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Monday Sports Update (12/15)

By on December 15th, 2014

Football, hoops, a local coach stepping down and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** Both Gator basketball teams are victorious on Sunday; the Gator men blast Jacksonville 79-34 while the Gator women beat Stetson 59-54.   Both teams have exams now and won’t play again until this weekend.

** In the NBA, Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan for third place in all time NBA scoring in a game against Minnesota Sunday.   Ahead of Bryant now are Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

** The Chicago Bulls down the Miami Heat 93-75 even without former Gator Joakim Noah who misses his third straight game with a bum ankle.   Miami is off today while Orlando is at Toronto tonight.

** In the NFL, another bad day for Florida teams as they all lose; the Jags drop a 20-12 decision at Baltimore; the Bucs lose 19-17 at Carolina and Miami is blown out 41-13 at New England.

** Monday Night Football tonight has two bad teams as New Orleans is at Chicago.   Even though the Saints are 5-8, they are in the playoff hunt in the NFC.

** Long time Ocala Trinity Catholic head football coach John Brantley will be stepping down after seven seasons as head coach.

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Gators Men’s Basketball Throttles Jacksonville

By on December 15th, 2014

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team moved to 6-4 on the season by dominating the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-9) 79-34 Sunday afternoon at the O’Connell Center.

The Gators led by just 10 points at halftime, but outscored JU 45-10 in the second period to pull away in dominating fashion.

Forward Dorian Finney-Smith led Florida by scoring a career-high 25 points, shooting 10 of 15 from the field while making 5 of 7 three point attempts.

“The one guy I thought elevated our team in the second half in particular was Doe-Doe,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He did a really, really good job you know, rebounding, effort, those kinds of things.”

This is the healthiest Finney-Smith has been since he injured his left non-shooting hand in the Gators’ season opener against William & Mary.

“I think he’s at least moving to a point of being healthier each day,” Donovan said. “We get a little bit of time here before we play again with finals, hopefully the week will help him get closer to being one hundred percent.”

Guard Michael Frazier II added 22 points, making 8 of 14 shots from the field and going 6 of 11 from three. The Gators made a season high 13 threes in the contest.

Despite the 45 point margin of victory, Donovan wasn’t entirely pleased with the performance, in particular with his team’s effort in the first half.

“I think, that’s part of these guys’ growing process there,” Donovan said. “It takes an enormous amount of mental discipline and focus to really understand what you need to do and how you need to play. And I really thought from a competitive standpoint, I know the scoreboard didn’t say it, but I thought they outworked us, out-competed us.”

Florida now gets six days off before their next game, Saturday against Wake Forest in the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. Tip off from Sunrise, FL is set for 5:00 P.M., with coverage on Country 103.7 The Gator.

Click below to listen to audio from this story:

Donovan on Finney-Smith

Donovan on Finney-Smith’s Injury

Donovan on Negatives

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Gator Women’s Hoops holds on to beat Stetson

By on December 15th, 2014

The Gator women’s basketball team (6-4) effectively snapped its three game losing streak on Sunday afternoon after escaping with a 59-54 victory over Stetson (7-3) at the O’Connell Center.

It was not a pretty sight offensively for either team as they both shot under 40 percent from the field and committed over 20 turnovers. The Gators had just one player, guard Carlie Needles, who scored in double figures with just 10 points.

Although neither team played their best basketball of the season, the Gators were able to get the win by gaining the upper hand in a number of key categories. In the paint, the Gators outscored Stetson 30-20 and outrebounded them 47-39. UF also had 19 offensive rebounds, six of which came from guard Kayla Lewis.

“I mean, you just give your team another chance to score. You get more opportunities and I think the team that has the most opportunities will win, so just getting more rebounds just gives us the ball more,” said Lewis. “It’s just kinda like in football, if you have the ball more, time of possession, you’re more likely to win. And I think that’s the same thing with rebounding in basketball, you wanna give your team as many chances to score as you can.”

The Gators capitalized on Stetson’s mistakes by scoring 25 points off of their 26 turnovers and managed to outscore their bench 20-8 despite shooting just 34 percent from the field.

“I’m just really proud of our overall effort. I think Stetson’s a really good team, I think it’s a postseason team. I think they were coached very well…had a great game plan coming in,” said Gator head coach Amanda Butler. “There’s a lot of familiarity on that staff down there, one of our former managers is an assistant coach. So, they knew a lot of things we were gonna do and I think that was great for us to have to overcome that…and to do it with a lot of composure and a lot of toughness.”

