15 Gator Bites for Wednesday, September 11

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps missed the entire offseason while running track but officially joined the team on Monday in hopes of earning a roster spot and playing football in 2013. The Buccaneers have a roster exemption or Demps, who will have one full week to prove his worth and take one of the 53 available spots or else be released by Tampa Bay. Though the Bucs will certainly see what Demps can do for them, head coach Greg Schiano was perturbed a few weeks ago when asked where Demps was in the world and why he had not reported at the time.

» Former Florida Gators forward Cody Larson, who lost his scholarship and then quit the basketball team before the 2012-13 season but remained at Florida for academics, transferred to play for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in May and had a waiver to play immediately accepted by the NCAA this month. “We want to thank the committee and the NCAA for taking the time to look at Cody’s waiver,” head coach Scott Nagy said in a school release. “We appreciate the fact that this ruling allows him the opportunity to be eligible to compete immediately.” Larson will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining but has not played college basketball in two full seasons.

» One of the greatest tennis players in school history, Jill Craybas has decided to retire at age 39 after spending the last 18 years playing professional tennis. One of two Florida women to win the NCAA Singles Championship, Craybas captured the title in 1996 while leading the Gators women’s program to the team NCAA Championship that same season. Inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2008, Craybas never won a Grand Slam title but advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2005 after shocking Serena Williams 6-3, 7-6 in the Round of 16 that year. She also represented the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “It’s a really tough decision to make because it’s been part of your life for so long. But I feel like lately my priorities have been starting to change, I’ve been starting to want other things in my life,” she told Tennis Panorama about her retirement decision. “I really struggled this past year with my tennis and how I was doing. I started pursuing some other things and started getting interested in other things, but it’s never an easy decision. You never know when you want to stop, but you kind of come to terms with it sooner or later.”

Check out 12 more Gator Bites…after the break!
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Gators in 2013 NBA Finals: Haslem, Miller win

For the third-straight season and fifth time since 2006, at least one former Florida Gators basketball player has won an NBA title as the Miami Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

With Miami winning the finals for the second-straight season, power forward Udonis Haslem won his third ring (2006, 2012) and guard Mike Miller picked up his second (2012). San Antonio forward Matt Bonner was looking for his second championship (2007) but ultimately came up short.

A grand total of eight rings have been won by Gators since 2006.

Eight of the 10 former Gators playing in the NBA during the 2012-13 season moved on to the playoffs with three advancing all the way to the finals. Below is how each of those three players performed during the final round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: GP/GS (6/3), MIN (10.7), PPG (1.5), RPG (2.8), APG (0.0), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.2) | FG% (.444), 3P% (.000), FT% (.200)
» Best Game: Five points (2-of-4 shooting), two rebounds in 16 minutes in Miami’s 103-84 win over San Antonio in Game 2.
» Game 7: No statistics; two minutes played

G MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: GP/GS (7/4), MIN (21.9), PPG (5.3), RPG (2.7), APG (0.9), SPG (0.6), BPG (0.3) | FG% (.590), 3P% (.611), FT% (.000)
» Highlights: 15 points (5-of-5 from three) in Miami’s 113-77 loss to San Antonio in Game 3.
» Game 7: No points (0-of-5 shooting), two rebounds, two steals in 19 minutes.

F MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: GP/GS (5/0), MIN (7.0), PPG (2.2), RPG (1.4), APG (0.2), SPG (0.2), BPG (0.0) | FG% (.400), 3P% (.250), FT% (1.000)
» Best Game: Four points (2-of-2 shooting), one rebound in seven minutes in San Antonio’s 109-93 loss to Miami in Game 4.
» Game 7: Did not play

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FOUR BITS: Moss, Carter, Miller, Bonner

1 » Less than two weeks after freshman guard Chandler Cooper announced she would be leaving the Florida Gators women’s basketball team and transferring to Lipscomb, two more members of the 2012-13 squad have decided to join her in exiting the program. According to The Alligator’s Phil Heilman, freshman guard/forward Sydney Moss will also transfer and junior center Vicky McIntyre, who transferred in last year but did not play the final eight games of the season, plans to leave the program. Moss, a star recruit for the Gators and member of the 2013 All-SEC Freshman Team, started 24 of 37 games, averaging 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. She was also dominant for Florida in the 2013 WNIT, leading the Gators in scoring (19.6 points), rebounding (9.0), assists (4.0) and field goal percentage (.571) during the event. Moss is an exceptionally big loss for head coach Amanda Butler, who was hoping to assemble for next season one of Florida’s most talented teams in years. The Gators signed their first-ever women’s McDonald’s All-American in 2013 five-star F Ronni Williams (Daytona Beach, FL) back in November.

2 » While transfer guard Eli Carter waits to learn if new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann will sign off on his waiver to play immediately at Florida, he and head coach Billy Donovan have a decision to make. According to his father Dale Carter, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway, Eli has been provided with the opportunity to play for the Jamaican National Team over the summer, a decision the player will let Donovan make. Donovan allowed – and even encouraged – G Mike Rosario to play with the Puerto Rican National Team last summer, a move that helped Rosario improve and mature both on and off the court. Chances are, if Carter desires to spend part of the summer in Jamaica playing basketball, Donovan will approve.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Moss, Carter, Miller, Bonner

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6 BITS: Bonner, Miller, Johnson, Simpson, Beisel

1 » In South Florida for about a week while his team participated in the first two games of the 2013 NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner told ProBasketballTalk that he was getting a lot of support from Florida Gators fans in the area. “I’ve been getting ‘Go Gators’ everywhere,” Bonner said. “Even people with Miami Heat jerseys, walking down the street will yell at everyone else then see me, wait for no one to look and [whisper] ‘Go Gators.’ It’s the whole spectrum, older Gators, younger Gators. You know, it’s six degrees of separation, except here it’s like two or three degrees of Gator separation.” Bonner, who OGGOA noted last week is a big fan of sandwiches, also said that he enjoyed a few Cuban sandwiches while in town.

2 » Miami guard Mike Miller looks every bit of 33 years old most of the time, but his ability to drain threes in the playoffs has made him a hot name for the second-straight postseason. On Sunday during Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Miller went 3-for-3 from downtown, scoring nine points on the evening as his team pulled off a victory. Though he still looks old, Miller feels young for the first time in a while; during the 2012 playoffs, he could not run without limping. “I’ve got a lot of basketball left. It’s the best I’ve felt in five years,” Miller told ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez. “Sometimes, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even when you’re frustrated. I feel great. Knock on wood it stays that way.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 6 BITS: Bonner, Miller, Johnson, Simpson, Beisel

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Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Workouts

Through the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy, the team’s leading three-point shooter last season (.453), will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry here on OGGOA.

In the middle of a week that has him working out with four different teams, Murphy got in touch with OGGOA to discuss his first four workouts and the experience he had at a Pro Day hosted by Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, NV, from May 30-31.

Just one day after my last entry, on May 25, I flew out to visit with the San Antonio Spurs. My workout with the team was scheduled for May 26, so the day I got in I just went to the gym to get some shots up and grabbed dinner. Some of the other players I was there with, we ended up watching San Antonio play Memphis that night while still at the facility. The Spurs won 104-93 in overtime, so everyone was in a good mood.

The next morning, I got up around 8 a.m., showered and ate breakfast and then went straight into an interview with members of the scouting department. Next was some on-court testing, which was a nice warm-up for the workout that started around 10:30 a.m. There were shooting drills, three-on-three play and then more shooting and skill drills. It was definitely a good day overall, and the workout went well for me.

Andy [Miller], my agent, got some great feedback from San Antonio and president R.C. Buford, who was there to see my workout.

Continue Reading » Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Workouts

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Elam, 2006 title, Walker

1 » San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner hopes to win his second professional championship as his team begins participating in the 2013 NBA Finals on Thursday. Chances are, while Bonner is in Miami, FL, he will also have a bit of fun eating. As pointed out by OGGOA reader Malik Grady, Bonner loves sandwiches and chronicled his tasty treats for the Spurs website back in 2010. Titled “The Sandwich Hunter: The Quest for the Hoagie Grail,” Bonner’s feature includes 26 sandwiches that he has reviewed that year. You can check out his favorites by clicking here. Additionally, Bonner recently discussed (through his brother) his favorite all-time sandwiches with the Deli Fresh Threads blog. He religiously eats a sandwich for lunch on game day.

2 » Safety Matt Elam seemed like the perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, and the team obviously felt the same way, using its only first-round selection on the Florida Gators product. Speaking with veterans inside the Ravens’ locker room, The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson uncovered that Elam is already drawing rave reviews from his peers. “Matt looks good. You can tell he’s a young, hungry rookie. He just wants to run around and make plays. He’s a smart guy, tough and physical. He’s definitely going to make plays,” said position-mate Michael Huff.

3 » In an ESPN.com story focused on how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is trying to continue his trend of having incredible success during his second year leading a football program, former Florida running backs coach Stan Drayton explained that he was not confident the Gators would beat the Buckeyes in for the 2006 title until he saw how angry the team was the morning of the game after Meyer exposed them to the lack of faith the media had in the team. “When they opened up that newspaper and saw what people were saying about those Florida Gators, I knew at the end of breakfast,” he said. “The way they walked around, the energy level, the way they carried themselves, I knew we were going to win that ballgame.” Drayton noted that Florida being exposed to the negative press that morning happened to be perfect timing but that kind of motivation works at different times for different teams.

