ABC: Mike Miller’s Greatest Gift (Video)

Ending what was undoubtedly a stressful episode for the family, Miami Heat and former Florida Gators guard/forward Mike Miller and his wife Jennifer were able to bring their newborn daughter, Jaelyn, home from a South Florida hospital last Saturday.

Jaylen had spent just under two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit because doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. Even with Jaylen on his mind, Miller has been playing a big role for Miami, which is up 2-1 in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

In an interesting twist to the story, Miller and his wife actually donated $1 million to a children’s hospital in his South Dakota hometown in 2007. There is a wing of the hospital called the Mike and Jennifer Miller Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. ABC told this story in a piece that ran at halftime of Sunday night’s game.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Johnson, Heat, Macklin

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s new memoir, Through My Eyes was released Tuesday, but the number of fans who camped outside (yes, spent the night) waiting for him at a Books-A-Million absolutely stunned the Heisman Trophy winner. “It’s extremely humbling,” he told The Florida Times-Union. “I take it as a huge responsibility that people care that much about me and [I] really try to make it worth it for them, really try to make them feel special for doing it.” Tebow also spoke with the paper a little bit about the content of the book, which OGGOA should receive from the publisher for review on Tuesday. “It wasn’t just about football stories,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s more about inspiring kids to go out there and try to live their dream, and go after it and live with passion. That’s a lot of what it’s about, so hopefully, people will take it that way.”

2 » Back in Gainesville, FL after suffering a minor concussion during the No. 2 Florida Gators baseball team’s elimination game in the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, AL, sophomore left-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson is doing his best to recover quickly and get back on the field. Speaking with Florida Today, Johnson’s father said his son “is fine” and underwent a number of tests on Monday to evaluate his post-concussion symptoms. He is considered day-to-day for the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which begins on Thursday. The paper reports

He had base line testing while playing for a U.S. all-star team last summer so doctors are able to do comparisons, to make sure he returns to normal before playing again. UF is also consulting with noted Pittsburgh neuropsychologist Michael Collins.

3 » Discussing with Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem and guard Mike Miller their time playing for Florida, the Palm Beach Post’s Ethan Skolnick got the duo to open up about how head coach Billy Donovan ended up helping them form a bond. It all started when he called both players into his office. “Coach Donovan, was like, ‘You know, if the season started today, I couldn’t play neither one of you guys,’” Haslem told Skolnick. “That wasn’t the exact words he used. You got to get your, um, ‘S’ together. Because I just thought I was doing the best academic job in the world, and obviously I wasn’t. And neither was [Miller]. I don’t know what his excuse was. But, at that point, Mike and I bonded from there.”

Haslem even had Miller’s back when an incident occurred with an unnamed football player. “I had a football player that, um, that didn’t really like me,” Miller said with a smile. “For unknown reasons. And UD put an end to that.” Haslem remembered, “Yeah, I just let the guy know, if you got a problem with Mike, you got a problem with me. The guy never bothered Mike again.”

4 » Talk surrounding the 2011 NBA Draft from a Gators perspective has mostly focused on forward Chandler Parsons, who could be picked anywhere from the teens to the mid-second round. Parsons, who has been going around the country doing private workouts after successfully competing in the NBA Combine and select group camp in Minnesota, is not the only former Florida player eligible to be selected. Center Vernon Macklin, according to the Indianapolis Star, is one of six former college players working out for the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Macklin is projected to be a late second-round pick or go undrafted.

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Florida Gators in the 2011 NBA Playoffs

With the regular season wrapping up Wednesday night, the participants in the 2011 NBA Playoffs have now been determined. There are seven Florida Gators with roles on their squad’s active rosters among the 16 teams competing to appear in the 2011 NBA Finals. OGGOA has put together a comprehensive list of these players.

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) Chicago Bulls
No. 13 C Joakim Noah
Season: 4th
Averages: 32.8 mins., 11.7 pts., 10.7 rebs., 2.8 asst., 1.5 blk., .525 FG%, .740 FT%

(2) Miami Heat*
No. 13 SG Mike Miller
Season: 12th
Averages: 20.4 mins., 5.6 pts., 4.5 rebs., 1.2 asst., .401 FG%, .364 3P%, .676 FT%

(5) Atlanta Hawks
No. 15 F/C Al Horford
Season: 4th
Averages: 35.1 mins., 14.3 pts., 9.3 rebs., 3.5 asst., 1.04 blk., .557 FG%, .800 FT%

