TWO BITS: Brombacher’s time, tennis’ victories

1 » Former Florida Gators softball pitcher Stacey Nelson was arguabally the greatest at her position in school history. But while Nelson was dominating opposing batters on the mound, now-junior Stephanie Brombacher was waiting in the wings to become her successor. Brombacher, the team’s No. 2 pitcher for two years, is now primed to lead the Gators, bringing her 42-0 career record with her. “I’m just anxious to get out there and take over the pitching spot and see what I can do with it,” Brombacher told The Gainesville Sun. “I’m excited. I can’t wait to start playing. After that first pitch, my nerves will calm down a little bit.” She hopes to lead Florida back to the Women’s College World Series, where they fell last season to the Washington Huskies in the finals.

2 » Gators men’s and women’s tennis were both in action Friday, and each took down a ranked opponent in their respective ITA National Team Indoor Championship events. The No. 11 men’s team (5-1) defeated the previously undefeated No. 6 Baylor Bears (5-1) 4-2 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals in Charlottesville, VA. The No. 10-ranked team of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix squeaked by with a 9-8 (3) win. Similarly, the No. 4 women’s team (7-0) was victorious over the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines (3-1) 5-2 in their round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals. Florida swept all three doubles matches.

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FOUR BITS: Debose, Lee, softball, tennis honors

1 » Having to sit out the 2009 season due to a hamstring injury, Florida Gators redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose is on the road to recovery. Debose, who underwent surgery months ago, was last reported to be able to run in a pool on Jan. 3. Now, Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Debose can now run on a treadmill at full speed and is not expected to need a second surgery as rumored. OGGOA reached out to Debose for an update on his injury, but he did not wish to speak about it. Though he will not be a full participant in spring practices next month, he will likely be able to workout in non-contact drills.

2 » Former Florida forward/center David Lee, in the middle of a career season with the New York Knicks, has been named as one of 27 players on the U.S. National Team. Lee will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot in the 2010 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games.

3 » The Southeastern Conference released its 2010 Preseason All-SEC softball team Wednesday, and four Gators have been honored on the squad. Florida led all programs with four of 12 total selections, including junior pitcher Stephanie Brombachter, senior outfielder Francesca Enea, junior utility player Kelsey Bruder and junior second baseman Aja Paculba. For Enea and Pachulba, this is the second consecutive year they have been named to the team.

4 » Women’s tennis players senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Caroline Hitimana were named Player and Freshman of the Week, respectively, by the SEC on Wednesday. Both Boonstra and Hitimana went 4-0 in their respective matches last week.

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FOUR BITS: McCray’s ring, Sunday sports wrap

1 » On Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray became the 13th former Florida Gators football player to win a Super Bowl as his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami, FL. The Saints’ starting defensive end, McCray totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry during Super Bowl XLIV. He is the first former Gators defensive player to win a ring since DE Kevin Carter did it with the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (Super Bowl XXXIV).

2 » While most of the country was focused on the Super Bowl, the Florida women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 SEC) was in Gainesville, FL, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-9, 6-5 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators kept it close all game, eventually pulling out a hard-earned 80-78 double-overtime victory. Senior guard Lonnika Thompson scored all of her 11 points in overtime while classmates G Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith each recorded double-doubles. Redshirt sophomore G Jordon Jones was responsible for the game-winning free throws with only 2.7 seconds left to lift Florida for the win.

3 » Following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, the No. 7 Gators women’s tennis team (5-0) completed a sweep at home over the weekend. The Florida women took on and defeated the Troy Trojans 7-0 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. No. 13-ranked freshman Allie Will and No. 81-ranked senior Marrit Boonstra each won their singles matches and combined as the No. 26 doubles duo to take the event’s first doubles match 8-1.

4 » The Florida club cycling team took home the annual Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday. Called “one of the most dominant teams in the nation,” by The Gainesville Sun, the Gators group seemingly dominated the event from start-to-finish. For more, read Ray FItzGerald’s report here.

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SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

1 » The 2009 NFL Playoffs may have begun with seven but only one former Florida Gators player has made it to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. That man is New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who did not have a dominating regular season but has had quite an impact on his team’s first two playoff games. Making it a point to hit both Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre hard, McCray knocked each out of the game for a short period of time. Now he will turn his focus on NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. Keep an eye on No. 93 throughout the game on Sunday.

2 » All of the pre-2010 NFL Draft attention has been focused on former Gators QB Tim Tebow (wide receiver Riley Cooper has received a little, too), but linebacker Brandon Spikes is preparing for the biggest job interview of his career, too. Staying quiet while training and working out after a sub-par (for him) season, Spikes is doing whatever he can to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 24 to March 2. “I’m anxious to get started,” Spikes told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “Hopefully, I can go to the league and grab it by the neck.” Speaking about the future at Florida, Spikes was optimistic. “Those younger players know what we started and the legacy we have here. They just want to keep it going. I say it all the time to my younger group, the linebacker corps, those guys are talented. The sky’s the limit for those guys. If they continue to work and buy into the program, they’ll have the same success.”

