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Florida Women’s Tennis Heads Into SEC Tourney Looking to Win Fifth Straight Title

By on April 18th, 2014

When it comes to the Florida women’s tennis team, success is always expected in the SEC Tournament.  The team heads into this year’s tournament after finishing 11-2 in the conference, which put it into a three-way tie for second place.

Due to the tie, the team will be a four seed heading into the tournament.  This is the fourth time in school history that the team has not been a one or two seed heading into the tournament.  Florida head coach Roland Thornqvist says this will definitely be a challenging tournament for the team.

“We’re going to be preparing for a pretty grueling tournament coming up.  The SEC this year is just wickedly tough, and obviously with the draw we didn’t get any favors.  We didn’t last year either, and so we’re going to keep that in the back of our minds when we’re heading up north.”

Getting to the SEC Championship has almost been a given every year since the team has competed in the tournament, reaching the final 24 of the 26 years the event has been held.  However this year the team has its work cut out for them as the Gators will have to face either Missouri or Texas A&M in their opening quarterfinal match.  Thornqvist went on to talk about how tough the team’s opening match-up has the potential to be and how the team will prepare for it.

“Friday’s going to be tough.  We’re playing a top-ten team probably on Friday, right off the bat.  We’ll get up there, practice a little bit on their courts.  Hopefully the weather will be nice and we’ll play outdoors.  But, you know we can’t really look past Friday in any way, shape or form.”

But according Thornqvist, the team is playing better now than they have all year.

“Our freshmen certainly are playing better than they have all year.  Our doubles play is better now than it has been all year.  Brianna [Morgan] is really starting to hit the ball well, and when she’s clicking at one she’s as good as anyone in the country at one; and obviously that helps the team a lot because then we really know what we’re going to get from our seniors.  They’ve given it to us for four years, I know exactly that I can count on them.”

If the team wins Friday’s match they will play in the semifinal match on Saturday.

To hear audio from this story, please click below.

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Miami Heat and Orlando Magic Update and Playoff Edition

By on April 18th, 2014

Both the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic finished up their regular seasons on Wednesday. While the Heat are headed towards the playoffs with the number two seed and a 54-28 record. They will play the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Orlando weren’t so lucky ending the regular season with a 23-59 record with a loss to the Indiana Pacers 101-86. Magic head coach  Jacque Vaughn said that even though they are not playoff bound there was improvement with his team.

“We got good men in the locker room who want to get better and got better this year. I am extremely proud of the men in that locker room. I’m glad that they allow me to coach them and there are brighter days ahead.”

Meanwhile Miami guard Dwyane Wade is looking forward to playing Charlotte.

“It’s always close games  when we play them; the team compete very hard, they’re very comfortable in their game and have a great one-two punch with Kemba and Big Al but they have a great system and all of them are involved so we got to come with our hard hats on and  stay focused throughout and Sunday will be an important game for us to try and get Game One on our home floor.”

The Heat plays Sunday at 3:30.

For audio on the story, click below:

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Florida Men’s Tennis Heads to Nashville for SEC Tournament

By on April 17th, 2014

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Men’s Tennis Tournament began Wednesday, April 16 at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Tennis Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The University of Florida Gators are the fourth seed after finishing fourth in the SEC regular season. The Gators earned a two-round bye since they are one of the top four seeds. The Gators play on Friday at 7pm against the winner of fifth seed Mississippi State and the winner between 12 seed Arkansas and 13 seed LSU.

The Gators have an overall record of 13-8 and a record of 8-4 in the SEC. The Gators have a 9-1 record at home this season. Florida coach Bryan Shelton says his team is playing well.

“Our freshmen continue to do well. We’re asking a lot of them. Every week they’re in key roles for us and they’re doing well. Diego Hidalgo’s competing like a champion. And Maxx Lipman, Elliott Orkin, they’re really having to step up,” said Shelton.

Florida is coming off a win over Kentucky. Shelton says the win over the Wildcats boosted the team’s morale going into the tournament.