(7) Philadelphia 76ers
No. 16 C Marreese Speights
Season: 3rd
Averages: 11.5 mins., 5.4 pts., 3.3 rebs., .495 FG%, .750 FT%

WESTERN CONFERENCE:

(1) San Antonio Spurs
No. 15 F Matt Bonner
Season: 7th
Averages: 21.7 mins., 7.3 pts., 3.6 rebs., 0.9 asst., .464 FG%, .457 3P%, .740 FT%

(3) Dallas Mavericks
No. 13 G/F Corey Brewer
Season: 4th
Averages: 11.4 mins., 5.3 pts., 1.8 rebs., 0.85 stl., .490 FG%, .308 3P%, .710 FT%

(8) Memphis Grizzlies
No. 3 PG Jason Williams
Season: 12th
Averages: 11.3 mins., 1.9 pts., 0.7 rebs., 2.5 asst., .310 FG%, .200 3P%

Playoff teams without Gators on their rosters: (3) Boston, (4) Orlando, (6) New York, (8) Indiana, (2) Los Angeles, (4) Oklahoma City, (5) Denver, (6) Portland, (7) New Orleans

* Miami PF Udonis Haslem has been out most of the season with a foot injury. He has not been listed as active for the playoffs.

The playoffs are a great time to root on your favorite players and check out NBA Basketball Odds found at BetUS. Because with so many games each day, there are plenty of ways to add to the fun.

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Young, Bre. Beal, J. Powell

1 » When Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James came together over the summer and decided to play for the Miami Heat, each made concessions in their maximum contracts in order to sign two others players – former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem and guard/forward Mike Miller. Haslem, who injured his foot early in the season, has yet to play since and is a much-needed piece for Miami in the middle. Miller, who recovered from an offseason injury and has been seeing plenty of minutes with the Heat, is simply not playing up to snuff. His 5.6 points per game, 39.9 field goal percentage and 69.7 free throw percentage are career lows, and he is also hitting only 36.4 percent of his three-point attempts (second-worst of his career). What Miller has done is stepped up his rebounding and defense, but Miami will need his shooting stroke to improve if they hope to make a title run.

2 » There is no doubting Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young’s 14-year NFL career. He’s played in the Super Bowl, been named to multiple Pro Bowls and has garnered numerous other honors throughout his career. But as a football coach? Young is just getting started and told University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter that he specifically wanted to coach in college rather than the pros. “Being on this level, you really have a chance to help shape and mold a young man,’’ Young said. “That was really intriguing to me. The game is a little different but still competitive. We are all trying to win, but the message could be a little different in terms of steering a young man in the right direction and helping them realize they have a bright future ahead of them. They are able to go to school and their athletic ability has afforded them a free education. I think the message that needs to be clear is that it’s important that they understand that they need to secure their future by getting their degree.’’

You can check out the rest of the feature story by clicking here, though some choice quotes from Young have been republished below:

Q: What have you learned in your first two years as a college coach that’s different from the NFL?
A: Definitely patience [laughter]. I think on any level you need patience, more so in high school than in college, but on the college level you still have to have patience. In the league, you expect the guys to know it a little bit more. But in college you are really teaching them some things they may not already know or reinforcing some things they might know a little.

Q: What’s your initial impression of the Gators’ defensive linemen?
A: Young and not a veteran group. The guys are eager to learn and they are doing everything that you ask them. They are coachable and they want it. I’m excited for them. It’s a fresh start for them and just learning each guy in the group and understanding who I am and building that trust. It’s a fun group.

3 » Transferring from the Gators after last season, linebacker Brendan Beal immediately found a home with the Minnesota Gophers and is getting ready to finally step on the field this fall. In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Beal said his experience at Florida will help him at Minnesota. “I was around the best,” he said. “I’ve been around guys like [Tim Tebow] and Brandon Spikes. I was there for the national championship. I know what it takes. I know we have the ingredients to be successful. I just want to fill that middle linebacker role and be the quarterback of the defense.” He also spoke about trying to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Gainesville, FL. “I had never experienced a traumatic injury like that; I never got hurt in high school,” Beal said. “I was doubting myself. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, yeah, a sports psychologist helped me out a lot. I took a whole new different approach to life.”

4 » According to Rivals Florida recruiting analyst Chris Nee, the Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban are heavily pursuing Gators four-star 2012 linebacker commitment Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL). Powell is also receiving a lot of interest from the Tennessee Volunteers and will probably take trips to both schools even though he remains solid to Florida at this time.

