SIX BITS: gymnastics, Floyd, Kansas, Parsons

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics did not conclude its incredible weekend on Saturday after it won the 2013 NCAA Championship, the first NCAA title in program history. Instead, Florida was right back at it on Sunday as its gymnasts competed in individual events with the hopes of bringing additional championships back to Gainesville, FL. Freshman Bridget Sloan, who captured the 2013 NCAA Championship in the all-around on Friday, doubled up with a title in the balance beam (9.900) on Sunday. She actually would have won three individual championships had it not been for junior teammate Alaina Johnson, who edged Sloan 9.9125 to 9.900 in the uneven parallel bars to win a title of her own.

2 » Florida’s national championship-winning gymnastics team will be honored at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center during a special celebration on Monday at 7 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. and access to the event is free. The celebration will be the first held inside the O’Dome for a Gators championship-winning program since basketball won its second of back-to-back titles in 2007. GatorVision.tv will have a live stream of the event for fans outside of Gainesville. OGGOA will tweet a link at 7 p.m.

The Florida school website on Monday posted a terrific feature on head coach Rhonda Faehn, who has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the program in 2002. Though the national title had been elusive for Faehn, she knew that the Gators could be one of the top programs in the country when she took the job. “It was a gold mine just waiting for success,” she told senior writer Scott Carter about Florida. “I felt there was so much potential. Who wouldn’t want to go there? It was undiscovered almost and people needed to see how amazing it was. That’s what I felt for years when I was coaching at other places, that Florida was just incredible.” Added athletic director Jeremy Foley about Fahen: “She built our program. When we hired her, the goal was we wanted to be like Alabama, we wanted to be like Georgia, we wanted to be like Utah, we didn’t understand why we couldn’t be like them. We wanted to be a factor. Look at what she has done. I feel great for her, her staff, and obviously these kids.”

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: gymnastics, Floyd, Kansas, Parsons

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Former Florida Gators in the NBA: April 2013

With the 2012-13 NBA regular season concluding on Wednesday, 10 former Florida Gators basketball players spread over nine teams participated in the sixth month of action (16 total days), many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performances.

For the first time, OGGOA is checking and re-checking the box scores month-by-month to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplish throughout the entire 2012-13 season.

* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH
F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: GP/GS (8/8), MIN (37.9), PPG (18.1), RPG (11.9), APG (2.1), SPG (1.0), BPG (0.5), TPG (2.0), FPG (2.5), A/TO (1.1)
» Shooting: FG% (.560), 3P% (.000), FT% (.742)
» Highlights: Seven double-doubles (four-straight); 23 points, 16 rebounds, four assists vs. New Orleans on April 3; 22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists at Phoenix on April 5
» Top 10 ranks (season): Double-doubles (No. 1); defensive rebounds per game (No. 2); defensive rebounds (No. 3); rebounds per game and total efficiency points (No. 4); total rebounds and efficiency ranking (No. 5); field goals made and efficiency ranking per 48 mins. (No. 9); triple-doubles and defensive rebounds per 48 mins. (No. 10)
» Playoffs: The Warriors are the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference and will take on the No. 3 Denver Nuggets beginning on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NBA played this month…
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NBA: April 2013

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SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

1 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons concluded the 2012-13 NBA regular season in style, draining an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to extend his team’s season finale into overtime. Though Houston fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 99-95, Parsons finished with 23 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists. The Rockets will be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

2 » During a pre-draft press conference on Wednesday, New York Jets general manager John Idzik remained non-committal but nevertheless seemed to foreshadow quarterback Tim Tebow’s future with the team. “I’m not saying he is, I’m not saying he isn’t,” said Idzik after being asked if Tebow would be involved in the Jets’ offseason quarterback competition. “I’m just saying let things play out.” He continued: “I guess I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. … He’s a Jet, and we’ve gone through some change here and that’s what I mean by letting things play out. We have a new coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have a new offensive system, I’m new. We have several new people within football administration. I think you just got to let these things develop and evolve.”

