7/10: Donovan on USA Basketball, 2013-14 season

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Wednesday after returning to the United States coming off of a gold medal victory with USA Basketball in the 2013 FIBA World Championships. He discussed his experience overseas in Prague, Czech Republic, and the upcoming 2013-14 season.

GOLDEN, AGAIN

Leading the American under-19 team to a perfect 9-0 record at the world championship, Donovan captured his second gold medal in as many summers and looks primed to be involved in USA Basketball going forward. He called the last three weeks “an incredible experience” and noted that the relentless energy and constant selflessness of the team is why it was so successful in the tournament.

“It felt like we had a good group of guys. The hardest thing in that situation is these teams you’re playing against have been practicing, in some cases, over a year, and in some cases 4-5-6 months. We probably had about 10-12 days of practice after the tryouts to get ready to play,” he explained.

“We had a bunch of guys, all of them 1-12, that had really good motors, really good energy. The winning to them was really important. … Every single one of those guys was a high-profile, really good player. They all knew going in that there was going to be some form of sacrifice that was going to have to take place for us to win.”

Donovan said the gold medal was “pretty special” but could not rank it among his career accomplishments because it was a “totally different” feeling than he got winning two national championships at Florida. He also said he would be up for continuing to work with USA Basketball in the future.

“I’d like to help. I really enjoy it. I find it very refreshing and rejuvenating,” he said. “When they asked me to do this, there’s probably a lot of other coaches they could’ve asked to do this. If they want me to do something in the future, I would be more than happy to help any way I can.”

Read some of Donovan’s thoughts on Florida basketball..after the break!
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Donovan and Frazier win gold with USA Basketball in 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship

For the second-straight summer, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has led USA Basketball to a gold medal as the United States defeated Serbia 82-68 in the finals of the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

Donovan, who is now 14-0 all-time in international competition following Sunday’s victory, also directed the under-18 team to gold in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship last summer in São Sebastião do Paraíso, Brazil.

He led the under-18 team to a 5-0 record last year and the under-19 team to a 9-0 record this summer. Donovan’s teams have defeated opponents by an average of 39.9 points per game over the 14 contests and 40.7 points per game during the nine contests in this year’s world championships alone.

“I’m very humbled and honored that USA Basketball wanted me to represent our country and coach this team. To be a part of this and be a part of a group of guys that won it [is special],” he said after the game.

The Americans, which captured their fifth under-19 title in the history of the tournament, won just their second since 1991.

Continue Reading » Donovan and Frazier win gold with USA Basketball in 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship

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FOUR BITS: USA Basketball, Tebow, Hernandez

1 » Rookie left-handed pitcher Alex Wood has been getting hazed by his Atlanta Braves teammates since being promoted to the majors. One tactic his teammates are using to embarrass Wood is forcing him to carry a plush Florida Gators backpack out to the bullpen when he warms up. “His fellow relievers brought as much attention to the prank as they could,” MLB.com explains, “making Wood lead the group into the outfield and taking turns playing with the snout of the plush gator mascot on the back of the backpack.” The former Georgia standout only faced Florida twice during his three years in college with the Gators beating him both times.

2 » By defeating Serbia 71-62 on Wednesday, USA Basketball earned the No. 1 overall seed in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship and will open up the bracket portion of the event on Friday at 2:15 p.m. when the Americans take on their neighbors to the north, Canada. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier II barely saw the court in the United States’ last game, playing only the final 1:37 of the first half and not leaving the bench in the second half. Head coach Billy Donovan did not sit Frazier without good reason; he had shot 8-of-36 (.222) from downtown in the first five games. ESPN3.com has picked up the quarterfinals of the event and will air the Americans’ showdown with the Canadians at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.

3 » Green Bay Packers rookie running back Jonathan Franklin was born in Los Angeles, CA, and attended UCLA but did not name a Californian his role model when asked during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I Love Tim Tebow because of his spiritual walk,” Franklin explained. “Through all that he’s been through he still stays strong in his walk and that’s very encouraging. My pastor and my mom (Pamela) have also been great role models for me.”

Check out Aaron Hernandez murder investigation updates…after the break.
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FOUR BITS: Boynton, Floyd, USA Basketball

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton, who was not selected in the two-round 2013 NBA Draft last Thursday, has earned a tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers. With NBA Summer League action set to begin on July 12, Boynton is hoping to clinch a spot representing the Lakers in a pre-summer league camp the organization will hold next week in Los Angeles, CA. He will be one of 16 players looking to earn spots on the team, which will be announced at the conclusion of the camp, a team spokesman told OnlyGators.com on Tuesday. As it so happens, Boynton grew up in Pompano Beach, FL, rooting for the Lakers. Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy will also be competing in summer league action in Las Vegas, NV.

