SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

1 » Already in the midst of a Most Valuable Player-caliber campaign, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah on Wednesday became just the fourth center in NBA history to record four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. The other three? Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson and Bill Russell. Noah, whose final line was 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, has led the Bulls to a 46-32 record despite the fact that Chicago has been without star point guard Derek Rose nearly the entire season. The “point-center,” who leads his team with 5.2 assists per game, achieved double-digit dimes for the seventh time and also became the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season. For comparison’s sake, Noah posted just three triple-doubles and two double-digit assists games – combined – during his first six years. Additionally, Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale just last month said Noah “should be the defensive player of the year.” Check out this extensive feature on Noah from USA Today.

2 » A pair of former Florida Gators golfers will compete in The Masters for the first time in their careers as Billy Horschel and Matt Every will be teeing it up at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA over the next 2-4 days. Horschel, who finished sixth in the 2013 FedExCup standings with one win and seven top 10 finishes in 22 events, won the Zurich Classic exactly one year ago. Every, via his first career PGA Tour win just over two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is currently ranked eighth in the FedExCup. The golfers will open the first round teeing off back-to-back – Horschel at 8:51 a.m., Every at 9:02 a.m. – while former Florida golfer Andy North will be on the call for ESPN during the first two days of the event on Thursday and Friday.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

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4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every on Sunday clinched his first-ever PGA Tour victory, winning the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL. Every, whose third-round 66 vaulted him into the lead, finished -13 for the tournament and edged Keegan Bradley by a single stroke. The victory results in him receiving earnings of $1.12 million (more than he has made in the rest of his career, combined), 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters in April. A native of Daytona Beach, FL, Every played at Bay Hill dozens of times throughout his life and long dreamed of winning a PGA Tour event at the course, which is located about an hour from where he grew up.

At Florida from 2003-06, Every was a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC selection. He is the second former Gators golfer to capture a PGA Tour event title in as many years after Billy Horschel won the 2013 Zurich Classic last April.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

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13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Over the last few days, some new NCAA-related products have been announced including scented candles from Yankee Candle and JELL-O with a jigglers mold kit. Both companies are offering versions featuring the Florida Gators, as you can see below. Pictures via Darren Rovell (ESPN) and Andrew Giangola (IMG)

» A new company has been started specifically to sell “collegiate fragrances.”

» The only Gators basketball player on ESPN insider Chad Ford’s first Big Board ($) for the 2014 NBA Draft is not even currently enrolled at Florida. Five-star forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL), who is hoping to be cleared by the NCAA in time for the spring semester, is descried as an “upside player” who is “blessed with elite athletic abilities and length.” Ford believes Walker will need to make the transition from the four to the three and play small forward in the professional ranks.

» Florida mic’d up new defensive line coach Brad Lawing during a practice last week. Scott Carter of UF’s website also wrote an interesting feature (Q&A included) on Lawing and how he is bringing “old-school ways to new adventure.”

Check out NINE more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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Gator Bites for Thursday, May 10

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.

» Defensive lineman Brad Culpepper on Wednesday became the second former Florida Gators player in the last three weeks to join lawsuit against the NFL. Culpepper is the lead plaintiff one of two concussion lawsuits (Brad Culpepper et al v. NFL) filed by the Locks Law Firm against the NFL. “The lawsuits are identical to the other suits filed by Gene Locks, asserting counts of fraud, conspiracy to defraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, loss of consortium and seeking declaratory relief and medical monitoring,” according to Paul Anderson. Former Florida offensive tackle Lomas Brown is part of a separate suit against the NFL that cites the recent bounty scandal as evidence that the league did not properly protect its players from concussions.

» Former Gators running back Emmitt Smith admitted this week that, while he appears to be in perfect health now, he is worried that all of the hits he took over his football-playing career may come back to haunt him both physically and mentally in the future. “The evidence is starting to pile up. You are talking to a guy who carried the ball more than anybody in NFL history. So why wouldn’t I worry? I pray about it,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also spoke about the tragic death of Junior Seau and reuniting with some of his former Dallas Cowboys teammates.

» Former Florida linebacker Dustin Doe has been re-signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL after appearing in just three games for the team last season. Doe registered two tackles each on defense and special teams in 2011 but spent the majority of the season on the practice squad. He is hoping to become a permanent member of the active roster this season as he attempts to continue his career.

» Speaking of players looking for new homes, it appears as if defensive tackle Marcus Thomas will be donning a different uniform in 2012. After spending the first six years of his career with the Denver Broncos, Thomas will be moving on to what he hopes are greener pastures, according to The Denver Post, which reports that it is unlikely Denver re-signs him this season. A selection in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas has been a productive member of the Broncos throughout his career. However, Denver only wants to bring him back on a one-year deal while Thomas is looking for a multi-year agreement. The Post notes that at least two other teams are interested in Thomas’s services but will likely wait until after June 1 to sign him to a contract.