3 » Workouts at this point in the offseason do not include on-field drills, so Tebow has not yet had an opportunity to show these new coaches his ability. If one is to believe veteran quarterback coach Steve Clarkson, who told Newsday on Wednesday that he fixed Tebow’s flawed mechanics in just three days, the player may be able to impress if given a chance. “I would hope wherever he ends up, they give him an opportunity to play, because if they do, they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he told the paper. “I think he can still play.” Clarkson spent three days working with Tebow in Arizona during the month of February and explained that he fixed the flaw in Tebow’s throwing motion.

“The footwork is essentially what caused a lot of his looping motion,” Clarkson said. “A lot of what was happening with his throwing motion and why it was elongated was because of the way he placed his feet at the end of his drop. Right before he’d make his throw, his hips would stop at mid-motion, and the ball would come off in funny places. So that was one thing that we really honed in on, was trying to tie his feet up.” Clarkson went on to say that though Tebow has a high football IQ, his footwork was slowing him down. He even used Tai Chi to help Tebow “make his body work as one unit.” He added: “The things that he needs to work on are very coachable and actually very minor. … He just needs to have someone not be afraid of the phenomenon.”

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators football news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Parsons’s buzzer-beater, Tebow’s fixed footwork, Powell’s excitement to return

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Former Florida Gators in NFL: Divisional (2012)

The 2012-13 NFL Playoffs continued this past the weekend with nine former Florida Gators football players spread over six of the eight teams in action Saturday and Sunday.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday there were seven total players on rosters of teams that advanced to the Conference Championship round with at least one on each of the four still in contention to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLVII.

A total of five players participated in Divisional Round action with four others either inactive or injured.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the second week of the 2012-13 postseason.

ACTIVE (5)
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
DE JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Played as a reserve
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Six receptions for 85 yards (targets: 9, long: 40) [Player of the Week]
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Six tackles (four solo)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Four tackles (two solo)

Animated GIF courtesy of MockSession.com.

INACTIVE (3) / INJURED (1)
WR DEONTE THOMPSON*, Baltimore Ravens: Inactive
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Inactive
RB JEFF DEMPS*, New England Patriots: Injured – “ankle” (season)
DT JAYE HOWARD*, Seattle Seahawks: Inactive

NFL PLAYOFFS NOTES
– Caldwell and Howard were eliminated from the postseason.
– Match-ups include Baltimore (Thompson) at New England (Cunningham, Hernandez, Spikes) and San Francisco (McDonald) at Atlanta (Peterson).
– A former Gators football player is guaranteed to win the Super Bowl.

* Rookie

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Wildcard (2012)

The 2012-13 NFL Playoffs began over the weekend with 13 former Florida Gators football players spread over eight of 12 teams participating in postseason action.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday there were nine total players that advanced to the Divisional round on six of the eight teams hoping to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLVII.

A total of three players participated in Wild Card action with three others listed as inactive.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the first week of the 2012-13 postseason.

ACTIVE (3)
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: 10 tackles (nine solo, two for loss) [team-highs], QB hit [Player of the Week]
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Three tackles (two solo), QB hit
OL MAURICE HURT, Washington Redskins: Played as a reserve

BYE (7) / INACTIVE (3) / INJURED (1)
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Playoff bye
WR DEONTE THOMPSON*, Baltimore Ravens: Inactive
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Playoff bye
DE JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Playoff bye
RB JEFF DEMPS*, New England Patriots Playoff bye / Injured
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Playoff bye
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Playoff bye
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Playoff bye
DT JAYE HOWARD*, Seattle Seahawks: Inactive
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: Inactive

NFL PLAYOFFS NOTES
– Dunlap, Nelson, Grossman and Hurt saw their teams eliminated from the postseason.
– Eight former Gators remain on rosters of teams that advanced to the Divisional round, which will be held from Jan. 12-13.
– Match-ups include Baltimore (Thompson) at Denver (Caldwell) & Green Bay at San Francisco (McDonald) on Saturday, Seattle (Howard) at Atlanta (Peterson) & Houston at New England (Cunningham, Hernandez, Spikes) on Sunday.

