FOUR BITS: soccer, Jones, volleyball, Mann

1 » No. 23 Florida Gators soccer (17-7) advanced to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Saturday with a strong 3-0 victory over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (14-5-2) at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis scored consecutive goals for the Gators in the 16th and 68th minute before senior F/MF Lindsay Thompson followed suit with a conversion of her own from 10 yards out at 80’. The Eagles only took three shots the entire game, and freshman goalkeeper Taylor Burke was only forced to make one save during the contest. Florida will take on Central Florida on Friday at 7 p.m. in second round action.

2 » Unranked heading into the season, Gators women’s basketball had an opportunity to pick up a solid win in their opener but fell just short on Friday. Florida (0-1) was defeated 69-66 by the Michigan Wolverines (1-0), which outscored their opponents 9-7 with less than three minutes left in the game to pick up the victory. Senior guard Jordan Jones led the Gators with a career-high-tying five treys for 21 points on 20 shots, and senior G Lanita Bartley added 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Florida took 27 shots from downtown in the contest, making just 10, and was outrebounded 42-36 by Michigan.

3 » No. 18/19 Gators volleyball (21-5, 14-3 SEC) concluded the road portion of their regular season in style over the weekend, picking up a pair of hard-fought victories to continue an impressive four-game winning streak. Florida topped the LSU Tigers (17-9, 10-6 SEC) 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-12) on Friday behind a career performance from sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann, who hit .900 on the evening with 18 kills on 20 swing with no errors and five blocks. The mark is the second-best in NCAA history for a player with 20+ swings in a single match and helped earned Mann SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors as announced Monday.

4 » The Gators had a greater test Sunday against the Arkansas Razorbacks (18-10, 10-7 SEC), fighting back from a two-set deficit to win 3-2 (18-25, 30-32, 25-21, 26-24, 15-9). Mann and senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel each had a 19 kills. That mark was a career-high for Mann, while Jaeckel and senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy each completed a double-double. Florida will face Georgia (Nov. 18), Auburn (Nov. 20) and South Carolina (Nov. 23) at home before beginning NCAA Tournament action in Dec.

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FOUR BITS: Hilliard, soccer, Wambach, drugs

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Ike Hilliard (1994-96) was announced Thursday by the Southeastern Conference as a member of its 2011 Football Legends Class. Hilliard and 11 other former players will be honored during the SEC “Weekend of Champions,” which culminates with the SEC Championship on Dec. 3.

Ike Hilliard finished his college career with 126 catches, which is seventh-best in UF history, for 2,214 yards, fourth-best in school history, and 29 TDs, third-best total in SEC history. He tallied a TD/catch ratio of 4.34 (29TDs/126 catches) which ranks second in Gator history. He was named a first-team All-SEC selection and an All-American as a senior in 1996. Hilliard was selected in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, Hilliard went on to play 12 NFL seasons, recording 546 career receptions for 6,397 yards and 35 TDs. The Patterson, La. Native, played his first eight seasons with the Giants and finished his NFL playing career playing four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great” in 2009.

2 » No. 23 Florida soccer (15-6, 7-4 SEC) took its first step toward making up for a disappointing finale to their regular season with a 2-0 win over the Georgia Bulldogs (12-6, 6-3-2 SEC) in the opening round of the 2011 SEC Tournament on Wednesday. Senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis scored both of the Gators’ goals, one at 26’ and another at 45’. Florida advances to face Alabama on Friday for an opportunity to advance to the event’s finals.

3 » Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mahr is touting former Gators striker Abby Wambach as his pick for Sportsman of the Year, an honor that SI will announce on Dec. 6. In this piece, Mahr refers to her as a “soccer luminary” and one of the “most prolific scorers in U.S. history.” He even says her header in the quarterfinals against Brazil was “arguably more enthralling” than Landon Donovan’s last-second goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup and notes that her other big-time headers against France and Japan propelled the United States to the finals and gave them a chance to win the whole thing. Mahr makes a strong argument for Wambach to win the award but with so much competition she may have a rough time ranking above the other nominated athletes.

4 » Tackling the drug policies of most major college football programs, CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy submitted public records requests to each school (or looked up an institution’s policy on its own website) and compiled this list. Florida falls in line with many programs nationally and hold separate policies for marijuana and other drugs.

Florida: For marijuana/synthetic marijuana: (1) none; (2) 10 percent of games; (3) 20 percent of games; (4) dismissal. For all other drugs: (1) 50 percent of games; (2) dismissal.

Extra BIT » Former Gators basketball star Craig Brown will return this year as a permanent broadcaster for the Gator Basketball Radio Network. Brown, who is famous for being a part of Florida’s run to the Final Four in the 1994 NCAA Tournament and retiring as the team’s all-time leader in three-pointers, will provide color commentary alongside play-by-play man Mick Hubert this season, a role he held on occasion one year ago.

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SIX BITS: NFL injuries, Tebow, Munroe, women

1 » New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’s leading receivers this year with 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two games, sprained his MCL during Sunday afternoon’s game and will be out of action at least 1-2 weeks, according to the Boston Globe. Also injured on Sunday was Chicago Bears free safety Major Wright, who was hit hard in his contest and was removed from the field with what was considered a head injury. After further evaluation, Wright was diagnosed with a “stiff neck” and not a concussion, which means he does not have to miss his team’s next game. However, Wright may not start anyway as, according to the Chicago Tribune, the team is considering moving Brandon Meriweather into the starting role.

2 » Denver Broncos second-year player Tim Tebow has yet to see the field as a quarterback in 2011 after leading his team to a 1-2 record in three starts to conclude the 2010 season. However, Tebow got into his team’s game on Sunday as a wide receiver due to injuries to some of the other players. According to NBC Sports, Tebow asked the coaching staff if he could play receiver on the scout team rather than do nothing during practice. The coaches agreed and allowed him to fill the role and he wound up playing out wide on Sunday as a result. Head coach John Fox said Monday that the Broncos only consider Tebow a quarterback and have no plans to play him at receiver going forward.

3 » Former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe, who OGGOA recently profiled as we broke the story that he would be playing for the Toronto Varsity Blues of OUA Canadian college football, was interviewed in a profile piece on The Score out of Canada. Through three games with Toronto, Munroe has 13 tackles and an interception.

4 » In unrelated Tebow news, he told the Associated Press last week that, while he appreciated the support of fans who were raising money for billboards declaring that he should start for Denver, he hoped they were “going to do the right thing” with the money and donate it to charity. Fox, asked about the billboard, said, “I’ve seen a lot of billboards and I can’t remember one that really influenced me.”

5 » No. 9 Florida soccer (8-2) ended its non-conference slate over the weekend with a pair of decisive road victories. On Friday, the Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers (7-2) behind a pair of goals by freshman midfielder Annie Speese at 43’ and 86’. Sunday’s 7-2 blowout of the Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) was a total team effort with six different players scoring. Speese added her third goal of the weekend at 20’, but freshman forward Tahnai Annis opened and closed the contest with goals at 9’ and 89’. Florida will continue its four-game road trip with a pair of games against Georgia (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) as they open Southeastern Conference play. UF will then return to Gainesville, FL for a five-game homestand.

6 » No. 6/7 Gators volleyball (8-2, 1-0 SEC) began league play on Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-18, 26-24) of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-5, 0-1 SEC) on the road in Starkville, MS. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts, posted a triple-double with 10 kills, 19 assists and 11 digs in the match. Also excelling Friday was senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel, who led the team with 14 kills on the evening. After playing their last three matches on the road, Florida will return home for a two contests next weekend against Kentucky (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) before hitting the road the following weekend.

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Florida soccer starts 2-0 with two wins in Miami

With the triumphs of last year now in the rear-view mirror, it was up to No. 9 Florida Gators soccer to get the 2011-12 athletic season off with a bang. Florida (2-0) accomplished this feat over the weekend, defeating the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) and Florida International Golden Panthers (0-2) with a pair of 2-0 victories in Miami, FL.

The Gators opened the season on Friday against the Hurricanes and took it to their in-state rivals right from the get go. Sophomore forward Taylor Travis scored Florida’s first goal of the season at 37’, and freshman midfielder Havana Solaun tacked on another at 51’ to lead the Gators to victory.

Junior MF/F Erika Tymrak got the assist on both goals, setting up a cross for the first score and passing it from the top of the box to the left side for the second.

Before returning to Gainesville, FL for a week of practice, Florida stayed in town, took a day off and faced FIU on Sunday. Like their first match of the season, the Gators scored once in each half and came away with a 2-0 win.

Freshman F Tessa Andujar placed the first one in the net, converting a cross from senior defender Jazmyne Avant in the 40th minute. Joining her on the scoreboard was senior MF/F Tahnai Annis, who corralled a through pass from freshman MF Annie Speese and struck it in from 12 yards out at 63’.

Florida split up the goalkeeping duties over the weekend with senior Brooke Chancey (five saves) and freshman Taylor Burke (three saves) each registering a shutout while playing the full 90 minutes.

The Gators will continue their road trip with a pair of contests next weekend in Knoxville, TN. Florida will take on Texas A&M on Friday and UCLA on Sunday before returning to the University of Florida for a three-game homestand.

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FOUR BITS: Moore, Tebow, soccer, interviews

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Kestahn Moore received some good news Thursday evening when he learned that the Tennessee Titans decided to sign him and bring him into camp as a free agent. Moore, who was signed with Kansas City in training camp a year ago and was worked out by Tennessee last November, is back with the team on a trial basis and could play as soon as Saturday against St. Louis. He told The Tennessean that he originally thought he was heading to Nashville, TN just to work out for the team. “That’s why you have to stay ready and working out,” he said. “I’ve got a chance now and I am ready.”

2 » Speaking with the Associated Press on Thursday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow found humor in the alleged $5,000 bounty placed on his head by a Miami Hurricanes booster. “I didn’t know about that,” Tebow said. “It’s funny, though.” Tebow, who said he had “good memories” from his one game against Miami, is confident that no one went after him during the game. “That’s never what you want in sports. You’re playing to win,” he said. “You go hard. I mean, it’s a violent game, people get hit, people get hurt. But to go out there and purposely try to hurt someone? I don’t believe in that at all. That’s not why we play the game. So, that’s unfortunate if some people would go [such extremes]. But I don’t think all the Miami Hurricanes went out there trying to hurt me or anything because I had quite a few friends, as well. So, I think there were a lot of good players on that team, good kids on that team.”

3 » Just like the volleyball team, Florida soccer received plenty of praise from Southeastern Conference coaches this week. Surveyed in preseason poll, 11 of the 12 league coaches chose the Gators to win the 2011 SEC title. Additionally, two Florida soccer players – senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis and redshirt junior defender Kathryn Williamson – were named to the watch list for the 2011 Hermann Trophy, the highest individual award in NCAA soccer.

4 »

Over the last few weeks, OGGOA has conducted a number of interviews and posted them throughout the site. Due to the large amount of content posted each day, we wanted to make sure you did not miss any of them. Below are all of the the interviews that have been conducted since early July. A list of all of our exclusive interviews is available as a widget on the right sidebar of every page.

- Defensive lineman Kevin CarterPart I | Part II
The three-time SEC champion, first-team All-SEC member, first-team All-American selection, No. 6 overall draft pick, two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and UF Athletic Hall of Fame member spoke to us about his time with the Gators, extensive NFL career, charity work and new job as a television analyst while also providing some unique insight on head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

- Center/forward Al Horford8/17/11
The two-time national champion and two-time NBA All-Star, who was also a member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team caught up with OGGOA for the second time to discuss his new contract, relationship with the Oh Fours, thoughts on the NBA lockout and decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team.

- Punter Chas Henry8/12/11
Just days after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, Henry spoke with us about NFL lockout ending, his fantastic opportunity in Philadelphia, winning the Ray Guy Award and, of course, his game-winning field goal against Georgia.

- Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones7/8/11
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion and two-time Euroleague champion who is also a two-time WNBA All-Star, was a No. 4 overall draft pick and was up for inclusion on her league’s Top 15 Players of All-Time list, Milton-Jones talked with OGGOA student correspondent Nicole Boyett about her time at Florida, extensive career, desire to come back and help the lady Gators and more.

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TWO BITS: soccer honored, women’s b-ball splits

1 » Two Florida Gators soccer players were named to the NSCAA/Performance Subaru All-America teams last Friday. Sophomore defender Kathryn Williamson was named to the second team, while junior midfielder Tahnai Annis earned fourth team honors. Six different Florida players received recognition when the NSCAA announced its All-South Region awards. Senior MF/D Ashlee Elliott, Annis, Williamson and sophomore MF/forward Erika Tymrak were chosen for the first team, while redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine and freshman F Taylor Travis were placed on the second team. Congratulations to the ladies for their two 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships (regular season, tournament) and for a great season.

2 » Gators women’s basketball (7-2) had an up-and-down weekend at the Brown BEAR Basketball Classic in Providence, RI, defeating the Providence Friars (5-5) 73-56 on Saturday before being upset by the Brown Bears (3-6) 56-50 on Sunday. Saturday’s victory was led by redshirt junior forward Ndidi Madu, who achieved her first career double-double, and junior guard Jordan Jones, who scored a game-high 19 points in the win. Sunday’s effort was a juxtaposition of the one Florida put forth the day before. After posting their best shooting percentage of the season the day before, the Gators shot a season-worst 30.6 percent from the field in their loss. Though Brown did not perform much better, Florida’s play was worse and ultimately led to their defeat. Jones shot only 2-of-13 from the field (2-of-11 downtown), while Madu led UF with 14 points.

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SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

1 » Opening up the 2010 NCAA Tournament at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on Friday, No. 5 Florida Gators soccer (19-2-2, 9-1-1 SEC) scorched the Mercer Bears (10-9-1, 7-3 A-Sun) 3-0. Redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney (15’, 73’) and junior MF/forward Tahnai Annis (48’) scored Florida’s three goals as the Gators out-shot the Bears 16-7. Unfortunately…

2 » Florida was not so fortunate in second-round action, taking the Duke Blue Devils (11-7-4, 7-3 ACC) into penalty kicks after the teams were held scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. In PKs, the Gators (19-2-3, 9-1-1 Sec) fell to the Blue Devils 4-2. Duke made all of its attempts while Florida only received goals from Barney and redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine with Annis’ saved and junior F Lindsay Thompson’s attempt going wide. The Gators end the 2010 season having won both the Southeastern Conference Championship and regular season title.

3 » In better news for the University of Florida, the No. 1 Florida volleyball team (24-1, 17-0 SEC) clinched at least a share of the 2010 SEC regular season title on Sunday by defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-17, 2-15 SEC) 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-17) on Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was impressive once again, leading the Gators with 10 kills and no errors along with 15 assists and seven digs. She notched her 12th-straight double-double and has been having an impressive season. Florida’s seniors also got in on the action with OH Callie Rivers, middle-back Lauren Bledsoe and libero Erin Fleming combining for 18 kills, 15 digs and six blocks on Sunday. UF has three more regular season matches – all on the road – before the 2010 SEC Tournament begins.

Three more BITS including an interesting piece on a Florida baseball commit…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

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TWO BITS: Wise wins No. 700, soccer triumphs

1 » No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (15-1, 9-0 SEC) won its 11th straight match on Sunday while also earning head coach Mary Wise her milestone 700th career win with yet another dominating victory in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. In fact, volleyball won twice at home over the weekend, defeating the Auburn Tigers 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-22) on Friday and the Georgia Bulldogs 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-19) on Sunday. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy reached a feat of her own on Friday, becoming the 29th player in program history to amass 1,000 points. She recorded her nation-high fifth triple-double of the season on Friday and performed in dominating fashion once again on Sunday. Combined she posted 26 kills, 43 assists and 19 digs in the two matches. Wise’s career record now stands at 700-131; she is the 16th coach in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball history to reach the milestone and has won 18 Southeastern Conference Championships while also coaching teams to 18 NCAA Regional Semifinal berths and seven Final Four appearances.

2 » Hoping to rebound from only their second tie and loss of the season last week, No. 13 Florida soccer (12-2-2, 6-1-1 SEC) also had a thrilling weekend, winning a pair of matches at home in Gainesville, FL. On Friday the Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers (7-7-1, 4-2-1 SEC) 4-2, while on Sunday Florida took down No. 21 Georgia (9-3-4, 4-1-3 SEC) 2-1 in overtime. Junior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis (27’, 53’) and junior F Lindsay Thompson (29’, 32’) each posted a pair of goals for UF on Friday with sophomore MF/F Erika Tymrak (82’, 97’) running the entire offensive show on Sunday. The Gators only have three more regular season matches this season before the 2010 SEC Tournament begins on Nov. 3 in Orange Beach, AL.

Photo Credit: Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

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