2 » With the Dallas Cowboys badly in need of a defensive tackle, many fans of the team were surprised that it passed over selecting one in the 2013 NFL Draft, especially considering Gators junior Sharrif Floyd was surprisingly available when the team made a selection at No. 18 overall in the first round. According to ESPNDallas.com, owner/general manager Jerry Jones did not pick Floyd because neither defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin nor defensive line coach Rod Marinelli thought Floyd was “quick-twitch” enough to succeed in the Cowboys’ 4-3 defense. Dallas’s scouts recommended that Jones choose Floyd, but he listened to the coaches instead. Floyd wound up being nabbed by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd pick.

Check out two more Florida Gators news BITS (one video)…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Beal, Lewis, Johnson, Sturgis

1 » In Washington, D.C. with USA Basketball preparing for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan wound up sitting down next to rookie Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal for an interview with Monumental Network (check it out below). The terrific interview includes plenty of compliments going both ways, but Donovan noting that Beal put serious consideration into staying at Florida for his sophomore season is the most interesting.

“A lot of people don’t know his biggest fear going into the NBA was he felt coming into college as a freshman, he was playing with some older guys, and he said, ‘Do you think I’m making a mistake by bypassing a step of being a go-to guy and a leader on the team, because I’ve never done that? Do you think that’s going to hurt me if I go up there?’ I thought, what an incredibly mature question to ask. It was never really about the money, it was never about that. It was about what did he need to do to be the best he could be.”

Check out the VIDEO and three more BITS of Florida Gators news!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Beal, Lewis, Johnson, Sturgis

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Gators getting started without Donovan; Hill enrolled, Walker “working towards” qualifying

For the second-straight offseason, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan will not be with his team when it begins summer training activities on campus in Gainesville, FL. Instead, Donovan will once again be coaching USA Basketball as it competes this year at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

While he obviously holds his job at Florida as priority No. 1, Donovan and has said multiple times that he is only working with USA Basketball because it is a manageable situation for him as his experienced coaching staff is capable of leading the program in his absence during a portion of the Summer B semester.

Filling in for Donovan during his scheduled Monday media appearance on the annual summertime Southeastern Conference teleconference was third-year assistant Matt McCall, who said the Gators are getting down to business while Donovan is overseas.

“Obviously this is an exciting time when you’re able to get some of your new guys on campus and have your old guys back and start working with them here,” McCall said. “[It will be nice to] get them in the weight room with our strength coach and start preparing for next year.”

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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FOUR BITS: Ball, Frazier, Donovan, Elam

1 » Florida Gators redshirt senior linebacker Neiron Ball recovered from the arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, registering 10 tackles (0.5 for loss), two fumble recoveries and an interception last year. In this special feature produced by GatorVision, Ball, his family, doctors, trainers and coaches discuss his recovery and resurgence.

2 » Gators guard Michael Frazier began working with USA Basketball on Friday as one of 25 players trying out for 12 spots on the Men’s U19 National Team that will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship from June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. Along with head coach Billy Donovan, who is serving in the same role for Team USA, Frazier is in Colorado Springs, CO, competing during a five-day training camp; the final roster will be decided on June 19. “Very excited to have the opportunity to get invited and have the opportunity to go play against very talented players and just have the opportunity to be able to represent my country,” Frazier told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “It’s just really fun when I learned the news.”

3 » Donovan coaching USA Basketball does not just benefit his country but also Florida. While in Colorado Springs and Prague, Donovan will be coaching a pair of uncommitted five-star rising seniors, center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, IL) and forward Justise Winslow (Houston, TX). Ranked No. 1 and No. 10 overall, respectively, in the Rivals150 for 2014, Okafor and Winslow will get to see first-hand what it is like to be coached by Donovan, a huge benefit in regards to the Gators’ recruitment of the two players. Though Florida is not in Okafor’s current list of eight, it is in Winslow’s top 10. Donovan had a similar opportunity last year when he coached the under-18 team and five-star power forward Julius Randle (McKinney, TX), but Randle eventually committed to Kentucky approximately eight months later on March 20.

4 » Rookie safety Matt Elam is earning high praise from his coaches and teammates with the Baltimore Ravens. “Matt Elam is what we expected and maybe a little more,” said secondary coach (and former Florida defensive coordinator) Teryl Austin. “[He’s] going through the usual changes that a rookie goes through, but he’s smart. He’s tough, he’s fast he gets football, and I think he is going to be a fine player for us soon.” During minicamp this week, Elam intercepted quarterback Joe Flacco and began celebrating, only to have his teammates yell at him for not returning the ball. He explained the situation to the team’s website: “I was so excited that I got the pick that I forgot about the rules. Everybody told me to get up and run so I decided to get up and run. That was a great feeling to pick Joe off, the Super Bowl champion.”

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