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Posted by on Apr 18, 2017 in Articles

Kawhi Leonard’s Playoff Career High Lifts Spurs over Grizzlies

Kawhi Leonard’s Playoff Career High Lifts Spurs over Grizzlies

April 18, 2017

Leonard is a perfect 28-28 from the charity stripe, and Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovic praised Leonard for his ability to get to the line and convert at such a consistent clip.

To add to Leonard’s night, he became the second player since 2008 to score 35 points while grabbing ten rebounds, joining the big fundamental himself, Tim Duncan.

First Half – Spurs Dominate

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike game one, the Grizzlies got off to a slow start. The Spurs dominated the first quarter and took a 13 point lead into the second. Marc Gasol propelled the Grizzlies in game one, but he couldn’t get much to drop for him last night. Gasol would start off the game missing his first six shots, and finished with only four made.

In the second quarter, the Spurs would continue to increase their lead. They would go up by as many as 26 before the Grizzlies managed to cut it down to 19 at the break. The Spurs held Memphis to 33 percent shooting during the first half, while the big three of Leonard, Aldridge, and Parker combined for 39 points in the half.

One of the stories in this one was the chippy play of 40 year old Vince CarterKyle Anderson appeared to trip Carter during the second quarter, which is bound to upset any player. But when your team is getting blown out, tensions are bound to flare.

https://twitter.com/DNASportsTalk/status/854186143558107137

Second Half – Memphis Climbs Back

This is where the game got interesting. The Grizzlies narrowed the gap to 10 points at the end of the third quarter after a beautiful step-back three right before the buzzer. Memphis held San Antonio to 19 third quarter points In the fourth, the Grizzlies would pick up the pace.

At the 10:08 mark in the fourth, Marc Gasol would finish at the basket while getting fouled. Gasol would hit the freebee to bring the game within four. And With just a five-point lead with 6:42 remaining in the game, Popovich had seen enough.

San Antonio would start their fourth quarter run with a Danny Green three pointer, followed by a fast-break layup for Leonard and a Pau Gasol three. With the Spurs now up ten, there was no turning back from this point. The Spurs would go on to win 96-82 to take a 2-0 series lead over the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies got strong performances from Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, but their efforts weren’t enough. Memphis is still without their best perimeter defender in Tony Allen, who isn’t expected to return for the remainder of the series.

Fizdale’s Postgame Rant

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As a team, the Grizzlies shot a total of 15 free throws between three players. Kawhi Leonard himself took 19 free throws. This is bound to frusturate any coach, but David Fizdale took it personally. In his first year as a head coach, Fizdale felt disrespected by the refs, saying that his rookie head coaching status played into the officiating. Not only did Fizdale believe his coaching experience played into the officiating, but he also believed the Spurs just get more respect as a team due to their championship history, and more notable players on their roster.

Fizdale is bound to receive a fine from the NBA for criticizing the officials, but his opinions speak volume. You can hear the short version of his post-game interview here.

Source: WRUF

 

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Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Articles

A Look at Florida’s Defensive Line

A Look at Florida’s Defensive Line

The Florida Gators have been a top notch defensive program for over a decade now. When Florida brought in Jim McElwain to be their head coach, they were hoping for improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Florida got what they wanted, but the in the end, it’ll always be a program known for their defense.

Last season, the Gators defense ranked sixth in the nation, only allowing 17.9 points per game while limiting opposing passing attacks to under 160 yards per game. The area where they struggled was defending the run, allowing nearly 150 rushing yards per game to opposing teams. This will be the main area to improve on the defensive side of the ball, and the Gators will have to do so with a line filled mostly with underclassmen.

With Spring football coming to an end, it’s time to take a look at the the defensive lineman who need to step up with the loss of Caleb Brantley, Joey Ivie, and other former Gators.

Defensive Ends

Looking at the defensive ends for Florida, they have a good amount of returning players from last season who made an impact. Two of the names that stick out are Jabari Zuniga and Jordan Sherit. As a Redshirt Freshman Zuniga played in all 13 games for the Gators, earning the start in three of those games. He totaled 25 tackles on the season, including one forced fumble, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and a team-best 5.0 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries.

Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Sherit, the lone senior on this defensive line, appeared in 10 games last season and recorded seven starts. Sherit’s main issue was injuries which cause him to miss a few games last season. When healthy, Sherit is a dominate force on the field. In his limited time, he recorded 38 tackles, 5.0 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries.

However two players in particular are ready to make names for themselves as elite players on an elite defense. Those two being Antonneous Clayton, and Keivonnis Davis.

Clayton hasn’t quite lived up to his 5-star billing, and he is fully aware of that. Despite playing in only five games during his freshman season, Clayton says his potential is endless. In those five games in 2016 he totaled three tackles, three quarterback hurries and one recovered fumble. It’s almost a tradition that the defensive linemen who come to Florida will eventually end up on NFL rosters. They are all aware of it coming in, and Clayton says he and the rest of the group are ready for those expectations.

Keivonnis Davis appeared in all 13 games for the Gators and started five during the 2016 season. He totaled 27 tackles, 3.0 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, five quarterbacks hurries and one forced fumble. Davis’ five QB hurries was tied for second on the team, while his 2.5 sacks tied for fourth.

Interior Linemen

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Caleb Brantley led this group on and off the field. He showed clear NFL talent during the 2016 season, thus declaring for the NFL draft. With the loss of Brantley, someone from this unit will have to step up. Luckily for the Gators, they have four guys who can do so. These players include Cece Jefferson, Khairi Clark, Taven Bryan, and Jachai Polite.

Jefferson is clearly one of the Gators’ best defensive linemen and will have a central role in 2017. He played every defensive lineman position last year, but excelled on the inside. With Brantley gone, Jefferson will have the biggest challenge of anyone on this defensive line. In his 12 games in 2016, Jefferson started in six, totaling 30 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries.

Khairi Clark is one of the “veterans” on this roster. Clark is going into his Redshirt Junior season, meaning this will be his fourth year as a Gator. With that in mind, Clark believes that the younger players can really learn from him, not only as a player, but as a teammate.

Last season, Clark started in three of the 13 games for the Gators. He totaled 16 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Those numbers don’t stick out to many, but Clark says he has improved tremendously during the spring.

Taven Bryan is another Redshirt Junior for the Gators. During the 2016 season, Bryan only started two games, but appeared in all 13. Bryan totaled 17 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, one sack, two quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. Not only that, but he led the team with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries…

Jachai Polite played in 12 games throughout the 2016 season as a reserve defensive lineman. He totaled 11 tackles with 3.5 of those being tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

This defensive front is much younger than what the Gators are used to having on their roster, but with the leadership from the upperclassmen Jefferson, Sherit, and Clark, this Gator defense should continue to dominate the SEC and all of college football.

Source: WRUF

 

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Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Articles

North Carolina Earns 6th National Championship with Win Over Gonzaga

North Carolina Earns 6th National Championship with Win Over Gonzaga

April 4, 2017

Just one year removed from being sent home at the buzzer in the National Championship, the North Carolina Tar Heels would get their revenge. One of the most heartbreaking losses in recent sports memory would be forgotten would be forgotten just after midnight. UNC would go on to defeat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 to capture the school’s sixth championship, and third under Head Coach Roy Williams. The Tar Heels returned most of the same roster from last years team, and the experience was evident during the final moments of last night’s game.

https://twitter.com/Misterodds/status/849156031691280384

Recap

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

For the unaware, last night marked the first time Gonzaga had played in a National Championship game. The Zags came out strong, leading by as many as seven with just under four minutes left in the first half. Josh Perkins came out of the gates strong to pour in 13 first half points, but wouldn’t get much done from that point on. UNC would start to cut into the lead at the end of the first half, with Gonzaga taking a 35-32 lead into the break.

Here’s where a roster filled with players who have been in this position before comes in handy. The Tar Heels would start the second half on an 8-0 run forcing Gonzaga Head Coach, Mark Few, to call a timeout.

This would spark a run of their own for the Bulldogs. After going scoreless during the first three minutes of the half, Gonzaga would retake the lead after a 6-0 run. However, Gonzaga Freshman Zach Collins would pick up his fourth foul with nearly 16 minutes remaining.