The Gators will try to win two in a row when they face Southern University next Sunday to begin the Gator Holiday Classic. Tipoff for that game is set for 2:30 pm but you can catch live coverage of the game on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 2:15.

To listen to the audio mentioned above, click below:

Lewis on her rebounding

Butler on the team overcoming challenges

 

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NFL: Dolphins, Buccaneers, Jaguars Preview

By on December 14th, 2014

It’s Week 15 in the NFL and most teams are doing everything possible to win each week in hopes of making it to the playoffs. With the exception of the Miami Dolphins at times, it hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Florida’s NFL teams.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers(2-11) are struggling to get wins under new head coach Lovie Smith. It seems they do everything possible to prevent themselves from coming out on  top at the end of games. They are coming off a loss to Detroit and the week before they blew a chance at a last minute field goal for the win caused by a penalty for having too many players on the field. This week they look to change that when they face Carolina who is without their starting quarterback, Cam Newton.

Newton was injured in a automobile accident earlier this week and suffered a fracture in his lower back. Derek Anderson will be taking the snaps in his place Sunday but for Smith the preparation coming into this game will be the same regardless of who will be behind the center at the start of the game.

Lovie Smith comments on facing Carolinas offense

The season is going about to same for the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also have just two wins on the season. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has had a hard time keeping the ball out of the defense’s hands; he’s thrown 16 interceptions on the year which has been a factor in his team only putting up an average of 15.2 points per game..

The Jags secondary will have quite a task trying to contain the dynamic duo that is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and wide receiver Steve Smith when they travel to take on the Ravens. Jags head coach Gus Bradley is confident in his team’s ability to go get this win if they go up there with an aggressive mentality and play until the end.

What Head Coach Gus Bradley expects from his team

The year has been a little different for Miami who has a record of 7-6.  They are second in the AFC East behind only New England who happens to be their Week 15 opponent. The Dolphins look to have the same outcome as they did earlier in the season when they beat Tom Brady and the Patriots 33- 20.

The Dolphins will have to find a way to replace starting line backers Koa Misi and Jalani Jenkins who are still out with injuries. Miami head coach Joe Philbin knows that if his team wants to go out there and get a win, they must eliminate the negative plays such as penalties and sacks.

Joe Philbins comments on Dolphins eleminating negative plays

One person that is anxious to play this game is Tom Brady, who knows these teams are completely different from the last time they faced each other in Week 1.

Tom Bradys comments on the teams being different from week 1

All three of these games are set to begin at 1 pm.

 

 

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Roller Coaster Weekend for Gator Volleyball Ends with Loss to Stanford

By on December 14th, 2014

The second weekend of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament pitted the best 16 teams in the nation in search for the best eight, and then the best four teams.

The eighth seeded Florida volleyball team had an interesting challenge when they were slated to face the ninth seed Illinois in the the Regional Semifinals. But the Friday night showdown was only the beginning of the roller coaster.

——————————————————————————

And then there were eight.

For the first time since 2011, the Gators made it to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight.

Florida (28-3, 18-0 SEC) defeated Illinois (26-8, 16-4 Big Ten) 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17, 16-14) Friday night, extending its overall winning streak to 23 straight matches.

Three different UF players recorded double-doubles, and Illinois was held to a .170 hitting clip and committed 32 total errors.

Freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan finished with 15 kills and 10 total blocks, but it was backup blocker Shainah Joesph who came up big for the Gators down the stretch. Joseph ended the night with seven kills on 13 attempts and five blocks.

“I’ll tell you this,” associate head coach Dave Boos said.  “Shainah Joseph is a secret weapon that we’ve known about that she could do some pretty special things. But that was an unbelievable situation, the biggest situation, to step into that forefront and make the plays she did. (She) was a monster.”

With Alhassan out, Joseph accounted for three of Florida’s final seven points to close out the fifth set.

Sophomore Alex Holston also had a big contribution, finishing with 18 kills and 10 digs. Setter Mackenzie Dagostino was the third UF player to earn a double-double, compiling 51 assists, 10 digs and four kills.

It was the most closely contested match of the tournament for Florida, as the two teams tied 90 times throughout the five sets.

The Gators finally began to pull away from the Fighting Illini in the fourth set, when they took a 12-6 lead after a leaping kill from junior Gabby Mallette. Mallette tallied 10 kills and three blocks.