* Rookie

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Top 12 for 2012: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2012 (check out Sunday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 On the Field Moments of the Year.

12 » MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH
If there was a theme to Gators athletics in the spring it was Florida teams falling short of their goals. In addition to men’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and men’s swimming & diving all just coming up just short of winning major titles, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse and softball all gave valiant efforts but faced immense disappointment in the end. It all started with the Gators basketball team, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year and once again choked away a late lead and failed to advance to the Final Four. Up 11 points with 8:14 left in the game, Florida was outscored 18-3 down the stretch by Louisville, which held on for the 72-68 victory. The Gators hit just 1-of-12 shots over the final 8:14 while also going 1-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and 0-for-9 from downtown over the final 20 minutes. Gymnastics did just about everything it could during the 2012 NCAA Super Six in late April but came just short of earning the first national title in program history, falling 197.850-197.775 to Alabama and losing by 0.075 points. Next up was softball, which looked primed to return to the championship game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series for the third time in the last four years. Instead, Florida got upended 10-1 by eventual national champion Alabama in the finals of the 2012 SEC Tournament and was eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2012 NCAA Tournament due in part to suspensions levied against three key players. It was the first time since 2006 that UF did not at least advance to the Super Regional. A controversial finish led to another tough loss for lacrosse (see No. 9), leaving one sport to provide the ultimate disappointment to Gators fans in 2012.

Perhaps most heartbreaking for Gators fans was seeing a baseball team that was the national title favorite from the very start of the season fall fast and finish the campaign without a single title. Cruising along in the SEC Tournament with a one-run lead and three outs to go in the championship game, Florida baseball collapsed against Vanderbilt, allowing its opponents to score five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth and hold on for the title. Junior closer Austin Maddox imploded after coming on to get the final three outs, giving up a lead-off double to right and eventually allowing Vandy to tie the game after a sacrifice bunt, hit batter and suicide squeeze. It only got worse from there. The Commodores accomplished a double steal, hit an infield single, loaded the bases (intentional walk, double steal, intentional walk) and then pulled off a triple steal to score their third run of the inning. A two-run single put the nail in the coffin as the Gators allowed more stolen bases in a single frame (seven) than had ever been given up in an entire SEC Tournament game in the history of the event. With horrible memories of the SEC Tournament behind them and the NCAA Tournament upcoming, Florida hoped to use the experience to improve as a team. The Gators did advance to the College World Series but were swept right out of it with consecutive losses. Florida fell 7-3 to South Carolina in its first game before allowing an unranked Kent State team to register a 5-4 upset victory in the second game. The Gators coughed up four unearned runs, committed two errors and failed to plate runs despite having numerous opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position. With so much talent on the roster and a track record of success – the team got to the championship series just one year earlier – Florida baseball legitimately blew a great national title chance.

[Read: The Silver Lining – “Failure” is not a dirty word]

11 » FLORIDA SWEEPS FSU IN FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, BASEBALL

For the first time in school history, the Gators swept the Seminoles in football, basketball and baseball (5-0) in a calendar year. Florida State having a historically successful baseball team has stood in the way of Florida’s ability to accomplish this feat in the past, but Gators baseball completed its first regular-season sweep of the Seminoles since 1958 by earning a 9-2 victory in Gainesville, FL, 4-1 victory in Jacksonville, FL and a 6-3 win on the road in Tallahassee, FL. Florida football bounced back from consecutive losses to FSU with a 37-26 beat down in Tallahassee, and UF basketball matched the football team’s intensity with a 72-47 rout on the road.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: On the Field Moments of the Year