Late Wednesday, Powell spoke with Mark Wheeler of InsideTheGators.com and had this to say about his commitment: “I’m about 99% committed to Florida. I’m going to go to Alabama to see a game, because they want me to, but like I told them, I’m Florida, I’m all Florida. I’ve never been out of the state of Florida in my life. Ever. I’m going to go on my visits if they are going to pay for them. Why wouldn’t I go on a free trip? It’s an opportunity to travel and see other places.”

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2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (8) Butler

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Elite Eight
Location: New Orleans Arena – New Orleans, LA [Capacity: 18,500]
Time: 4:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (8) BUTLER BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Brad Stevens
Record: 29-7 Record: 26-9
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Horizon League
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -4; O/U 132

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 32-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UF is playing in the NCAA Regional Final (Elite Eight) for the fifth time in school history; they are 4-0 and have advanced to the Final Four on every such occasion. The No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history, and their .711 all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage is the highest in SEC history.
» Butler is making its second consecutive NCAA Regional Final appearance and fourth in the last nine years. The Bulldogs are 16-10 all-time in the event and have earned a postseason berth in 13 of the last 15 seasons.
» The Gators are 3-0 all-time in New Orleans Arena.
» Florida and Butler are meeting for the third time in the history of the two programs. The Gators are 2-0 all-time against the Bulldogs with both games played at neutral sites.
» The two teams share a pair of common opponents this season – Florida State and Xavier. UF defeated FSU 55-51 on Nov. 28 and beat XU 71-67 on Dec. 31, while Butler took down the former 67-64 on Dec. 23 and fell to the later 51-49 on Dec. 9.
» Donovan is 25-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .758 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» The Gators are 16-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). Florida has captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» UF averages a +13.8-point margin of victory in 25 NCAA wins under Donovan.
» The Gators are 23-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 21 of their last 25 games (and 13 of their last 15 – only losses coming to Kentucky) including 18 against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are the only NCAA Division I team not to have a player foul out of a game this season. They lead the nation in fewest fouls committed per game (14.5).
» UF is 11-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,435 points) and is the only active Division I player with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 125 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Florida bests Butler in three of four major national statistical categories. The Gators lead the Bulldogs in rebounding 37.5-34.9 (49th-177th), assists 13.7-12.5 (106th-190th) and field goal percentage .462-.446 (51st-122nd); however, Butler scores more points than Florida 72.8-71.5 (71st-98th). The Gators also lead the Bulldogs in scoring defense with 63.0-65.6 points per game, opponent field goal percentage .421-.430, rebound margin +5.6 to +3.9 and shot blocking 3.6-1.6. UF ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to BU being 38th (.5853) and 77th, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and Butler first met in the opening round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, when the Gators used a buzzer-beating runner (video) from guard Mike Miller in overtime to defeat the Bulldogs 69-68. Trying to defend the school’s first national championship, UF also went head-to-head with BU in the Sweet 16 of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, taking them down 65-57 on their way to a second-straight NCAA title.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

No. 8-seed Butler is the regular season and tournament champions out of the Horizon League. After putting together their sixth-straight 20-win season. The Bulldogs are 16-3 in the month of March in the last four years under Stevens and are currently on a 12-game winning streak. BU won its first two games of the tournament – against Old Dominion and Pittsburgh – in exciting fashion with game-winning shots to end the respective contests. Butler then beat up on Wisconsin 61-54 in the Sweet 16 to earn a match-up against Florida. The Bulldogs are 3-3 against teams ranked in the RPI top 25 with all three victories coming during the tournament.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.5) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He is sporting a 22:8 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAA Tournament, which is much improved compared to his season average.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.8 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.420) and three-point percentage (.394). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (85) and steals (40). He is shooting 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from the field and 55.5 percent (10-of-18) from downtown in the NCAA Tournament. Walker is averaging a team-best 18.3 points in those games while also hitting 71.4 percent (15-of-21) of his attempts from the line.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but struggles with consistency. Boynton is shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from beyond the arc; he is second in scoring with 14.1 points per game and makes a team-high 82.1 percent of his free throws. He has scored in double figures in 15-straight games and has made at least one three-pointer in each of those contests.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He is averaging 8.9 points and 6.1 boards for the season but has stepped his game up in the tournament with averages of 11.7 points and 12 rebounds.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 58.4 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.8 boards.
» Butler F Matt Howard…who averages team-highs in points (16.8) and rebounds (7.8) while playing 30.6 minutes each game. Howard also hits 44.0 percent of his threes and shoots at a 49.2 percent clip from the floor while connecting on 78.9 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.
» Bulldogs G Shelvin Mack…who plays a team-most 31.7 minutes per game, averages 14.6 points each contest and dishes a team-high 3.6 assists per game.

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Florida ready for Elite Eight game vs. Butler

With the 2011 NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional Final between the No. 2-seed Florida Gators (29-7) and No. 8-seed Butler Bulldogs (26-9) just hours away from getting underway, there are a number of storylines being discussed going into the contest. OGGOA has compiled some of the latest news and notes surrounding the Florida-Butler game airing live on CBS Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

DEFENSIVE EFFORT DIDN’T HURT BOYNTON

Coming into the game with questions about a now week-old sprained ankle, sophomore guard Kenny Boynton silenced any worry right away, explaining that he feels healthy and is ready to go again on Saturday. “It feels great. I did some icing last night to help it out a little more, and when we get back to the hotel, I’m going to ice it some more,” he said. “My playing level is good. I got tired a little bit last night because I hadn’t practiced a lot this week. But I think it’s going to come back to me with more running.”

BUTLER IS NO “CINDERELLA”

Carrying a No. 8-seed with nine losses coming out of the Horizon League, Butler has been dealing with the “Cinderella” tag for quite some time. However, as Florida head coach Billy Donovan points out, that tag no longer fits the 2010 NCAA Tournament finalists. “Last year you had Butler making it to the national championship game. I think Butler has proven that they’re as good as any program in the country,” he said. “And you don’t get to a national championship game or the amount of Sweet 16s that they’ve gotten to by just being a Cinderella story. That doesn’t happen year after year.”

BUYING IN TO DONOVAN’s SYSTEM

After a rough start to the season including some dumbfounding losses, the Gators made a concerted effort to buy into what Donovan and his coaching staff were preaching as 2010 came to an end and 2011 began. The players understand now, more than ever, that playing together as a team yields better results than looking for individual glory.

“We relied on [the coaches] a lot. We’ve got all the trust in the world in [Donovan] and he’s done a great job,” junior point guard Erving Walker said. “Out of all of us, he’s the only one who’s been in these situations and moving forward, and we just trust him and the whole coaching staff.” Senior forward Chandler Parsons shared similar sentiments. “Our whole team has totally bought into what they’re saying and what they’re preaching to us,” he added. “We’re just trying to do exactly what they say because they’ve obviously had success and they obviously know what they’re talking about.

Part of accepting Donovan’s plan for the team was relinquishing the potential for high-scoring individual efforts. “We all understand that we’re willing to do whatever it takes for us to win. Any given night, anybody can score,” Parsons said. “I don’t think there’s any selfishness and we just love playing with each other and our chemistry on and off the court is great. We play very unselfish and it doesn’t matter who’s scoring, just whoever is open gets the ball, and we’re not worried about that stuff, we’re just worried about winning.”

PREVAILING IN CLOSE GAMES

One of the main ways Florida has improved in 2011 compared to 2010 is in their ability to pull out tough victories and come through in the clutch. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin explained in detail how the team has changed their mentality in those situations. “For the most part, we come together and we grind it out in the huddles. Chandler does a lot of talking,” he said. “After Coach Donovan and the coaching staff speak, we just get in the huddle again and talk amongst each other. We want to go out there and play as hard as we can and fight until the horn go off.”

Parsons detailed what he talks about at that time. “Just maintaining a level of focus throughout the whole game and understanding that anything can happen on any given play,” he said. “You can’t take anything for granted and play until the buzzer stops.” He also discussed the difference in the team’s mentality. “We were confident last year, but I think this year we’re doing a better job of staying focused and keeping our composure and understanding what’s there on offense and not forcing anything,” Parsons said. “And we understand that when we need to get a stop, we have to step up and get a stop together. We’re just very confident at the end of games and very comfortable in those situations.”

QUOTES

Donovan’s opening statement: “Well, we’re playing against a team that is extremely physical, don’t think there’s any question about that, a team that has got a lot of players that know about success in this tournament from last year. […] They’re a hard team to guard offensively, and I think our guys understand that we’re playing against a terrific team that is very talented, physical and gifted and playing terrific basketball right now.”

Donovan on Mike Miller’s buzzer-beater vs. Butler in 2000: “In order to experience something like that, you’ve got to be in the NCAA Tournament. And that group before that experienced a very devastating loss to Gonzaga at the buzzer to go to the Elite Eight. If you look at the best programs in the country and you look at the amount of years and how many times they’ve been to the NCAA Tournament, that’s where you have a chance to do something really special. You’ve got to get there often enough to make a run at it, and certainly Mike’s shot and play gave us the opportunity to play another game. And that was the first-round game, but it gave us an opportunity to continue on and move on and advance. When you get a chance to advance and move on in this tournament, it’s always very exciting for your program and for your players.”

Parsons on defending Bulldogs star F Matt Howard: “He’s very difficult to guard. He’s one of the most physical players in the country and he plays smart and just relentless and he doesn’t stop and he’s got a really good motor. So a guy like him, he just battles for 40 minutes and you’re not going to get anything easy with him just because his effort is off the charts.“

Boynton on Donovan recruiting him in high school: “When he was recruiting me in high school, he showed a lot of, I’m going to say — he kept coming at me. He came to all my games in the summer, and I heard that he played at Providence. I watched some tapes on him, and I knew he was a guard, and he let his guards play. I watched Erving Walker his freshman year playing. He just lets his guards play freely and he had great success with the 2006 and 2007 national championship.”

Tyus on if he thinks about pulling his name from the 2010 NBA Draft: “No, I really don’t think about it too much. You know, I just try to stay in the moment, concentrate on what I have to do at that time. I’m really happy about where we’re at right now, and I just want everything to just keep going on.”

Donovan on recruiting Walker: “I kind of followed him because I knew Erving had a strong interest, and then all of a sudden I started to watch the guy and he’s playing against Rice, Kemba Walker, playing against a lot of really good players in New York City and saw him on the AAU circuit and there was something about him that he learned to overcome his size, and then he obviously had a huge growth spurt and he went from about 5’4″ to about 5’8″. [Laughing] But he ended up — I think it’s the internal things that make up Erving Walker. It’s not the physical attributes, it’s the internal things, his mind, his understanding, his competitiveness. He’s had to overcome to be a good player.”

Donovan on Stevens taking “his” title of best young coach: “I’ve never looked at it that way as it relates to age. A lot of times it’s what you’re exposed to and what you have a chance to experience. And Brad has been around a lot of terrific people, a lot of terrific coaches, and he’s a terrific coach himself. And I think a lot of times people can label somebody based on their age, and I don’t think that that’s fair to Brad. Brad has been a terrific coach, you know, before he made it to the national championship game a year ago. And he was a terrific coach before last year started. I think the one thing I respect and admire about Brad in getting to know him is he’s got a great passion and enthusiasm for the game and for coaching, and I also think he has a tireless and relentless attitude to try to get better and improve. And he loves the game. But a lot of times people look at someone’s age and at what point are you past young? Are you calling me old now, because I don’t feel like I’m that old, you know? (Laughter).”

Donovan on Stevens consulting with him in the offseason: “Brad was just talking to me just about his team, and he just wanted to know maybe some experiences. I’ve known Brad for a long time and I would consider him a good friend. He comes down to our clinic every summer, he’s on our campus and we’ve spent a lot of time together. So it was one of those things where he was just reaching out looking to share ideas, and you know what, he shares ideas with me, too. We bounce different things off each other, and it’s great when you get a chance to be able to talk to someone like that.”

Donovan on scouting Butler: “What ends up happening is – and I’m sure this is no different for Butler. Coming to New Orleans on Wednesday or Tuesday night, our staff had basically divided up. We had obviously somebody that was scouting BYU, but our staff had started watching Butler and Wisconsin right after we played UCLA. So the first that these guys really heard anything in depth about Butler was really this morning because it was a late game by the time we got back from the arena and had those guys get some rest and get up this morning. So most of what they started to hear in depth and in detail really started this morning and then obviously continued on at practice today.”

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Pouncey, Black, Beal, Burton

1 » Upon joining the Miami Heat, star forward LeBron James decided to take slightly less than the maximum contract available to him, in part, in order for the team to sign former Florida Gators F Mike Miller. With the NBA’s trade deadline rapidly approaching and Miami in desperate need of help at point guard and center, Miller has become expendable to the Heat, which is shopping him throughout the league.

“According to multiple league executives, the Heat have floated Mike Miller in several different trade scenarios,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports. “Miller is the Heat’s most tradable asset, even though he’s in the first season of a five-year, $29 million contract he signed last summer and is averaging just 5.9 points on 41 percent shooting as he recovers from a hand injury that cost him the first two months of the season. “

2 » Looking at offensive line prospects before the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine truly gets underway, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks had this to say about Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey, whom he ranks No. 1 at his position.

