Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.

Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.

Continue Reading » Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

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

The Countdown: Florida basketball (10-0)

With the Florida Gators‘ 2013-14 basketball season getting underway in just a few hours, the second half of OGGOA‘s series – The Countdown – takes a look at those players on the roster wearing jerseys ranging from No. 10-0.

10 – Dorian Finney-Smith (Portsmouth, VA)
Redshirt sophomore forward (transfer)
6’8” 212 lbs.

Quick Bio: A former four-star recruit and the No. 31 overall player in the Class of 2011, Finney-Smith spent his freshman season playing for Virginia Tech. He made 30 starts and played in all 33 of his team’s games, averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. For his efforts, Finney-Smith was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team. He chose Florida over a list of possible destinations including Memphis, Louisville and Iowa State. He is from the same town as Vernon Macklin; the two are friends.

2012-13 Season: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Finney-Smith was ineligible to play and took a redshirt. He was, however, able to practice the Gators and did just that as he helped prepare Florida for its Elite Eight run.

2013-14 Outlook: Finney-Smith has the intangables that could go a long way to helping the Gators break through the Elite Eight ceiling and get to the Final Four for the first time since 2006-07. Unfortunately for Florida, he starts the year suspended due to a violation of team rules and it is unknown when he will be allowed to return to the court (likely in a game or two). Head coach Billy Donovan spent most of the offseason trying to take pressure off Finney-Smith’s shoulders because the expectation level for his contributions is so high. He is just happy to be at UF. “I fit right in. I picked up the plays quick like the pick-and-rolls, I like the pick-and-rolls. My teammates, they helped me out with it, so I’d say I’ve adjusted pretty good,” Finney-Smith said.

5 – Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL)
Senior point guard
6’2” 176 lbs.

Quick Bio: A two-star recruit coming out of high school, Wilbekin skipped his senior season and accepted a scholarship to Florida as a junior. A lifelong Gators fan, Wilbekin proved to be a capable backup point guard as a freshman. He posted the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team (2.2), led UF in assists five times, earned one start and was the first player to come off of the bench in 16 of the team’s games. As a sophomore, Wilbekin again served as back-up but was more impressive overall, improving his shooting by 10 percent and three-point shooting by nearly 20 percent. He only averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game but shot 45.7 percent from downtown and proved that he could be a capable player.

2012-13 Season: Moving into the starting lineup, Wilbekin doubled his minutes but tripled his production, averaging 9.1 points, 5.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He hit 35.9 percent of his three-pointers and was better at getting to the hoop than Erving Walker had been the previous four seasons but was still not consistent in that regard. He was suspended for the first three games of the season but came back with gusto. He struggled mightily in the Gators’ final two games, however, combining to go 4-for-17 in 56 minutes. Two months after the season ended, he was suspended for the second time in a seven-month span.

2013-14 Outlook: Once Wilbekin comes back from his suspension, which could last up to six games, he will return to being an on-court leader for Florida, one that has supposedly taken his game to another level this offseason. Word out of the program is that Wilbekin took his latest discipline to heart and has been laser-focused on basketball over the last few months, which is great news for the Gators. Some of the pressure to put the ball in the hoop, at least as the primary ball-handler, will be taken off his shoulders, meaning he can concentrate on putting his teammates in position to score and spotting up for three-pointers. “He’s pretty unstoppable in practice, honestly. He knows the game. He’s extremely talented point guard,” said the next person featured on The Countdown. “Even though he’s had his issues this past summer, he’s still done a great job developing his game. I believe, when his suspension is over, he’s going to help our team tremendously right off the bat.”

Read about FIVE more players in The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida basketball (10-0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Donovan talks injuries, defense, Carter’s transfer

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Tuesday for the first time since fall practice began on Friday, Oct. 11 and discussed a number of pressing topics already facing the team.

ALREADY SHORTHANDED

The injury bug appears to have crept over from the football locker room to the basketball court as Donovan announced Tuesday that two additional Gators are missing from practice aside from senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) and sophomore guard Eli Carter (leg), neither of whom have been medically cleared to play.

Redshirt junior center Damontre Harris has not practiced yet due to “hamstring issues” that arose during preseason workouts. Trainers want him to be cautious and have therefore been holding him out of practice.

Sophomore G Michael Frazier II is suffering through “some kid of virus” that team doctors have not pinpointed as of yet. “We don’t know what it is,” Donovan said. “He’s had some blood work done, hopefully find something out [Wednesday].”

Donovan said Florida is “trying to make the best of the limited numbers in the time that we have to try and get better,” so the Gators’ walk-ons, one of whom is injured himself, are getting plenty of run.