———————————————————————–

With all roads leading to Stanford, even before the tournament began, the Gators knew that they would have to face the top-seeded squad. Saturday night’s match-up further proved Stanford’s dominance.

————————————————————————

While the Gators were sweet in the field of 16, they couldn’t overcome the elite Stanford Cardinals.

Florida’s season came to an end as the Orange and Blue fell in straight sets to top seeded Stanford (17-25, 22-25, 21-25) at Hilton Coliseum.

The Gators were put on their heels quickly, as Stanford (33-1, 19-1 Pac-12)  hit .560, committed just one hitting error while never trailing in the first set. After swinging at .293 in the second set, the Cardinal surged past Florida with a .441 mark in the third.

There were only two lead changes throughout the entire match, which came in the second set.

Sophomore Alex Holston hit .533 with 18 kills to lead the Gators, while junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette posted a season-high 14 kills towards UF’s efforts against a tough Stanford squad. Senior libero Holly Pole ended the night with 17 digs, while junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino added 44 assists.

SEC Freshman of the Year Rhamat Alhassan and SEC Player of the Year Alex Holston were both named to the NCAA Volleyball Ames Regional All-Tournament team.

Florida also bids farewell to three seniors: Maddy Monserez, Holly Pole and Taylor Unroe, who compiled a 110-19 (.853) record while donning the Orange and Blue. The trio were winners of two SEC titles and made four straight NCAA Tournaments.

Florida associate head coach Dave Boos spoke highly of the seniors and their impact on the squad and season.

““Obviously, our front row players, our point scorers all return, but how do you replace the heart and soul of your team?” Boos said. “That’s going to take a while.”

The squad has four matches scheduled for the spring, with the first of these matches against FSU, in Tallahassee, on March 21st.

For more post match comments from associate head coach Dave Boos, click below:

Boos recaps the Stanford match

Boos on Stanford’s strong passing

Boos on Stanford’s passing and speed

Boos on losing three seniors (Pole, Unroe, Monserez)

Boos recaps the Gators’ season

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Muschamp New Defensive Coordinator At Auburn

By on December 13th, 2014

Former Gator football coach Will Muschamp, after being fired at Florida, was not unemployed long, as he accepts a job as Auburn’s new defensive coordinator.

A statement was released to confirm the announcement.

Reports had surfaced that Muschamp had interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at Houston but many believe Ohio State assistant Tom Herman is the favorite for that job.

Many believed there was a chance that Muschamp could go to South Carolina as its defensive coordinator but that job never did become officially open.

There are reports that current Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson could join Muschamp at Auburn.  Robinson is an Auburn alum.

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Gator Men’s Hoops win second straight; Defeat Texas Southern 75-50

By on December 13th, 2014

For the first time all season the Florida Gator men’s basketball team is winners of two straight. The Gators (5-4) defeated the Tigers of Texas Southern 75-50 on Friday on a night where they were simply the better team in all facets of the game.

After Monday night’s dominant performance over Yale, Gator coach Billy Donovan was simply asking for consistency. Up until that game the Gators had yet to play well for an entire 60 minutes. Now four days after facing the Bulldogs, it appears the tougher practices Donovan put his players through have at least had some effect.

On Friday the Gators would start strong once again shooting 60 percent in the first half and they would shoot 54 percent from the field by the game’s end. The Gators finished with five players in double figures and Donovan attests his team’s success to their ability to spread the ball around.

“I thought we were pretty efficient in terms of moving and passing it, our ball movement was very good, our unselfishness was very good and I thought we stayed with that. I thought that was a positive in the game and the 19 assists were good.”

The Gators were led on the night by a couple of underclassmen in forwards Devin Robinson and Chris Walker. Robinson led the team with a career high 15 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field. The freshman has slowly begun to show improvement each game as he shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and was even able to get into the lane a time or two. Robinson finished with four rebounds and two assists to go along with one steal and seemingly took that next step in his development.

However Robinson’s great game would come at a cost as the freshman hit the deck with a little more than five minutes to go. You could hear a pin drop inside the O’Connell Center with Robinson down on the court, holding his ankle after taking an awkward step towards a defender. Luckily, Robinson was able to walk off under his own power and he would eventually return.

Walker finished the game second on the team with 12 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field. Despite hauling in just two rebounds, the sophomore was electric at times under the basket finishing with a couple dunks that would send the O’Dome into a frenzy. Walker also had four blocks in his 16 minutes of play and just like Robinson has made significant strides over the last few games. After Friday’s game, Donovan would talk specifically about his two forwards.

