ESPN 850 WRUF – Gainesville, Florida

Santa Fe College Basketball Opens Seasons

By on October 31st, 2014

Both the men’s and women’s basketball programs for Santa Fe College open their seasons tonight.

The Santa Fe men get it started by hosting Impact Academy. Last season the Saints finished with a record of 22-9 and head coach Chris Mowry, who has coached for 12 years with the program, has the most wins in Saints history with a record of 226-105.

“Year in and year out Florida is probably the strongest state in the country for Junior College basketball. So for those who aren’t familiar with it there are a lot of talented players in junior colleges in the state Florida that are going to end up playing Division I basketball in the next year or two. There is a really good talent level,” said Mowry.

Mowry expects the guards to be a strong point for the Saints this season. He says there is really good shooting across the board on the perimeter in the one, two, and three spots.

“I think this year our offense, our ability to score will be greater than it was last year,” said Mowry. “Defensively, Andre Horne is our returning center… our starting center. He was our best defender last year, so he’s back, and Brandon Williams is a Division I transfer and he will really help us out inside in terms of defending, rebounding, shot blocking.”

The men’s team will also host Victory Rock Academy tomorrow.  Tip-off will be at 12:00.

The Lady Saints will play tonight at 6:00 opening with a Tip-Off Classic against IMG Academy. There are 11 sophomores on the team who can bring their State Tournament experience from last season.

“The sophomores feel like they didn’t excel the way they wanted to last year and they kind of got wet behind the ears and they know what they want to do this year,” said head coach Chanda Stebbins. “So I think their expectations are higher for themselves which is nice coming from them instead of just the coaching staff.”

The Saints also took on three players from Gainesville High School; Kayla Lovett, Denae James, and Deja McPhee, who Stebbins believes make a difference.

“The Gainesville kids that are transferring from D1′s came in in Summer B and they really developed over the summer as well, so we have a good core. We spent a lot of time in summer B really getting better, so yeah, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. I’m really excited,” said Stebbins.

The women will also host Miami Dade tomorrow with tip-off at 2 pm.

For audio from Santa Fe Basketball head coaches click here:

Mowry on talent of players in Junior College basketball.

Mowry on strenghts of the team.

Stebbins on expectations of the sophomores.

Stebbins on Gainesville players.


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Friday Sports Update (10/31)

By on October 31st, 2014

FSU rallies for a football win, NFL action, high school football, Gator hoops, a Gator soccer win and more in our Halloween edition of our Friday Sports Update…

** FSU remains unbeaten in college football after rallying to beat Louisville 42-31 on the road Thursday night.   The Seminoles trailed 21-0 early but rallied in the second half to get the win.

** In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints take the NFC South lead by beating the Carolina Panthers 28-10.

** In local high school football, Buchholz loses 31-28 to Jacksonville Atlantic Beach and Oak Hall and St. Francis also lose.   The Gainesville High School-Tallahassee Lincoln game was called because of field conditions and weather.   More area games scheduled for tonight.

** The Gator soccer team ends its regular season with a 6-1 home win over Vanderbilt.   Florida will play in the SEC Tournament next week.

** The Gator men’s basketball team is to participate in a scrimmage with VCU over the weekend that is closed to media and the public.   Gator coach Billy Donovan also confirmed that transfer center John Egbunu must sit out this year per NCAA transfer rules; Florida had tried to get him to play right away but the attempt failed.

** The Santa Fe Saints basketball teams open their seasons at home today.

** The home debut of LeBron James in Cleveland did not go as planned; the Cavs lose to the New York Knicks 95-90.

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Six Gators Score as Florida Handles Vanderbilt In Final Regular Season Game

By on October 31st, 2014

The No. 8 Florida soccer team closed the regular season with a bang, beating the Vanderbilt Commodores 6-1 at James Pressley Stadium on Thursday night.

After a rain delay pushed the 7:00 p.m. game to around 8:20 p.m., Florida sophomore midfielder Pamela Begič opened up the scoring for the Gators with a tap-in goal from inside the box just over four minutes into the game.

“I just love that we all came out strong,” said Begič on the team’s opening minutes. ”We sometimes get scored on in the first five minutes so it feels good to be on the other side.”

Meggie Dougherty Howard, Lauren Silver, Savannah Jordan, Havana Solaun, and Liz Slattery also found the back of the net in the blowout win.

“I think that’s really great when we can get a bunch of people to score because it really shows it was a whole team effort,” said Dougherty Howard, who notched her first goal of the season. “Different people are getting rewarded who always don’t get the focus (of scoring) different games.”