His son, redshirt junior G Billy Donovan, a transfer from Catholic University, tore the labrum in his shoulder in August and has been playing with a brace rather than undergoing surgery and missing the majority of the season. “His arm got jerked up. He’s been battling and dealing with that, but he’s still coming to practice he’s still able to play. But I know he’s in some pain there,” the elder Donovan said.

Donovan also said he’s been pleased with the work of F Jacob Kurtz, who saw action in 20 games last season. “Jake’s done a really good job,” he noted. “I trust Jake. Jake’s been in the program now a couple years. He’s a great guy to have around, our players really like him and respect him. Those guys have had to help and they’ve been very, very involved in practice.”

Continue Reading » Donovan talks injuries, defense, Carter’s transfer

Tags: , , , , , ,

Florida G Eli Carter cleared to play immediately

Nearly six months after initially deciding to transfer to the Florida Gators, junior guard Eli Carter learned that the NCAA has granted his waiver to play immediately, according to CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Borzello. The report has since been confirmed by UF.

Carter, who committed to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in 2011 but decided to leave the program following the scandal involving then-head coach Mike Rice, averaged 14.9 points in 28.8 minutes per game during his sophomore season.

He joins a Florida team in need of backcourt scoring help after losing two veteran guards – Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario – to graduation after the 2012-13 season. Boynton and Rosario combined for 24.5 points per game last season.

Though he is now eligible to play, whether Carter is healthy enough to step on the court for the Gators in 39 days (Nov. 8 vs. North Florida) remains to be seen. He has not yet been medically cleared by UF’s doctors and trainers.

On Feb. 16 in a game against DePaul, Carter gruesomely fractured his right fibula [GIF] when he was fouled early in the second half on his way to the basket for a layup.

Though he was initially expected to make a full recovery without surgery, Carter went under the knife on Feb. 28. He was told by surgeons and trainers that he would be able to resume running in June.

Continue Reading » Florida G Eli Carter cleared to play immediately

Tags: , , , ,

Rutgers transfer Eli Carter commits to Florida

Updated: Friday, May 10 at 3:00 p.m.

For the second time in the last four offeasons, Florida Gators basketball has added a transfer from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as guard Eli Carter on Tuesday announced his intent to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.

“Proud to announce that I will be continuing my career at the University of Florida !! #Gators,” he tweeted at approximately 2 p.m.

Once former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was fired for physically and emotionally bullying his players, a number of Scarlet Knights informed the school that they would be transferring. Carter (Paterson, NJ), a former three-star prospect and the No. 114 recruit in the nation as ranked by Rivals in 2011, first narrowed his options down to Florida and Maryland before deciding to pull the trigger for the Gators on Tuesday.

After Florida assistant Rashon Burno – who like Carter and Mike Rosario attended St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey under head coach Bob Hurley – reached out to the player in early April, Gators head coach Billy Donovan flew up north to meet with Carter and his family in their home on April 22.

Donovan convinced him to visit Florida and he obliged, spending time in Gainesville on Sunday and Monday. While in town, Carter told the Gators he would be attending Florida but made his intentions officially known to the public on Tuesday.

“Eli is a great addition to our team, and we’re pleased he’s a Gator now,” Donovan said in a school release on May 10. “I’m excited to get down to Florida, and I can’t wait to start gelling with the team and the coaches,” Carter added.

Continue Reading » Rutgers transfer Eli Carter commits to Florida

Tags: , , , ,

TWO BITS: Donovan meets Carter, Floyd speaks

1 » Rutgers Scarlet Knights sophomore guard Eli Carter, who received his release from the school last week and plans to transfer, met with Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan in his home on Monday, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Carter has a number of teams interested in receiving him as a transfer including Duke, Maryland and Texas, but Florida has a lot going for it in this particular situation. Like former Gators guard Mike Rosario and current assistant coach Rashon Burno, Carter spent his youth playing at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey under head coach Bob Hurley. The relationship between Donovan and Hurley goes back a ways and having Burno in the fold certainly does not hurt. “I think with Rashon Burno there and two guards leaving, one guard signed, [Kasey] Hill is the only guard coming in, they can I think talk to him about playing time,” Hurley told Zagoria. “When you transfer you have to go someplace where you’re gonna play. You can’t go someplace and play less than you did where you were before.”

Carter averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a true sophomore but shot just 38.4 percent from the field and 32 percent from downtown. As a freshman against Florida in 2011, he scored 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting with seven rebounds and seven dimes (in double overtime). The Gators have one open scholarship for the 2013-14 season, which Carter would take if he transferred to Florida, even though he would have to sit out the season due to NCAA rules.

