Florida, Miami schedule home-and-home series

In a move that has been taking shape for weeks, a home-and-home men’s basketball series spanning the next two seasons between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes was officially announced on Tuesday.

Along with the announcement was the first confirmed date for a Florida-Miami showdown. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Nov. 17, 2014 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The contest will be UF’s second game of the 2014-15 campaign with the first unscheduled as of press time.

UM will then host its in-state rival in either November or December of 2015 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.

Florida is 45-22 all-time against Miami on the hardwood with the schools last playing a home-and-home series in 2004-05; the visiting team won each game.

The Gators and Canes have squared off just four times in the last 23 seasons, however, all of those showdowns have come since 2002.

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FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, pep rally, Florida-Miami

1 » The 2014 NBA Draft is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. with three former Florida Gators hoping to be selected among the event’s 60 picks. The first and possibly only player who will be drafted during Thursday night’s proceedings is center Patric Young, who has a late-first, early-second round evaluation. Young has mostly been projected as an early second-round pick but made it up to No. 30 (last pick of the first round) in a mock draft by ESPN‘s Chad Ford earlier this week. However, on Thursday, Ford moved Young all the way down to No. 42, predicting that he gets snagged by the Houston Rockets. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin nor forward Casey Prather will likely be selected, though a team could take a flier on Wilbekin late in the process.

“I think Wilbekin is one of those guys that can make a team. I don’t think he’s a guy that will necessarily be drafted,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas in a conference call this week. “I think Wilbekin is probably a better pro prospect than Aaron Craft, but just because you’re a good college player, it’s a tough transition at that position to get to the NBA. He’s not as quick or explosive or quite as good of a shooter as some of the other guys who are out there – or as big.”

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FOUR BITS: USA, Zunino, Whitson, Phillips

1 » USA Basketball’s under-18 team made a record-setting debut at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Friday, taking down Uruguay 156-58 on Friday evening. The Americans led 44-15 after one quarter and 84-26 at halftime before pulling off the 98-point victory in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to USA Basketball, head coach Billy Donovan’s team set four team national records in the event including most points scored (156), largest margin of victory (98 points), most field goals made (59) and most assists (40). “I think the one thing we’ve been talking about is trying to play unselfishly, and they did that tonight. Forty assists. They were really unselfish; they played well together,” Donovan said after the game. “I was really pleased coming out of the half, and I feel we got off to a great start at the second half and then it kind of carried on. I thought overall, their willingness to pass and share the basketball was special.” Next up for the United States is Mexico; the teams will square off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in preliminary round action. USA will then take on Argentina on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. to conclude the preliminary round.

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Florida coach Muschamp could face suspension over Phillips recruiting incident

Diving deeper into the supposed dismissal of wide receivers coach Joker Phillips by the Florida Gators, John Infante of the Bylaw Blog looked at how Phillips’s alleged NCAA recruiting violation may affect the program and head coach Will Muschamp.

After Florida announced Phillips’s resignation on Friday, a report from Yahoo! Sports cited three sources as saying Phillips was forced to leave the program after the Gators got word that the NCAA had proof he committed a recruiting violation.

The organization supposedly received “a photo of the coach sitting in a restaurant with a high school recruit during a mandated dead period in recruiting” from “an individual with ties to the Miami Hurricanes program.”

Yahoo! Sports writers Charles Robinson and Pat Forde noted that Phillips’s alleged improper contact “could be considered a major NCAA violation,” a notion that Infante examined more closely on Monday.

Using the NCAA’s new enforcement structure, Infante boiled the incident down to a Level II or Level III breach of conduct, the former being more severe or “significant.”

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TWO BITS: Florida-Miami, Gators on SEC Nation

1 » If everything works out, the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes will be scheduling a home-and-home series…in men’s basketball. According to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, discussions have begun between the two schools for the in-state rivals to play each other in consecutive seasons. The Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson confirmed with UF associate athletic director Mike Hill that the teams are indeed “finalizing” a contract with the first game set to be played this November at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The second contest would be held at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables during the 2015-16 season. The timing will work out for UF, which may be forced from its home arena during the fall semester of the campaign as a planned renovation of the O’Dome is scheduled to be in its final stages. The Gators are 45-22 all-time against the Canes on the hardwood with the schools last playing a home-and-home series in 2004-05. UF and UM have squared off just four times in the last 23 seasons, all since 2002.

2 » The SEC Network on Saturday announced that it will hold its College GameDay-esque pre-game program, SEC Nation, in Gainesville on Sept. 13 ahead of Florida’s league opener against Kentucky. The following week, the Gators will be featured a program for the second time when it emanates from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Sept. 20 ahead of the UF-Alabama game. In addition to host Joe Tessitore and former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, the SEC Nation panel will include long-time radio host Paul Finebaum and former LSU defensive end Marcus Spears.


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2014 SEC Spring Meetings: O’Dome, Miami, clock

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings continued Wednesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley among those that met with the media and divulged information about the future of the school and league. Below are some highlights from the second day of the SEC Spring Meetings.

O’DOME RENOVATIONS WILL SEND GATORS ACROSS STATE

Plans to renovate the Stephen C. O’Connell Center have been in the works for two years, but Florida is just now “closing in” on the nearly $50 million needed to complete the project, Foley told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson. Once the funding goal is reached and the project is officially approved, plans will be set into place for construction to begin in March 2015 with the goal of completing the process by January 2016.

Though Foley did not mention how the construction would affect other Gators sports like volleyball, women’s basketball and indoor track & field, he did note that Florida men’s basketball would likely play its non-conference home games throughout the state in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. (The Gators could also come to South Florida for more than their one usual game, which is played as part of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise.) The idea would be to schedule two games in three days (Thursday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday) in each location. Florida played seven pre-January non-conference home games last season.

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TWO BITS: Florida-Miami series, women’s tennis

1 » Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James recently told The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that he had a conversation with Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley about renewing the football series between the two teams. James said Foley was “receptive” to the idea, a word used by Jackson, though the latter insisted that the Gators would only be amenable to playing the Canes in a neutral-site contest. “I would have to think about Orlando,” James told the paper. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.” Foley wants Florida-Miami at a neutral site for a number of reasons. The Gators already lose a home game every other year with Florida-Georgia being played in Jacksonville. UM also neither provides UF with a fair allotment of tickets nor quality locations for those seats in the 76,000-seat Sun Life Stadium. Considering the Gators have the largest base of alumni in South Florida, that is not a winning combination for the school. A neutral-site game would allow the schools to split ticketing and revenues evenly while potentially creating a new, exciting tradition.

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Florida baseball drops two of three at Miami

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 20 Florida Gators baseball (5-3) fell short on the road against the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (4-3) over the weekend, dropping the annual three-game series between the in-state rivals but ultimately avoiding a sweep on Sunday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, FL.

The Gators opened things up Friday night with their second loss of the season, dropping the season opener 6-4 despite scoring three runs in the first inning.

Junior left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner (4.0 IP, 5 H, BB, 3 K) took the loss for Florida, struggling after retiring the side in order and leaving the first inning with a three-run lead. Poyner (1-1) threw 71 pitches in the 6-4 loss and gave up home runs to Miami right fielder Willie Abreu in the third and center fielder Dale Carey in the fifth.

“We just have to get a better start out of our starting pitcher,” remarked head coach Kevin O’Sullivan after the loss.

Inside the batter’s box, junior catcher Taylor Gushue (4/4, RBI, 2 R) extended his hitting streak to six games. The four-hit game by Gushue was a career-best.

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