“I think (it was) another great team effort,” said Florida head coach Becky Burleigh. “We got good contributions from a lot of different people and I think, again, we got to showcase our depth.

The Gators (14-4, 9-2 SEC) finishes the regular season second in the SEC behind Texas A&M. The Aggies finished their season 9-1-1 in conference play.

The Gators will enter the SEC tournament as the two seed whre they will face the winner of seven seed Alabama and 10 seed Tennessee next Wednesday in Orange Beach, Alabama.

To hear audio from the story, click below:

Florida head coach Becky Burleigh recaps the win over Vandy

Midfielder Pamela Begic talks about their fast start to the game

Meggie Dougherty Howard talks about how great it is to have six different players score in one game

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No. 8 Gator Soccer vs. Vanderbilt Thursday

By on October 30th, 2014

The Florida soccer team is finishing up its regular season schedule on Thursday with a match up against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Gators are currently 13-4 on the season and are second in the SEC at 8-2. Texas A&M has the SEC lead with 25 points, but Florida is just one point behind coming into this week. With a win, the Gators will earn three points and take the lead from the Aggies.

When asked about being only one point behind the Aggies, Gator coach Becky Burleigh says all her team can do is go out and play.

“We can only control our part of the equation, which is we need to come out with three points,” she said.

Last week featured two wins for the Gators, first on Senior Night against Tennessee and then in the final road game against LSU. Sophomore Savannah Jordan scored three goals in those games making her the team and SEC leader for goals, with 14. Senior Havana Solaun scored the 26th goal of her career, tying her with Gator Athletic Hall of Fame member Erin Baxter on Florida’s all time goal chart.

“At halftime [of Tennessee] I thought it was one of the most complete halves we had played all season, and then we followed that up with a terrific second half,” Burleigh said. “We were able to get back on shut-out page [at LSU] which was nice, and to score those three goals and to have a total team effort was a big help to us going into this last regular season game.”

Vanderbilt is also coming off two SEC games last weekend, tying with South Carolina and losing to Ole Miss. The Commodores are led by sophomore Simone Charley with eight goals and 19 points. Freshman Goalkeeper Christiana Ogunsami will be a challenge for the Gators as well, with 106 saves on the season.

Burleigh says this last home game will be an emotional experience for the team.

“We’re looking forward to being at home against Vandy, technically our last regular season home game, we don’t know if we’ll be playing here again, so we’re going to savor the moment.”

The match up between the Gators and Commodores is set to start at 7 p.m. at James G Pressly Stadium. Since it is Halloween Eve, fans are encouraged to wear their costumes to the game.

Click below to listen to Becky Burleigh’s comments:

Burleigh 1Burleigh 2Burleigh 3Burleigh 4

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Thursday Sports Update (10/30)

By on October 30th, 2014

The San Francisco Giants win the World Series, Gator volleyball wins, Gator soccer ends its regular season, college football and more in our Thursday Sports Update…

** The San Francisco Giants are World Series champions again after beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday in Game 7.   Series MVP Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to throw five shutout innings for the Giants who win their third Series title in five years.

** In what could be a shocking move, former Rays manager Joe Maddon could be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs although the move is not official.

** The Gator volleyball team remains unbeaten after sweeping Georgia Thursday, and the Gator soccer team ends its regular season tonight by hosting Vanderbilt.   The Gators have a chance to win an SEC title as well but will need help to do it.

** In college football tonight, FSU goes on the road to face upset minded Louisville.

** And if you have not heard by now, Georgia running back Todd Gurley will have to sit out two more games per the NCAA after he admitted taking money to sign autographs.   Georgia is appealing the ruling.

** In the NFL tonight, New Orleans faces Carolina.

** In high school football, Buchholz plays at Atlantic Coast while Gainesville High School hosts Tallahassee Lincoln.   Also tonight, St. Francis and Oak Hall will be in action in separate games.

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Gator Volleyball Kicks Off Florida-Georgia Week With 3-0 Sweep in Athens‏

By on October 30th, 2014

Sophomore right side Alex Holston notched her first career double-double with a team-high 12 kills and a career-best 11 digs and junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette hit a season high .625 to lead the eighth ranked Florida volleyball team to its second sweep of Georgia this season (25-16, 25-8, 26-24) in a Wednesday night SEC clash at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.

Florida (17-3, 11-0 SEC) hit .400 as a team in the mid-week tilt with the Bulldogs (10-12, 2-8 SEC) to add its ninth SEC sweep on the season.

The Gators served up a staggering 11 service aces, their most this season, paced by three from Holston and senior libero Holly Pole.

The Orange and Blue posted nine blocks to the Dawgs’ one roof, as freshman Rhamat Alhassan led Florida with five, her 19th match leading the Gators in blocks this season.