2 » It took a while for criticisms about Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd to pop up, but it did not take the potential top-five overall pick much time to respond to them. “In my eyes there is no road-block that is going to stop me,” Floyd said on NFL AM on Tuesday. “A lot of people ask me, ‘Do you feel as though your arms are short?” and I say, ‘I don’t play like my arms are short.’ So my tape speaks for itself and the type of person I am speaks for itself.” Check out this three-minute interview with Floyd, which was aired Monday on ESPN.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Rosario, Young, TODAY

1 » If you think junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin winding up as a member of the Florida Gators was part of some well-orchestrated plan by head coach Billy Donovan, think again. In this feature on Wilbekin written by USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach, his father reveals that the idea of his son skipping his senior year of high school basically came up on a whim. Luckily for the Gators, Wilbekin joined the team at just the right time and is now a driving force for Florida’s defense as well as its offense as it looks to advance past the Sweet 16 on Friday.

2 » Though OGGOA has taken an extensive look at the college career of redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario, we have not had the opportunity to delve much into what happened before he arrived at Florida as a transfer three years ago. The Newark Star-Ledger’s Matthew Stanmyre penned this feature on Rosario, which notes the impact the has made at the Boys & Girls Club in Jersey City (there is now “an entire bulletin board at the Boys Club devoted to Rosario [filled with] pictures of him” from different points in his career). It also looks at the special relationship he has with assistant coach Rashon Burno whose pictures Rosario used to look at on a similar bulletin board in the Boys Club while growing up. Rosario scored a UF career-high 25 points in the Gators’ round of 32 victory and looks to continue his top-notch play for Florida in the Sweet 16.

3 » Earlier this week, junior center Patric Young spoke with The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway about his issues on the free throw line. Young, who is now shooting 50.4 percent from the charity stripe this season, was 5-for-6 (.833) from the line last Sunday after going 10-for-27 (.370) over the previous four games. “Your brain can’t tell the difference between don’t miss and miss,” he said. “So if you tell yourself don’t – I have so many different things going through my head, don’t miss, don’t airball, don’t shoot it too hard. My brain is telling me to do those things and it was a big reason why I was struggling.” He continued: “It’s just a matter of my confidence going up there. It felt pretty good knocking down some pretty clutch free throws [on Sunday].”

4 » Fans of the Gators and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles participated in a student spirit segment that aired on NBC‘s TODAY early Friday morning following a feature that was mostly about FGCU’s Cinderella run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Check out the clip below for the segment from TODAY. By the angle of the camera, it is pretty easy to tell which team had more fans up at the crack of dawn for the shoot.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

11 Gator Bites for Thursday, December 20

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.

» The New York Jets finally decided to bench quarterback Mark Sanchez after a five-turnover performance on Monday night. Despite the fact that Tim Tebow had been Sanchez’s back-up all season long, the team decided to promote third-stringer Greg McElroy to starter, leapfrogging Tebow and breaking a promise the team made to him when they traded for him in the offseason. When Denver was shopping Tebow and had equal offers from New York and Jacksonville, the player evaluated the situation to determine which would be his best destination. Sources close to the player told me at the time that Tebow chose the Jets for two reasons. New York told him that they would utilize him in a number of roles right away and that he would also get a legitimate chance to start for the Jets should Sanchez either be injured or benched. While the team did put him in occasionally as Wildcat quarterback and as a punt protector, he was barely used in the offense and never correctly. He was inactive the first time New York replaced Sanchez during a game and has now been jumped over by McElroy for the starting job this week.

» Sports Illustrated’s Peter King summed up the situation well Wednesday on Twitter: “I think what happened w/ Jets is they saw Tebow have some bad practices, then he wasn’t electric on early touches, and they gave up on him.” Putting it another way was ESPN’s Ed Werder, who tweeted: “Jets traded 2 draft choices, paid Broncos part of Tebow’s signing bonus, ignored Bronco performances, never gave him chance” With all of that being true, ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor went off on the franchise in his latest column. “The Jets used Tebow, and then abused him,” he wrote. “They used him to sell tickets and PSLs and steal a few more headlines from the local big-boy franchise that had just won another Super Bowl title. They abused him Tuesday by declaring that a seventh-round pick who has been inactive for 13 out of 14 games gives the Jets a better chance to do something they fail to do: win.” O’Connor also looked to Tebow’s record, noting that he was 8-4 last season before falling to New England in the playoffs and is 9-7 in 16 career starts, which included three with an interim coach and did not include last year’s victory in Miami when he came in for Kyle Orton. “How is he less qualified to face San Diego than McElroy, who has one moderately successful relief appearance behind him and who has eternal backup written all over him?”

Check out NINE more Gator Bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11 Gator Bites for Thursday, December 20

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

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »