TWO BITS: Florida vs. VCU, Horschel, DiMarco

1 » According to head coach Shaka Smart (via the Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s Tim Pearrell), the VCU Rams will serve as Florida Gators basketball’s opponent for UF’s annual secret scrimmage ahead of their exhibition contest and the 2014-15 regular season. VCU will travel to Florida for an on-campus scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 1. The Gators took on Georgia Tech (in Valdosta, Georgia) in 2013, faced Rollins College in 2012 and squared off against UCF in 2011. Playing against Smart will mark the second time in four years that head coach Billy Donovan will face one of his former assistants (Donnie Jones, 2011) in the closed scrimmage.

College basketball teams are allowed to play a combination of two total scrimmages or exhibition games, and Donovan has always opted for one of each. UF will play its exhibition game against Barry University at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.

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Florida Gators basketball to be involved in ESPNU’s Midnight Madness coverage

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

The Florida Gators will be one of 11 college basketball programs giving ESPN an early look at their team as the program will take part in ESPNU‘s three-hour Midnight Madness coverage on Friday, Oct. 17, according to a network release.

Though Florida has not announced any Midnight Madness activities and ESPN did not specifically detail what it would be doing on campus, ESPN announced via press release on Monday that head coach Billy Donovan will be “wired for sound to bring fans [a] unique perspective” of the action, indicating that the Gators may be planning some type of festivities for that evening.

Update: UF’s men’s basketball Twitter account sent out the following tweet on Monday after the announcement, detailing the team’s involvement in the show.


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Florida Gators release 2014 open practice times

Last month, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced that eight of the team’s fall practice dates will be open to the public so fans living in or planning to travel to Gainesville, Florida, will be able to watch the Gators prepare with their own eyes.

On Saturday, the times for these eight practices were released.

Florida players will report on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4. Football practices have been scheduled as follows with all times subject to change due to weather and other mitigating factors.

The first seven practices will be held at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The eighth and final practice, set for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16, precedes Fan Day for the football and volleyball teams, which kicks off at 3 p.m. across the street at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Thursday, Aug. 7 – 7:40-9:40 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 8 – 7:40-9:40 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 9 – 10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Gator Booster Season Ticket Holders Only
Monday, Aug. 11 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 12 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 13 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Thursday, Aug. 14 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16 – 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Fans will be allowed to take their own pictures and video but only during certain parts of practice. Additionally, the Gators will make a few players available after each practice to sign fan autographs.

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Florida, Miami schedule home-and-home series

In a move that has been taking shape for weeks, a home-and-home men’s basketball series spanning the next two seasons between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes was officially announced on Tuesday.

Along with the announcement was the first confirmed date for a Florida-Miami showdown. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Nov. 17, 2014 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The contest will be UF’s second game of the 2014-15 campaign with the first unscheduled as of press time.

UM will then host its in-state rival in either November or December of 2015 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.

Florida is 45-22 all-time against Miami on the hardwood with the schools last playing a home-and-home series in 2004-05; the visiting team won each game.

The Gators and Canes have squared off just four times in the last 23 seasons, however, all of those showdowns have come since 2002.

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Renderings released of Stephen C. O’Connell Center redesign not from winning firm

Updated on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Architectural firm NBBJ on Tuesday shared with Sports Illustrated three renderings of its upcoming $45 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Unfortunately, according to the Florida Gators, NBBJ did not win the contract for the redesign of the O’Dome and the renderings showcased nationally on SI.com are not what the venue will look like after construction is completed in December 2015.

The University Athletic Association then announced that Davis Architects and CPPI Construction Management, working in conjunction with TLC Engineering, just began design meetings with the school on Tuesday.

Though Davis Architects’ portfolio is not as modern as NBBJ’s work, the firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, has more experience designing collegiate athletic facilities, mostly within its home state.

The company built UAB’s Blazer Stadium (Birmingham), Auburn’s Auburn Arena (Auburn) and Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum (Tuscaloosa), and also performed two end zone expansions on Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa).

Davis Architects completed the $4.5 million renovation of the O’Dome’s gymnastics studio in December 2012, expanding the area to 18,000 square feet (adding 6,600 square feet) while upgrading offices, training rooms, equipment and electronics.

CPPI designed and constructed the $52 million expansion of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, adding 3,000 seats to a new club level in 2012. It is also responsible or the construction for the stadium’s west concourse renovations, sky box additions and Heisman Trophy statue installation.

Furthermore, CPPI built the Heavener Football Complex, Ring Tennis Complex, basketball practice facility, entire lacrosse facility and indoor tennis facility; it also and made additions or renovations to the baseball locker room, Lemerand Center, softball complex, golf club house and swimming & diving facility.

Construction on the multipurpose venue is not scheduled to begin until March 2015.

When the concept for the project was first announced in 2012, the renderings below were released by the University of Florida to The Gainesville Sun:


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FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, pep rally, Florida-Miami

1 » The 2014 NBA Draft is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. with three former Florida Gators hoping to be selected among the event’s 60 picks. The first and possibly only player who will be drafted during Thursday night’s proceedings is center Patric Young, who has a late-first, early-second round evaluation. Young has mostly been projected as an early second-round pick but made it up to No. 30 (last pick of the first round) in a mock draft by ESPN‘s Chad Ford earlier this week. However, on Thursday, Ford moved Young all the way down to No. 42, predicting that he gets snagged by the Houston Rockets. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin nor forward Casey Prather will likely be selected, though a team could take a flier on Wilbekin late in the process.

“I think Wilbekin is one of those guys that can make a team. I don’t think he’s a guy that will necessarily be drafted,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas in a conference call this week. “I think Wilbekin is probably a better pro prospect than Aaron Craft, but just because you’re a good college player, it’s a tough transition at that position to get to the NBA. He’s not as quick or explosive or quite as good of a shooter as some of the other guys who are out there – or as big.”

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FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”

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O’Connell Center redesign, renovations scheduled

The University of Florida on Tuesday announced the schedule for a planned renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as well as some specifics about what improvements will be made to the facility by the time it is completed in the winter of 2015.

According to the school, Florida is already “in the process of choosing a firm to design the project” and hopes to pick one soon in hopes of getting construction on the 33-year-old facility started in nine months.

O’Dome renovations will begin in March 2015 and conclude in December 2015 with the project set at a price tag of $45 million. The school has already signed off on a $10 million contribution to the project with the University Athletic Association tasked with raising the remaining $35 million.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley mentioned in May that the Gators are still $15 million away from their overall fundraising goal.

The following are among the renovations scheduled to be made to the facility:

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