Gator head coach Mary Wise credited Holston and Mallette for elevating the team to a higher level.

“You can look at a 3-0 score and not know just how much we learned from this match,” Wise said. “Alex (Holston) was so good for us in both her defense and her offense and was a real key to us tonight. Alex and Gabby (Mallette) came up with some key blocks there that were the difference in set three.”

After taking set one 25-16, UF limited UGA to just eight points in the second stanza, its second straight match limiting its opposition to a single-digit set, while posting a .714 clip in the set. But the Bulldogs came out aggressive in the third as Florida and Georgia went down to the wire in a 26-24 Gator decision in the final frame.

The Dawgs hit .141 against the Gators Wednesday, UF’s 14th match this season holding its opponent under a .197 hitting efficiency, including 10 conference contests.

Florida will now turn its sights to an afternoon tilt on the road Sunday at Tennessee (8-16, 1-9 SEC) in the first meeting between the Gators and Lady Vols this season. UF is 44-12 all-time against the Lady Vols, including 40-7 under Mary Wise.

First serve is set for noon on Sunday. You can catch the match on ESPN 850 WRUF.

For postgame comments from coach Wise, click below:

Wise recaps the match

Wise on the play of Gabby Mallette

Wise discusses the play and growth of Alex Holston

Wise on the upcoming Tennessee match

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Gator Volleyball Looks to Stay Undefeated at Georgia

By on October 29th, 2014

The only SEC team undefeated in league play with a two-match cushion over Kentucky, the eighth ranked Florida Gator volleyball team (16-3, 10-0 SEC) will look to add their 11th SEC victory at Georgia (10-11, 2-7 SEC) on Wednesday night.

The Gators own an 11-match win streak, the 11th longest active win streak in the country and the longest in the SEC. The Orange and Blue have dropped just two sets in SEC play, and have eight SEC sweeps.

The Gators have forced their opponents to operate below a .197 hitting efficiency in 13 matches this season so far, including nine of 10 SEC matches. Florida held Mississippi State to -.012 Sunday, marking the second time Florida has held an opponent to a negative hitting efficiency this season.

Florida will also be led by freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan, the league’s hitting efficiency leader both overall and in SEC play, who was tabbed the SEC Freshman Player of the Week, her fourth conference weekly honor and the fifth accolade of her freshman campaign.

Gator head coach Mary Wise credits the teams depth for the intensity at practice, which allows her squad to grow.

“Alex (Holston) is a better hitter today because she has to hit against Denise (Belcher) every day in practice,” Wise said. ”Simone (Antwi) and Rhamat (Alhassan) are better every day because they have to go against Shainah (Joseph) every day,” said Wise.

The Gators own the all-time series lead against the Bulldogs,  57-9, and are 54-1 under head coach Mary Wise. Florida swept Georgia the last time they met, on October 10, 2014 in Gainesville 25-14, 25-15, 25-16.

First serve is set for 7 p.m. and you can catch the match on ESPN 850 WRUF.

For comments from coach Wise, click below:

Wise on preparing for Georgia for the second time

Wise on the strength of Georgia’s defense

Wise talks about the challenge of going on the road in the SEC

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Wednesday Sports Update (10/29)

By on October 29th, 2014

A World Series Game 7, the college football playoff committee’s first rankings are out, Gator volleyball in action and more in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** There will be a Game 7 in the World Series in Kansas City tonight as last night in Game 6, the home town Kansas City Royals blast the San Francisco Giants 10-0.

** The College Football Playoff Committee released its first rankings last night and right now, the four playoff teams would be Mississippi State, FSU, Auburn and Ole Miss.   Three from the SEC.

** The Gator volleyball team tries to remain unbeaten in the SEC when it travels tonight to face Georgia.

** The NFL trading deadline has come and gone with no major deals made.   The Tampa Bay Bucs trade two players, including safety Mark Barron on a very light day of dealing.

** The NBA season got started last night and the Orlando Magic lose to the New Orleans Pelicans 101-84.  Houston beat the LA Lakers and defending champion San Antonio beats Dallas 101-100.

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Gator Football Team Looks To Finally Take Down Georgia In SEC Rivalry Game

By on October 29th, 2014

The Florida Gator football team returns to the gridiron this weekend when they travel to Jacksonville to take on SEC East rival Georgia. The Gators have lost the last three match ups against the ninth ranked Bulldogs and will be looking to finally redeem themselves on Saturday. Gator offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and a few of the players discussed the team’s status heading into the annual rivalry game.