4 » After recently announcing his decision to transfer, Gators sophomore guard/forward DeVon Walker changed his mind a week later and was accepted back into the fold by head coach Billy Donovan. Walker has since expanded on his initial decision to transfer, telling the Florida school website that he felt everyone in his life was pushing him away from the Gators. He eventually realized that he was in control of his life and Gainesville, FL was where he wanted to remain. “I’m here and I’m excited,” he said “I’m sure there are people out there saying, ‘Man, this guy doesn’t know what he wants to do.’ But I do know. I want to be here and I want to work to become the best player I can be.” Donovan told Walker that taking a redshirt for his true sophomore season may be in his best interest for 2013-14 considering Florida’s depth chart, and the player understands that may be a reality, one he is ready accept if need be.

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Former Gators in 2013 NBA Playoffs – Conference

Eight of the 10 former Florida Gators playing in the NBA during the 2012-13 season moved on to the playoffs. With the conference finals in the books, three of those eight remain alive as their teams compete for a chance at an NBA title. Below is a summary of how these Gators performed during the conference finals.

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

STARTERS (1)
PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: GP/GS (7/7), MIN (19.4), PPG (6.4), RPG (4.0), APG (0.4), SPG (0.9), BPG (0.1) | FG% (.583), 3P% (.000), FT% (.600)
» Highlights: 17 points (on 8-of-9 shooting), seven rebounds (Game 3), 16 points (on 8-of-9 shooting), three rebounds (Game 5)
» Playoffs: (1) Miami beat (3) Indiana in seven games and advanced to face (2) San Antonio in the NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday.

RESERVES (2)
G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: GP/GS (4/0), MIN (8.8), PPG (2.3), RPG (1.8), APG (0.5), SPG (1.0), BPG (0.0) | FG% (.500), 3P% (.500), FT% (.000)
» Highlights: Six points, three rebounds, steal (Game 6)
» Playoffs: (1) Miami beat (3) Indiana in seven games and advanced to face (2) San Antonio in the NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday.

F MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: GP/GS (4/0), MIN (17.8), PPG (6.8), RPG (2.5), APG (0.5), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.5) | FG% (.450), 3P% (.429), FT% (1.000)
» Highlights: 12 points, two rebounds (Game 1)
» Playoffs: (2) San Antonio beat (4) Memphis in four games and advanced to face (1) Miami in the NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday.

NOTES
» A former Gators basketball player is guaranteed to win an NBA title for the third-straight year and fifth time since 2000.
» Haslem and Miller are looking to repeat, and Haslem is going for his third career title (2006, 2012). Bonner is hoping to win his second NBA title (2007).
» Haslem’s 17 points in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals were not only a season-high but also the most he has scored in a single game since Nov. 11, 2010.

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Erik Murphy – Path to 2013 NBA Draft: Combine

Through the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy, the team’s leading three-point shooter last season (.453), will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry here on OGGOA.

Between workouts in Las Vegas, NV on Thursday, Murphy got in touch with OGGOA to discuss his experience and performance at the 2013 NBA Combine and what he has been doing to get ready for the draft over the last week.

The week leading into the combine, we kept doing what we were doing at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. We practiced drills that we knew they would test us on at the combine and just tried to make those become second nature. I flew up there Tuesday night and by the time we got to the JW Marriott, I just relaxed and went to sleep.

Wednesday was the first day of the combine, when everybody started to arrive. I got up early in the morning and basically did all kinds of media stuff. By the time I got done with the 10-15 interviews, it was the middle of the afternoon. Some guys had team interviews afterward but that was not on my schedule for the day. I hung out, saw a bunch of guys I met and knew from over the years (Peyton Siva, Deshaun Thomas, Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Gorgui Dieng, etc.), and then went to the gym to get some shots up and get a workout in before Thursday. It is kind of a long, boring day overall.

On Thursday we woke up around 6:30 a.m. and went downstairs to a ballroom. The first thing we did was take a urine test and then we had our blood drawn – a lot of blood. Then they took all of our measurements, a process that took about a half hour. We did a quick workout and then had breakfast before actually beginning the major workout part of the combine. There were a lot of drills, some of them specific by position – ball-handling, quick shots, one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, transition drills, catch-and-shoot, finishing at the rim. The workout probably lasted 60-75 minutes, and it was definitely a tough because you’re out there with a bunch of talented players.

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