Once a problem child, Parsons is now a leader

After back-to-back National Championship seasons, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan was faced with a dilemma: stay in Gainesville, FL, or move on to the NBA and the Orlando Magic. Eventually deciding to return to the Gators, Donovan was met with a young team highlighted by a star in guard Nick Calathes, who would leave two seasons later after failing to lead his team to a single NCAA Tournament appearance.

Throughout those two seasons, Donovan was aggravated with many of the younger players on his team – it even went so far where, on an occasion or two, he locked them out of the gym and refused to let them wear Florida colors.

In an interview with FOX Sports‘s Jeff Goodman, senior forward Chandler Parsons explains that he was one of those problem children causing Donovan so much grief.

“Coach found out [the players were talking about North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough] and told me he’d take one season of Hansbrough over four seasons from me,” Parsons said. “When I came in as a freshman, my mindset was wrong. I didn’t buy into coach’s philosophy, I didn’t play defense. I just didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand what it takes. […] I just wish I had realized everything earlier.”

While speaking with Parsons, Goodman came to the conclusion that he once was “high maintenance” and was in Donovan’s “doghouse” but is now someone who can laugh at his past and focus on the future.

“I know I’ve got to be a more consistent shooter – from three and from the line,” Parsons added. “My confidence is there now. I think I can play with anyone.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

F/C Chris Richard: “All I can do is give my best.”

Former Florida Gators forward/center Chris Richard is a busy man. Entering his fourth season of playing professional basketball, Richard just returned from summer league action and was in his hometown of Lakeland, FL, when OGGOA caught up with him for an exclusive interview covering his college career, professional future and charitable efforts.

Though he is headed back to Chicago soon to workout and attempt to earn a contract, Richard has been concentrating on getting his foundation, The Rich Kids Project, off the ground.

Designed to help and provide opportunities for underprivileged and at-risk youth in the Polk County area, the organization aims at assisting children financially while, at the same time, ensuring that they are building a foundation for their future. “I want to teach substance and individuality through education, arts and just basic knowledge,” Richard told us. And even though the charity is based in Lakeland, he hopes it can grow big over time – with your help. More information on Richard’s charity will be available in the future.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Coming out of high school as Mr. Basketball in the state of Florida, you chose to sign with the Gators. What other schools were you considering and why did you end up picking Florida?
CHRIS RICHARD: “At the time I came out of high school, I could have went to just about any school in the country. I got recruited by everybody from North Carolina to Maryland to Indiana … all of the Florida schools. I only wanted to go to Florida. Growing up, once I got into basketball and once I got into sports, for whatever reason, Florida just stood out to me. I was a big Florida basketball fan. I grew up kind of liking Florida State and Miami football-wise. I [also] have family that actually lives in Alachua, outside of Gainesville, so going up there every summer – it kind of grew on me. I chose [Florida] over Florida State and Alabama.”

AS: You did get some playing time early on in your Gators career, but last two years is when your role increased. Losing its three top veterans, the team was significantly underrated going into the 2005-06 season. At what point did you guys realize that you had something special going on?
CR: “You know what, honestly, I know it sounds cliché and everybody says it, but once we got together that summer … Everybody went home for summer break and we came back to start working out for the season, and once we got back and started playing with each other, that was our first time playing together without David [Lee], Matt [Walsh] and Peep [Anthony Roberson]. So we never really saw what each person was capable of doing because everybody’s role was a little bit different that previous year. Just coming in and playing pick up, it was just a lot different. And we saw that on any given night that it can be anybody’s night. So we kind of took that and kind of embraced that and thought it was an advantage for us because we knew that we didn’t have any selfishness on the team. So nobody minded playing backseat … everybody just helped each other and kept it going.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Chris Richard…after the break!
Continue Reading » F/C Chris Richard: “All I can do is give my best.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Williams, Haden, Gators on Patriots

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams, a nine-year NBA veteran, has agreed to sign a one-year deal to return to the Orlando Magic for the 2010-11 season. He will be the third point guard on the roster behind starter Jameer Nelson and reserve Chris Duhon. Last season, Williams only averaged 6.0 points and 3.6 assists as a backup but achieved career-highs in field goal (.444) and three-point percentage (.380).

2 » Taking a look at the Cleveland Browns in training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter does not think it is likely that former Florida cornerback and Cleveland rookie Joe Haden will start this season. “[Eric] Wright and [Sheldon] Brown are the undisputed starters for now,” Schefter writes, “but Haden will be the nickel cornerback and a player the Browns believe they will rely on for years to come.”

3 » According to the Boston Herald former Gators star Jermaine Cunningham continues to work as an outside linebacker with the New England Patriots’ first unit during training camp. ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss believes Cunningham is the fastest player during the team’s pass-rush drills, and head coach Bill Belichick is also offering some praise. “Jermaine has picked up things very well,” Belichick said. “I think each day you can definitely see him getting better, more confident, understanding things that happened the day before and being able to process that.”

4 » Reiss also said that former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez looks like New England’s “most impressive rookie to date” and “the coaching staff is high on rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes.” Hernandez has “excellent hand-eye coordination, sticky hands, and practices with great effort,” Reiss writes.

Photo Credit: David Silverman/New England Patriots

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donovan has no regrets, empathizes with Izzo

Returning to Orlando, FL, for a press conference would not have been a big deal for Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan…if his last media event in the city was anything other than him accepting the top job with the Orlando Magic three years ago after winning back-to-back National Championships.