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FOUR BITS: Evans, O’Day, Taylor, McDonald

1 » Florida Gators senior safety Josh Evans opened up to the New York Post recently about the difficulties he faced after losing his mother over six years ago while still in eighth grade. In fact, Evans had to come to grips with the situation head-on considering he was the only one in the house at the time of his mom’s passing. “I was actually there. My mother had been dealing with cancer for a couple of years, and I had no clue, I didn’t know she had cancer because I was young, my parents didn’t want the baby boy to know that she was sick to that magnitude,” he explained. “It was toward the end of the school year, graduation was coming up, eighth grade, I had a day off from school. So my father went to work and he said, ‘Make sure you check on her every 10-20 minutes.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I will.’ After he left, 10, 15 minutes went by, I walked back in the room to check on her and that was it. I saw something that changed my life forever.” Read more.

2 » Two former Florida baseball players began the 2012 MLB Playoffs late last week though only one remains past the wild card qualification weekend. Right-handed pitcher Darren O’Day has already seen action as a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles as the team got past the wild card stage and is now engaged in a five-game series with the New York Yankees. Atlanta Braves catcher David Ross, on the other hand, hit a two-run homer in his team’s game but is now out of the playoffs due to the Braves losing.

3 » Former Florida jumpers Christian Taylor and Will Claye – who took home gold and silver, respectively, in the triple jump at the 2012 London Olympics over the summer (Claye also won bronze in the long jump) – are two of six male athletes nominated for 2012 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year, an award that recognizes track & field’s best male and female athlete. The award will be officially presented on Dec. 1. with fans receiving the opportunity to vote for their favorite.

4 » San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald may not post the gaudy stats like some of his contemporaries, but he is just as integral to his team’s success as any of the top players at his position in the NFL. Speaking with the 49ers’ team website last week, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio raved about what McDonald brings to the table each day. “He has a tremendous impact on any game and on our defense,” he said. “When teams have a hard time running, he’s right in the middle of that. Whether he’s being credited with a tackle or not is irrelevant.” After playing sparingly as a reserve in his first few seasons, McDonald was signed to a starter’s contract in 2011 (five years, $20 million) and moved into that role last year. He is more than living up to his end of the bargain and could be in line for a raise before his deal expires in 2015.

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Tim Tebow wins ESPY award for Best Moment

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow may no longer be a member of the Denver Broncos but one of his last plays with the team earned him and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas an ESPY award on Wednesday in Los Angeles, CA.

Playing in the Wildcard Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, Denver and the Pittsburgh Steelers were tied at 23 heading into overtime with the Broncos receiving the ball. On the very first play from scrimmage, Tebow hit Thomas across the middle with a dart that the receiver would take the rest of the way for a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass.

The ESPY for Best Moment is the third in Tebow’s young career but his first as a professional football player. He previously won Best Male College Athlete as a member of the Gators football team in both 2008 and 2009.

Florida was well-represented at the award show on Wednesday with three other nominees – U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach for Best Female Athlete, junior catcher Mike Zunino for Best Male College Athlete and jumper Christian Taylor for Best Track & Field Athlete – though none of the three brought home the award in their respective category. Gators senior right fielder Preston Tucker was also in attendance to officially accept the 2012 Capital One Cup and guard Mike Miller found his way onstage to accept the award for Best Team.

A number of former Florida student-athletes congratulated Tebow for his award on Twitter after it was announced.

Jack Youngblood (@theblood85): Congrats @TimTebow on your @ESPYS award! Here’s to more “moments” like that one-JY

Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88): Congrats to my boy @TimTebow even thought he won it against my #Steelers smh! Payback week 2 lol

Andre Caldwell (@Acaldwell17): How can you not like @TimTebow and the way he carry is his self.. It was a pleasure to play with Timmy

Brandon Spikes (@BrandonSpikes55): Tim Tebow is such a great player !!! #GrinchSmile

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