“Both of those two guys made the biggest jump after the first four or five games when they both admitted this is a lot harder than I ever anticipated it could be and I think when young players get to that point they become very coachable.”

The Gators also saw the return of shooting guard Eli Carter Friday night. The red-shirt junior played just 14 minutes finishing with six points, shooting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Carter also ended the night with two rebounds and one steal and if the Gators can see him get back to 100 percent he can be quite the weapon moving forward.

The Tigers (1-7) shot just 33 percent from the field and an even worse 26 percent from beyond the arc. Senior Deverell Biggs and junior Chris Thomas led the way with 18 and 15 points respectively but unfortunately for them their 33 points combined were almost double their teammates combined.

The Gators out-rebounded the Tigers on the night, finished with 15 more assists and dominated the battle inside. The Gators finished with 48 points inside the paint, coming up just short of the 52 they had on Monday night, but Donovan seemed happy with their efforts once again.

Up next for the Gators will be the Dolphins from Jacksonville. The Dolphins will enter 2-8 having lost four straight and Florida will be looking for their sixth win of this young season.

Tip-off is set for Sunday at 4pm.

For audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan talks about what his team did well Friday night

Billy Donovan says his team still has much to work on

Billy Donovan talks about his team’s defense on the night

Billy Donovan talks about Chris Walker and Devin Robinson

 

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College Football Playoff News Conference

By on December 12th, 2014

The new College Football Playoff system is here and ready for it’s first run on January first.  The format is simple the best four teams will enter two semi-final games and the two that come out on top will head to a championship game where the winner takes all… title, trophy, and bragging rights for the year.

The top four teams in order of their ranking are the Alabama Crimson Tide, Oregon Ducks, Florida State Seminoles, and Ohio State Buckeyes.

The four coaches who led their teams to this spot in the post season met in Orlando, Florida yesterday for a press conference where they discussed their teams, their opponents, and the new system.

“It’s really really exciting to be a apart of anything that’s a first. I just hope that because it’s a first that we do the best job that we possibly can for all teams involved, all players involved, all families involved. You know… assessing how we do this so we can make it better for the families in the future,” said Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama, the number one seed will take on number four Ohio State. Less than a week ago, that number four spot was up for grabs after Baylor beat the then number three TCU. But Ohio State was able to clinch that spot after they blew out Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big 10 Championship Game…with a third string quarterback.  The Buckeyes started the first week of college football playoff rankings sitting in the number 16 spot, each week moving up.

Alabama on the other hand was able to grab the number one spot during Week 13 and has held that spot ever since.  The Crimson Tide were able to end the season 12-1 and 7-1 in conference play, only losing to the Ole Miss Rebels back on October 4th.

The undefeated and third ranked Florida State Seminoles will play in the Rose Bowl  against number two Oregon, who went 12-1 on the season.

“Being in the inaugural playoff… it’s ironic that Florida State was in the original BCS game also,” said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. “A lot of history that’s been accomplished there, and I’m very proud of it. ”

FSU found itself in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings all seven weeks, but were never able to grab that number one spot.

“It’s been incredible, what they’ve [Florida State] been able to accomplish and sustain. A lot has been made of them being a second half team and all this stuff, and not winning decisively. Winning is really hard in a game. Winning once is hard,” said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich.

Helfrich wasn’t the only coach impressed with his competition. Fisher went on and on about the Oregon program.

“They have tremendous athleticism, tremendous speed, length, but they’re coached extremely well. They make very few mistakes. They don’t turn the ball over. They keep great leverage on the ball on defense. They tackle very well. They give up very few big plays behind them. Special teams… they rotate returners and it doesn’t matter who’s back there running it, they always have break away speed and create big plays. They cover kicks very well. This is an extremely well coached team and a very talented team.”

The Allstate Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State)  will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Rose bowl (Oregon vs. Florida State) will be held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.

Click here for sound from the coaches:

Fisher on being in the inaugural game.

Fisher on Oregon.

Saban on the inaugural game.

Helfrich on Florida State.

 

 

 

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Florida Volleyball Faces Illinois in Sweet 16 Matchup

By on December 12th, 2014

Following a sweep of Alabama State and and a hard-fought four set match win against Miami in the NCAA First and Second Rounds, the Gators will bring the Florida heat to Ames, Iowa, for the Regional Semifinals.