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, May 10

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FOUR BITS: baseball, Hunter, Every, Parsons

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (31-9, 11-7 SEC) won their second-straight weekend series on Sunday with a 6-3 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs (24-17, 8-10 SEC) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida won the series opener 3-2 in 16 innings on Friday before dropping Saturday’s contest 5-3 and needing a victory Sunday to clinch the series. The Gators started with a 1-0 lead via a solo homer by junior catcher Mike Zunino (2/4, HR, RBI, 2 R) in the bottom of the second, tied the game 2-2 in the fourth thanks to a RBI double by senior center fielder Daniel Pigott and fell behind 3-2 in the top of the sixth after the Bulldogs rallied. However, Florida would match and exceed that rally in the bottom frame, scoring four runs including three coming from a homer to right by Pigott (3/3, HR, 4 RBI, R, BB) to take a 6-3 lead.

Junior right-hander Hudson Randall (3.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K) got the start for the Gators but struggled with his command in the fourth. Florida’s bullpen allowed two more earned runs over the next 2.2 innings but was able to close out the contest with 3.1 scoreless innings including junior left-hander Steven Rodriguez striking out three of the five batters he faced. Senior RHP Greg Larson improved to 6-0 with the victory, and junior RHP Austin Maddox notched his 11th save of the season.

2 » No. 1 Gators gymnastics may have come up just short of winning the overall national championship on Saturday but that did not stop freshman Kytra Hunter from picking up her second individual 2012 NCAA Championship on Sunday. Hunter, who won the NCAA all-around title (first in school history) on Friday with a final score of 39.725, captured the NCAA vault title on Sunday with a score of 9.8750. Hunter also came within a hair (0.0125) of taking the floor exercise championship as well.

3 » Speaking of heartbreaking losses, former Florida golfer Matt Every (-7) finished two spots back of Ben Curtis (-9) in the 2012 Valero Texas Open on Sunday, losing out on the title and a $1.116 million championship purse. Every did, however, bring home $545,600 for tying for second place and was not the only former Gators golfer to win big money as Brian Gay (-5) tied for fourth and banked $244,125 and Billy Horschel (+14) came in 75th and won $12,090.

4 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons – averaging 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists while starting 56-of-62 games as a rookie so far – was recently profiled in the video below. Hours after this initial posting Parsons posted one of the best lines of his young NBA career, scoring a personal-best 23 points (on 10-of-13 shooting) with six rebounds, two assists, four steals and a block.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, PGA, Caldwell

1 » In his season-ending meeting with the media, Denver Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway gave quarterback Tim Tebow his biggest endorsement thus far even if it was not completely what Tebow’s fans may have wanted. “Tim is the starting quarterback going into training camp,” Elway said Monday, according to the Denver Post, failing to go further than that designation. “He made great strides. He has earned the right to be the starter going into training camp next year.” Elway also admitted, as expected, that Denver will look to add some competition for Tebow at the quarterback position because the Broncos’ “passing game was not where we want it to be.” As he mentioned during the season, Elway plans to work with Tebow in a number of areas including in the film room and on his footwork, drops and timing with receivers. He expands on these comments in the video below:

2 » Continuing his stellar play this year Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons had yet another solid game Monday, again earning the start and scoring eight points (on 4-of-7 shooting) with eight boards (three offensive), four assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. He also had two impressive plays in the game including one put-back slam and another dunk over Washington’s 7’0″ center JaVale McGee, which you can see below:

In related NBA news, center Marreese Speights had his best performance with his brand new team the Memphis Grizzlies, registering a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards. Speights went head-to-head with Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah, who has been struggling with a hand problem this season and had just two points and five rebounds. Memphis beat Chicago 102-86 on Monday.

3 » Former Gators golfer Matt Every, who led the 2012 Sony Open for two days, wound up finishing tied for sixth in the event…with fellow former Florida golfer Brian Gay and two other players. Every and Gay (-10) each ended the tournament three strokes back of the leader (Johnson Wagner, -13) and were two of three former Gators in the top-13 with Chris DiMarco finishing -8 over four rounds. As OGGOA mentioned over the weekend, Every recently opened up about a marijuana arrest. This video provides more on that and includes a discussion he had while leading after the second round.

4 » According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, it is not likely that former Florida wide receiver Andre Caldwell will be back with the Cincinnati Bengals next season. Caldwell, who brought in 37 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns last season, is now a free agent and is unlikely to be retained by the team. Caldwell himself is probably looking for a better opportunity as well and may find that with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Bengals’ former offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, has taken that same position with the Jaguars.