The Story of the Night

From that point on, foul trouble would be the story of the game. Both teams were in the bonus with 14 minutes left in the second half. Collins would end up playing only six second half minutes before fouling out, while Przemek Karnowski picked up his fourth around the eight minute mark. The Tar Heels would experience some foul trouble of their own with Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks finishing the game with four fouls.

Despite a sloppy second half with the amount of fouls and rough shooting night from both teams, someone had to be crowned a champion. There were 11 ties and 12 lead changes during this one, but the Tar Heels would close the game on a 9-2 run, clinching another title for North Carolina. Joel Berry II would lead the way for North Carolina with 22 points, earning him the most outstanding player award. Berry had been dealing with a number of injuries throughout the tournament, but those clearly didn’t slow him down.

Statistics

  • Joel Berry II (UNC) – 22 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds
  • Isaiah Hicks (UNC) – 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Justin Jackson (UNC) – 16 points, 4 rebounds, 0-9 from three
  • Nigel Willams-Goss (GU) – 15 points on 29% shooting
  • Josh Perkins (GU) – 13 points (all in first half)
  • Przemek Karnowski (GU) – 9 points, 9 rebounds, 4 fouls

Looking Ahead for North Carolina and Gonzaga

It seems that North Carolina is one of the pre-season favorites to advance far in the NCAA Tournament every year. However, the Tar Heels are losing their two big men in Hicks and Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson is already a projected lottery pick. Besides that, their roster should remain intact with the exception of the incoming freshman.

Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

That said, North Carolina will look to not only repeat as champions, but make it to a third straight National Championship game. With Roy Williams coaching and Joel Berry II leading the way as a senior, it should be a surprise to no one to see them back in the same position next season. And according to Coach Williams, there is no greater feeling then watching his guys hoist the trophy.

For the Bulldogs, losing Przemek Karnowski will hurt. It’s not every day that a college program has a 7-foot, 300-pound man with a finesse style of play such as Karnowski’s. On the bright side, Zach Collins has shown clear NBA talent in his freshman season, and Nigel Williams-Goss should return for his senior season. Williams-Goss was one of the premiere players in all of college basketball this year, despite some minor struggles in the NCAA Tournament.

No matter who returns for this Gonzaga ball club, it should be clear to everyone that this team means business. With this being the teams 20th appearance in the big dance and first time in the championship game, Coach Mark Few and company have officially put Gonzaga basketball on the map. But for now until this time next season, the North Carolina Tar Heels will be known as National Champions.

Source: WRUF

 

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Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in Articles

What’s Next for the Gator Seniors?

What’s Next for the Gator Seniors?

March 24, 2017

The University of Florida is preparing for a Sweet 16 matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers later tonight. Regardless if the Gators win or lose, the season is ultimately coming to an end within the next few weeks. For Florida, that means the collegiate careers of seniors Kasey Hill, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon, and Schuyler Rimmer are coming to an end.

Of these four seniors, only Kasey Hill has been with the program since the start of his collegiate career. Leon is a junior-college transfer, Barry a graduate-transfer, and Schuyler Rimmer being a walk-on after originally playing at Stanford.

Any regular person who sees this list of seniors might think that their careers will end as members of the orange and blue. But the real question is, what do the seniors think about their future careers in basketball?

The Senior Leader – Kasey Hill

Kasey Hill came to Florida as one of the top high school recruits in the country back in 2013. To be more specific, he was given a scouting grade of 93 out of 100, and was rated as the 10th best player in his class according to ESPN Top 100.

Most people who have followed the Gators during Hill’s time there will tell you he hasn’t lived up to the hype. Now while

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

some of that may be true, you have to consider he came to Florida to be a backup to Scottie Wilbekin in his freshman season.

Not only that, Billy Donovan, Florida’s previous head coach who recruited Hill, took a job coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder. So Hill, the point guard, had to learn an entirely new offensive system under new head coach, Mike White.

It took Hill, and the rest of the Gator team an entire season to buy into Coach White’s system, but they clearly have with a berth to the Elite 8 on the line tonight. A pass first defensive minded point guard is exactly what every NBA team wants on their roster. Sure, Hill didn’t have the success that most top-ten recruits have at the college level, but he’s certainly turned heads this year.

