than the Gators. Welcome to lock territory, Florida fans. It’s all smooth sailing from here.

4 » Similarly complimentary is Sports Illustrated, which pegs Florida as an elite program who suffered a downturn but is quickly gaining steam once again.

Florida took a step back to respectability last season by winning 21 games and reaching the NCAA tournament, and had expectations ratcheted up this season with all five starters back to go with a talented freshman class. The Gators opened the season at No. 9 and moved to No. 17 this week after dropping out of the polls. Florida (18-5) bumped off No. 10 Kentucky over the weekend and No. 23 Vanderbilt before that to take control of the SEC East at 7-2 – and another step back toward notability.

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2010-11 Florida Gators basketball season preview

Finally returning to the NCAA Tournament after back-to-back appearances in the NIT, the No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball team is back in the preseason top 10 and looking to return to the glory it experienced just a few short years ago. With forward Dan Werner now graduated and five new freshmen in the fold looking to make an impact, head coach Billy Donovan hopes to get back to his winning ways.

STARTING FIVE:

PG Erving Walker – junior, 5’8”, 171 lbs.
2009 STATS: 12.6 PPG – 4.9 APG – 3.3 RPG – .339 FG% – .347 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A spark plug who often appears to prefer shooting and penetrating to passing, Walker was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team two years ago and the preseason All-SEC second team this year. He had trouble performing at a high level last season partially due to the lack of depth behind him on the bench. Donovan has noted that Walker’s shot selection, stroke and defense have all improved over the summer. He plans to keep him fresh by utilizing a number of other players at point guard during games and hopes that Walker will improve his ball handling, court vision and willingness to dish the ball – three things he needed to work on at this point last year.

G Kenny Boynton – sophomore, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
2009 STATS: 14.0 PPG – 2.7 APG – 2.6 RPG – .376 FG% – .294 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Boynton was the pride of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class. Quick both with and without the ball, Boynton is highly competitive and athletic with the ability to play either backcourt position. He led Florida in points and was second in minutes played (Walker) in his first season, catching on fire in his final two games scoring a combined 50 points on 16-of-33 shooting while also going 9-of-18 from downtown. He can get his shot off at will, whether it be a pull up jumper, deep three-pointer, floater down the lane or penetrating layup. Boynton is also a tough defender who is strong with quick feet laterally but, like Walker, was gassed late in games last season due to lack of depth. Also similar to Walker, Donovan is impressed with Boynton’s improved shot selection and decision making this offseason. He was honored with a preseason All-SEC second team nomination this year.

This post contains 1,818 words previewing the season. You have already made it this far, so you might as well continue reading the rest…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2010-11 Florida Gators basketball season preview

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Florida-BYU most-watched game in Web history?

ESPN claims the United States soccer team’s exhilarating 1-0 extra-time victory over Algeria on Wednesday drew the “largest U.S. audience ever for a sports event on the Web.” CBS refutes that assertion, stating that the viewing crowd put together for the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament – featuring the Florida Gators and Brigham Young Cougars – surpassed that by a few thousand.

OGGOA attempted to reach out to CBS Friday for more information than provided by the initial story from Mediaweek, but we were unsuccessful as they did not have any specific release on the matter to send us. However, CBS did cite the Florida-BYU game because it got the highest ratings out of any of their online broadcasts for March Madness this past year. Nevertheless, ESPN senior director of digital media research backs up the organization’s claim, citing that “CBS isn’t comparing their apples to our apples.”

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Gators speak on 2010 NCAA Tournament berth

As one would expect, the Florida Gators basketball team was ecstatic when they learned they had earned a bid in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. After practice on Monday, head coach Billy Donovan and some members of the No. 10-seed Gators met with the press to discuss exactly what went on Sunday night and how they are preparing for the Brigham Young Cougars on Thursday in Oklahoma City, OK.

» Sign up for OGGOA’s 2010 NCAA Tournament Challenge at CBS Sports
- Group: OGGOA – Password: horfordnoah
» Of course, you can also go ahead and participate in some college basketball betting as the tournament provides plenty of opportunities to make some money. Even if you are not a Gators fan, you can’t deny this is the best time of the year to watch some intense, great, high-speed, amusing basketball. March Madness is here and it is time to have some fun.

Read the team’s statements about making the tournament after the break!
Continue Reading » Gators speak on 2010 NCAA Tournament berth

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OGGOA’s 2010 NCAA Tournament Challenge

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive is inviting you, our readers, to join our first annual NCAA Tournament challenge. Hosted by CBSSports.com, OGGOA’s 2010 NCAA Tournament Challenge is intended to provide you all with a sense of community, competition and, of course, PRIZES!

OGGOA will give out a FREE 2010 Sugar Bowl DVD (Florida vs. Cincinnati) to two participants. The first will go to the overall winner, and the second will be awarded to whoever gets the most total games correct. Have fun and enjoy March Madness!

To sign up, visit: http://oggoa.mayhem.cbssports.com/e

Password: horfordnoah

*Make sure you have a CBSSports.com account before signing up.

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Florida Gators invited to 2010 NCAA Tournament

Florida Gators basketball (21-12, 9-7 SEC) has earned a berth to the 2010 NCAA Tournament, their first in three seasons. Announced during the NCAA Selection Show live on CBS Sunday night, Florida – a No. 10 seed – will face the No 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars (29-5, 13-3 MWC) of the Mountain West Conference in first-round action in Oklahoma City, OK, on Thursday.

The Gators, trying for their 13th-straight NCAA Tournament victory, are placed in the West region and could advance to face No. 2-seed Kansas State or No. 15-seed North Texas in the second round on Sat., March 20. Syracuse earned the region’s No. 1 seed.

Head coach Billy Donovan: ”We’re very, very excited and grateful for this opportunity. I’m most excited for our players having a chance to experience this, for most of them this is something they haven’t been through yet. They’ve worked so hard from day one, and it’s great to see them rewarded.

Junior forward Chandler Parsons: “It was a stressful 48 hours. We don’t want to go and play one game, we want to prove we’re deserving of being there.”

NCAA Selection Committee Chairman Dan Guerrero: “It’s not necessarily about how you finish, but it’s what you do during the course of the year.”

Earning a No. 10-seed indicates that UF was not as close to the bubble as many speculated. That or Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive had plenty of pull. Florida, along with Minnesota, Utah State and UTEP earned bids while Mississippi State, Virginia Tech and Illinois were among the final cuts.

H/t Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel for the quotes.

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Florida Gators bubble watch: Sat. March 13

NOTE: OGGOA is currently in the process of relocating (AKA I am moving) and is without Internet access until Monday morning. Therefore, we will be coming at you with a ton of news and notes first thing that morning. However, we will still be keeping tabs on Florida Gators basketball throughout the weekend and will still offer a live update right after Selection Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

Florida’s win Thursday against the Auburn Tigers appeared impressive enough to earn them a berth in March Madness, but their loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals coupled with a bunch of upsets and other victories has forced them to the back of the bubble.

Below is OGGOA‘s latest bubble watch update:

» Mississippi State (22-10) defeated Florida 75-69
» Dayton (20-12) lost to Xavier 78-73
» Rhode Island (23-8) defeated Saint Louis 63-47
» Georgia Tech (21-11) defeated No. 19 Maryland 69-64 (considered a lock)
» Illinois (19-13) defeated No. 18 Wisconsin 58-54
» Ole Miss (21-10) lost to No. 13 Tennessee 76-65
» San Diego State (24-8) defeated No. 8 New Mexico 72-69 (considered a lock)
» Minnesota (19-12) defeated No. 11 Michigan State 72-67
» Washington (22-9) defeated Stanford 79-64

Additionally, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has dropped Florida out of his final teams to earn a berth. Instead, he has them as his second team out after Illinois after Mississippi State, Minnesota and Washington pulled off impressive victories Saturday coupled with some big upsets from other teams.

Florida [21-12 (9-7), RPI: 54, SOS: 31] The Gators seemed to be in decent shape after defeating Auburn in Thursday night’s first round of the SEC tournament, but then they lost to Mississippi State on Friday and a bunch of other bubble teams won. It will be a close call for Florida, which is trying to end a two-year NCAA drought after winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. UF went 9-7 in SEC play during the regular season. The Gators are 3-8 against RPI top-50 foes, but those three are very good: beating Tennessee (home), Michigan State (neutral) and Florida State (home). Eight of their 12 losses came against teams that are ranked No. 24 or better in the RPI ratings. The Gators will have to overcome one ugly eyesore — a 67-66 loss at home to No. 212 South Alabama on Dec. 22.

Selection Sunday will air March 14 beginning at 6 p.m. on CBS. The NCAA Selection Committee will choose five at-large teams to join the 39 locks and 21 automatic qualifiers already in the tournament. OGGOA will provide full coverage of the event.

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Post-game comments and Gators’ bubble watch

It should be no surprise that members of the Florida Gators basketball team were depressed and dismayed following their 75-69 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Below are some comments from the players who are concerned about a berth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post and Orlando Sentinel.

» Junior forward Chandler Parsons on the loss: “It’s terrible. It’s awful. My first two years, we had a feeling we weren’t going to make (the NCAA Tournament). I think this year we have a much better chance, but it’s completely out of our hands. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed until then. I’m concerned, real concerned, because it’s not in my hands. I can’t control anything, coach (Billy) Donovan can’t, our school can’t. So I think everyone is just concerned and anxious and just hoping.”

» Parsons continued: “It’s a terrible feeling not knowing because it’s not in our hands at all. All we can do is go back to Gainesville and hope and keep our fingers crossed. I think we feel as a team we deserve to be there. We’ve had some good wins.”

» Freshman guard Kenny Boynton on what went wrong: “They wanted it more tonight, it was obvious. Reality kicked in, we tried to come back, but it was too late.”

» Senior F Dan Werner on falling behind: “You can never get by down by that much and expect to come back on a good team.”

» Werner on his miscue (flubbing pass down four with 1:25 left and a clear lane to the hoop to cut the deficit to two): “I saw that there was no one at the basket so I was going to try to run in and get an easy lay-up. When I started running I guess I kind of misjudged the ball. Stuff like that happens.”

» Head coach Billy Donovan on the team’s chances: “I think we’ve played a very, very competitive schedule. We’ve had some really, really good quality wins. If that’s good enough, then so be it. We’ll wait and see what happens on Sunday.”

Florida’s win Thursday against the Auburn Tigers appeared impressive enough to earn them a berth in March Madness, but the Gators must still keep an eye on their competition also on the bubble. While conference tournaments had been kind to UF up to this point, Friday night saw a number of bubble teams find success against top-ranked competition. Below is OGGOA‘s latest bubble watch update:

» Mississippi State (22-10) defeated Florida 75-69
» Dayton (20-12) lost to Xavier 78-73
» Rhode Island (23-8) defeated Saint Louis 63-47
» Georgia Tech (21-11) defeated No. 19 Maryland 69-64 (considered a lock)
» Illinois (19-13) defeated No. 18 Wisconsin 58-54
» Ole Miss (21-10) lost to No. 13 Tennessee 76-65
» San Diego State (24-8) defeated No. 8 New Mexico 72-69 (considered a lock)
» Minnesota (19-12) defeated No. 11 Michigan State 72-67
» Washington (22-9) defeated Stanford 79-64

Additionally, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has kept Florida at No. 1 on his list of the final five at-large teams to qualify for the tournament after their loss Friday. Lunardi projects that it would take additional wins by Minnesota or Mississippi State or unexpected teams winning their conference tournaments to knock any of his final five (Florida, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Washington, Rhode Island) off the bubble.

Selection Sunday will air March 14 beginning at 6 p.m. on CBS. The NCAA Selection Committee will choose five at-large teams to join the 39 locks and 21 automatic qualifiers already in the tournament. OGGOA will provide full coverage of the event.

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