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FOUR BITS: Every, Tebow, Dickerson, Petrick

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every, back on the PGA Tour after recovering from a broken finger and being reinstated following a three-month suspension received for being arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge (marijuana), took a two shot lead at the 2012 Sony Open on Friday thanks to him finishing his round with a 6-under 64. Every said that a “perfect storm” of bad luck led to his arrest and that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He told the Associated Press that though he did not smoke marijuana that night and still does not now, he will not stop hanging out with his friends because of one unfortunate incident. “I have great friends, man. If one of my friends likes to smoke marijuana every now and then, I’m not going to say, `Well, you can’t be my friend anymore,’” Every said. “Honestly, man, I know more people who smoke marijuana than who don’t smoke marijuana. I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say, but it’s the truth.” He added that he “feels like a rookie” playing this year and hopes to add to his lead when he tees off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ ThePostGame caught up with longtime NFL scout and executive Ken Herock, which the website describes as “the one NFL scout who believed in Tim Tebow,” to discuss the Denver Broncos quarterback and how he has performed so far in the first 15 starts of his career. “I spent five hours with him,” Herock said, “and I knew he was special.” He continued, “He’s just like a coach. He can see things. He’s not particularly fast. He’s not particularly quick. He has good vision when he runs. He sees the holes when he runs. He’s got a special gift for seeing things on the field. He has a sixth-sense vision. [...] There are so many things you can do with him. There are things you can do with him that they did years ago. When Len Dawson was the quarterback at Kansas City they had the moving pocket. They could so something like that with Tebow.” Herock also said that Tebow’s arm strength is not an issue and even though his throwing motion is a concern for some, it can be worked on and tweaked.

3 » The Nationwide Tour, the developmental arm of the PGA, recently published a list of the top 20 players to watch in 2012 and one former Florida golfer, Bubba Dickerson found his way on the list at No. 17. Dickerson jumped 68 spots on the Nationwide money list from 2010 to 2011 and finished 46th last year while posting three top 10 showings in his first six tournaments. However, “he missed 11 of 12 cuts [at the end of the year] to take himself out of a position to get a PGA Tour card for 2012,” according to tour. “I’m looking forward to being able to plan my schedule because last year I started out with conditional status so in that respect I think things should go a little better for me,” he said. “I just need to be more consistent on my chipping and putting.”

4 » Former Gators runner Sara Petrick, who has continued competing since leaving Florida, has qualified for the women’s trails for the 2012 London Olympics but must shave 23 minutes off of her marathon time in order to earn a spot on the team. Though she knows the chances are slim, Petrick is just happy to be “competing against the best” runners in the country. Petrick is looking to run the marathon on Saturday in a total time of 2:45.28, which is just over six minutes per mile. “To give you an idea of how fast that pace is, you have to turn the speed on a treadmill to 9.7 and run 26 miles at that speed to reach that time,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. Petirck considers herself “just a novice when it comes to marathon running” but that does not mean she’s not happy with what she’s been able to accomplish up to this point. “One of my proudest moments was knowing I had a qualifying time to compete in the trails,” Petrick said.

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Former Gators golfer Villegas wins Honda Classic

Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas had been searching for a signature victory on the PGA Tour. He found it Sunday, winning his third tour title following four days of outstanding golf at the 2010 Honda Classic from the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

Villegas, who shot a four-under 66 in the first round on Thursday, duplicated his performance Friday for a tie atop the leaderboard with Anthony Kim with a combined eight-under 132. Looking to pull away from the pack Saturday, he birdied four of seven holes before bogeying three in a five-hole stretch. Villegas still finished the third day with the lead after a three-under 67 kept him atop the leaderboard with an 11-under 199.

He closed out the tournament Sunday with a beautiful birdie putt on 18 for a final round two-under 68 and his first PGA Tour victory of the season. Villegas won the tournament by five strokes with a 13-under 267, tying hall of famer Jack Nicklaus‘ tournament record for margin of victory.

Villegas, who lives in South Florida, had the comfort of staying in his own home throughout the tournament and benefited from the cheering and support of local fans as he progressed throughout the weekend.

“I’m sleeping in my own bed this week, which is always nice,” Villegas said Saturday. “I’ve been nice and relaxed. Golf tournaments are four days. So with that said, you’ve got to put four good rounds together and see what happens at the end.”

After the win Sunday, it was obvious that he felt a sense of accomplishment. “It’s been a long week, but man, it’s been a good one. I loved every second of it,” he said. “It’s never as easy as you think. I stayed patient and my attitude was great all week.”

Fellow former Gators golfer Matt Every finished tied for 26th place with a one-over 281. Chris Couch missed the cut after the second day of the tournament.

Photo Credit: Alan Diaz/Associated Press

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