After receiving Second Team All SEC and All Defensive Team, Hill has shown his game has progressed majorly over the last two seasons, and that maybe the NBA is more realistic than people think. Hill has mentioned that he wants to continue basketball after his time with the Gators, but it will be up to him to prove he is worthy of an NBA Roster.

The Graduate Transfer – Canyon Barry

For Canyon Barry, he’s shown the ability to be a knockdown shooter from both the three-point, and free-throw lines. Everyone is familiar with Barry’s unorthodox free-throw shot. If you are one of the very few who are unaware of how Barry shoots his free-throws, here’s a look.

 

And yes, Canyon Barry is the son of NBA Legend, Rick Barry. Much like his father, Barry shoots the ball at a very efficient clip. It took him a few weeks to get used to the Gators system, but he is still averaging close to 35% from downtown, and 88% from the free throw lines. Not only that, but Barry was also named the SEC’s Sixth Man of the year while earning and Academic All America of the Year. These types of numbers and awards can attract any NBA scout, but for Barry, he is only focused on the task at hand.

However, Barry is very confident that he continue to play ball at the next level, regardless of where it might be. It’s that kind of mindset that gets college athletes to the next level, no matter the sport. Now if Barry doesn’t make it at the next level, his Nuclear Engineering Degree is sure to land him work somewhere.

Justin Leon and Schuyler Rimmer

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Leon and Rimmer are the two that seem to fall out of the spotlight when it comes to the Gator Seniors, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t played well. In fact, Leon is often known as the X-factor for this Gator team. Leon has started every game for the Gators this season, shooting about 40% from three and 78% from the free-throw line. He’s clearly had his moments this season as well, matching his career high of 19 points, and scored double digit points in nine games. One of those games coming against Virginia in the round of 32, which sparked a huge run for the Gators in their blowout victory over the Cavaliers.

And while Rimmer hasn’t had many opportunities as a Gator, he has came in and played well in spurts to give the other big men on the roster some time to cool off. Especially since the loss of John Egbunu, who tore his ACL back in February. Rimmer hasn’t seen more than two minutes of playing time in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but most of that can be credited to the improved play of freshman big man, Gorjok Gak.

It’s hard to say where any of these seniors will end up after their collegiate careers. Whether you see some of these guys in the NBA, D-League, overseas, or wherever their careers take them after basketball, it will definitely be worth keeping track of.

Source: WRUF

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Posted by on Mar 4, 2017 in Articles

No.12 Florida Falls to Vanderbilt for Second Time this Season

No.12 Florida Falls to Vanderbilt for Second Time this Season

March 4, 2017

The No.12 Florida Gators came into Saturday’s game locked in as the two seed in the SEC Tournament and a double-bye to go along with it. However, that was the last thing on their mind. The Gators traveled to face a Vanderbilt Commodore team that previously upset the Gators at home earlier in the season. Today’s game was about revenge for the Gators, and it appeared as if they would get just that.

First Half

Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

After a Kasey Hill basket to start the game for Florida, the Commodores answered with a 9-0 run over the next four minutes of play which would eventually lead to a Mike White timeout. Florida would come out surging right after.

KeVaughn Allen and Hill scored on back to back possessions to reduce the lead to three. The two teams would continue to trade baskets for a few minutes, but then the Gators caught fire. But more specifically, KeVaughn Allen. Allen gave the Gators their first lead after hitting a pair of free throws with 8:45 remaining in the first half. Allen would then come down to hit three’s on back to back possessions to give put Florida up seven.

Vanderbilt went scoreless from the 9:30 mark, and only made four shots in the final ten minutes of the first half. A Devin Robinson layup at the buzzer would give the Gators a 40-31 lead heading into the half.

Halftime

KeVaughn Allen lead all scorers at halftime with 13 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field and three point range. The Gators continue to get a spark from Canyon Barry, who came off the bench to score 11 first half points. Jeff Roberson lead the way for the Commodores with 11 first half points, converting on all of his shot attempts while Commodore senior leader Luke Kornet had eight points on 37.5 percent shooting.