Ironically, the Gators will play the Central Florida Knights on Dec. 1 in the Florida Citrus Sports Shootout – the first college basketball game in the brand new Amway Center (the future home of the Magic). And if he had not decided to return to Florida merely days after accepting the Orlando job, Donovan very well may have been coaching the Magic at the new arena – rather than the Gators.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t replay the decision in my mind a few times,” Donovan said Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“[After you leave], you don’t always get the same college job and the same situation you had before,” he added. “I look at someone like Steve Spurrier. He left Florida and he’s back coaching in college at South Carolina. Certainly, South Carolina is not the same as Florida. When you leave a place, there’s a feeling like you can never go back again. So you better be sure when you leave.”

Donovan’s struggle mirrored the situation Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo faced over the last two weeks – trying to decide whether to take a large sum of money and potential to succeed in the NBA or continue to build his program on the college level. No one can empathize with this better than Donovan.

“I understand completely what Tom went through,” he said. “It’s such a hard decision because you know it’s a great opportunity in the NBA, but you have a situation in college where you have had an incredible personal investment into building something great. The amount of time and energy it takes to get a program to a certain level and then, to suddenly leave it, is extremely difficult.”

Tags: , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Easley, Crowder, den Dekker, UCF

1 » When the New York Post asked Florida Gators five-star freshman defensive tackle Dominique Easley what his goals are when he heads to Gainesville, FL, next week, his response was straight-forward: “start right away and get to that BCS championship game.” Easley – who was honored with a student-athlete award on Monday after finishing high school with an 85 grade average while compiling 73 tackles and 16 sacks as a senior – says that he is excited for his future. “It’s getting crazy,” he said. “I’m going to be doing what I’ve been watching all my life.” Earning praise from his teachers, administrators, coaches and peers, Easley is on the fast track to success and may realize that as soon as Sept. 4 against Miami (OH).

2 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, entering his sixth season in the NFL, is facing a bit of adversity this offseason after the team signed high-priced free agent LB Karlos Dansby and traded for back-up LB Tim Dobbins to compete with him for one of the inside positions. Though Crowder has not been a source of game-changing plays yet in the NFL, his consistent play and locker room presence is one of the driving forces of the team’s defense. Crowder sat down with the Sun-Sentinel for a wide-ranging interview which can be viewed below. As OGGOA has contended for years, Crowder is easily the best interview in the NFL. Enjoy.

3 » In college baseball, deciding to remain in school after being selected in the MLB Draft is an increasingly difficult decision – especially when the lure of money is being thrown around. But according to Gators senior outfielder Matt den Dekker, returning to school could not have gone any better. “This is definitely the best moment in my career,” den Dekker said after defeating Miami last week to advance to the 2010 NCAA College World Series. “Coming back was the best decision I could have made.” The choice also improved his draft stock, seeing as he moved up from a 16th-round pick in 2009 to the No. 152 overall pick just over a week ago as selected by the New York Mets.

4 » As OGGOA first reported via Twitter early Wednesday, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan and Central Florida Knights head coach Donnie Jones will be holding a joint press conference in Orlando, FL, on Thursday at 3 p.m. to officially announce the neutral-site game to be played at the brand new Amway Center on Dec. 1. The game will be the first college basketball contest played at the $480 million facility and will hold added significance on two levels for Donovan. Most notably, he will be going up against his former long-time assistant in Jones for the first time since he left the program for the top job at Marshall after the 2007 NCAA National Championship season. Donovan also will be coaching in the new home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the team he once agreed to coach before backing out just days later and signing a new contract with Florida in 2007.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida set to take on UCF in new Amway Center

Florida Gators basketball has been dead-set on bolstering its 2010-11 out-of-conference schedule since last season ended. They advanced this cause Wednesday, agreeing to face the Central Florida Knights in a neutral-site game at the brand new Amway Center in Orlando, FL, on Dec. 1.

Though Central Florida is based in Orlando, the game’s location is considered to be a neutral-site because the Knights play their home games at the UCF Arena. Their match-up with Florida will be the first college basketball game played at the new $480 million facility.

The game will hold added significance on two different levels for Gators head coach Billy Donovan. Most notably, Donovan will be going up against his former long-time assistant and new Knights head coach Donnie Jones for the first time since he left the program for the top job at Marshall after the 2007 NCAA National Championship season.

He also will be coaching in the new home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, the team he once agreed to coach before backing out just days later and signing a new contract with Florida in 2007.

UF and UCF last faced-off in basketball on Dec. 20, 2008, in Jacksonville, FL. The Gators prevailed 89-61 and are 9-0 all-time against the Knights.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Gators in the 2010 NBA Playoffs – Rd. 1, Gm. 1

Now that the 2010 NBA Playoffs are underway, six former Florida Gators are playing important roles on their squad’s active rosters as they compete for a chance appear in the 2010 NBA Finals. OGGOA has put together a comprehensive summary of these players’ performances from game one of the first round.

Continue Reading » Gators in the 2010 NBA Playoffs – Rd. 1, Gm. 1

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida Gators in the 2010 NBA Playoffs

With the regular season wrapping up Wednesday night, the participants in the 2010 NBA Playoffs have now been determined. There are six Florida Gators with roles on their squad’s active rosters among the 16 teams competing to appear in the 2010 NBA Finals. OGGOA has put together a comprehensive list of these players.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators in the 2010 NBA Playoffs

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 3 of 4 « 1  2  3  4 »