1. Mike Pouncey, Florida: He possesses outstanding athleticism and movement skills, and his instincts shine while he controls the offense from the pivot. He’s started 13 games at center and 28 at guard. That flexibility makes him a valuable commodity. Pouncey is an athletic blocker at the point of attack with the strength and power to move defenders off the ball. He has the quickness to cut off linebackers and safeties on the second level. As a pass blocker, he has the body control and strength to anchor against power rushers. He holds his ground against bull rushes, and has the balance to react quickly to counters without losing control. Given his versatility and talent, Pouncey can solidify his status as the top interior blocker with a strong performance at the combine.

3 » NFL.com sat down with former Gators safety Ahmad Black, who spoke with them for a minute in a video interview about a number of topics. Click here to watch. “I go hard. I play like it’s my last play. I respect the game of football, so I’ll give it my all,” he said.

4 » Chosen to participate in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit on April 9, Florida’s five-star shooting guard commit Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) sat down for a wide-ranging interview with USA Basketball. In it he discusses representing his country, playing international basketball picking the University of Florida and much more.

Extra BIT » Considering a lot of people seem to have gotten a kick out of the story, OGGOA figured we’d throw up a quick BIT about Gators freshman quarterback Trey Burton having a steer named after him. Austin Dailey, 18, the owner the steer, will be attending UF in the fall. You can read the story here.

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Gators in the NBA through 2011 All-Star break

With the 2010-11 NBA season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators have been making strong impressions on the league with a few having a significant impact on their team’s game-to-game performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores for the first half of the season to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished thus far. Figures below are per-game averages:

F/C AL HORFORD`, Atlanta Hawks: 16.0 points [56.8% shooting – team-best], 9.8 rebounds [team-high], 3.6 assists, 0.85 blocks, 1.06 steals, 82% FT …in 35.4 minutes with 51-of-55 starts [51 games played*]

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: 14.0 points [51.4% shooting], 11.7 rebounds [team-high], 2.7 assists, 1.63 blocks [team-high], 1.17 steals, 73% FT …in 36.8 minutes with 24-of-54 starts [24 games played*]

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: 15.9 points [49.2% shooting], 9.4 rebounds [team-high], 3.4 assists, 0.37 blocks, 0.89 steals, 77% FT …in 36.2 minutes with 46-of-55 starts [46 games played*]

G/F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves: 8.6 points [38.4% shooting, 26.3% downtown], 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.25 blocks, 1.59 steals [team-high], 71% FT …in 24.1 minutes with 22-of-56 starts [56 games played]

F/C MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: 7.3 points [48.4% shooting, 50% downtown (team-best > 5 mpg.)], 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.38 blocks, 0.30 steals, 73% FT …in 22.0 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [40 games played*]

G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: 5.9 points [41.1% shooting, 38.7% downtown], 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.32 steals, 78% FT …in 19.3 minutes with two-of-56 starts [22 games played*]

C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Philadelphia 76ers: 5.4 points [50.8% shooting], 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.22 blocks, 0.11 steals, 75% FT …in 11.6 minutes with 1-of-56 starts [45 games played*]

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: 8.0 points [51.2% shooting], 8.2 rebounds [team-high], 0.5 assists, 0.23 blocks, 0.54 steals, 80% FT …in 26.5 minutes with 0-of-56 starts [13 games played*]

PG JASON WILLIAMS, Memphis Grizzlies: 1.9 points [35% shooting, 32% downtown], 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.42 steals …in 10.2 minutes [19 games played, two teams~]

PG ORIEN GREENE, New Jersey Nets: 1.0 points [50% shooting], 0.3 assists, 0.33 steals …in 1.7 minutes [three games played~]

NOTES
` Horford was named to his second-straight NBA All-Star Game this season.
* Horford missed four games with a back injury.
* Noah missed 30 games with an injured thumb (torn ligament).
* Lee missed nine games with an infected elbow.
* Bonner missed 16 games with an injured knee (marrow edema).
* Miller missed 34 games with a broken thumb.
* Speights did not play in 11 games (coach’s decision).
* Haslem has missed 43 games with an injured foot, is thought to be out for the entire season but has an outside chance of returning.
~ Williams was traded from the Orlando Magic to Memphis and has yet to step on the court for the Grizzlies.
~ Green was recently called up by New Jersey from the NBDL.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

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