During Florida’s bye week, head coach Will Muschamp named true freshman Treon Harris the starter at quarterback for the contest, replacing fourth-year junior Jeff Driskel. The Miami native from Booker T. Washington is 12-of-18 for 263 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Roper elaborated on Harris’s play making ability and how he has prepped for his first career start.

“I think he’s worked really hard,” Roper emphasized. “He’s got a really good understanding for what our base is and what I’ve been saying all along. I think he’s got a good grasp for our overall scheme. He makes things happen on the practice field that aren’t necessarily designed and maybe outside the design. It’s no different than some of the plays in the game the other night. One of the first moving pocket passes we call, they brought pressure on the edge and he made a guy miss and made a play.”

“You’re hoping it doesn’t have to come to that necessarily on that call, but he was still able to make some plays. That’s what we’re going to have to have happen on Saturday — him make some plays.”

Roper added that the Gators turned the ball over six times in their loss to the Missouri Tigers and 15 times in the last four games, fortunately; the open date gave the offense extra time to work on ball security and improving the passing game.

“Right now, our biggest problem is turnovers. Sometimes it’s a different theme, week-to-week. We obviously haven’t been as good in the passing game all season long. But, specifically, in the last game, it’s turning the football over. If you look at it, it’s kind of the trend. We were good in the first game, second game we were pretty good in, I think we had one. It’s been a theme of three until we doubled the three. We’re an offense that has to take care of the football better right now. It’s the primary goal going into this next opportunity.”

Muschamp, a former Georgia defensive back, has never won in this series. He’s lost four in a row as a player (1991-1994) and three straight as a coach. But, even during the Bulldog’s current three-game winning streak in the matchup, the games have been tight: 23-20 in 2013, 17-9 in 2012 and 24-20 in 2011.

Despite a lot of offensive struggles this season, the Gators know how critical this game is for the Florida program and the overall message this week is crystal clear – the squad is desperate for a win.

“Everybody has dreamed of playing in this game and seeing themselves in this game,” junior defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. said. “We’re just ready to get back on the field. We want to play for Gator Nation, and our goal is to win. Sometimes it can be really hard but we just have to stick together and stay together like we always have and just really appreciate the times and the moments that we have together right now.”

“We need a win so bad and we want a win,’’ redshirt senior linebacker Neiron Ball emphasized. “We’re playing for the program. Our program is better than we’ve shown.”

But even more importantly, the team knows they may be fighting for more than a win against an SEC foe…

“I’ve built a strong relationship with Coach Muschamp,” Ball emphasized when asked about Muschamp’s job security.

“Sometimes he calls me randomly just to tell me he loves me. You can talk to him as a coach, as a person, even as a father.”

“To me, that’s what you want in a coach  -  a person that you can go to for anything.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s SEC showdown between the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC), and the Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) is set for 3:30 p.m. from EverBank Field, with pregame coverage beginning at 12:30 on ESPN 850 WRUF.

For audio on the above quotes, please click below:

Roper on Harris starting

Roper on Harris being a playmaker

Keanu Neal on FL Georgia

Fowler on FL Georgia

What this matchup means to Fowler

Fowler on team’s mentality

Neiron Ball on Muschamp

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NBA Opening Night Tonight

By on October 28th, 2014

While the Major League Baseball season may be finishing up tonight, the 2014-15 NBA campaign gets under way this evening with a trio of games.

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs kick things off as they take on former Florida Gator Chandler Parsons and the new-look Dallas Mavericks. Also in the West, Kobe Bryant returns to the court for his 19th season as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Houston Rockets.

In the East, the Orlando Magic will try to build on their youth movement after a dismal 23-59 record in last year. Head coach Jacque Vaughn will look for center Nik Vucevic and explosive second-year guard Victor Oladipo to lead the way for the Magic; however Oladipo will be sidelined for about another month with a facial fracture. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette) will likely get plenty of minutes in reserve.

“Just have to be as ready as possible at any time to do whatever’s asked of me, and help the team at a high level,” Payton said.

Orlando pays a visit to New Orleans tonight to take on the Pelicans, who are led by an emerging superstar in Anthony Davis. In two meetings against the Magic last season, Davis averaged 24 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Orlando will need to counter Davis’ talent with tough team defense — they ranked second in opponent field goal percentage during the preseason.

“I thought we got better in preseason and we were able to find a good identity for ourselves,” forward Tobias Harris said. “It’ll be good to get out there and have a great attitude in this first game.”

Former Gator Patric Young, who was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, was able to make the Pelicans roster and will make his debut this evening. Tipoff from Smoothie King Arena is set for 8pm.

To hear sound from Payton and Harris, click here:

Elfrid Payton

Tobias Harris



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