“For us, we’re excited to go into the tournament. Obviously it helps to have beaten Kentucky, a good feeling going in, feel like we have some momentum. The conference is always tough but at the same time we feel like we can beat anyone in the conference,” said Sherman.

“I always love the tournament, the conference tournament, because you’ve had a chance to see everybody throughout the season and so it’s a little bit easier to make the game plans. And hopefully we’re at a point where we can go in there and execute our game plan,” Shelton said.

The tournament championship is Sunday at 2pm.

For audio from this story, please click below:

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Former Gator Baseball Player Brandon McArthur Excels as an Angels Scout

By on April 17th, 2014

Former University of Florida baseball player Brandon McArthur continues to do what he loves best. From making plays on the field, to calling the shots as a professional scout, McArthur’s passion for the game of baseball is hard to miss. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2009, and by 2010 he became a part of the Los Angeles Angels organization.

When McArthur was asked how he got into the scouting business, he claims there was some luck involved.

“I got really lucky. I interviewed with a handful of teams and was blessed to become apart of the Angel’s organization in 2010. Interview and everything went well, and I was off and running,” he said.

McArthur’s first spring season was in Georgia and the Carolina’s in 2011. After that it was off to Florida. McArthur grew up and played baseball in Florida, so he was able to get back home while covering central and northern Florida for the Angels.

McArthur says it’s not so easy making it to the big leagues.

“It’s not an easy road to the big leagues by any means. Even if a guy can hit that ball out, and throw 95 miles an hour, does he have the makeup to make it to the big leagues?”

When it comes to scouting, McArthur says it doesn’t just come down to talent. He says you have to dig deeper into the player off the field to get a feel for the type of team player he may or may not be.

“You have to do a little more investigating into the kid off the field. Sit down and talk to him, find out who he is. Is he going to be a guy that’s liked in the clubhouse? Is he going to be a hard worker or is he going to fold when he’s faced with adversity? I think that’s a very important part of things.”

When asked if the coaches are honest with him about the players overall performance, McArthur says he’s lucky to have connections with the majority of the coaches.

“Yeah most coaches are. Like I said, luckily I got to come back down to my home state. I’m very lucky to know the majority of the coaches in the area that I cover, and I’ve known them for a long time.”

McArthur continues his career as a scout for the Angel’s organization, and he never seems to forget just how “lucky” he is.

For audio, click below:

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Beal, Wizards Prepare for NBA Playoffs

By on April 16th, 2014

The Washington Wizards (43-38) are going to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008 where they lost to the Lebron-led Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the first round. Led by two young up-and-coming stars in starting point guard John Wall and starting shooting guard, former Gator Bradley Beal, the Wizards will look to win their first playoff series since 2005 when they defeated Chicago in the first round before being swept in the conference semifinals by the eventual champion Miami Heat.

Here on the last day of the NBA regular season, there are still many questions the Wizards face as they could finish as high as the five-seed or as low as the seven-seed depending on the outcome of several games tonight. According to Bradley Beal, the team does not care what seed they end up with as they are solely focused on their team and what they need to do to win.

“Any team is capable of doing the same thing, no matter who we play, it will be a tough assignment,” Beal said. “I’m going to have the same mentality playing against Miami, Chicago, Toronto, or Indiana, it doesn’t matter. We’re all, as a team, going to come in with the same mentality that we’re going to play hard every night and take it game-by-game and go try to win a series.”

After spending one year at the University of Florida during the 2011-2012 season, Beal noticed a big maturity leap in his personal life and his overall game play which he attributes directly to Gator coach Billy Donovan.

“Coach Donovan is a great coach, one of the best I ever played for,” Beal said. “His system and his style of play matured me, made me grow up as a man and be prepared, not just for basketball, but for life outside of basketball and I definitely give a lot of credit to him because he brought me in and didn’t guarantee me anything and pushed me to be the man I am today.”

Beal is second on the team averaging 17 points per game in only his second year in the league trailing only Wall’s 19.4 points per game. While the two are known for their offensive presence on the court, Wall is quick to point to the real strength of the team, defense.

“Main thing we do when we’re not making shots, in the past, we get down and don’t play defense on the other end,” Wall said. “We just keep preaching and trying to tell guys if you’re not making shots, you still have a whole half or three quarters to make shots and if you keep playing defense, you give yourself a chance.”

Although today is the last day of the regular season, Washington’s playoff future is still very murky. The Wizards wrap up the regular season tonight on the road against the Boston Celtics (25-56). A win for the Wizards and a loss by the Brooklyn Nets (44-37) to the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-49) will secure the five-seed for the Wizards. If both the Nets and Wizards win, Washington will secure the six-seed. A loss by the Wizards and win for the Charlotte Bobcats (42-39) over the Chicago Bulls (48-33) would hand the Wizards the seven-seed with a difficult first round match-up against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat (54-27).

For audio on this story, click below:

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Wednesday Sports Update

By on April 16th, 2014

The NBA regular season ends, the NHL playoffs begin, Tennessee is looking for a new basketball coach and baseball is in full swing in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** The NBA regular season ends tonight and the playoffs are right around the corner.   San Antonio is the top seed in the West while Indiana is the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

** The NHL playoffs begin tonight with a new format.   The team with the best regular season record, Boston, plays Detroit.

** Tennessee is looking for a new men’s basketball coach after Cuonzo Martin leaves to take the head coaching job at Cal.

** More players declare for the NBA Draft including Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas.

** In MLB results, Miami breaks an eight game losing streak with an 11-2 win over Washington.  Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will lose pitcher Matt Moore for the season after he said he will have Tommy John surgery.

** And free agent running back Chris Johnson visits the New York Jets as the free agent looks to sign with a new team after being released by Tennessee after six seasons.   Johnson ran for almost 1100 yards last year.

 

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Florida Baseball Finishes Road Stretch With A Win In Fort Myers

By on April 16th, 2014

The Florida baseball team took the final game of a three game series against Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday night with a 7-1 road win.  This was the last game of an eight game road stretch.  The Gators managed a 5-3 record in these games with three of the wins coming against top five teams.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is pleased with the state of his team.

“This was a really good game for us. I told our guys after the game that I’m proud of the way they played on this road trip. There was no let up tonight. We had some timely hits with two outs, we got some clutch hits there and I thought we ran the bases really well tonight. Turgeon swung the bat well to start the game off and I thought Gushue looked as good as he has all year. Eight of nine guys got hits. Richie Martin looked really good at the plate. A lot of guys contributed.”

Florida had 15 hits in the game and went 7 for 17 with runners in scoring position.  Eight different Gators earned a hit in the game, including Taylor Gushue who extended his hit streak to 11 consecutive games.  Buddy Reed also carried his weekend success into Tuesday night’s action, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.

The Gators used four different pitchers in the game.  Ryan Harris got the start and the win, going two innings only allowing one hit.  In relief Kirby Snead looked untouchable, facing just 13 batters in four innings of work.  FGCU starter Brady Anderson struggled, giving up nine hits and four runs in four innings on the hill.

Coach O’Sullivan knows it is important for his pitching staff to continue its success.

“It was good to get Ryan (Harris) out there for his first career start. We just wanted to get him 30 pitches or so. I felt that it was important to get to a good start down here. It’s really important when you get on the road to a put a zero on the board in the first. We had a lot of confidence in Ryan. Kirby Snead was outstanding. Four innings and I don’t think he even threw 40 pitches. He’s going to be ready to go this weekend. Shafer did his job and we got Shaun Anderson out there as well. A lot of guys got into the game. We had the opportunity to get Mattson in there to catch from the seventh inning on. Really a good ball game overall for us. It was a heck of a way to finish the eight game road trip.”

Florida now returns home for an eight game stretch in Gainesville.  The Gators will take on SEC East rival Georgia this weekend.  

Audio from the game is below.

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Florida Baseball Looks To Take Series Against FGCU

By on April 16th, 2014

The Florida baseball team heads south to Fort Myers for a series rubber match
against Florida Gulf Coast tonight. The Gators dropped Game One of the series 2-1,  then blanked FGCU in Game Two 4-0.