As a team, the Gators shot 52 percent from the field, 38 from three and 83 percent at the line. For Vandy, the shot only 41 percent from the field and 21 percent from three.The Commodores get 42% of their points from three, so it’s clear they needed to shoot it better from deep to climb back into it. 

Second Half

Vanderbilt would open the half on another run, this one a seven to two advantage that would lead to another Florida timeout. After a 2:33 scoring drought, Barry scores on back to back possessions to put the Gators back up four.

Then it was Justin Leon hitting on back to back possessions for his only six points of the afternoon. This extended the Florida lead back up to ten, as the Commodores go nearly four minutes without a made basket. However the Commodores would chip away at the lead yet again.

Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Riley LaChance then caught fire. LaChance connected on a three for his first basket of the game with just under five minutes remaining in the half. Following the made three, LaChance would convert on a pair of free throws and a layup during the next two possessions to give the Commodores a two point lead.

The Gators went cold just like the Commodores did in the first half, failing to convert a basket for nearly four minutes. Vanderbilt would hold on to a two point lead with 30 seconds remaining and wouldn’t relinquish it. The Gators had multiple chances to take the lead or tie the game in the final seconds, but the team elected to attack the basket rather than shooting the three. Chris Chiozza converted on two free throws and a layup during these possessions, but a missed Kasey Hill layup would seal it for the Commodores.

The Commodores would get the win on senior day 73-71. Kornet finished the game with 24 points, scoring 18 of them in the second half. KeVaughn Allen failed to score in the second half, so it was Barry leading the way with 15 points.

 

What’s Next?

With the regular season officially over for both teams, it’s time to look ahead at the SEC Tournament. The Gators clinched the #2 seed in the tournament with their win earlier this week versus Arkansas. With that, the Gators will have a double-bye and won’t play until Friday, March 10 at 7p.m. For Vanderbilt, they will be the #6 seed and will play their first tournament game on Thursday, March 9 at 6:25.p.m.

Source: WRUF

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Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Articles

Gators Outlast Tarheels to Win Seventh ITA National Indoor Championship

Gators Outlast Tarheels to Win Seventh ITA National Indoor Championship

February 14, 2017

The Gators are National Champions yet again. The No. 1 Florida women’s tennis team took on the No. 2 North Carolina Tarheels in yesterday’s ITA National Indoor Championship, and what a match it was. It all came down to a battle of the underclassmen as Florida freshman Ingrid Neel took down UNC sophomore Jessie Aney to give the Gators a 4-2 win.

The Gators Road to the Title

In the ITA’s 30th year of existence, 15 teams squared off in hopes of becoming national champions. This was Florida’s 17th appearance in the event, but just their second time in the last six years. The Gators all-time record at the ITA’s is 52-13, with five of those losses coming in the NTIC Final matches. It wouldn’t be an easy road to the title, but the Gators pulled it off.

  • First Round: defeated No. 13 Michigan, 4-1
  • Quarterfinals: defeated No. 12 Texas Tech, 4-1
  • Semifinals: defeated No. 6 Georgia, 4-0
  • Finals: defeated No. 2 North Carolina, 4-2

The Final Match

With Neel and Aney facing off on court three of Yale University’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, the two would split the first two sets. With all the marbles on the line in the third and final set.

Keep in mind, Neel isn’t just a freshman. She’s a freshman who enrolled at the University of Florida in January, so her collegiate experience was minimal. However, the lights weren’t bright enough to keep this freshman from her ultimate goal, becoming a champion.

Neel took a 4-1 lead, but Aney would hold and break. She won the next two points before Neel was able to steal another one away, taking a 5-3 match lead. Aney would be the one to strike first in the ninth and final game, winning the first two points. But in the end, it was too much of the freshman phenom, as Neel would go on to win the next four points, clinching the title for the Gators.

https://twitter.com/ITA_Tennis/status/831258018696282113

The Gators can’t celebrate for too long, with their season continuing this Saturday. Florida will put the longest active home win streak by any NCAA Division I team in any sport on the line this weekend as the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 4 Standford Cardinals come to town.

Source: WRUF

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