Eighth seeded Florida (27-3, 18-0 SEC) will square off with ninth seed Illinois (26-7, 16-4 Big Ten) in a Friday night showdown at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The series between the two squads is tied 4-4, and the Gators are 4-1 under head coach Mary Wise.

The Gators bring in a 22-match win streak, the longest in the country, and are looking to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2011.

The Fighting Illini come into the matchup having swept Murray State and Iowa State.

For senior libero Holly Pole, this is almost a nostalgic matchup.

“”We’re just really excited to be advancing to the next round,” Pole said. “I haven’t played Illinois since my freshman year when we were here, and that was obviously a really competitive match.  So, just to see another team in a different atmosphere is going to be really exciting.”

The Gators are under the leadership of 2014 SEC Coach of the Year and 2014 AVCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year Mary Wise. The squad also had five members named to the AVCA Southeast Region team, including Wise and freshman middle Rhamat Alhassan, also the Southeast Region Freshman of the Year and the SEC Freshman of the Year, junior middle blocker Simone Antwi, junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino and sophomore right side Alex Holston. Pole received Southeast Region Honorable Mention.

The winner of the Florida-Illinois matchup will go on to face the winner of Stanford-Oregon State, which will take place prior to the Gators and Illini. That match will take place on Saturday night.

First serve for Florida’s match is set for 8 PM. Catch the call on ESPN 850 WRUF.

For comments from Holly Pole, Maddy Monserez, and Mackenzie Dagostino, click below:

Pole talks about facing Illinois

Pole on what the squad needs to change moving forward

Monserez on the need to play agressively in the match

Monserez on continuing to fight despite the season’s success

Dagostino on the differences between regular season and tournament play

Dagostino on making Ames more like Gainesville

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Gator Men’s Hoops look for second straight win Friday against Texas Southern

By on December 12th, 2014

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team will look for its second straight win Friday night as they welcome the Tigers from Texas Southern.

The Gators (4-4) are coming off quite possibly their best performance of the season defeating the Yale Bulldogs 85-47 Monday night and for the first time all season the Gators were able to put together 60 strong minutes of play.

The Gators shot a ridiculous 67 percent in the first half and a slightly less 59 percent in the second, but overall had their highest output of the season. The team finished with four players in double figures with a couple key guys having maybe their best games of the season.

Sophomore forward Chris Walker finished with 13 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and while Gator head coach Billy Donovan boasted about Walker’s performance following Saturday night’s game, he knows there is still room for him to grow.

“I think he can still get better on screening action, screening actions on him and screening actions when his man is screening but I think he’s picking things up. I think he’s at a place where his is continuing to grow and get better.”

The other stand-out performer for the Gators on Monday night was sophomore point guard Kasey Hill who with 10 points, shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and Walker says he’s watched him grow as a player this season.

“I think Kasey is becoming a great leader on this team. I knew he had potential because I’ve been playing with him since 8th grade and I like what he’s doing now.”

One player the Gators hope to see back on Friday is shooting guard Eli Carter. The redshirt junior has seemingly been ineffective that last four games, playing just 13 minutes. Carter has been battling a mid-foot sprain but Donovan says he should see at least some time on the court against the Tigers.

“I still think he’s not moving the way I would like him to move, I don’t know if that’s him being cautious or if it’s him feeling pain there. But he feels like he can go and as I said last week he was cleared to go and it was on him and he’s at a place right now where he wants to do it.”

Carter is averaging nine points per game and sits second on the team in points scored and the Gators could use his offensive production as they progress deeper into the season.

The Tigers will be entering this game with just one win on the season, having lost every game away from home. Despite their struggles the Tigers do have three players averaging double figures, led by junior Chris Thomas who is shooting 41 percent from the field, averaging 16 points per game.

The Tigers have been beaten by double figures in every game this season but Donovan notes that they will showcase some things his team hasn’t yet seen.

“Texas Southern is really in a lot of ways totally different than Yale. Their philosophy and the way they defend is totally different so this will be a different game for us.”

The Gators will be looking for their first winning streak of the season and their fourth win inside the O’Dome.

You can hear all the action of Friday’s game on our sister station 103.7 the Gator with coverage starting at 6:25 followed by tip at 7pm.

For audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Donovan talks about Chris Walker

Donovan talks about Eli Carter

Donovan talks about facing Texas Southern

Chris Walker talks Kasey Hill

 

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