Florida will look to carry momentum into Tuesday night’s game, coming off a series win against South Carolina. With the win the Orange and Blue grabbed first place in the SEC East. .

Florida has proven to shut down teams late in games this season,
racking up a record of 21-1 when tied or leading after six innings of
play this year. Florida has not decided who will get the start Tuesday
night, FGCU will send redshirt sophomore Brady Anderson. Anderson will
bring a solid 2.03 ERA to the hill with a record of 2-1.

Taylor Gushue and Braden Mattson have continued to be Florida’s biggest threats this season.  Gushue is batting .326 with 30 RBIs backed up by Mattson’s solid .323 average with 20 RBIs.  Buddy Reed looks to bring his weekend’s success to the diamond Tuesday night.  Reed earned his first three hit game of his career over the weekend and is  batting .228 on the season.

First pitch tonight is set for 6:30 you can tune into the Gator IMG Sports Network for coverage starting at 6:25.

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Tuesday Sports Update…

By on April 15th, 2014

The NBA regular season winds down, the playoffs start soon for the NHL and some baseball results too in our Tuesday Sports Update…

** The NBA’s regular season ends Wednesday and the Miami Heat will be the number two seed in the Eastern Conference after they lose to Washington 114-93 Monday night.   Indiana will be the top seed in the East.

** The NHL playoffs start Wednesday with a new format.  The Boston Bruins had the best regular season record and they’ll start the playoffs by facing Detroit.

** In baseball, the Miami Marlins have now lost eight straight games after losing to Washington 9-2 Monday; the Marlins are now 5-9.  Atlanta stays hot, beating Philadelphia 9-6 while Tampa Bay is rocked 7-1 at Baltimore.

** Former Gator Mike Zunino homered and drove in two runs as his Seattle Mariners beat Texas 7-1.

** A new Fan Advisory Council is being created by the University Athletic Association that allows those on the council to advise the UAA on how to provide a better fan experience in football.   About a dozen season ticket holders will make up the council.

** Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has announced he’s coming out of retirement and is aiming toward possibly competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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Transferred golfer Richard Donegan wears Orange and Blue best

By on April 15th, 2014

@gatorzonegolf

Donegan and Coach Alexander at the Sea Best Invitational

From small town Okeechobee, Gator golfer Richard Donegan says going to school in Gainesville is just like being home. However, Donegan’s collegiate golf career did not start at the University of Florida.

Donegan is a transfer student from Florida Atlantic University. During his freshman season, he was the leading scorer on the team with an average score of 73.1 and tied for the most rounds played in a season (29). Still, Donegan couldn’t pass up the opportunity he had at UF.

“The legacy that Coach (Buddy) Alexander has really stands out compared to other schools that I was talking to. I feel like this is the best opportunity to get better over the next few years, I just wanted to take a chance and this is where I’m at now,” he says. He has already made it onto the World Amateur Golf Ranking list; after college, he is hoping to play professionally on the PGA Tour.

Donegan began golfing at a young age. He said that his Mom and Dad were the reason for his success early on, even if it cost his dad some course time.

“My parents didn’t necessarily play golf that much, but when they did my Dad definitely took me out on some courses and sometimes got kicked off because of me, being a little kid. Then when I was in eighth and ninth grade we moved right next to a golf course, and in your free time when you can’t drive yet you just have to go out and find something to do and that was golf for me.”

In high school, Donegan played three or four months out of the year; he also played baseball until his senior year when he focused on golf, and it truly paid off. He won the Class 2A state championship, and he was the only golfer to finish at an even par during the tournament.

When asked if he had any pre-match rituals that help him score so well, he said he’s not really a “freaky guy.” Just like anyone else though, he has his superstitions. “I always eat the same breakfast whenever we play in the morning: a couple eggs over medium, some sausage, and always some chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is essential.”

Donegan has been already been a huge asset to the Gator golf team, earning the best score in their first event of the season; his hopes are high for his first season as a Gator.

“Hopefully we can compete for a national title, that’s everybody’s goal- get the SEC and national title.”

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