Read how Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond fared in track and field action and how gymnastics and tennis performed this weekend after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

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SIX BITS: Dungy on Tebow, Jaguars, weekend

1 » Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current NFL analyst for NBC Tony Dungy continues to stand behind former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and believes he will succeed at the next level. “I know a lot of people are saying he will play another position and he might, but I think he’s going to be a great leader, a winner, and I think some team is going to take him and tailor their offense to the special qualities he has,” Dungy told George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel. “I think he’s going to be a fantastic player in the NFL. If I am a coach, I say to myself: ‘I’ve got a special, unique talent and I am going to structure my team a little differently to take advantage of that.’ People are starting to do that. Tennessee did that with Vince Young and was very successful. I think somebody is going to do it. [...] Tim won a lot of games in high school, a lot of games at the University of Florida and my belief is that he will win if he gets with the right team in the NFL.”

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told The Florida Times-Union that his team’s experiment with the 3-4 defense is over. Part of the reason for the change is a belief of Smith in former Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey, who only had two sacks in 2009. “The third year is usually a defining year for what you’re going to become,” Smith said as he indicated that Harvey will begin camp as the starting left end. Former Florida safety Reggie Nelson, who had an outstanding rookie campaign but has since floundered with the Jaguars, may be cut if he does not show significant improvement throughout training camp.

Women’s basketball, lacrosse and men’s & women’s tennis after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Dungy on Tebow, Jaguars, weekend

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SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks has been named as a participant in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Though OGGOA is quite pleased with Horford’s accomplishment, we would be remiss if we did not speak out for fellow former Gators F/C David Lee. Lee, who has played with the New York Knicks his entire career, was snubbed by voters after averaging an impressive 19.4 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game thus far. To his credit, Horford is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.

2 » The following commits to Florida’s 2010 recruiting class have been named PARADE All-Americans: five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw.

3 » One aside from the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl is that players from the Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing together on the South team – and they’re having a good time doing it. “We’re getting along really well,” former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “They’re good guys. We’ve had fun, trash-talking back and forth and giving each other a hard time. It’s been a lot of fun. When we break down (after a play), they say, ‘Go Alabama.’ They’ve been trying to get me to say that, but I haven’t yet. It’s been fun.”

Three more BITS including a Florida Gators bobsledder after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

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TWO BITS: Playoff performances, tennis falls

1 » New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray is the only former Florida Gators football player to make his way out of the 2010 NFL Playoffs and into Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, FL. McCray and his team will face the Indianapolis Colts and star quarterback Peyton Manning in the grandest stage of them all. Also in action Sunday were Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (five receptions for 38 yards, four rushes for 15 yards and one fumble) and New York Jets cornerback Lito Sheppard (two tackles). McCray has been a big-name over the last few weeks, delivering powerful hits to both Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner and Vikings QB Brett Favre.

2 » No. 11 Florida men’s tennis fell 5-2 to the No. 6 Baylor Bears on Sunday at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco, TX. Senior Antoine Benneteau held his own in singles competition, though junior Alexandre Lacroix fell in three sets to Denes Lukacs 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Lacroix and Benneteau, the No. 10-ranked doubles team in the country, continued their hot streak by winning their match 9-7. The Gators host the Furman Paladins on Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The Georgia Tech yellow Jackets and Penn State Nittany Lions are also involved in the short tournament.

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TWO BITS: Gators earn 26th commit, QB Murphy

1 » Two-star dual-threat quarterback/athlete Tyler Murphy (Wethersfield, CT) is the newest member of the Florida Gators unanimously ranked No. 1 2010 recruiting class. Courted by QB coach Scot Loeffler and interim head coach Steve Addazio, Murphy took an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend and committed on the spot. Murphy was previously committed to the Temple Owls, but as soon as the Gators offered him, it became apparent that he would end up in the Orange & Blue. “It’s been very exciting,” he told ‘Mark Wheeler of Rivals. “Just to know where everything falls into place and that all the hard work pays off. It’s very exciting and I’m very happy to be able to come down [to Florida].”

»» Rivals is also reporting that the Gators and 2010 three-star tight end commitment Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) have agreed to have him grayshirt the 2010 season and enroll with the 2011 recruiting class. McFarland was reluctant at first, out of pride, but realized that this move would benefit him in the long run. Grayshirts usually wait until the second semester to enroll in school instead of in the fall. This move would open up an additional scholarship for Florida to fill before National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

2 » Florida women’s basketball and No. 8 tennis were in action on Sunday, both taking home victories. Basketball (11-9, 4-3 SEC) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (10-9, 3-4 SEC) 59-56 while tennis swept the North Texas Mean Green 7-0. Senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 11 points while freshman F Jennifer George grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Photo Credit: Mike Orazzi

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